Wednesday, September 26, 2007

100+days in Togo and 1 month at post

Hey there all…

Since internet has been down and I have been unable to get to my email this post is a bit late in arriving with news of a more enjoyable time in Togo. My last two weeks at post were great and I can see what I can occupy my time with to make me feel more at place here in this crazy country.

I have met a huge amount of village folk and sit with them often just to meet and greet and to try to offer up any advice I may have or their businesses. I am much more at ease and comfortable in my village and really am starting to settle in. I can see where these people need me but it is still such a strain on me to maintain comfort here. I feel so sedintary..sit around the house reading..then I walk the rounds in village which is equivalent to half my neighborhood in Chicago. I went for a bike ride one day and nearly died of heat exhaustion till I was within a 1kilometer of completing the 20k return journey and saw the Fan Milk guy (the ice cream man in Togo). I flagged him down and secured a pouch of cold yougurt to make the final hill back into village. Refreshing..took a shower and napped. So unlike me if you know who I am.
The hardest part of this all is the change of pace..well combines with the change of living standards, lack of sanitation and refrigeration and ohh yeah the language barrier. For me at the moment is the energy factor. I miss my hometown running routine and am hoping to tap into the Yoga movement while here. Running is a stress here and making a space to stretch and calm myself inside will be the best thing for me. If only I attended more yoga sessions before leaving the States. So to any of you out there (Heather my trainer ?) Please send me any Yoga/Pilates? Home workout materials…charts of poses, instruction DVD ‘s mix cd’s to jazz it up….magazine workout pages. Running will come back to me soon and maybe I’ll turn it back up after I leave the heat of West here I’ll work to strengthen the core. I mean I’ve already had a successful running career, Boston Marathon 2007 !
Aside from that I can report that Adeta is a great village full of friendly people. I feel lucky to be posted in such a wonderful village. Not only that but a nice house. I am so excited be able to receive any visitors that may want to make a trip to this country. Any takers? There is an American Baptist Hospital that is 4k away in case any of you come down with what I think I may have. No need to worry about me I am moving and heallthy except for what I think may be Giardia. I am at the maison right now and have been for the past two days strucken with what I feel like is that scene in « Spaceballs » where the guy at the diner comes down with indigestion and an alien pops out of his gut. My gut makes noises….and I am waiting for something to climb out at any moment. I won’t talk about my bowel movements…you really don’t want to know. Let’s just say America is this wonderful place where you can eat an apple fresh from the grocery store where it is chilled and you don’t have to soak it in bleach for 20 min before chomping down on it. Not to mention public sanitation and drinkable tap, hot running water and not having to think about what precautions to take before ingesting anything. We’ve got it good in the US of A. Just remind yourself that daily.

So wish me luck as I prepare a stool sample to send to the med unit. Maybe I should just name what is in my gut as long as he is living with me. No need to worry…I have a pleasent life in village with wonderful people.

So far here are my projects that I have thought of could possibly be done with in village…let me know if you have any contacts
library_Togolese children dont get access to books here
girls running club:need donated running shoes and possibly sport bras
i havve many more ideas but are more localized to specific businesses so i will post them as they come

basically books and shoes are what im thinking for a possibility in the future once i scope it out some more

mom....dont worry toomuch about me..if there was anything really big and serious youd be getting phone calls from me boy Wil is coming to spend Christmas in Togo with me ...send me Christmas decorations when the time comes need for the mistle toe though...absence makes the heart grow fonder is right...i miss that boy so much and am counting the days till he arrives from dusty Mauritania....

i love Adeta and my village folk and will post better stories once i am not sitting in front of a French keyboard...take care all and im doing great....

send spices.....nutmeg too

Saturday, September 8, 2007

third weeks a charm right?

Let me just preface this by saying “week one” went much better….so enter..”week 2”

I can honestly say that I thought week 2 at post was off too a good start. I returned from a weekend at the maison regional, refreshed and ready to get to know my post. I was in good spirits as I got in the 15 passenger van headed back to Adeta with a couple of nice Togolese women and my friend Allison. We chatted it up…I used my best French conversation and found the ride enjoyable at most, even as the fumes from the exhaust poured in from the half closed trunk. Then the women I’m sitting with start humming the tune from the Lion King in French..well I join in the chorus in English and it caught them off guard. …”in the jungle the mighty jungle..the lion sleeps tonight….ahh weem ahweem a way …..” They then make me write the lyrics out in English to teach them. (Note: one goal of Peace Corps was achieved in this interaction) I made a cultural connection. Great! Sunday went well and I was back home ready and refreshed for Monday when I would go to my groupments meeting and listen in and then head out to marche.

Well Monday went well…the meeting was very structured and well run. I am assisting a agricultural groupment who deals with cafĂ© and cacao. (Farming, loans, stockage, buying and selling) This meeting involved the Presidents of other groupments that all reside under this main umbrella groupment. The meeting was about the purchasing of manure, and fertilizers on credit. Together they devised a contract for farmers that need fertilizers bought on credit, in a way that would show the responsibility of the parties involved and the terms under which it is held. The all came to the idea of the layout and voted democratically and at the end of the meeting there was a form already laid out to be passed on to all the groupments. I was amazed at the efficiency of it all..something you don’t see from time to time here. I had fun writing notes in French trying to get used to hearing agricultural terms.

