Okay. Not a real Rhino, a wooden carving of one. I like him. He has a good face. I found him at a little shop on the side of the road outside Ouidah, which I visited this weekend. Ouidah was the headquarters of the slave trade in this part of Africa. One of the things we did was follow the slave route from the market (where the tree under which slaves were sold still stands) to the water (where on the 100th anniversary of the end of the slave trade, they erected the “Gate of No Return”). I also visted the old Portuguese fort which is now the Ouidah museum. It is one of the few standing buildings from that time. Each country participating in the slave trade had a fort: French, English, Dutch, etc., but only the Portuguese one survives.
I also visited the Python temple where one sees…pythons, which are a local Voodoo (Vodun) god. Although many have embraced Christanity (there is a church right next door) they have no problems combining it with local religion.
I took photos. Once I’m in my permanent house and can upload, I’ll post them.
I have found a television. I am still looking for a car. If I had known then what I know now (this is my most often stated preface these days) I would have shipped my TV from the US (our cable is okay with NTSC televisions) and shipped a car, even if I had to buy one. of course, neither would have been hear yet anyway. For those of you who speak Foreign Service, the next few sentences can be skipped.
When you travel to your post, there are several different kinds of shipments:
- Your luggage – which travels with you on the plane and is subject to normal luggage weight and size rules, not to mention you need to drag it through the airport.
- Unaccompanied Air Baggage (UAB) – This is air freight shipped to your new post, usually arriving in a few weeks. It has a weight limit as well, so it’s no good for big TVs or Anvils.
- Household…(HHE) – I forget what it stands for, but this is most of your stuff. It has a weight limit, but it’s quite generous unless you’re planning on shipping your Acme Anvil collection. This goes by ship and takes several months.
- Consumables – Another weight limited sea shipment for posts where it may not be easy to find all the food and other things (toilet paper) you need. The consumables challenges are calculating your 2 year requirement for TP, and finding a place to store it all once it’s here.
- Automobile – They ship one vehicle for you. There are weight and size limits, so a Gulfstream probably doesn’t count, but a small LSA might. I didn’t ask. most people ship cars, though.
- They’ll store what’s left for you back in the states. Again, that’s limited, but it’s a big limit and you can probably store your anvils.
Why do I mention this? So when I say my UAB is here (it is) or my HHE is not here (it isn’t) you know what I mean.