Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fin de stage

So all is done and now we have the opportunity to start fresh. Stage is nearing the end and we are all getting ready to head to Lome and by the time you will be reading this post I will be in Lome plugging it on to the computer since for one I will be with a great internet connection. And so it goes…

How do I feel? Well I still think I am here for all the right reasons but I can’t even express the difficulties one must endure from day to day. Emotional difficulties. I am having a hard time being myself when one is in such a controlling environment. Make the most of the situation and yet I am still running and hiding just trying to find quiet time alone. I have little energy to do a lot of things and hope that all of that will return once I get to post. My emotions roll in waves through the day and I have a lot of ups and downs. One moment I’m up and excited and then I crash and just want to sleep. I think it’s dietary changes, environment changes, and the feeling that whatever I do I’m being watched and if you know me…I don’t like to be on display all the time. It’s too much.

And I’ve talked to my boyfriend who is in Mauritania right now..far far from me. That poses another difficulty. After being so close for two years now we are miles apart. I have gotten to talk to him at length for just two times Thanks in part to his parents and their involvement in setting up a conference calling system (3-way). It is too expensive to call Togo to Mauritania and since we don’t have internet yet Skype is out of the question. But the boy is well and we are already planning when we will be able to see each other…in mid December.

Anyone out there got a pen and paper?
Also I have yet to receive a letter in written form from anyone. I can’t stress enough how important letters and photos from home have become. I’ve gotten a couple packages and I appreciate everything inside but that stuff is just novelty, my emotions are crying out for some contact from home…written on paper…I need letters. I have not received a single one. Much more so than packages. And if you do send a package..please….please…send a letter in it. Newspaper clippings from home, photos, anything personal. That is all I need right now and one knows how important it is when they haven’t gotten any. Wil has sent me a letter from Mauritania but who knows if it will ever reach me. Please write snail mail to me since internet connectivity is unreliable and few and far between. It will probably be that way until December where they may run another promotion on Illico (the home internet for Togo). It is too expensive right now for a Peace Corps Volunteers budget. Sorry to stress this even harder but when one is at the end of the emotional string and gets a little excited when a package arrives….she tears past all the goodies from home and doesn’t find but a single letter….anything personal….the tears return. You could never imagine how important letters are until you are worlds away and long for them in times of emotional discourse.

So…words on the Togo side…

We are all ready to get to work and head to our respective villages and therefore I can say that we are all done with structure and group activity. Yeah but that doesn’t mean that when we get to post we will be heading off in pursuit of meeting up again. The closest volunteer to me is about 30k away and we have already planned our first bike ride to meet each other. Ohh and we have also been planning our great big thanksgiving feast so feel free to start sending me Thanksgivin fixins-gravy packets, seasoning packets, stove top, meat and cheese tray, dessert kits, (yellow cake mix with chocolate fudge frosting), coffee cake mixes, snack mix, etc….goldfish crackers, chex mix, poptarts, mmmmm

Ahhh…man I miss Chicago and the great US of A….

And now we are all sworn in and after speaking with WIl and comparing notes I am learning more about myself everyday.

These are some facts that I am ready to post:

I am sooo over group activities, esp when you are all on emotional rollercoasters and you are stuck in Africa and stuck in Togo.

I have never wanted to be alone so much as I do now. I will need to in order to maintain sanity.

I need an injection of happy serum because for some reason most of the time I am easily agitated and irritated and not excited.

Stage sucks but post is better so my emotions are improving. Post will also be even better once Wilcomes for a visit...three months in counting :(

wish me may not see a post for a while since there is no internet cafe in my town and there may not be working internet in the other town I have to bike to.

so snail mail me!

on y va!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Images of Togo

Lovely Pagne Cloth....

Heather~ Kate~ Megan ~ Carolyn “The fearless foursome”

Greetings from the yam capital of the world

So I am here yet again to let you know that I am still alive and kicking…kicking that is since I am in desire need to regain control of the time for myself. So when you are in “stage” as they call it here during the first three months in-country you are basically babysat and you have a “host” family to answer to. That means you will need to interact in the local language which is French with a little Ewe mixed in for good measure. I have two weeks left until I swear in as a volunteer which means that I will then be transferred to my post where I will be the only American there. Yes. that means that anything I want to do or say will then by way of the French language..a language that I have learned in a little over two months now.

