As I mentioned in my last entry I have started teaching a computer class at a local school. All my kids are very excited to learn about computers. Overall it's a lot of fun.
During the second class period (the first is devoted to learning the names of all the parts of a compuuter, 'This is a mouse.') I have my students write one phrase. During the class I use the example phrase 'Hi. How are you?' In writing that sentence I teach kids how to use caps, lower-case, periods, spaces, and question marks. When the kids write their own sentences they usually copy exactly what we did and write the 'Hi. How are you?' My older kids usually finish this assignment quickly and want to do something more.
I have 8 working computers in my classroom (a few are out of order at the moment thanks to dust and humidity... that's what you get for living south of the Sahara!). I usually have to put 2 to 3 kids on each computer and have them rotate through after writing their sentence.
Last week I had a group of 4 or 5 girls that ended up all writing their sentence, one after the other, and finally creating a letter to me. Every time they would finish one sentence they would giggle, call me over, look up as I read the sentence, then go back to write another. When they were finished writing the letter I read it and decided I had to post it.
Here is the letter that they wrote to me. (NOTE: All Peace Corps Volunteers in my country take a local name. It's usually given the first day at post. Mine happened to be given to me by the cashier at the government water dept as I was getting my water turned on. I am known here as Ismael.)
Hello Ismael how are you. How old are you. Have you many wafe? Have you many childrens? Your wafe is my sister. Where do you came from? Where do you live? What do like?
Maybe someday I will respond to them. But for the moment I need to figure out which of their sisters is my supposed wife!
Until next time.
As I mentioned in my last entry I have started teaching a computer class at a local school. All my kids are very excited to learn about computers. Overall it's a lot of fun.
Posted by Aaron on 12/08/2005
I would like to apologize to all the Aaron watchers out there for the lack of updates. My life has gotten VERY busy yet remains fulfilling and happy. My cat is as playful as ever and seems to double in size every other week. Despite the herbs not doing well (only 3 basil plants came up and a few dill), the rest of my garden is thriving. I have 6 very nice tomato plants that have just started growing their first tomatoes, 3 very well developed bean plants, a few sprouting cabbages and hopefully enough feed corn to eventually feed my hungry hungry chickens. I am RIPPING through books and magazines (PLEASE SEND READING MATERIAL! I average about 200 pages of reading a day!) Life is good.
One reason for my long hiatus was ‘AIDS Ride’. Every year Peace Corps Togo organizes a group of 10 – 15 volunteers to ride bikes through each of Togo’s 5 regions over a one week period, stopping in small villages to do AIDS awareness classes for whoever will listen. During the one week ride my group talked to around 3500 people in something like 12 villages. Please try to imagine me standing in front of a group of 400 high school age kids, wooden penis in one hand, bull-horn in the other, showing kids (in French) how to properly use condoms. It was a very interesting week to say the least. I think our total distance biked was around 150km. I wasn’t able to bike all of that as I got heat exhaustion one of the days. That day we had biked something like 47km (25 of that being through African forests infested with plants brandishing 3 inch spikes. The sound of flesh being ripped from my arm will forever be with me, along with some nice new scars.) I was so relieved to be out of the forest that I thought it was a good idea to kick it up a few notches and bike as fast as I could the last 10 or so km. In the middle of my condom demo I remember getting very light headed. I turned to my partner, handed her everything, and went to go find a place to relax (not the easiest thing in the outdoor area of a school in the middle of nowhere that has close to 700 kids who thinks that the circus just came to town.) Later that night I got a crazy high fever and had to ride in our chase car for two days. Lesson learned… This is what happens when you havn’t physically exerted yourself since ’93. All in all it was an amazing week of biking, sleeping on grass mats, heeding the call of nature in random fields (your stomach can do some pretty mean things to you if you don’t take care of it. Phew!) and lots of great AIDS education.
The other reason that I have been MIA for so long is that I have finally taken the plunge into my work. I have started two jobs at the same time. In the mornings I teach very basic computer classes (How to hold a mouse. How to click two times. How to put a letter in upper-case. Some of these kids have never even SEEN a computer.) For some reason I agreed to teach 15 classes a week. It is EXHAUSTING! I have a small computer center of around 10 computers. Most of the class consists of me sitting in the front of the room pointing at things on a larger monitor and the class responding. I think I have around 400 students. I can not even begin to express how rewarding this job is (even though it has driven me to consider drinking at 9:30am on multiple occasions.) After my class I go home for the 2.5 hour lunch break (BEST THING EVER!). Around 2:30 I head to my office at RESODERC, a local NGO. At the moment I am playing a tech advisor role, helping them get their management better organised (Database stuff. Soon informational website stuff.) Eventually I will also begin to do more development advising for the 65 members of our organisation. My NGO is an umbrella organisation for all other NGOs in the region. I will eventually set up office hours where people will be able to seek me out and ask advise on trainings, general management issues, and other general development stuff. It should be very interesting.
So that is what I have been up to. I get home around 5:30 every evening so tired I can hardly make dinner for myself. After a few hours of reading I am asleep around 8pm only to be back up and begin working at 5am. Gotta love keepin busy!
Until next time.
Posted by Aaron on 11/18/2005
I would like to start this entry by saying thank you to everyone in the School 54 Room 29, 5th grade class from Indianapolis, Indiana. Your letters were wonderful! Thank you also for all of your birthday wishes. Maybe sometime soon we can celebrate together.
You all asked so many great questions. I have gone through all of your letters and picked a few questions that I will answer. I'm sorry I can't answer each one individually.
Traci asks, 'What clothes do people there wear?'
Everything about Africa, including the clothes, is bright and filled with wonderful colors. Most clothing is made from a long piece of cloth called a 'pagne.' Pagnes are usually filled with very brightly colored designs; vibrant greens, oranges, blues and many others like you cant't find in America. Women usually wear dresses made from the clothe and often times wrap their hair in another piece. Men have button down short sleeve shirts and pants made. When i got here I thought all the men were wearing pajamas! Imagine walking down the street surrounded by people wrapped in all the colors of the rainbow. It's very beautiful.
Denisha writes, 'I bet you are between the ages of 20 and 50.'
You are exactly right! I actually just turned 23.
Annie says, 'One thing I still don't know is what a circular piot the class was sitting in.'
I'm sorry I didn't explain that more fully. A piot (I am not sure I am spelling that correctly) is something that you find in most people's front yards here. Imagine a round hut with no walls and a roof made of long dried grass. They are wonderful in letting in a nice breeze when it is very hot outside.
