Thursday, July 12, 2007

another welcome from Togo written weeks ago

I have posted this message to let you all know that I am alive and well in Togo. Alive for the moment that is because if I don’t get this French thing down soon then I may just take refuge in Ghana where they speak English.
Togo is lush and the people are very welcoming and at times too welcoming. As an American one must realize that the idea of one’s space is regarded very different here. You can never find that time alone and very rarely do you have it. I am in constant search of my quiet time for lack of a very limited conversation in French with my host family.
Here’s the breakdown…. I am currently near Agou in the plateau region of Togo. Right now we have training in culture, language, technique and survival. All of the former do aquaint to survival and to me the first problem I am encountering is the language barrier. The food is great, well at my host family that is. So far they have made me yummy lunches of couscous with veggies and fried plaintains. I also have rice with sauce d’arachide (peanut sauce similar to satay) pasta with a tomato sauce and other Togolese dishes which I have discovered to be quite tasty. One is the bouille d’riz, (rice porridge with sugar) tastes like Trix cereal. Ususally I discover these things when I ask my host mom what she is eating and she let’s me try it. They have told the host families to make foods more similar to Americain cuisine until we adjust. So far I have realized that I can survive on fired plaintains, rice, cous cous, veggies like beans and corn…ohh and tofu. Not to mention the pineapples and bananas, mangos and papayas. One girl in my group has a host mom that makes brownies and cookies so we buy them off of her almost every day.

My host father is a retired primary school headmaster and my mother is a housewife. She is 50 and is buff! Most women here are since they do manual labor all day from dusk to dawn. I also live with three kids aged 15, 10 and 5. The youngest girl is self sufficient at the age of 5. As I am writing this she is doing her own laundry. I live off the beaten path and my family has a farm. There are chickens running around and a cat with kittens. We have a simple set-up but I do have electricity which is not constant. That does not mean I have running water. I go to the bathroom in a latrine and I shower with a cup and bucket. The simple life is right!
So far roughing it in Africa has been going well. I don’t know if it is the Larium (anti-malarial drugs) or just the fact that one needs to adjust quickly to being dirty and very close to nature. The other day I was staring at my ceiling and noticed a wasp. Normally I would try to get him the hell out of my room, but with such calmness I noticed that not only a wasp was in my room but also a lizard. I stood there and stared for about 5 minutes waiting for nature to act. The lizard never ate the wasp. The show was over and I returned to reading my book. The whole act didn’t even phase me.
You get used to these things quickly here. I also killed two huge cockroaches in my latrine the other day. No problem.
We get our post assignments next week after having a discussion with the director of my program tomorrow. I am excited to hear about the areas and where they will match us up with. Some of the post villages are large and some are small as well as there are ones that have never had a volunteer so that means we will have to equip our houses and get things made. For the others we will just move into a house that was occupied by another volunteer who is leaving. All in all I will try to report back as soon as possible. Please write and send rations whenever possible. What they say about Africa is true, there is very little here.

Also the internet is slower than slow and it will have probably taken me 1 hour to post this to my blog and possibly another hour just to reach my inbox so feel free to write me. I would love to get letters!! And I promise to write back soon. My address is at the top of this blog.

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