Rain, Town Halls and “parler Francais”

There are two rainy seasons in Benin, or so they tell me.  The “little” rainy season is in what we Americans think of as the fall.  I was here for that, and I don’t remember much rain.  The second is the “long” rainy season, which is supposed to start right about now, and may be headed this way.  Over the past week, we’ve had rain three days.  Hard if not too long.  One of those sessions was Friday night leading into Saturday morning, when it was still raining and thundering when I awoke.

Normally, I’d welcome this.  I like rain and I like thunderstorms.  I like the sound the rain makes on the roof.  I like the small of rain as it cleans everything on which it falls.  The only problem Saturday morning is that it was the date of the Town Hall meeting for Americans I’d been planning for the past month.  Good News – unlike the first of these, I scheduled it for indoors.  Bad news – if it’s pouring down rain, people wouldn’t want to walk from the parking area to the Ambassador’s residence through mud.  The Ambassador’s driveway is paved, but the parking area isn’t.

Fortunately, the rain subsided an hour or so before starting time, and the Town Hall went off without a hitch.  Still, they’ve told me when the rainy season  really comes, watch out!

For now, the rain was just enough to firm up our softball field at what will be the grounds of our new embassy without turning it into a quagmire.  We had about a dozen folks out there this week.  The group is growing, and we’re  teaching a few local folks the game.

Those of you in the consular “biz” know we’re in the process of converting over to the DS-160.  That’s the new electronic form for non-immigrant visas to the US.  Cotonou’s time has come, and as part of the process, I’ve taken a set of PowerPoint slides created by someone somewhere (I’ve seen an English language version from Kuala Lampur and a French version from Paris) and turned it into a continuous show with voiceover we’re going to show in the consulate waiting room.  I did the voiceover.  In French.  Okay, to be fair, one of the folks in my office actually did the translation, but I sat down this weekend at my computer with my sound editing software, mixer and mic and recorded everything.  The nice advantage of digital editing software is that you can fix your mistakes…within reason.  It also is good at eliminating the background noise of my a/c and the cars driving by on the Airport Road.

Unfortunately, I’m probably going to have to do interviews with local TV about the new form and the planned increase in fees (unrelated but coincidentally at the same time) and they won’t let me edit, even though I’ve got video editing capability as well.  Just keep the questions (and answers) simple…please!

Last note — if that volcano had just erupted a few days early, I’d still be relaxing in Annapolis!



Filed under Foreign Service Stuff

2 responses to “Rain, Town Halls and “parler Francais”

  1. It’s Friday, and that means that the Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up – and you’re on it!

    Here is the link:


    (If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)


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