Justin Evans asks, 'Was it easy to kill an animal ?'
In response to many of your questions and comments, no, it was not easy to kill the Turkey. I did not do it for the pleasure of killing. I did it to help better understand the people I live around. Every day I go out and try to expierence the life that the Togolese live. I try to never pass up an oportunity, no matter how difficult it might be, to understand this culture a little bit better. While I am glad I did what I did, I hope to never have to do it again.
Neechelle James asks two questions, 'Do you stay there all day and night.' And, 'What is a PCT.'
First, yes, I live in Togo where I stay all day and all night. My job requires me to be here for a little over 2 years. I have a very nice house with a wonderful cat named Oliver. I work during the day and then go home to garden, read and sleep at night. Second, PCT stands for 'Peace Corps Trainee.' While I was in training for my job I was a PCT. Now that I have completed the training and started working I am a PCV, Peace Corps Volunteer.
Malik write, 'Are there a lot of animals there ?'
Sadly Malik, most animals have been killed from over hunting and loss of places to live. The only animals I see are lizards (TONS of them in my yard!), bugs (more ants than you could EVER count. If I leave a tiny piece of food on my kitchen counter I will have a swarm of ants all over my kitchen within 15 mintues.), few birds, the three egg laying chickens I have, and my cat. There is a nature reserve about an hour away from me where there are monkeys, a few elephants, and a couple other types of animals. I am hoping with the next month or so to camp across the park with some friends. I will make sure to let you know how that goes. But overall, no, there are not a lot of animals here.
And finally, Brandy asks, 'Why do you like to go around the world so much?'
Oh Brandy, what a wonderful question! There is so much to see in this world. I can not sit in one place for long knowing that I am missing so many beautiful sites and not meeting so many interesting people. Every night I sit on my roof watching the giant red and orange African sun set behind the many palm trees in my yard. If you could look up and see the colors shooting across the sky, playing in and out of the full white clouds with the giant ocean of blue behind it, you would understand why I do what I do. My breath is taken away every night and I say to myself, 'This is amazing.'
Thank you all so much for your letters. They made me smile in the middle of a very difficult day. Please feel free to write any time.
Posted by Aaron on 10/18/2005
I just got back from spending the weekend with a fellow volunteer who lives in a village about 40k from me. Our time together was amazing.
When I joined the Peace Corps I really wanted to live in a small village: no electricity, no running water, the works. This is how my friend lives. It is awesome!
We made dinner by lantern light. I sat and jotted in my notebook by the light from a candle stuck in an old bottle of Baileys with mounds of wax stuck to the sides. I stood on her front porch watching the sun set to my right and the harvest moon rise through the trees to my left. It was beautiful!
Her village is perfect! During the day we wandered on dirt paths through tall grasses and fields, passing beneath trees ten feet around, with giant knobs that have to be hundreds of years old. We wandered along paths, our feet getting dirtier with each step, until we came into clearings where women, wearing only brightly colored pagnes around their waists, their large pendulous breasts swinging freely, would be grinding corn to make dinner. Their families would be sitting in circles around them talking. There was somthing wonderful about the family and group dynamic that I sometimes find missing in my culture.
The second day we went into a large town about 18k away. The first thing we did there was have egg sandwiches. It is amazing how wonderful protein is, and how much I crave it after a diet of carbs and tons of veggies. We sat in a small plywood shack around a low counter piled high with empty Nescafe cans, and watched the omelet guy take eggs from a two foot tall stack of flats, crack them, and perfectly fry these wonderful protein filled snacks.
Later we went to a bar and drank cold beer. Simply put, a cold drink is an amazing treat. I cannot even begin to express the pure joy of pressing a frosty glass of freshly poured beer to my lips, then feeling it run into my mouth and onto my tongue, and on down my parched throat. Heaven! What I usually drink, day after day, is warm water tasting of bleach (2 drops for every liter of water kills everything in the water). My friend and I let out the same expression of ecstasy after our first taste. Something that in the past could have given me nothing more than a slight rise or invoked only a small response, now brings to a head all the joy and happiness inside me.
Posted by Aaron on 10/18/2005
Thought i would throw in another quick update with a few more pictures. The computer I am working on is going buggy and I cant arrange the pictures how i want them. I will describe them and you will need to match the description up with the picture (shouldn't be too hard...)
One picture is of me and my host family during training. For all of you that have never met me... I'm the one with red hair.
The second picture is the path that lead to my house during training. I remember walking up it the first time and thinking, 'I really am in Africa.'
As I promised for so long and have recieved countless emails requesting, here is a picture of my cat, Oliver. He's grown a little bit since then, but still is tiny and a bundle of energy.
Another picture is the front and left side of my house. My entire house is AMAZING! So much space, wonderful outside area, and i have chickens.
Finally, the picture of me holding the baby is a perfect example of localy made clothing. I bought the clothe, gave it to a tailor, and finally got that outfit (that later became known as the 'tiger suit'). The little girl I am holding is my host little sister. She was AMAZING! I think i mentioned that her fourth word was 'Aaron.' Ya, that'll make you cry. I promise. (and if that doesn't: having her pee on your leg for a second time, this time during a party while you are proudly showing off your new 'tiger suit', will.)
Until next time...
Posted by Aaron on 10/14/2005
Wanted to do a quick update as I have two longer entries that I am working on. Hopefully they will be posted in the not too distant future.
Few new things in my life...
I recently purchased three chickens to lay eggs. I asked my guard (who now has also taken on the role of game keeper) to find me three young hens who will be able to supply me with eggs. The next day he brought back three not too happy looking (you wouldnt be happy either if you were just carried upside down by your feet on a sooter!) when he came to work at 7pm. They are safely installed in one of the small rooms that are built towards the back of my yard. It's a funny thought knowing that I actually own chickens. Who'd a thunk it?
With this idea of Aaron the amazing farmer in your head...
I also dug my first garden. I can not begin to express just how satisfying it was to be working under the hot African sun, the sweat dripping from my bare back into the dirt I was turning over. Half of my garden are herbes (basil, thyme, marjoram, dill, oregano) and the other half is veggies (tomatoes, cabbage, green beans). Im very excited to watch their growth.
Oliver, my cat, is doing very well. Its so nice to come home and have something there that is excited to see me.
I have also jumped head first into work. I'm working every day at a shcool helping to develope a computer course that I will be helping teach. Everyone at the school is very excited and wonderful to work with. I am also putting in a lot of time at a local NGO doing computer work, small project advising and basic organizational development. Along with that I have a number of other small projects mostly consisting of playing an advisor role to a couple small business owners, a guy making a tour guide of my town, and another person who wants help training market women. This is really a full time job.
