Sunday, November 20, 2011

11 November 2011

In case you haven’t heard, I had a bunch of money stolen from my house. It was the money for the latrines I planned to build in Pagala. Not all of the money was stolen, but about a fourth of it was – 350,000FCFA, or the equivalent of about $700. However, in Togo, that could be a few years wages so it’s more like someone stealing tens of thousands of dollars in the US. Either way, it’s a really big deal here in Pagala.

There is a kid who used to work for me – bringing me water from the pump, doing my laundry, etc. – who admitted to stealing some of the money. But only 30,000FCFA. I think he took it all, but we have no way to tell. This is a kid who’s leg I bandaged when he had a cut and who I walked to school the first day. Needless to say, it’s been rough emotionally and mentally. You think going through an investigation in the US is hard, try doing it in a country where you don’t understand the system and don’t have a perfect grasp on the language.

After a week of investigating, the local police, the gendarms, brought the child, his mother, and I to Blitta (our prefectural capital) today to see the judge. I was a little nervous, so Djobo came over this morning before we went. I was so hungry and just about to make breakfast when he showed up at my door, so I just made enough for both of and we had our American breakfast together! An omelet with Laughing Cow cheese (doesn’t have to be refrigerated, oh yea!) and grits. He said he liked it but who knows? After that, the gendarms showed up to my house to say I was late. They jokingly gave me grief about being late, saying that I’m getting too used to being on African time and that it’s going to cause problems for me when I go back to the States.

Djobo brought me to Blitta on his moto which is a little old and overheated 5 times on the dusty, dirt road to Blitta. After waiting outside for 45 minutes, we were called into a small office to meet the judge. We explained our case, but basically got nowhere and the judge told the gendarms to continue their search in Pagala for the thief. Things are moving slowly, mais c’est Togo, non?

After the judge encounter, Djobo and I rode around on his moto greeting his friends and colleagues and then the Peace Corps volunteer in Blitta who Djobo knows well (and, of course, so do I). The volunteer told us about a woman who makes delicious bread right near his house, so Djobo and I set off in search of her. We found her house, but only her little girl was there. She told us that her mom went to the market already. So, off we went to the market. After asking around, we discovered the woman’s name, but she had not yet arrived at the market. It was like 1 oclock in the afternoon at this point, so Djobo and I went into a little cafeteria near the market to eat foufou with armadillo meat. It’s actually really delicious. After lunch and funny conversation, we found the bread lady and bought some bread before heading back to Pagala.

We took Djobo’s moto back, and when we were about 5K outside of Pagala, we stopped at his brother’s house and picked a bunch of grapefruits. Djobo took two and I have the rest. I’ve been really into making fresh juice lately and have discovered that 3 grapefruits make enough for one serving. It doesn’t get any fresher than picking them off the tree and hand squeezing juice the same day!

I’m really going to miss Togo one day.

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