The holidays always make it hard to find time to write. My holiday season this year was much more laid back than last year and probably much more laid back than any of you in the US! I spent Christmas in Pagala with my boyfriend and we spent New Year’s in Lome lounging at the beach and pool.
However, it wouldn’t be Togo without some little surprises and adventures along the way! After I decided to roast a duck for Christmas dinner, I set out the market to buy one. Knowing that no one would sell me a duck at a good price since I’m white, I gave Djobo money to buy one for me. All the ducks were too expensive, but at the last minute we found a duck for 3500F ($7). The duck was in pretty bad shape though. Apparently, he kept trying to fly away so his owner ripped out the feathers on his wings and he was bleeding everywhere. I carried him by his feet on a moto home, and I still have blood on my front door from the duck flapping his wings. The worst part of it all was that I had his blood all over me too! It was splattered all over my hands, feet, dress, face… I almost had a meltdown. But instead of melting down I just took a bucket bath, scrubbed my skin until it hurt, and changed clothes. I gave the duck some water and made a little pool for him to swim, although we seemed too traumatized to move. Needless to say, I wanted no part in killing this duck and briefly entertained the idea of keeping him as a pet.
However, Christmas dinner needed to be made and if I can’t kill an animal for its meat, I probably shouldn’t be eating meat at all. Being here has made me amazed at our complete disconnect between a living animal and eating meat in the US. Meat is in a clean, pretty package, while the animal is some abstract concept we sometimes feel guilty about. Anyway, I called Djobo and he did the deed (killed the duck), plucked his feathers, and cleaned out the organs. We gave him the head, feet, and organs because they eat all of that here. I felt a little guilty admitting to Djobo that we weren’t going to eat that part since nothing goes to waste here. We dressed the duck, rigged up a makeshift oven, and roasted it for 3 ½ hours, adding a deliciously spicy honey-orange glaze near the end. For all the trauma the duck caused me, he still ended up being the perfect centerpiece at our Christmas dinner.
Fast forward to Lome, where we ate cheeseburgers for breakfast, lay by the US Ambassador’s pool, and drank wine from a bottle (not a box!). The night before New Year’s Eve, we hadn’t slept at all due to the infestation of mosquitoes in our hotel room. So, when it was time to ring in the New Year, we were both already asleep. The next morning when we woke up, we decided to do our own little countdown for California’s New Year, which was 8AM in Togo.
January is promising to be a busy month, which is great considering I’m looking forward to my visit home in February. I have lots of new projects starting and lots of old projects continuing. I miss you all and can’t wait to see you in a little over a month!