Struggle is not eating enough/well balanced diets.
Struggle is every time we get in a taxi and a big mama takes up tons of space and/or places her baby on you lap for the four hour ride ahead.
Struggle is every time we leave the house.
Struggle is wading through seasonal streams (washed from the bushes where people defecate.)
Struggle is getting on motorcycle taxis wearing traditional outfits and trying not to expose the knee.
Struggle is buying onions, fabric, or a watch and figuring out how much they should ACTUALLY cost.
Struggle is suffering with Mr. D (diarrhea) and knowing you have six hours of class ahead of you.
Struggle is waking up to sweep the goat poop off your porch.
Struggle is staring at the large spiders on the wall that build webs at remarkable speeds, but are potentially advantageous at eating other bugs.
Struggle is riding your bike and not seeing the primary school child wearing khaki and lying on the ground. (He was ok, don’t worry)
Struggle is constantly being asked for money. Or candy. By children. And grown men. And women.
Struggle is being clean.
Struggle is breaking the ear piece off your glasses and wearing them crookedly on your face (this has happened to me and a dear friend.)
Struggle is going to market the day after it rains and getting your foot stuck/covered in mud every time you take a step towards the vegetable lady and then being offered piggy back rides from random men.
Struggle is cooking dinner and sweating like you've just run a marathon.
Joy is speaking the little amount of local language we’ve mastered and seeing the shock and delight on a village woman’s face that you know her language.
Joy is being hugged by a 2 year old kid and having him say he loves you.
Joy is teaching neighbors to make chocolate cake (…so that they can make it for you!)
Joy is having a motivated and creative work partner and students who care about your class.
Joy is finding the tofu and peanut butter mamas in village.
Joy is seeing the kids in your concession start playing empty bottles as drums and start doing the classic shoulder shakin’ and cool chicken winged dance by the even smaller children.
Joy is the girl’s soccer team voting on the name La Lumiere Magique!
Joy is the pineapple or banana lady throwing in an extra piece of fruit fo’ FREE!
Joy is having a family that you’re close to in village and having them open up, share pictures, stories, and folktales.
Joy is feeling too lazy to cook lunch and then a neighbor magically bringing over food!
Joy is students walking out of their way to greet you with big grins on their face as they declare, “Good morning Madame!”
Joy is picking up random people's children and making them laugh. And joking about taking the cute kid home with you.
Joy is being in
for FIVE months with amazing Peace Corps volunteers. Benin
Joy is carrying a 10 foot mat, rolled, and balanced on my head as I walk around my market town and feel well integrated.
Joy is the motorcycle taxi man (zemidjan) giving you the correct price the first time you ask.
Joy is cooking tortillas and chocolate chunk cookies with fellow PCVs dedicated to deliciousness.
Joy is stretching out on a big mat in the cool night air and gazing at the stars.
Joy is leaving village and realizing how much you miss it.
Joy is feeling like you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Joy is being a Peace Corps Benin volunteer.