Sunday, July 26, 2009

From My Dusty Corner of Benin

For some time now I've thought of Nikki as my dusty corner of northern Benin. "Dusty," because it is that (and dirty), especially during the dry season. A "corner," because it's off all the main roads, nestled away to the western corridor of Northern Benin, the country itself normally unknown to your average Western traveler. Nevertheless, this has been "my" dusty corner because for the last two years Nikki has been my Peace Corps post.

Some angles from Nikki. Left: gazing down one of Nikki's main roads one early morning. Right: the king's courtyard. It's Friday, and small local kings are slowly gathering on the "palace" grounds to greet the Barriba kingdom's highest sovereighty.

Living and working as a business volunteer in the somewhat geographically isolated capital of the historical Barriba kingdom has had its unique challenges...this can be a tough spot for the development of business and commerce, even for Benin. Nonetheless, workwise we've done pretty well.

But there's more to life than work, and more to work than a series of projects. These eventually fade away or lose their immediacy, and what always remains is people and how we related to them. Maybe it's cliche to say, but I'll remember Nikki for the people. The infatigable mothers whose joy somehow always seem to surpass their many burdens, the philosophizing old Barriba men who walk around with their canes and umbrellas, the kids whose smiles make you smile.

To you all, "A kwan weru" and "Na siara."

On a promenade, some village paths and people around Nikki.