This morning I was up bright and early at 4:45am and tonight will probably go to bed by 8 or 8:30pm after feeding my chickens, doing a little gardening and reading. Did i just graduate college or retire?
Posted by Aaron on 10/14/2005
I finally got a chance to put pictures online. I cant begin to express just how much work it has been getting them on here. Phew!
A problem I have run into over the years in expressing stories of my travels is a lack of identification. If you have never seen or expeirenced something like what is being described, you have no basis to form an image in your mind. I hope these photos will give you a better idea of what my life here looks like. And a little help in picturing what i am going through.
The picture to the left is me and my host father during training 'making' fufu. In short fufu is either slices of cooked manioc or yam that is then 'piled' (pronounced 'pee-layed') into a ball of what looks to be dough. It always comes with a bowl of sauce with a possible few chunks of meat floating in it. You then use your hands to scoop out a handful of the fufu, dip it in the sauce, and put it in your mouth. Many PCVs hate the stuff. I love it!
The picture to the left is the house that i lived in during training. This is a very typical house in Togo (Albeit a little bit bigger and with grass... NO ONE has grass. Just dirt.) The door to my little room is on the far right. I can not count the number of hours that i spent sitting in the yard, trying as hard as i could to hide myself under the small palm tree from the evil evil sun.
Notice the beautiful blue sky, the amazingly green grass, and the perfectly african trees in the background. I love this place!
This is a picture of the fateful 'day of the washed undies.' Notice the three girls having a grand old time playing in places no one should dare tread. Also, try to see theamount of already washed underwear hanging on te lines. Modesty? Who needs modesty?
This picture also shows how clothes are washed. Notice the number of basins and buckets. While i have only washed around 3 or 4 articles of clothing myself I am no expert. What i have thus far gathered is the clothes are first put in a tub with soap and water where they are worked through the hands scrubbing the clothe against itself. It is then rinsed in much the same fashion. The entire process is repeated with article of clothing finally being hung to dry. Too much work for someone who could hardly walk across the hall, put my clothes in a machine and press start.
Alright, this has taken me close 1.5 hours to post the three pictures. Next time i will post more pictures (including one of my cat Oliver. Be excited!)
I must be off as i have work to do. One of my potential jobs is working with a school that has 10 VERY old computers. They have a basic computer program that they are hoping, with my help, to improve.
Off to save the world! :)
Posted by Aaron on 10/11/2005
Yet another journal entry from training.
Yesterday I killed a turkey. I decided that if i wanted to eat meat I needed to know what it felt like to kill. There was something about the 'out of site, out of mind idea' with meat that just didn’t seem right.
I was in French class at a fellow PCT's house. We had classes in an outdoor circular piot (not sure the exact spelling. A piot is a round structure, sometimes with a thatched roof, other times tin, that can be found in most Togolese yards.) During the middle of class i watched as my friends host mother walked past our class carrying a fairly large turkey by its feat, its multicolored head swinging back and forth. My friend said, "Oh no! She's going to kill it!" Not wanting to pass up an opportunity for a new experience, I jumped off the wooden benches we were sitting on, and to the surprise of my teacher, ran out of class. I ran over to the clearing in the shade under a mango tree where the condemned turkey sat trapped in the firm hands of this experienced Togolese killer and asked if i could do the dead. My friends host mother, draped in her beautifully patterned panya clothes, looked up at me, smiled and said, "Why not." The two girls in my class stood up in the piot, hugged each other, and watched with faces of terror while I was handed a small black handled knife. I was a bit taken aback. When i first thought of killing a turkey I had the image in my head of a chopping block, a well sharpened hatchet and a final swift stroke of death. I paused for a minute second-guessing what i was about to do. But something gave way and I allowed her to show me how to step on its feet and wings, hold its throat, and with a final back and forth motion, how to cut its neck. I took the very much alive animal in my hands, put my left foot onto its two large wings, my right foot onto its sharply clawed feet and took its head in my hand. I looked up one last time at the smiling gentle hearted grandmother in front of me. With a final nod from her my gaze fell to my victim. I put the knife to its throat and cut.
It was not the swift chop of death that I had hoped. Instead the well used knife took a couple back and forth strokes to break through the skin.
I finally knew that I had succeeded when the dark red of blood began to pour from its neck, staining the while bowl below and my formally clean hands. I finally gave charge over the freshly killed animal to the people who were going to do the hard job of plucking, cleaning, and cooking. My job was done.
I walked back to my two friends with a dazed look on my face and a weird feeling in my belly. One of the girls walked over and handed a tissue to me. At first i didn't realize why she had done that. I then looked down at my blood-spattered right hand and understood. I cleaned the warm blood from my hands and sat down in our outdoor classroom to continue the lesson.
ps. Tomorrow is my birthday!
Posted by Aaron on 9/23/2005
The following is another private journal entry that i decided to post. I thought it was a fitting continuation to the underwear saga. It's really amazing the things that one needs to think about and worry about here. How life is different!
Earlier today i figured that with the extra time i had from the day off (happy 4th of July !) I would wash my underwear. In training they told us it was rude to give our underwear to your host family to wash.
I took that advice and went as long as I could without clean undies (and for anyone that knows me… that’s a long time!) I tried washing them in the shower, that didn’t work. They always came out stinky and weird dirty feeling.
I finally said forget it and asked if I could have the proper buckets and water to wash some clothes. One of the girls was sent to get me water. I handed her a shirt and asked her to show me how to wash clothes. She washed the shirt and I was ready to give it a try in “private” with my underwear. She went nowhere, watching as I fumbled around with my clothes. At one point another on of the little girls came over and started helping. By the end there were 4 of us all playing with my dirty under shorts. I finally gave up all together and stood back to watch all of them scrutinize every inch of cloth to insure the utmost cleanliness.
Now, as I sit here, 12 pairs of my holey boxers are hanging in the yard in plain view of everyone that passes. The sad part is that I found another 6 pairs in one of my bags and still have another 4 or 5 pairs I didn’t want to wash just out of pure shame of having enough underwear for 5 Togolese. Goodbye modesty!
Posted by Aaron on 9/15/2005
First, I just added two new posts. They are both entries into my paper journal that i thought would be fun to share. Scroll down to read them.
Second, I am half way through my 4th day at post. While my life here is amazing, it sometimes gets very tiring. Whats odd is that much of my time is down, not doing very much (you can judge that by the amount of reading i am doing... look right.)
