Wow. I was going back through my old “diary” that I kept while I was in Benin and I was reminded of so many things that seem so totally archaic and unbelievable to me know.
For example – since there were no telephone or internet in my village, but i did have electricity and my ibook, I would type up e-mails and then save them to a FLOPPY DISK (this was in the pre-usb drive days), and then go to Lokossa or Cotonou to send the e-mails. However in reading the diary I come across a lot of “my floppy disk is broken again, so I lost everything I had saved…”. This was probably due to the crappy magnetic nature of the disks, as well as the heat and dust and etc, and the going from a mac to pc type stuff.
Another surprising difference – I didn’t have a digital camera. Since I hadn’t assumed I would have electricity or a computer, I didn’t bring a digital camera, so I only have the developed prints of pictures I took during that time, which I never had time to scan or put on my computer. I didn’t get a digital camera until about 3/4 through my service, when I visited home. Then I made up for it by taking pictures of EVERYTHING, and posting them all online.
There are a million other differences, of course. I had so much free time back then, my typical day involved spending 4 or 5 hours cooking, and 3 or 4 hours reading, randomly going on long bike rides, walking around with my dog, sitting by the river and looking at it for hours, doing corssword puzzles, playing scrabble.
I wish I had the time to play scrabble now. I actually brought my scrabble board with me to Laos, and a clarinet, thinking it would be like Benin, and I would have free time to play. That is totally the opposite of the real situation. I am working about 50 hours a week, and sometime spending 1 or 2 hours a day commuting. I don’t really mind the bus to Dong Dok, it’s actually the only free time I get to read.
Anyway, I suppose also living in the capital I also do a great deal more socializing. I could be at home, practising my clarinet, but I could also be out, drinking Beerlao with my pals.
Anyway, I’m feeling nostalgic. Not only for the time I spent in Benin, but the time I spent in Chicago, the time I spent in France, the time I spent in Montreal. It’s strange how I put so much effort into creating friendships and significant links to places, only to leave. But the more I think about it, the more I think Wellington is where I want to go! Don’t get me wrong, I love Laos, I love Chicago, I love Montreal, I love San Francisco, I love France, etc etc etc. But I think I’m getting ready to move onto something new, Lao is pretty comfortable for me now, and I hate the winter in Montreal, and I’m over the Chicago scene. So… please keep your fingers crossed for me that everything works out. And then, if it does, you’re welcome to come visit me in New Zealand anytime.