If I had a CFA (franc) a dime for every time I wrote “there is so much I want to share with you” I’d be rich…in Togo that is. But this time it is true- with nearly a month and a half since my last post a lot has happened some of which I can’t wait to share, I’d rather not share, some I’d share with a few of you, and some of which I will not or rather could not possibly begin to share with anyone. I am starting to view my Peace Corps experience as something of my own- not really for anyone else to quite understand, and I find peace in that. So please ask questions, show genuine interest and concern but don’t try to know or understand fully 100 percent what I am doing, going through, or experiencing because its mine and as much as I want you to be a part of it, anything I write or say is never enough.
With that said, my Dad came to visit (try a better juxtaposed transition than that)! I’m going to encourage him to write his own blog post so he can tell you what he is saw and felt when he was here. It was good to see him and it was also a relief to speak a little English and explain some of my frustrations with a sympathetic ear. He ate all the local favorites, sported some local attire, and did his best with the local music at mass on Sunday. He was also very patient with me. It is emotional having someone visit, emotional and extremely stressful, but worth it especially since I think he learned a little of Togolese culture and life and will be able to share some of that with all of you.
As for the work…it’s going. Some things have inevitably fallen apart or taken a completely different path. But for the most part people are motivated and wanting to collaborate. Some days I feel like there is 35 hours in the day and others 5, while some days I feel like I’m making progress while others I feel like I’m doing no good at all…it’s a constant uphill battle. To paint that picture a little better, let me tell you about a Sunday or a supposed “day off” I had last week:
I organized a girls’ soccer match against Atakpamé (the local regional capital) and much to my chagrin we lost. The team is phenomenal and supposedly the best in the region and not at all the same age as my team. I couldn’t help but laugh when one of my favorite teammates said as she saw the team get out of the bush taxi «Elle ne sont pas les jeunes filles, elles sont les grandes dames!» “Those are not young girls those are big grown-up women!” (Many of which had the build of 19 year old boy). Anyway, I was desperate to schedule a match as some of the girls’ interest waning and had the contact of a coach from Atakpamé so gave it a shot. They came, and played, and beat us to a pulp, all the while being good sports and role-models for the young girls of Datcha. However, after that exhausting match I came home sorer than I have been since my cross-country running days, and ready for a nice bucket shower. In my shower was a nice friendly green-mamba awaiting my juicy white skin, I just know it, and after a fiasco of me screaming my neighbor children rescuing me, killing the snake, and then playfully dangling him in front of my face, I learned of the death of yet another 8th grade student from Datcha’s CEG this year. It’s hard and depressing and not fair. It’s not fair- and that, not a grueling soccer match or a deadly serpent, is what can be so fatiguing here.
Another attempt at a post, although I feel like I was much less coherent or insightful this time around. I guess when I started writing I was thinking about humility and how much of a role that plays in my life here. I am constantly finding myself in situations where I have to be humble, quite, and quick to listen and learn. I guess that is what I would like to see in you in regards of my experience here. Not because I think you are not humble in your everyday lives, but because I know it is what I need from you when I attempt to explain what it is I am experiencing. Anyways, humility never killed anyone if it did I would’ve died early on in Togo when my rusty French led me asking numerous people for sex (“rapports”) instead of the P.C. quarterly reports I was actually looking for.
Love you all. Peace.