With the help of my new guard (who is AWESOME!) I found someone who is going to clean my house, do my laundry, and wash my dishes three times a week (yes... sometimes i feel guilty at how spoiled i am... then i walk out my front door to 40 children screaming YOVO and chasing my bike.) He also helped me find a carpenter who is making me a couch, love seat, chair, desk, island for my kitchen, counter extension for my kitchen, two straight back chairs, and a desk all for around $140. I cant wait to get it all.
I must be off to buy a few things at the market. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks i will be able to post pictures. Until then, enjoy the journal entries. I miss you all!!!
I just finished showering. One would think that taking a bucket shower (which we were actually TAUGHT to do. The Peace Corps takes REALLY good care of us) would be interesting enough. This shower was made ever MORE interesting because I washed two pairs of underwear along with my body.
In Togo it is rude to give your underwear to someone else to wash. One can understand that piece of etiquette if one remembers that all clothes are washed by hand (NOT a fun thing to do! I hardly did laundry when the machine was across the hall from my room. Imagine me having to wash everything that hand!) One of the girls in my training group has a very funny story where she was trying to wash her underwear in the yard (everything is done outside) when her host brother came over to her, grabbed one of the buckets and proceeded to help. This meant him picking up each piece of her underwear, scrubbing it, and then scrutinizing it to make sure it was clean (at least he was thorough!)
One of the tricks they taught us while teaching us how to bathe ourselves was to wash our underwear at the end of our shower. It was actually very rewarding to walk back into my little room and hang up the two pairs of underwear that I had just washed with my bare hands. I think the experience was more rewarding than it was sanitary. But does that really matter?
I went to church with my host father. I really need to congratulate the missionaries to Togo. There are more Christian churches, and Christian religious expression here then I have ever seen. The fervor that these people show for worship is rivaled only by the Hassidim of Mysersharime (spelling?).
After fighting our way to a seat (the pews were crowded to the point of breaking) the service began. Before I describe the happening of worship I want to describe what the church looked like. (this is when Dad’s writing ability, Eric’s amazing photographic eye, or Katie’s amazing hand with a brush would come in handy). The building itself reminded me more of a large shed than anything else. It probably had 15 to 20 rows of pews with enough room to sit 6 comfortably (10 to 12 by Togolese standards). In the right side front three pews was the choir. Everything about the choir was normal. They had black robes with white linings around the collar. They all looked to be about the age of any choir you might find in small town US. The one striking difference was the mortar boards they all wore. Having just graduated myself, I at first thought that this group had just graduated and were now being honored by the church. It took me a good ten minutes to realize that this was actually the choir. I’m not sure who the first person was to give these hats (which in my opinion are odd even at a graduation) to this group of singing old Togolese ladies. It sure as heck got my attention!
In the pews on the other side of the graduating choir sat the band. There was also an organ and organist in the front. But why use an organ when you have a band? The band consisted of the same band (I think) that greeted us on our arrival in town. There was a trombone, some sort of trumpet like thing, a snare drum, bass drum, and a couple other instruments that made sounds that were eventually drowned out. The first hymn was started by the organ. After the normal intro so everyone can get the melody the band (drums and all) struck up their driving cacophonic sound. Add to this the graduating choir of grandmothers, and you have quite a sight and sound!
The service lasted three hours. This time included: a skit in Eve (local language) that I did not understand but got everyone else laughing and cheering, about 15 to 20 (I’m not kidding) songs some of which included African drums and people (including me) dancing in the isles and in the pews, a few sermons, an auction for different vegetables and food stuffs, and more dancing.
It is really amazing to be in a place that actually practices religion. It is such a contrast to the anti-religion preached by so many in the US and Europe. I sat in the church thinking about the devotion these people showed. I saw just how happy everyone was dispite the fact that probably only 1/5th of them had electricity and none of them running water. I keep asking myself how much of America I wish for them.
After 3 months of training i have finally arrived at my post. Things changed around a little bit and instead of going to Kara I am now in Sokode. This is my first day here. But i am already VERY happy! I have a HUGE house. Everything that i said before i left (no electricity, mud hut etc) has been replaced by a two bedroom house with my own guard and a maid. There are palm trees in my front yard, big flowering bushes along the walk way around my house, and servant's quarters for three. It is amazing! Whats interesting is that my rent is only $80 a month.
My house is right next to an elementary school. When I got here we pulled up to the house and were INSTANTLY accosted by 20-30 little children all screaming and laughing. As soon as i would take any of my luggage out of the van one of the kids would grab it from me and run into the house. When i went to kick the kids out of my house I saw about 10 pairs of little flip flops sitting in front of my door. I told everyone to leave. I knew they were all out when all the shoes were gone. It was both very helpful and very stressful at the same time.
My first few weeks here I am going to be laying fairly low and getting a feel for the town. I need to find a good carpenter who will make all my furniture for me. Im planning on buildling a nice size bar in my living room complete with wine racks, speed wells, and hanging wine glasses. :) I was just in Lomé, the capitol of Togo for swearing in. While there everyone took the moving in money they gave us and bought things that we would need that could only be found in the big import, western style stores. Each of us bought stuff that fit who we are and will make our lives here a little easier. One of my friends spent almost $100 on cleaning products, another bought dog food for her puppy; I bought 2 cases of French wine.
I must be getting back to my palace so I can hire the staff for the upkeep of my house. Maybe after that ill drink a bottle of wine and sit on my roof watching the sun set. Ahhh, my difficult life in the Peace Corps. :)
Posted by Aaron on 8/31/2005
Sorry about the long break in posts. Along with me being very busy the past two weeks the internet was down in my town. One can never totally be sure of what causes those outages, but for some reason the internet cafe has not been working.
Today at 5pm I will officially become a Peace Corps Volunteer. You can now change the PCT part of my address (Peace Corps Trainee) for PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer). I'm moving up in the world! On Monday i will be heading to my post. I'm both scared and excited.
Sadly I must be off to take care of some things while here in the capitol (you can't get 90% of things anywhere else in the country. They actually have cheese here! Cheese... so good... so good!) I am off to purchase over priced imported goods. Hopefully I will be able to get online again soon and post a longer more detailed update.
I'm back and ready to rumble!
ps. My cell phone works again! Try to contain your excitment.
Posted by Aaron on 8/26/2005
As i have said many times before, it is so nice to hear from all of you! Please keep emailing me and posting comments on my blog. Sometimes i feel very far away from everything.