Then came Tuesday and as much as I was ready to head out for a run..nature struck. I felt like a case of amoebas…runs…..fever…who knows. So it pretty much meant house arrest for biggie since it rained all day and when it rains, nobody’s out and about. Sick.

Wednesday.hummm I have now confirmed that even though I may be a lucky one and have running water in my house..I don’t “chaque mercredi” “c’est coupe” So since like clockwork it happened again…every Wed. no running water from morning till sun down. At least it’s on a schedule. Tig came in to visit me and we headed out to Kpalime to pick up bank “debit”..YEAH cards and go to the post. All was going well…got to Kpalime…stopped by the vet and talked to him about the needs for the two little cats I have..Perfect..what? advantage flea drops for their head and de-worming meds..750fcfa? ($1.50) sweet…go to the bank and pick up debit card for the brand new atm they installed…perfect!...go to the post to get mail ..find a letter from Julie!..Yeah a letter..getting better!..go to eat lunch ..mmm fresh salad..french fries and mint ice cream..yeah
Okay so on the way back it starts to rain and I realize I am at the wrong station (Tig was heading south and I..north so we parted ways)..have to run to the other side of town and get in a hatchback with 10 other passengers because the driver can’t say no…getting dark and I need to make it back…it is times like this when one is wedged into a hatchback where the driver poured just enough petrol in to make it to the destination..the tires probably have never been changed as I feel every bump in the road..the doors and trunk are pretty much tied in place and it doesn’t seem like his headlights work too well…where I wonder if we were to crash…would I feel the impact or will all these people around me cushion the fall…hummm…best not to think about the crashing part.
So get home finally and then the shit hits the fan….someone calls…it’s the teller from my bank..”Do you need something? Is there a problem with my account?..ohhno..He just wants to tell me that he wants to call me and can’t stop thinking of me…arrrggg..I tell him “no sorry..not free to talk…can’t call me…”hang up….then come the text messages…It sucks being an American woman in Togo…when the bank teller decides to use your personal information from you account and call you up to say that he’d like to get to know you better…hummm confidentiality in Togo..nope…so he continues to text in English..broken…”I just want to make friends with you and get to know you better…you interest me”… so I have to reply..”got a for work…no time…”
Phone lines are open and he is standing by waiting for me to call….(take note: while all this is happening I am administering the meds to the cats..very carefully) couple of drops on the head to stop fleas….crush ¼ tablen in food to help de-worm. They seem to be well.
Then I get a call from Wil..and luckly we get to talk for a bit then …phone cuts…so that puts me in a sour mood…then I look over and notice that the one cat is drooling profusely…and seems freaked out… foaming at the mouth….twitching….great!! what have I done…I’m running around trying to clean his mouth..make him drink water…now the other one is twitching..foaming at the mouth..ahh what have I done..I’ve poisoned these cats…they are they are shitting all over the place diarrhea….ahhh…it’s getting late..I keep texting Tig (she used to be a vet) asking what to do…maybe I got some bunk meds from the vet and now I’ve killed the cats! I can’t sleep..freaking out …they are foaming at the mouth..running around trying to bathe the medicine off their heads…so I try to make them as comfortable as possible and then get some sleep ..hoping that I will not wake up to two dead kittens…
Thurs. morning…
Wake up..cats are alive and seem to be a bit better. I decide to use the flea shampoo and bathe them. After more distress they seem to relax…the one has head twitches and seems bothered by something the rest of the day….what can I do..I’m in Togo. I decide to do things around the house and not head out until the afternoon. I constantly feel like a prisioner in my own house..fear of steppingout in public since it takes so much out of you. You’d have to be here in my “yovoness” to know what I mean..more texts from bank guy…won’t stop..then a couple other guys come by to see what I am up to. Shit…where can I get some lady friends here in Togo..all the guys want to be my friend but I have to sway their intentions and that takes a lot. Some of them are nice though..and I know could be good friends…but they always want to know what you are up to.
So I head out and decide to go to my “host family” where before I had helped him type a document …brought some cookies…stopped by for a little visit and they make me type another document …don’t even ask me..just make me read some chicken scratch
French..typing on a French keyboard…not knowing what or how to spell what I’m typing..well that just threw me for a loop…the way it was thrown at me…ohh well I guess it is in repayment for the dinner the other night. I hope it doesn’t become constant or I may have to start a keyboarding/computer class. Mannerisims are quite different here in Togo. There is not that sense of knowing when one is being “rude” here…

Well after that ..I though..I need to get away from all this drama…back to the maison to decompose for a day or two…and then I’ll start week three on a clean slate. In hopes for a better attitude….heck maybe I’ll stay out of the house most of the week..hummmm. grin and bear it and hope it gets better…..

I can’t tell you how hard this has been for me and how I wish I will get excited at some point about being here but right now I am still in survival..maintain sanity mode….i miss my Chicago routine more than one can imagine.