Days 5+6 - July 13-14

Earlier messages have been updated with photos and there are some at the bottom of this one.

PS (Day 4).

On our way out of Fio Kondji village Bro. Philippe bought a small goat for a celebration meal they were having over the weekend in his community. The goat was tied up and left on the floor of our bus bleating away, slightly traumatising a few of the group. Much fun was had at poor old Michael Mc's expense though he took it in good spirit.

Edgar holding Michael the goat :-), soon to be Michael the ex-goat Sunday lunch.

Day 5 - Friday the 13th!!!! Aného to Mango (550 kms in 11 hrs including stops)

What an adventure this day was. We just about managed to fit into a rugged, 14-seater Toyota Hiace taxi with most of our baggage tied on the roof, though there was actually a 15th person squeezed in: the driver's assistant/mechanic. His presence was explained when we broke down after about 3 hours (a blown glow plug apparently, according to resident mechanic and motor expert Tom B. who actually gave a hand with the repairs which took about 30 mins.

Once we'd got onto the main Lomé to Mango road after about 1 hour, progress was pretty smooth in terms of road surface, traffic, etc... Think decent sized British A-road. It was interesting to see the evolving countryside as we headed north, which of course was much greener than normal due to the recent heavy rain (we are in the middle of the rainy season). The terrain also became hillier.

Just after halfway we stopped for a meal in the town of Sokodé, following the advice of our very helpful driver who showed us a good place to go. Rice with either chicken or beef was our menu, both accompanied by a spicy sauce which most of the group loved (they go in for a lot of spicy food here). As we left the restaurant, the heavens opened unleashing a downpour of a force none of us had ever witnessed. Our tour video will give you some idea of its ferociousness. We had great fun with the restaurant owners and clients as we tried to shelter in the doorway and then make a dash for the bus.

We were very lucky with the weather the whole day as it could have been much hotter. In the end the journey went much smoother than most of us feared.

We met my good friend and former co-Novice (our first year of training for the Brotherhood in 1990) Bro. Romain in the northern town of Kara. He was driving back from a study session in Bénin. We arrived at Mango at about 7.00pm. Accommodation is for the most part in school classrooms. It is noticably hotter and more humid here than in Aného with far more insects, many of which are huge and somùe lovely looking geckos and lizards.

Day 6 - July 14th

Our first tummy upsets have appeared, though none too serious so far. I think it's normal that our bodies eventually show some reaction to the change of diet and the heat. By the evening Josh was feeling rough and had a pretty bad night, having to rest most of the next day, but by the evening of the 15th he was just about back on his feet and had a bite too eat.

Saturday the 14th was our first chance to really work with some children. In the end about 50 youngsters between 10 and 18 came for a morning of making name badges, football matches (girls as well as boys), parachute games and more outdoor fun. The children are joyous, playful, friendly and extremely polite.

They came back for an afternoon of dancing and songs. Some local young adults put on a bit of a dance show (modern dance) reminiscent of some black breakdancers we saw in Paris, with the school PA system belting out the latest hits from around West Africa. They tried to teach us some moves but we just looked clumsily comical in comparison, with one or two exceptions, mainly Megan L. and Paul H.

We then got the youngsters up to join us in Lord I Lift Your Name On High, Cha Cha Slide and The Macarena which all went down well. Rendez-vous was given for Monday to continue our activities.

Andy R. + Simon T. with some new friends

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