Camelia, so glad you found my blog. :)
First, my cell phone is not working at the moment. For some reason the reception in my town (and my town only! Darn developing countries!) decided to give out. So far all of you clogging the lines between the US and Togo, please stand down. Hopefully things will be fixed shortly. Do not panic. Aaron will be back shortly. :)
Second, in case you havn't known the address, www.aaroninafrica.com is fully up and running.
On to the good stuff...
As i think i metioned a number of times before i am currently living with a host family. They are amazing! I think my host father and mother are in their early thirties. They have two little girls ages 6 years and 8 months old. I love them all dearly. I really think that when i leave here I will miss them like i miss my own family.
When i first arrived I would eat all of my meals at the table in the house either alone or with my host father. The rest of the family would eat after me at a small table in the outdoor kitchen. After about a month of being here I asked my host mother if i could eat with the entire family. For some reason (it was the same way in India) people think that it is respectful and actually wanted, as the honored guest, to eat alone. This concept is SO foreign to an American!
The first time we ate as an entire family it was raining. My host father and I, after drinking a local alcohol called Sodabe (aka MOONSHINE! PHEW! I had some earlier today at half-time of a soccer game i was watching. That stuff BURNS going down!) we prepared Fufu (i think i've talked about fufu before) under the thatched roof of the kitchen as it rained. We then went inside as a family and ate together. The 8 month old girl says two words. She says "Bonjour" (sometimes) and "papa." While we were sitting at dinner she looked at my and said, "Aaron." I can honestly tell you that my eyes started to water.
(Another short story when the little girl almost made my eyes water...
A couple week ago I was playing outside with the kids . I was sitting in my chair as they ran around and did what little kids everywhere do. At one point the littlest girl came to me and motioned that she wanted me to pick her up. Having heard another Peace Corps person tell me, "Don't worry. You WILL get peed on." I tried to stay clear of holding the potential water ballon at my feet. The older girl noticed the little girl wanted to get into my lap and ever so kindly ran over and helped her up. I sat there with this ticking time bomb on my leg expecting every second to feel the warmth slowly creep down my leg. Nothing. I was just feeling comfortable when the little girl runs back over and says, "Elle a fait kaka." (She pooped). Sure enough I lift her up and look down at my newly crap streaked shorts. That's what happens when you are living life in the fast lane... aka... Africa.)
I now have moved out to eating with the family at the small table outside next to the kitchen. I am in. I'm a part of the family now.
I love it here.
Posted by Aaron on 8/07/2005
Well, I've finally done it. After talking about it for years. After searching on multiple continents; I have finally eaten dog.
My old roomate Aaron (all my best friends have been named Aaron. That’s cus Aaron’s are always cool people) used to say he wanted to be the Noah of meat eaters. Meaning he wanted to eat two of every animal. Well Aaron, I have knocked another one off the list.
Since Saturday I have been in Kara. It’s weird to wander around this city knowing that it will be my home for the next two years. Two days ago I signed the lease for my house. It’s a nice little place. When you walk in there is a fairly large common room with three doors leading into two bedrooms and a bathroom. I can’t wait to move in! This will be my first house. What a weird feeling. I’m really growing up! Sadly the house only has an outdoor kitchen that I share with the 3 other dwellings in my compound. I plan on building a fairly large bar (5 - 7 seater) that will also serve as my kitchen. That will be an ongoing project for the first couple months of my service. I also want to have stairs built so I can get on my roof. The view will be AMAZING from up there. Sadly there is a wall that blocks it from the ground. But once I get onto the roof I will be able to see for miles and miles across beautiful African wilderness. I can’t wait!
Today I was introduced to the Prefet (head guy in the region) and mayor. It is very important to be on good terms with all local government. The Peace Corps recognizes this and makes a point of stressing the importance of introducing yourself as soon as you get to post. My host country counterpart made the introductions. What a cool experience being welcomed by these very important people!
My brother and I have been talking about eating dog for YEARS! During our entire trip through China we kept trying to find a place where we could eat dog, cat, snake and rat. Sadly we found none of the above. Luckily I got posted to a region of Togo that LOVES dog. After my last audience I mentioned to my guide that I wanted to eat dog and drink chook. He called one of his friends who would help me. After much searching (everyone loves dog SO much that after 5pm it is pretty much all gone) we found a chook stand and a man selling dog. Before I go on I must explain chook.
Chook is a locally made (and when I say local I am talking about in someones house) alcohol. It is made with millet. I’m not totally sure of its production past that point. But it is drunk all across Togo, with most of it originating in my region. One drinks it out of bowl type vessel called a "kalabash." Kalabashes come from a vegetable kind of like a pumpkin that grows on trees (imagine seeing green pumpkins hanging from a tree) that is cut in half and dried to make a bowl. One drinks chook at a chook stand. They are usually 3 or 4 benches around a 10 or so gallon bucket attended by a lady who along with serving it has probably made it in her house. One sits down with friends and orders a kalabash of chook. The lady then uses a slightly smaller kalabash and scoops out your allotted amount and hands you your chook. When I first drank it with my host father a couple weeks ago I was surprised at how much I liked it. It has a sweet taste, slightly bubbly, and overall not that bad. I’m not sure how much alcohol is in it. My guess is it is on the same strength level as beer. Not totally sure though, there are no labels on the side telling percentage. :)
Today we found a chook stand and started drinking. The Togolese friend I was drinking with left for a few minutes and came back with a man brandishing a cardboard box. He puts the cardboard box down in front of me. My friend sits down next to me and says in French, "Here’s the dog!" I look into the box to see 5 skewers with what looks to be meat on them. I have no clue how old the meat is, how long ago it was cooked, or what has happened to it since then. Regardless of all of these things I grab and start eating. I honestly can say that dog pretty much tastes like any other dark meat. It was fairly tender, well spiced.
I can’t believe that I will be living and working here for two years. So amazing! All of you reading this, come visit me and you too can eat dog! I can’t think of anything more appealing than that to make you come. :)
Posted by Aaron on 7/27/2005
My tooth hurts! The root canal that i got 2 months ago didn't take. Three days ago i bit into my breakfast and felt like someone had rammed a hot poker into my cheek. No good. Luckily the peace corps medical people are AWESOME! They really take care of anything and everything that is wrong with us; sparing no expense along the way (within US governement funding restrictions of course! :) This morning i was driven from my training site to the capitol city. I realised as we entered Lome how in awe i was. I caught myself looking at a gas station and thinking, "Wow! They have a gas station. They don't buy there gas from old Gin bottles from a 12 year old on the side of the street like they do in Adetta."
