a whole new part of cotonou’s multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, multi-purpose, multi-national world was opened to me today… flo’s fitness.
kim and brian, canadian missionaries in benin for 18 years (they were here to see the first democtratic election) invited me to join them for dinner last night, along with their two sons and their friend jasmine, a recent georgetown grad teaching art and english at the english international school here. kim was not only thoughtful enough to pair jasmine and me up, but she even made TACOS for dinner! she saw my eyes light up when someone mentioned mexican food at the softball game last saturday, so she had her cook, jean, make homemade tortillas ground beef. oh, delicious. it was also very cool to meet jasmine, who felt like a kindred spirit from the east coast. i crashed at chez kim & brian, avoiding night travel as usual, and then joined kim this morning for yet another adventure… her exercise class. flo’s fitness is a gym for women (not like curves in the US) in the international part of town. the first class is free, so i gave it a trial run this morning. she (flo) speaks french french (not beninoise french), so it was a bit hard to follow, but fun nonetheless. farhan would have died laughing, since the shirt kim let me borrow for class was pale yellow, as if i wasn’t pale enough already, ha. anyway, it was the first time i’d seen myself in a full length mirror, at which point i discovered i’m definitely not starving in africa. it was also my second hot shower since the US… glorious.
last night as we were walking jasmine home (you can actually walk at night in the international part of town!) i started to think that maybe i should at least look at apartments in that part of town. i came here determined to steer clear of the international scene, but maybe that was a bit snobby of me, considering all the good that could come from partnering with others in the work we’re doing here. when i tell josue about the people i’m meeting, he’s always saying, “this is an answer to prayer!” because they are often working with organizations he’s been wanting to contact for years. maybe i should accept the fact that i’m “yovo” and let God use that, rather than trying to shake my yovo-ness off.
or maybe not. maybe i should be fully integrated. the local scene is more and more comfortable. i’m finding that i’m learning something new about myself every day, so i guess i should just be patient, enjoy the lessons, and know that time will tell where i’m supposed to end up.