Monday, January 10, 2011

5 January 2011

6 Jan 2010
I think I’m falling in love with Africa. As much as I complain, and as much as I say I hate it, I’m starting to really like it here. Don’t get me wrong, I still miss my blackberry and Target and refrigerators, but there is something simple and endearing about life in Africa. I came back to my village after vacation and actually felt like I was home. Home with some interesting changes …
Change #1: They’ve been building a new compound right next to me. I was excited for two reasons: to have new neighbors and the houses were wired for electricity! I thought electricity must be coming soon to Pagala. Well it did. But only to that compound. I walk outside one morning and what do I see but 7 Chinese men and their monkey. It’s absurd but true. They have a giant generator that powers their compound night and day. They let me charge my computer for free, gave me a Coke, and drove me home once in their air conditioned CAR! So what are they doing here? 5 of them are recently graduated engineers who couldn’t find jobs (I guess Togo seemed like a better alternative than unemployment), 1 is their translator who speaks French with a Chinese accent, and 1 is their cook. Oh yes, they brought along a cook to make them real Chinese food. I’d say I hit the jackpot. They’re here for 5 months and one told me he’s already ready to go home. They’ve got a long way to go.
Change #2: I was startled awake around 3am to an unfamiliar sound. It sounded like a freight train rushing past my window. I jumped out of ned to see what was going on but it was dark and I didn’t have my contacts in. Putting it out of my mind, I eventually fell back asleep. The next night, I heard the sound again and opened my compound door to see an actual train flying by on the track that run next to my house. It’s pretty well known that Togo has railroad tracks, but it’s also well known that they let them get rundown and overgrown to the point that they were impossible to use. Apparently, they’re now doing test-runs to start freight trains again. Pretty exciting! I just hope they don’t do all the train runs at 3 o’clock in the morning.
Change #3: Jacques, my puppy, is having a lot of problems. I got him when he was just under a month old and took care of him and loved him. He loves me, but he has a seriously problem with males. I think maybe a male beat him when he was a little puppy and now he just freaks out when a man comes near him. To combat this problem, I let a male volunteer take him for a few weeks to take care of him and hopefully show him that there’s no reason to be afraid. It isn’t going well. Jacques tried to escape from the compound and got stuck in the fence. He ended up with a gash in his head and a really bad twisted leg. He can’t put any weight on it. And he still freaks out when males are near! It makes me so mad the way Togolese people treat dogs. They hit them, throw rocks at them, yell at them; it’s no wonder my dog is terrified. I might have to give him away, but stay posted.
Change #4: I have internet at my house!
Christmas and New Years were pretty good! I spent Christmas in Kara and the other volunteers and I did a white elephant exchange and the presents were so funny! One person got a live chicken! We named him Samuel and he was delicious. Spent Christmas day laying by a hotel pool and then going out for a very nice dinner; I got filet mignon! Ghana for the New Year was AMAZING. They have a mall that reminded me of America and our hotel had air conditioner and hot water! To ring in the actual New Year, we went to a nearby hotel on the beach where they were having live music. Unfortunately, with all the traffic, it took nearly 4 hours to get back to our hotel on New Year’s Eve and we didn’t make it to the party until 11:45! I was pretty sick, so ended up staying out for about 30 minutes before coming home and falling asleep. Overall, though, fantastic vacation! Ate Chinese food, Indian food, American food, etc. I felt like I gained back all the weight I’ve lost since being here!
Work wise, I’m trying to get started on several things. Pagala really needs latrines, so I’ll probably build some of those. I’m also going to start English tutoring, a business club for apprentices, and maybe some other stuff like that. The project I’m most excited about, and I want it to be my biggest project, is a cultural center! We’ll see how all of there things play out over the next few months, and, as always, I’ll keep you informed. Happy 2011!