I need to add a little note here: I hate dentists more then i hate anything else is this world. I don't just dislike one dentist. I don't just not like going to the dentist and having to deal with drills and bright lights and tubes sucking the spit out of my mouth. No. I dislike dentists. All of them. I don't care if you father is a dentist, i hate him too. I hate them.
I had to get that off my chest before i could continue with my story.
I went to the best dentist in all of Togo. I think that in putting on all of his gold chains this morning he didn't realise that you are supposed to wear a shirt under the white lab coat. I had never pictured what a pimp/dentist would look like. Now i know. He basically said that if the medicine he gave me doesn't take care of the infection in one of my roots i'm going to have to get a bridge. NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT!
Other then that my life is wonderful. I love living here. I love the Peace Corps. I might have said this before... but... I don't know why more people don't do this. I am being taken care of 110% (almost to the point of being babied). And i get to live in an amazing place and do real work that will actually do something for someone. Every night when i watch the sun go down i ask myself, "Why do more people not do this." This is truly an amazing place!
Posted by Aaron on 7/21/2005
As i have said so many times before, i have such a hard time sitting down and finding only one thing to write about. I could literally sit and write (although i'd MUCH prefer to talk in person... and have a drink) for hours and hardly give justice to everything that I am doing here.
My dad says, "Chose one story and write about it." How can i chose a single story to write about when last weekend i went swimming in a waterfall, monday I was at the market drinking Chook (i'll explain sometime) with some local friends, or how i'm on a team of 4 who is giving business advice to 2 teens who have their own restaurant. I could literally sit here and write for an hour on the amazing African sun sets (anyone who has ever been in this country will know what i am talking about! There is something different about the way the sun sets here. I'm not sure if it the lush green background, if it is the amount of color that is in the sky, or something totally different that i can't quite put my finger on. I literally sit outside every night in total amazement, not even being able to read my book, at the beauty that is the sun while setting.) Then on top of that there is the amazingness that is my daily life. I catch myself thinking of things as normal (like the lizard i had to chase out of my room last night). There is just too much!!!
This upcoming week I will be at my post in Kara (look it up on google). I am so excited to see the house that i will be living in for the next 2 years (the rent on a 2 bedroom house that a current PCV (peace corps volunteer) lives in with living room and kitchen (no electricity or water) is 12,000 CFA (about $24 dollars) a month. Yes! You think about that when you are drinking your $12 martini, Ben! You are half way there to a new house.)
I just realised that it is almost 7pm! I must get home to eat dinner.
Sorry i havn't sent email. I havn't been able to get into my in box for a couple weeks now. :) Internet is SO bad here.
miss you all!
Posted by Aaron on 7/20/2005
Wow. I can not express the lesson in patience that is getting online here. Wow. I have been in this very hot little internet cafe for the past half. I have not been able to get into my email, have only now opened up the page to post on my blog, and am drenched in sweat. But thus is life here.
First, i would like to say hi to everyone at my old job. Good to know that you guys are all reading my blog! I can't tell you how much i miss all of you (cough cough).
There are times during my travels when I expierence a place or a thing that i can not even begin to describe. I remember that my first day in Israel and my trip to The DMZ were both days that i caught myself saying, "Wow. This is amazing." There was something different about those places. Instead of seeing something from history that was long since gone, or seeing somthing that was put there to make money off of you, you are instead living something real.
Last sunday i had another one of those days...
Since we got to Adeta (the little town where i live) i kept hearing about a "cascade" (waterfall) a little outside of town. Last sunday 8 of us Peace Corps people and a group of 10 - 15 local children guides walked there. To get to the water falls you first turn off the main road (any paved road is a main road... there aint very many of them around here). After turning off the main road we walked for about 15 minutes through a picture perfect African landscape of thick brush with the occasional tree. There is something about the trees here. I'm not 100% sure what it is. They just seem so... i don't know... african. They are all very tall, 20 - 30 feet maybe. The lower section of the trees are bare of leaves and branches. Then towards the tops the trees spread out into a wonderful canopy of leaves spread out perfectly to catch the sun. Love them!
We eventually entered the jungle. I was in the true African jungle. The entire time we were there i kept asking myself, "how the heck am i going to describe this in my blog (i'm a talker. Not a writer... anyone who knows me will understand that.)" Imagine what you think an african jungle should look like: stream running besides you, plants thick all around, tall trees with vines, a heavy moist air, green everywhere. Your perfect image is exactly what it was like. I need to go back because i missed so much. I felt like as soon as i would focus on one thing and soak in one sensory expierence 10 more would be distracting me (and i get distracted in DC when a bird flies by!). It was truly amazing. We finally walked into a clearing with the first waterfall. I can't even tell you how amazing it was to stand on the rocks around the water and watch it fall the 30 or so feet to the ground. It was amazing, beautiful, wonderful, breathtaking, EVERYTHING all wrapped into one. Our tour guide friends all stripped down to their underwear and jumped in the cold water. Scared about getting Shchisto (look it up online. They scared the CRAP out of us the other day at a health presentation. It's one of the many many fun tropical diseases that i could get. There are TONS of them!) we didn't get in.
After the first water fall we climbed to a second that was higher up on the moutain. This one was even more amazing rising probably 50 - 70 feet in the air. I can't tell you how amazing it was to stand there and watch the water make its long fall down. It fell so far that by the time it was close to the ground it had turned from a solid droplet to a fine mist.
I was somewhere real. This wasn't for tourists, this wasn't something that existed in the past and is now a shell of its former self, no. I was somewhere that was alive. That is the reason i travel.
Posted by Aaron on 7/15/2005
This was something that i wrote on another computer, put on a floppy, and meant to use as my first post. I have only now remembered to bring the desk with me. There might be things that I have already talked about. But in the end i wrote it, so i'll post it. Enjoy...
I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to update my website. The internet situation here has probably been the biggest shock (seconded by the dirt roads in Lome. I never thought I would see major capital that had sand as the main street building material.) The internet cafes here are usually about 15 computers made from parts from the mid 90s all sharing ONE 56k dial-up modem. To put that into perspective, in my old house I could get download speeds of around 400k. The internet cafes here are getting 1.4% of that. And then imagine that being shared between 15 people. It took me 30 minutes just to read my first email. I hope that explains partly why it has taken me this long to update my page.
