Okay, not locusts exactly. Peace Corps Volunteers.
There was a major Peace Corps event in Cotonou this past weekend, so most of the 100+ PCVs in Benin descended on the city. Since there is a limit how much space the Peace Corps has to house volunteers at HQ, they asked us if we’d be nice to put some up in our homes. Most of the FS folks agreed.
Now, let me explain something. After they’ve been here a while, there is no such thing as a fat PCV in Benin. It’s not that there’s no food out in the bush, but there isn’t a lot of variety, and they do a lot of physical work. So, give the average PCV an opportunity to eat and…they’ll eat. For example, when the Ambassador hosted a group of PCV’s for breakfast about a month ago, his cooks were instructed to “make twice as much as you normally would for that number of people.”
Which brings us to this past weekend and the pot luck party Saturday night. We don’t need an excuse to get together and eat, but we used the PCVs as one anyway. We all gathered at the RSO’s house and each of the FS folks brought a couple of dishes (instead of the usual one each when it’s just us). I used this weekend as an opportunity to make my first attempt at potato salad and dug into the pantry for some salsa and chips. The RSO was making chili and quesedillas, so I brought along my jar of jalapenos I had picked up on the trip to Lagos.
I arrived with my four volunteers to find that Tony’s volunteers and a couple of others were already into making guac. That’s one thing I have to say about Benin, the ingredients for fresh guac are always available. As soon as they saw I had chips, the making concluded and the eating began. As more and more people arrived, the kitchen table quickly resembled a piece of food dropped near an anthill. Tony (the RSO) reached in with a plate of quesedillas and he was lucky to get all his fingers back. Plans to move the food out to the dining room table were set aside for a while. Finally, we ran out of chips (my bag, and one from the RFMO across the street) and that slowed the rampage down long enough that we could set out the other food on the dining room table. Within a short time, nothing was left except a few condiments and the bowls.
It’s not like we hadn’t been feeding the PCVs while they were here. I had made fresh made waffles and bacon for breakfast and meatball subs and potato salad for lunch, and everyone else had served similar. They just hadn’t seen food like this in a while. I understand, but it is amazing to watch.
The Peace Corps Volunteers do a lot of good work with very little in the way of resources, and they were all great guests. They’re just hungry.