Scattered Notes from Cotonou

  • Today is the last day of the Federal Fiscal Year 2009.  For us, that means one cycle of diversity visas ends and a new one begins.  Diversity Visas allow immigrants to the U.S. from countries that don’t usually have many…like Benin.
  • AFRTS television is a bit of a trip.  A news channel with both Keith Olbermann and Glen Beck.  An NFL football game almost every night, just don’t read the Internet or it will spoil the fun.  TV series — some from this season, some reruns, from all the networks.  And lots of promos for reenlisting, the GI bill, safety, the history of the services, etc.
  • Skype has been around for a while, but the last time I looked it it it was a bit rough, and I was in the US and didn’t really need it.  Now, it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread (which is available in Cotonou).  It’s a program that runs on your computer that uses the Internet for voice or video calls.  Computer to computer it’s free (of course, you’re paying for your Internet service).  Call a regular landline – about 2 cents a minute, even from Cotonou back to the US.  For an annual fee you can get a phone number with just about any US area code and people can call you.  I love Skype.
  • I rewatched The West Wing’s 3rd Season openers (Manchester parts 1 and 2).  I’m an extra in the crowd scene at Bartlet’s reelection announcement.  It was shot (in case you wonder) in Bluemont, VA, not Manchester, NH.  The town shots were in Middleburg, VA nearby.
  • One of the amazing things watching office buildings go up in the US is how fast it happens.  In Cotonou, it’s how slowly it happens.
  • “Don’t drink the water!”  You’be probably heard that when travelling overseas.  In a world of bottled water, water can always be found that won’t mess up your digestion, but one of the countertop appliances in every State Department home is a home distiller which keeps us in safe drinking (and cooking) water.  It’s about the size of a big microwave, with the distiller on top and a storage tank below with a spigot like on a big coffee maker.
  • Electricity can be spotty in Cotonou.  I’d say we lose power about every other day during the week, and several times each weekend.  Fortunately, my house has a generator which kicks in quickly, although not quickly enough that I don’t have to reset all my digital clocks!


Filed under Foreign Service Stuff

2 responses to “Scattered Notes from Cotonou

  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  2. docreport

    Great blog! I have one of those big water distillers as well. Here is a tip, sign up @ they have a email subscription service for your blog readers, simple enter your email in the box and subscribe widget. I always encourage my readers to use that instead of revisiting my blog.
    Quick Skype tip, you can buy and item called an RJ11 adapter that plugs into your computer and allows a regular house corded/cordless phones to be used as both a landline or Skype phone. Very cool. Phone has a distinctive ring for Skype calls and your not tethered to your computer : )

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