I am in training at the moment. The Peace Corps does an AMAZING job at making sure we have all of the tools we need to do our jobs. My first three days in country were spent in health sessions. We covered everything from malaria to water filtration to diahreaha (the nurse giving the presentation said diahreaha 42 times in 20 minutes. I kept count.) After my first three days in Lome (the capitol) we took a bush taxi (the main mode of transportation between any two places in Togo. Usually consists of a car or van being held together (sometimes literally) by a piece of string and then crammed with 3 more people past the point where you couldn’t fit anyone else in) to a town where we will spend the next three months in language, cultural and technical (job related) training. After those three months we will all go on to our separate postings around the country.
I am currently living with a Togolese family. The Peace Corps decided that it was better to have each of us live with a family, speaking only french and Eve (the local language we will be learning), instead of all living together (22 Americans living together don’t speak much French!) While it isn’t the easiest of living, I love it. The family that I am living with is probably considered upper middle class by Togolese standards. They have electricty, a tv, and a scooter. I can’t tell you how much you come to apreciate being able to walk into your room and turn on a light at night (or even more, walk into my outhouse/bathroom and turn on a lamp. That’s the big one!) Even though they are upper-middle class my host mother cooks in an outdoor kitchen on the ground.
Living here reminds me a lot of camping. Every morning I wake up, pull my mosquito net away, stand next to my screen door and smell the morning dew smell mixed with cooking fire. Whenever I want to go to the bathroom I have to go outside (with a flashlight if it is late at night) and go to my own little outhouse. My laterine is two small rooms connected to each other. Each room is about three feet by three feet. In one room is a concrete "toilet" where I do my buisness. It’s amazing how it really doesn’t smell bad at all. Showering is actually quite an expierence as well. Whenever I want to shower I ask my host mother for hot water. She fills my bucket (they told us to bring our own buckets) with warm water which is then carried by one of the children (there are TONS of little children running around! Even though my host family only has 2 little girls, there are always at least 7 children in and around our house) one of the girls then carries my water to my shower stall. When the warm water is ready I remove all of my clothes in my room and rap myself in a Panye (a two meter piece of beautifuly colored cloth) and walk to my shower. I then dump the water on myself one cup at a time, get good and lathered with soap, wash my hair, and rinse off. It’s amazing how I don’t even go through an entire bucket of water and get a very nice shower. I wonder how many buckets of water I use when I take one of my long 30 minute showers at home?
I could literally go on for pages and pages about all the little details of life here. I will end now as my host mother will be getting dinner ready for me soon. Hopefully I will be able to write more later.
Posted by Aaron on 7/07/2005
Just a quick update...
First, thank you so much for posting comments! I can't tell you how wonderful it is to know that there are still people out there. Sometimes I feel very far away from everything. It is always wonderful to get a little hello.
Second, I have to comment on my situation right now. I get online from an "internet cafe" through an ONG (NGO in English... the French mix up all their acronyms) that is actually right up the street from me. I am sharing a 26k connection with 6 people. You have NO idea what slow internet is until you've tried this!
I think i mentioned it in my last post, but, during my travels there are times when i look up and say, "Where the heck am i?" Right now I am sitting next to my new friend Christopher (who is an artist in town), talking (in french) to two really cute French girls sitting two computers down, and listening to slow dance songs from my middle school dances that the guys who run this place decided to put on. Every time our music fades from song to song I can here the African dance music coming from the bar accross the street. I can't help but smile at how many cultural, old memory, and random things can mix to form a single sensory expierence. Truly amazing.
Other big news!
I FINALLY got a cell phone. After me being stupid and throwing out 5 phones when i moved out of my place, trying to unlock my old phone and use it (Ben, it didn't work! For some reason my phone refuses to pick up a signal now) i FINALLY got a phone. Please feel free to call me at any time! My number is 011 228 919 4830. The 011 is used to call out of the US, the 228 is the country code, and the rest is my number. Please feel free to call any time (i am 5 hours ahead the US... I think). You could also try sending me text messages.
Again, it was wonderful hearing from everyone! Please keep up the contact. I miss you all very much.
Posted by Aaron on 7/06/2005
Wow. Every time i sit down to write an update I have a hard time figuring out where to begin. My life here is SO amazing with SO many stories to tell that I get overwhelmed.
I will start this update by answering a few questions. Please use the comment feature of my blog to leave questions and comments on what i write! It's nice to know that there are people out there reading this. :)
Kate asked about books that I might like. First, so nice hearing from you Kate! I miss you guys so much! Second, I am reading like a banchee (not sure if that saying works here... you get the point.) I have read around 1500 pages thus far in 4 and a half books. I thought the 3 books i brought with me would last at least the first month. They lasted 10 days. As soon as i cut tv and internet out of my life i found hours and hours of wonderful reading time. I'm now reading a book written by a Harvard Prof about causes and sollutions to poverty. AMAZING book! I never thought i would call an econ book page turning. This one is. Please send me whatever book you think i might like. Send me your favorite book, send me a book you've always wanted to read, send me a book you've never wanted to read, send me anything. I will read it. After i read it i will send you a letter telling you everything that i thought about it. Just send books. I'm tearing through them!
Dad asked a couple questions... Let me see what i can do.
IN TERMS OF FOOD: Dr. Atkins would HATE my diet. The Togolese (and i think a large portion of Africa) eat carbs, and lots of them. Food in africa is a large portion of carb filled, stomach filling, starchey stuff and a sauce. At any given meal I will have a plate full of: rice, fufu, pate, cooscoos (sp?), or pasta. Next to my plate I will have a bowl with a lid. Opening this lid is always a source of excitement. The sauce inside this bowl is always green or red (red being tomato and green being somthing green.) Mixed with this sauce is my only source of protein in the form of small chunks of the meat of the day. I find myself craving anything with protein. Yesterday during a class on micro-finance someone was passing around a jar of peanuts. After a few minutes I realised i had finished about half of the wonderful wonderful protein filled jar.
How does one explain fufu? Imagine a ball of uncooked pizza dough that you eat with a light sauce. Fufu is made from manioc or ignam (Yam). They take one of those two roots, cut it into smalish pieces, boil it, then (in French) "pile" it. To "pile" something is basically using a giant mortar and pestal to grind it down and make it into a dough of sorts. In all the markets you see groups of four women standing around the two foot tall "pestal" pounding it with 3 foot baseball bat type things. It finally turns into the dough like stuff. It really isn't all that bad. In some ways it tastes like dough. In another way it really has no flavor. It is a stomach filler. At that job it does wonderfully. It is eaten with the right hand (NOT THE LEFT! My first time eating it i reached with my left and got scolded by my family.)
This update is already going on much longer than i had intended! There is just so much to say and so little time to say it.
A few other updates:
I found out that I will be posted to Kara. It is a city in the Northern portion of the country where The President of Togo (who is also a GW Alum) was born. I am SO excited to get there and start working!
