My First Post from Togo (OLD)

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...

(old post)

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.

9 comments:

alec said...

What up my african friend? I am glad to hear that all is well out there. I wish my average day was half as interesting as yours but I guess thats what the working world does to you. Rips out your soul and leaves a shell. I feel like you are going to come back black and in some sort of decorated skirt and head dress. That would be awesome. Talk to you soon. (Sorry it is so short, work has drained all independent mental thought from me.)

JP said...

Whats up buddy? Its really good to hear from you, although I have to tell you it is kind of annoying to find your blog spot from Ben. I am going to try and figure out some great stuff to send you, and give you a call sometime soon. Monica thought the braclet was very nice of you, and I have given the url to a bunch of people here at work. I can't wait to here what kind of IT work you can actually do in Togo, so please keep the nerds up to date when you start. Keep up the posting we are all reading, and you are missed back here in the states.

Monica said...

Hi Aaron! I'm so pleased that you're enjoying your time in Togo thus far, and that you're using your Francais--crazy Madame from the Sorbonne would be so proud! Have you seen any exotic animals beside flies yet? Thank you so much for the beautiful jade bracelet. It was very sweet of you to think of me. Everything is good here in DC as I fruitlessly job search. I miss you lots--it's not nearly as much fun teasing JP without you! Take care!

Gary said...

Aaron,

Nice to read about the details of your life. Sorry I haven't called yet; I will as soon as I finish this. When we visit you, I'd like to buy one of those brightly colored cloth things you wear to the shower. Wouldn't that be fantastic for the five of us to see in the New Year in Togo?? Tonight we spend our first night in our new place. I'm not sure I'll have Internet yet. We'll see.

katie said...

hey buddy boy... wow, your life soudns pretty amazing right now.. i desperately want to come and visit. im working at the consulate right now in the clo office, what fun.. i'll be going to romania on the 31st of july, i've been smoking A LOT of hooka.. thats my life right now.. but oh man, how cool would a trip to africa be? i love the way you describe the details of your life there.. i get a very vivd picture of what you're experiancing.. im particularly interested in your bowel movements.. so please, do write more about that.. anywho, miss you brah, and im glad you're liking it there and i find it so amazing and cool that you're doing this. enjoy yourself.. byebye

-katie

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