I'm Back!

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.