Can you sense my struggle? Well it is learned bit by bit but ohh how much easier it would be to discuss business practices if I spoke the language. Enter sarcasm. That’s okay though because one can get by for a while by pointing and sprinkling the language as necessary. Oh yes…most everything is possible in Togo..but certainly not all…well not much.

Update on Health:

I just finished cleaning the infected bug bites on my legs. Right now 5 are covered with bandages…all the others are left to scab, of which there are probably about 20 on each leg and 10 on each arm.

Update: I am in Lome getting treatment for the 10 infected bites. But alas, I am fine...would love fabric bandaids of all sizes sent if possible...

I have not gotten Malaria yet and seem to be fine for the most part

I have not been able to get on a normal “potty” routine since my bowels are still confused by the massive amounts of fat and starch I consume daily.

I have gained what I think to be about 10 pounds yet feels like 50. Since I have not had the time to go running due to a number of reasons:
Heat, open sores on feet, constant fatigue, time…yes time….I will have such in 2 weeks time.

Update on Progress:

I have been assigned to a wonderful post in a small village just north of where our training is going on. It is in the plateau region which resembles what the Amazon may look like.

I am still…still tackling the French language…it will come ohh yes it will.
But wait. I will be forced to speak in 2 weeks once I get to post and am the only on there for miles around…ha ha ha ohhh geeez

I sprinkle in the local language whenever possible to entertain the community. How exciting when the “yovo” (foreigner) speaks the local dialect! You can pretty much get by with “YO” whenever you forget the rest of the salute.

I think I know what to start to work on once I arrive at post…but I really don’t. Let’s start with the youth…. “petite a petite” …..they say

Update on Cultural Affairs:

We all went to the Yam Fete this past weekend and had a blast after drinking a little “box wine” It took place in my town where the men run into the “enchanted forest” kill a goat and then run back out and dance. I was there dancing the “Cherie” dance and of course somehow managed to get on Togo Television. Can I say how excited my family is…TV is a big thing be on it is even bigger. I have yet to see the broadcast but somehow everyone saw me.

I am “Adjovi” in my town since that is the name given to girls born on a Monday. When they notice that you are gaining weight it is such a good thing that they even start to call you “Adjovi Gras” which means “fatty” Remember to be fat here is a compliment…but I am also called “Ah tee dwel dee” which is the word for toothpick in Ewe (local language)…so I must be pretty balanced.

I can take a bush taxi ride and turn it into an amusement park ride….with out the technician on duty to make sure the “ride is in working condition” So far still safe…no accidents yet though I may get hit by a moto coasting down the hill while I am walking on foot since most the time they are not minding the road.

I am a damn good bargainer when shopping in the marche and have folded many a marche mama into giving this “yovo” a good price. I think I can attest all that to my visits to the marches in China. That and since I am frugal and cheap.

I have embraced the local dress by buying the crazy cloth and designing numerous clothes out of them…sooo much fun!! Note the photos.

A word on Sanity:

Still searching on a daily basis for these things. Hard to maintain when your language skills are still developing and I need to make a list of “leave me alone” “I don’t want to speak with you” “I don’t want to eat meals made for 4 people” “I can do it alone” “sometimes you just don’t want to” “I have a boyfriend, fat chance, you can stop trying to get my attention and no I am not your “cherie””

I have 3 other girls who I have befriended to help me vent and maintain the focus needed to push on…we are there for one another from time to time. That’s what friends are for (cheesy song ..playing in my head)

Speaking of cheese if anyone sends me any I would love you eternally. Togo is without. Would love a Heritage Farms meat and cheese tray as soon as they hit the shelves for the holidays..or even a tub of Port Wine Cheddar.

My DVD player won’t work on this computer so movies are out of the question which is fine since I didn’t bring any with me anywho..but I will be fixing the computer……….anyone out there with any DVD’s to spare..send them in a padded envelope my way…
ohh and anyone out there with software to upload to fix the dvd reader please send too
I have two weeks until I am in Lome for swear-in where I will be able to ask the Ambassador what is going on in the world. It’s like I live on the moon here..I have no idea ….

Have learned that my boyfriend, Wil is withering away in Mauritania and recently got Salmonella poisoning and had to go to the hospital with other volunteers. He also smells like peanuts on a daily basis and eats nothing but rice and fish while living in an environment that could be described as looking “war-torn” I’m hoping that he will get some sense in him and have Peace Corps relocate him to Togo. Hopefully. but not at all possible…..he must make it through November before we will be able to visit.

Have yet to receive a letter from the home front………….anyone home?

Please write.