Monday, June 7, 2010

Home stay Orientation

Today - more shots! My arm is still sore from yesterday, but today I got Hep B & typhoid. We learned all about malaria, how to treat, diagnose, but most importantly prevent it.

We also had a home-stay orientation where we learn how to use latrines & kerosine lamps, do laundry, and have meals with our family. Something interesting - when you drink their traditional gin (sodabi?) you have to drink and then pour some on the ground for the ancestors before you finish.

Last night, the current volunteer took us out to the bar and treated us to two drinks each. They drew a giant blue circle on our hands and each time we got a drink, the bartenders put a line through so it ended up being a big blue circle with an X through it - more on that in a minute. The beers are huge - like almost 3/4 liter! I've never heard of any of the brands, but they were pretty standard tasting. It's the rainy season here in Togo so while we were at the bar, we encountered a sudden downpour. I could tell because water was coming through the roof like a waterfall in one spot. We waited for it to end and puddle jumped home. Fast forward to this morning and we can revisit the blue circle ... that is now all over my face!!! I guess I slept with my face on the back of my hand and woke up looking like I had a huge bruise on the side of my face! I tried my best to wash it off but have had a huge blue circle on the side of my face that wouldn't come off. all day people have enjoyed pointing it out and getting a good laugh.

Tonight, we had dinner at Carolina Cardona, our country director's, house here in Lome. We met our language trainers and a few people from the US embassy. Carolina is a resident of North Carolina and her son is just graduating from UNCW - small world!! Her home here in Togo is so beautiful. The are lots of palm trees and it is enclosed in a huge stone gate. Security is everywhere that we PCVs are. They guard all of our hostels (which have running cold water and electricity! mine even has VERY SLOW WiFi). Cold showers aren't so bad because it is HOT here. Hot and muggy.

Naturally, I've already decided to start Monday night dinners as soon as we get to post. That won't be for a while though - I'm getting ahead of myself. The people here are really great and I think I have a few friends! They are all in the CHAP program and I'm in SED so that's a little sad.

In other news, my conditioner burst in one of my bags and I spent a lot of time cleaning that out yesterday. I am laying on my bed under my mosquito net as I write this. I like sleeping under a mosquito net because I feel like I'm less likely to wake up with a huge bug on my face. So far, there have only been 2 run-ins with critters - a mouse at the airport and one bug in our room that my roommate, Nikki from CA, killed immediately.

I miss you all dearly! I am getting a cell phone. Don't know all the details yet, but it is very expensive to call the US or for you in the US to call me. HOWEVER, you can call my call via skype and it is only $.30/min. Apparently our time for the next few months will be basically booked up so I don't know how much time I will have to communicate, but will, of course, try to keep you posted.

Much love everyone!

Bonjour Togo

We traveled for so many hours and I am finally in Togo! We flew to Paris and I got to go see the city on our layover. Only a few of us ventured out because many were afraid of missing our plane to Togo, but we got 2 good hours in Paris - saw Notre Dame, the museum of modern art, and the Louvre. Could even see the Eiffel Tower in the distance!

Life in Togo is pretty much how I expected it to be. We have been getting shots like crazy - not the alcoholic kind. Yellow fever, tetanus, meningitis, and malaria pills every day! Two more shots tomorrow, and two more the next day. We have training each day and everyone is very nice.

Need to run to dinner at our hostel. We are meeting up with current volunteers for drinks after dinner. Write more as soon as I can!

Friday, June 4, 2010

To Togo I Go

I'm packing up my hotel room in Arlington, VA in preparation to spend the next 27 months in Togo. Yesterday, I flew from Wilmington, NC to NYC to Washington DC to meet my fellow volunteers and have an orientation. There are 28 of us - some Small Enterprise Development (SED) and some CHAP (it's a health volunteer but I already forgot exactly what it stands for). We are going to the clinic here in DC to get some vaccinations and then we are off to Paris. We have 8 hours in Paris and most of the people here are very experienced travelers so they want to venture into the city. I hope we can! From Paris, it's off to Lome, the capital of Togo where we will meet current PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) and the country staff. From there we will split into SED and CHAP to begin 11 weeks of training.

I'm a little nervous because everyone here speaks some French. I'm the only one who has NO experience whatsoever. I guess I will learn to get really great at non-verbal communication!

I'm going to be late for breakfast! Write more when I can.

Au Revoir,