getting stuff made

What Benin lacks in retail options it makes up for in affordable labor. Can’t find a dress you like? Have one made to order! Wish you’d brought another table for that awkwardly empty space in your house? Have one built!

So when I decided that I wanted Flynn to have a swing but knew a swing set would be too big to ship from the United States, I searched for a local carpenter. He came over, looked at photos of what we wanted, and then a week later came back with this.

Almost swing time.

Admittedly there were some minor issues. It’s shorter than we envisioned so we had to wrap the swing’s long chain around the top many times. But Flynn knows no different. He runs over to it, arms flapping, whenever we go outside. There’s space for a second swing when he’s bigger and capable of more than just the bucket, but for now it’s just perfect.


It turned out so well that I’m tempted to ask the carpenter to come back and make Flynn a slide… or a teeter totter… or a sandbox. It’s going to be a regular playground in our front yard by the time I’m done, just wait.



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5 Responses to getting stuff made

  1. Becky says:

    That’s a great idea!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Hi Alex & Andy! My husband’s been offered a position in the A-100 class starting in July (we have to decide by Tuesday…eek!). I’ve spent the last two days reading your blog (I found it when I googled “foreign service book”) and I want to thank you for posting so much detail about the process. As you can imagine, so many thoughts and emotions are consuming our minds right now. It’s been very helpful to read your story. Thank you so much! By the way, love Flynn’s new swing!

  3. Alex says:

    Welcome! There are definitely both pluses and minuses to this lifestyle, but so far at least we find that the pluses outweigh the minuses.

  4. Daniela says:

    Oh, how fun! He looks so thrilled. We won’t have room for a swing in our backyard but there’s a decent playground on the compound 5 minutes from our house, so it will be fine. Max will have to learn to share, ha!

  5. Mira says:

    Hi! Me and my husband just moved to Cotonou a few months ago and I happened to stumble on your blog. The swing set looks pretty good and I’ve actually been looking for a good carpenter to do a few closets for our place, do you think you would be able to email me his number? Your blog’s great, it’s got so much info about living in Cotonou!

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