Typical Day in Togo … Take Today for Example
6am : The sun is shining in my windows. I want to sleep but the sun is too bright and I really have to go pee (even though I hate my latrine, especially first thing in the morning).
7am: Finally out of bed, making breakfast – an egg sandwich with spreadable cheese (Laughing Cow) , mayonnaise, and some spices. If this sounds gross, move to Togo. You’ll be surprised how your tastes change.
7:30am: eating breakfast, while working on a SPA (Small Project Assistance) proposal for “Amenons Nos Filles au Travail” (or Take Our Daughters to Work).
8:00am: doing dishes and cleaning up the house to leave for the day. Also, making a list of things to do. Leave for my seamstress’ shop, take a back road with my bike and get covered in mud from the knees down on my way there. On the way, a woman calls out to me from her house to come wash my feet and shoes at her house.
8:30am: arrive at my first “to do” of the day, my seamstress. I pay her a little bit of money each month to teach me how to sew. She isn’t there and neither are her apprentices, her shop is closed. I call her and she says she is in her field and she’ll be there tomorrow. I explain that I’m too busy to work with her this month, but hope to continue next month.
8:45am: Arrive at the one place to photocopy things in Pagala and they’re closed. There are two phone numbers on the sign. I try both and both neither work. I vow to make these photocopies tomorrow. Receive a call from my boss letting me know that a new volunteer will be shadowing me in the next few months.
9:00am: look for the president of a women’s farming group. I received some moringa seeds she wanted and wanted to set a meeting with her group to figure out the next step. I asked around her neighborhood and no one knew where she lived. Sigh, another set-back.
9:15: Go to ICAT, the agriculture leader in Pagala, to meet with a guy about a workshop on STIs and HIV/AIDS that he wants to do in our canton. He gave me a really inflated budget (typical Togolese) so we discussed how we can cut off about 2/3 of it.
10:30: pretty tired, return to my house to chill and talk to Lyle on the phone for a bit. Feed the dog (I’m dog-sitting or another volunteer) and start soaking beans for my dinner later that night.
11:30: Go to the Pagala training center where Camp Scientifilles (girls science camp) is going on and watch them discuss Ecology and watched a biogas demonstration where a volunteer showed how to make gas from pig manure.
12:30: eat lunch at the center with other volunteers, then go get a drink at a bar across the street before sessions start again.
3:00: go to a Village Savings and Loan group. No one is there so I walk to a local beer stand and find the members drinking there. I remind them that the meeting started 10 minutes ago, but they convince me to have a drink first.
3:30: a little tipsy, we restart our Savings and Loan group from the year before. We had just finished in June. They changed the pay-in to be more than the year before so everyone is saving a little more now. Before I left, they gave me a tshirt and headscarf they made for the club and we planned on having a little party around the 15th of August. Buy “l’huile rouge” or red oil, a locally made oil, from the club president to have with my beans tonight.
4:30: Stop by the shop of a handicapped tailor to let him know that three of the kids he nominated were selected for Camp Joie (or Camp Joy, a new camp for the outcast handicapped youth of Togo). I gave him letters to give to the kids and met a guy who gave me a Kabye name, Sika.
4:45: stopped by the post office to send two letters and received two letters from America!
5:00: stopped at a woman’s house to buy bread for tomorrow’s breakfast; she makes it fresh everyday, but I can only buy a little bit at a time because with no preservatives, it goes bad in 2-3 days.
5:15: return home, put my bike inside and walk to my neighbor’s house. She sells tchouk, the locally brewed beer, every Tuesday. She was out of fermented, so I drank the sugary non-fermented, tchouk. While drinking, I read my letters from America and had a conversation with some guy about sewing and selling clothes in America and corn-based ethanol to power cars. He was shocked that we would use corn for anything other than eating.
5:45: finally home for the day. Start boiling water for my bucket shower and start boiling my beans for dinner. Watch the nightly descent of the bats from the neighbor’s roof into the dusk. Take my shower. I may not have every mentioned how much spider webs are a part of my daily life. They are everywhere and I run into them daily. It’s annoying, but I don’t freak out anymore.
6:45: smell something burning and realize that it’s my beans. I manage to salvage the beans that aren’t touching the pot and add some gari (dried and ground cassava) and red oil with fried onions for dinner. Save half of the beans for a meal tomorrow.
7:00: receive a message from one of the science camp organizers asking if I can bring sewing needles over. I’m already in my pajamas, but call up a moto driver I know to come to my house and bring her the needles.
7:40: writing this blog post while a bug continuously flied into my computer screen. I must have flicked it away 10 times by now but it keeps coming back. Reflect on the days events and thank my lucky stars that no matter how many times I tell people I’m fasting with them for Ramadan, I don’t actually have to. Although, I am making a point to only eat in my house for the next month and not eat in public.
7:45: if this bug comes one more time, I’m going to freak out. Going to read and go to bed!
PS - Friday makes my one year anniversary at post!