I start this post with the observation that in the Foreign Service, you don’t have six degrees of separation from anything. When a story like the earthquake in Haiti happens – you know people there, or you worked with people there, or you used to BE there, or all three. In my case, I had people from my A-100 and French classes serving there, and more in the DR across the island. The folks I work with here in Cotonou either served there or served with people who are. It makes the concept of a global village very real. I am happy to say everyone I know is OK, best I can tell, although the terrible loss of life certainly tempers that joy. In any case, I watch with a different level of connection than I would have two years ago.
Now, shwarma. People with middle eastern experience will know a shwarma is the mideast’s version of a sandwich. I had never had one until last night, but the folks at the Embassy kept telling me of this great shwarma place in walking distance, so last night, we went. They were right. I don’t know how traditional it was, but the shwarma I had was a charcoaled kabob dropped into a pita, veggies added along with a sweet/spicy sauce then wrapped up and regrilled in the pita until the bread is crisp. I tried a beef, and a chicken, and both were absolutely wonderful. There’s a big Lebanese community in Cotonou, and one of the benefits is really good food.
My friend Matt with a shwarma. His lovely wife Carolyn is the photographer.
Finally, as you know if you’ve been following along. I ride an electric moped around Cotonou. It burped tonight, and I need to check if a connection is coming loose, but that’s another story. This story is that I’ve seen my second electric vehicle in Cotonou. It was a three wheeled car. Bright yellow. Holding two folks. I don’t know whose it was, but it looked old, like it had been passed around for quite a while. In any case, I now know I’m not the only keeper of the electric flame alive in Cotonou.