Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Crater of Zarzok

Instead of having winter in Benin, it just doesn’t rain for three months. This is good for people who don’t like getting motorcycle trips interrupted and who like drying clothes in one day, though prices for food tend to go up during dry season. I told some lady I wouldn’t buy her eggs since they were too expensive, and she said (in Fon, which someone translated for me) “Well damn, if the yovo thinks it’s too much, what the hell are we Africans supposed to do?”

It gets really, really dusty during dry season. The word in Fon for the dry season is ‘white wind’, since all the sand from the Sahara blows south, hangs in the air, and blots out the sky (during the rainy season it gets rained away). It’s like a permanent, sandy fog. Pineapples are readily available for some reason, though every other fruit isn’t. I haven’t had an orange in two months. Dry season ended a few days ago with an awesomely huge storm. I was pretty stoked that it was raining, even though the roof started leaking onto my face while I was sleeping.

Probably the best thing about it raining is that a student I’m working with can finally start growing moringa on a commercial basis (moringa is this jazzy plant that’s full of protein and vitamins which are lacking in many people’s diets). He’s been pretty diligent about getting it started, and seems to be an exceedingly competent farmer, so I’m actually hopeful for once that a secondary project might come to fruition. Usually I find out that anything I come up with either already exists or isn’t remotely possible. Zinvie is (fortunately) developed to the point that my presence here is almost unjustifiable, so I was pretty happy to find something I could do that needed doing.

The goal, in theory, is to teach people to cook moringa powder properly (since the traditional way of preparing a sauce destroys the nutrients), then sell it in bulk either at the market or to the local hospital, which would resell to expecting and nursing mothers. The only downside is that it may take a year or two before any of the plants are old enough to be harvested, but with any luck I should see it all come together before my service is finished.


Blogger Cit1zen C said...

Good job Jim!

3:07 PM  

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