One reason why I am here

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.

I'm here!

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.

Off soon

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 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!

First Post

I am moving to Togo with the Peace Corps. I will probably not have the most regular or reliable internet connection while there. But hopefully I'll be able to update this at least once a month. We will see.