All that stuff I said before I left about me not having electricty, living in a tiny village and having a mud hut. Ya, that was crap. It turns out that I am the first IT Peace Corps Volunteer to Togo. Kind of funny that no one mentioned that to me until i got here. At first i tried to fight it. I really wanted my village. After thinking about it and talking with the wonderful staff here I realised that I was brought here by the Peace Corps because of the skills that I have. As much as i want to run from it, my skills are with computers and IT. It is there that i can do the most. So it is there that i will work.
I'm going to end here. Today was a very long day with a wonderful hike up a moutain, a couple hours spent at my host fathers mechanic buisness watching the rain fall, and an amazing meal of chicken (PROTEIN). I must be off to take my bucket shower and sleep.
Please, keep asking questions and sending books. I miss you all so much!
Posted by Aaron on 7/02/2005
I have recently realised that one of the reasons I travel is to expiernce things that I otherwise would not get the chance to be a part of. There are occasions where this is taken to the extreme and i expierence something that not only would i never have been able to expierence, but I get to be a part of something that I never even knew EXISTED.
Two days ago i was sitting in my room writing in my journal. As i wrote i noticed a few large dragon fly type bugs flying around my room. I killed them and thought nothing of it as bugs are VERY comon here (it is Africa!) As i wrote i noticed more and more of these dragon fly like bugs on the window and door. At one point the bugs, atracted by my light, were coming in through any crack in the window and door they could find. I felt like my room was under invasion from a flying army of bugs!
My host mother came to my door and told me the water i has asked for to take a shower was ready. I got undressed, wrapped myself in my Pagne (long clothe i use as a robe to walk to my shower) and stepped outside. I looked to the left and saw my entire family fighting a cloud of the flying bugs that were all atacking the light that lights up our yard. I had never seen that many bugs in one place! My host father took a very large bowl, put a few inches of water in it, placed a lamp in the middle of the water (a lamp island), and turned off all the other lights in and around the house. This worked as a bug trap of sorts where the bugs would fly towards the light, get wet, and end up drowning in the water. There were SO many of these flying things that they had to scoop them out with their hands and keep replacing the water. There were thousands! It turns out that all the rain we had that day caused termite eggs to hatch and unleash this army of flying bugs.
That is why i travel. I want to know that when it rains cats and dogs in West Africa termites hatch in the thousands. Amazing! I have now lived through my first invasion of flying termites.
Another story that I will be able to tell my grandchildren someday.
Posted by Aaron on 6/25/2005
I am FINALLY able to post an update from Togo! Internet here is amazingly slow. Imagine an internet cafe with 20 computers sharing a SINGLE dial-up connection on computers from the mid 90s.
Where to begin? Togo is AMAZING! I love it here. I'm currently in Peace Corps training. That includes fairly intensive French language study, health sessions and technical (job related) training. It was really nice to get here and realize that my french was actually MUCH better than i thought it was. It still has a way to go though.
Right now we are living in a "large village" of about 7000 people. In order to get a better idea of what that means it is important to note that even in Lome (the capital) there was only 1 paved road. I can not tell you how big of a shock it was to be driving down dirt and sand roads in the CENTER of the city.
I live with a wonderful Togolese family that has 2 daughters (ages 4 and 8 months). I am very lucky in that my family is fairly well off and has electricity, a tv, and a moped. I have my own little room with a table, bed, and singe neon light. I also have my own outhouse/shower stall. It is a concrete little building about 30 feet away from the house where I can use the bathroom and take my bucket showers. Showering with a bucket and a cup is actually much easier than i had thought it would be. It's amazing that i can take a full shower and not even use an entire bucket of water. I wonder how many buckets one of my 30 minute showers in the US would be? Interesting thought.
The Peace Corps is taking amazing care of us. All of our needs are being met. It's was a weird feeling the first couple days to have no access to my own money, no control over when i eat, and nothing really to worry about. I get a stipend of the equivalant of $1.75 a day. We feel like kings getting around 15 dollars every week. It is more than enough money to live here.
The people of Togo are amazingly nice. I have finally found a country that actually LIKES the US. It's amazing! I have met a very large portion of my host fathers family. He took me to church on Sunday. Before the service we walked around and said hello to around 40 of his family members.
This is really a wonderful place! I know it is very difficult to travel here. But i urge anyone with a slight interest in travel to visit me. You really would not regret it!
Please send me letters, pictures, magazines, books, and anything you think i might want. I have a TON of time to read! I would also love pictures. After getting here I realised that i had brought only a few pictures. It's so nice to be able to put pictures of the people i love on my walls.
If you do send anything to me, try to put it in padded envelopes instead of boxes. Boxes take much longer to get through customs then envelopes do.
I miss you all very much and look forward to hearing from you.
Posted by Aaron on 6/23/2005
I write this update from the Holliday Inn Bar in Philadephia with a glass of Merlot and a little apprehension.
Today I completed my second day of "staging" (aka orientation). It has been a mix of helpful and cheese ball. I have to say that I am NOT the biggest fan of hokey "draw pictures of things that will scare you to get better get to know these other people" type activities. Besides the cheese this event has been very helpful. I have gotten to know the roughly 20 other people that will be going to Togo with me. We all will have different jobs and will be living in different villages eventually. But for the next 3 months we will all be together in training. Thus far I am very impressed. Everyone is very mature, interesting and all around nice. It is funny how hippie everyone is. One of our trainers asked how many vegaterians there were in the room and hands shot up left and right. It's ok, I love dirty hippies. In some ways I am one.
I am happy at how much more French I speak then most of the people. Going into this I thought I would be on the lower end of the French profeciency ladder. It actually turns out that I am very near the top. Most of my group has barely more than basic highschool French. I am so excited to actually get in country and start using French again!
I just learned that I had been placed in an Information Technology job. The packet the Peace Corps sent with my invitation to serve said that I would be working as a Small Business volunteer. The trainers just handed out a sheet with a list of everyone's jobs. I was listed on the Information Technology section, the only one in my program. I'm fine with that as long as i get to live in a village. I really want to have the village experience with it's lack of running water and electricity. I also don't want to be living in a big (however big cities in Africa can be) city. When I actually get to Togo I will be talking to the in country people and make sure they put me in a village.
I am trying to get the domain name www.aaroninafrica.com for this blog. Hopefully it will come through soon. I'll let you all know.
I must be off. So much to get ready before my departure tomorrow. I can't believe this is finally happening!
Posted by Aaron on 6/10/2005