Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Last Friday evening I arrived safely in Cotonou, Benin. On the night drive to St. Jean Eudes (a religious compound we've been staying for the past half-week), my senses recalled certain sights and sounds from my trip to Eastern Africa two years ago: the streets lined with vendor shacks, the night heavy with heat and humidity, the air poignant with smells of smoke and two-stroke engine exhaust. It's good to be in Africa again.


The past days have been packed with a variety of training, activities, and introductions. I'll flesh out some of these highlights as I have time to process them. Au revoir for now.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Soaking in Americana

In the past month I have bided my time between Memphis, Denver, Chattanooga, Birmingham, and Philly--all to carry about the not so fun business of goodbyes. Here is a photographic menegerie of the past month spent with my people in my culture.

Two fellow sojourners.

The siblings at Coors stadium. 6-1, Rockies. The inflated ticket prices were worth seeing Yankees fans being sent home crying.

Goober fishing.

Sleuth: "Dang, did I just climb that?"

If I had to visually summarize and momorialize the sum of the American ethos, this would be it. If you build it...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Expat Survival Gear

What does one take to Africa for survival, entertainment, comfort? A daunting question, but which must be answered, and soon. Here are some of the more important items constituting my 80-pounds of rations thus far:
  • Italian Espresso Maker and French Press. Relaxants and relationship-builders.
  • Cumin and Cilantro (Lots - I plan to be the first to pioneer Tex-Mex in West Africa...if things work out the way I plan, I may be doing some Chipotle small business development in the distant future).
  • Top Gun Soundtrack. "Danger Zone" will be the anthem of choice when its time to put on the aviators and ride back-seat on a moped taxi down the main strip of Porto Novo.
  • Big Bass Pro Shop mesh hat. For protection from the Equatorial sun but mostly in honor of the South and Andy Clark.
  • Books. Walking With the Poor by Bryant Myers. Mythology by Edith Hamilton - not so much for becoming better-versed in mythology as much as for recalling the joy that these stories bring to Cassel. Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky - I MUST finish this book. Puritan Prayers for finding words more beautiful than my own. Some C.S. Lewis.
  • Scrabble, Travel Edition. So that I don't forget how to speak English.
  • Radio Shack Dynamo hand crank short wave radio. For catching the BBC World Service and other voices from the West. And so I don't forget how to speak English.
I'm open to further suggestions...