As October comes to a close, here is a glimpse into life in Benin and what I have been up to.
There is a large outdoor produce market within walking distance of the ship. My favorite thing to buy is pineapple!
This is a typical street view of Contonou - it is a bustling city with lots of cars, zemijans (motocycle taxis), and people everywhere.
Benin - the place where nothing is too big to carry on your head.
I have gotten out of the city a few times to enjoy a little bit of nature. Unlike Madagascar, the beaches here are not generally considered safe, so it is harder to find places to spend time outside. There is a portion of beach in a town called Grand Popo about 2 hours from the ship (almost to Togo) where we were able to visit.
|Beach at Grand Popo|
|Yay for trees!|
|Some fishermen off in the distance|
There is also a restaurant with a dock on a lake where you can swim and kayak. That is my favorite place so far and I hope to go back sometime soon.
|It's a 10 min boat ride to get there.|
|There were donkeys so of course I had to pet them!|
On Friday afternoons, you can find the Academy staff celebrating Frappuccino Friday in the cafe on board. Behind us on the wall, you can see the portraits of our fistula patients from Madagascar.
My absentee ballot finally came in the mail and I was able to vote! One of my students gave me this awesome henna tattoo.
Living on the ship means having to say good-bye. Some people come for as little as 2 weeks, while others are here for years. This month I said good-bye to my friend Penelope. She has been on the ship for 5 years! I can't imagine how hard it must be to leave this community after so long! From left to right, this is Heather from Canada, Penelope from South Africa, Jenelle from Seattle, and me. I can always count on these gals to stay up late doing a puzzle or play a board game!
This year on the ship has a very different feel. It is much harder to get off the ship because we are not allowed to walk through the port. Last year I could hop on my bike and be in town in less than 10 minutes. Going into town here means waiting for a bus to shuttle you the short distance to the port gate. The cost of living is also much higher here, which means most of us stay on the ship much more than last year. The upside of this is increased community on the ship and time to develop other hobbies.
I have been taking time to pursue art, something I used to do back home, but didn't do much of last year on the ship. I decided I wanted to teach myself hand lettering. After watching 3 YouTube tutorials, I went crazy practicing and I surprised myself with what I was able to accomplish. It reminds me that I'm not too old to learn something new and makes me wonder what else I might like to learn.
|Lines from my current favorite song, No Longer Slaves|
Teaching 5 different math classes challenges me constantly, but it has also been a gift. I can see the connections between courses and how the topics build on each other from year to year in a way that I didn't before. It is very satisfying to know I am preparing students to be successful in future math courses.
My treasure-map-distance-formula-geometry-lesson still lives on even on a ship in Benin. Ironically, dressing up as a pirate is even more fun when you live on a ship.
|The crew is thinking hard during the Academy Open House this year.|