/ chez moi in benin

on 16 dec, i moved to my permanent village in the arrondissement of tangbo-djevie,  about 30km north of the peace corps office in the cadjehoun neighborhood of cotonou. after 4 weeks of living at chez appolinaire, a relatively well-off food producer in the arrondissement, i moved to the concession of chez donatien after a small dispute over the rent with m. appolinaire. my experience with getting settled into my new home has been much more enjoyable than that at my previous abode, as: [1] my neighbors speak french (as opposed to only fon), [2] i am deeper into the village which helps with my integration, [3] i have had an easier time making friends and spending the time with the people i live around, among many other factors. on top of this, the ngo that pays my rent is saving money as the new house has a cheaper monthly rent. 

front terrace. i share the side walls with neighbors, the house has a railroad layout.

view from my terrace of chez donatien, the only multi-level house in the village, which is the largest of the 13 villages in the arrondissement. m. donatien is retired and amassed most of his wealth during his 30 year tenure working for an old, non-existant railway that ran to niger.

view of inside the concession. there are 5 apartments my size, and a 6th at the end which is larger. i dry my laundry like its being done on the left.

salon. i have a table with 4 chairs, and a fan. i am planning to have a small bookcase made, and use the walls for arranging photo projects i am working on. i had the walls painted white before i moved in. previously they were plain cement.

bedroom. the previous volunteer left me the bedframe. 

temporary desk area, with baskets of my clothes beneath and the pc-issued lockable trunk. 

kitchen

open air shower – my favorite space.

bathroom sink.

laurent, my 15 week old kitten.

i will use this land outside of my concession to construct a large garden. the landlord has hired workers to cut down the brush, which you can see still exists on the right. the top image shows the cleared terrain, which is also littered with trash that will need to be cleared. they have been using small fires to burn the trash, but i will still need to work heavily on the soil. 

we hired this tricycle – a popular form of transporting bulk items – who moved my stuff for the 5 min drive through the village in 2 trips.

all images © 2019 dan greenberg.

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