Orders for my next post showed up. Guess I am going. Still have a lot to do here before I leave (end of August). Still, drip by drip, step by step, things are happening that lead to me leaving Cotonou.
That’s the Benin national soccer (football) team and they’ve been on a bad run. They can’t seem to get it together. They’ve fired and hired and fired and hired coaches. Fired the whole team after the World Cup. Had FIFA refuse to recognize their federation for a while, and otherwise moved backwards at a time when it looked like they were moving forward.
The latest disaster was in a qualifying game for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. I was there. The Squirrels fell behind 3-0 in the first 30 minutes, and in spite of climbing to within 3-2 and some of the most colorful fans I’ve ever seen, ended up on the wrong side of a 6-2 thrashing by Ivory Coast.
If you get a chance to go to a sporting event overseas, do it! The stands were about 2/3 full two hours before the game and in full roar. We could see on the other side of the stadium the smaller contingent from Ivory Coast who had traveled to the game. Even though this was the national team, tickets ranged from $2 to $10. On the other hand, there were no seats, just concrete bleachers. Vendors circulated through the crowd selling boiled peanuts, sandwiches, canned drinks and Squirrel paraphernalia. When the game started, the place was packed…more than packed…dangerous actually. If only the fan’s enthusiasm could have been translated to the field. Ivory Coast was just faster, more athletic and better coached. The big thing Benin needs is more speed. Which is why I suggest they hire a new squirrel.
Given where I’m headed next, my first two posts will end up being “Squirrel and Moose”, which is the wrong order, but I’ll live with that.
There are so many little things that you need to start doing when you transfer. Yesterday I filled out my medical form, only to have the doctor ask to see my immunization card. Since I was pincushioned before I got here, I expect everything is up to date. He also wants to make sure I didn’t pick up TB while I was in country. Ahhh…the glamorous life of a diplomat. Still, I counted my anti-malarial pills to make sure I wouldn’t run out before leaving (I won’t).