Even if already before the trip we had promised ourselves to accept everything we see and try to follow the local rules, there were still some things so difficult to adapt to. Our obstacles on the road:
Drinking From Plastic Bags
Even if usually we are quite carelessly eating food from filthy markets without any complaints, there’s one rule we always follow – the only water that is drinkable, stays in a sealed plastic bottle with the producer’s name on it. Just before our arrival someone mentions, that people in Benin drink water from plastic bags which contains unboiled water, most likely faked by easy money hunters.
The first few days in Nigeria we are keeping close to our bottles. Its constantly 30+ degrees outside, sweat is dripping, throat drying, we use an endless amount of bottles. And one costs as much as our daily budget for food. The same time careless locals drink from small plastic bags and wash themselves with the same water. These 10-cent life serums are becoming more and more attractive every day. Finally a wise man in a taxi explains while offering us a sip: if the bag has a product number, then it’s good. We sigh with heavy hearts but still take it.
Once in Benin we start looking for these magic numbers. But however many bags we are looking for, the numbers are nowhere. While looking for the numbers, the sun is shining and the heat is getting intolerable. So we sip from where we can. But just a little.
Another week later and I have finally given up buying water bottles. The only problem with plastic bags is that these need to be drunk till the end cause the hole bitten into the bag cannot be closed again. So it often happens that when you finally reach somebody’s place and its still dripping hot, you don’t have a bag with you. And then the hosts offer you your nightmare – local tap water.
Its the last week. Terje is running after a cart of ice creams, all of them in plastic bags. probably made at home. She tears a hole into one of them with her teeth and starts sucking the bag to get her dessert. Big smile on her mouth and dust covering her face. I refreash myself with a water of unknown origins which probably reached me through some random tap. But you see, I’m still alive!
A White Woman Does Not Work
Anything that was to do with household issues, it was Charlotte’s responsibility. The same moment that we arrived in the garden, Charlotte was already in starting position and ready for cooking, putting us sitting and refusing any help. Me, Terje and Chaka, were just watching. The same pattern was followed every breakfast, lunch and dinner time.
In the first place I felt quite pitty for her: What kind of white queens are we that we are being treated in this way? We were trying to offer our help, to do this or that, but close to the pots and pans we were never really allowed. Then we turned to Chaka to ask if he ever offers his help. He nodded in his joyous manner and said that he is always there for her and continued sitting in the chair.
If in the beginnng it seemed so unfair towards a woman, then it didn’t take us a long time before we marched into the garden, sat down, put our pineapple on the table and waited for everything to be ready and served miracuously.
It was just this strange twist that we didn’t see coming. Once Chaka saw us washing our clothes and was laughing out loud. He pulled the G-strings from my hands and finished the washing by himself. This Western girls know nothing about handwash. So there you go, women can also be helped in household works, – white women at least.