Saturday, March 28, 2009

Back in Kara!

Hi All!
Hope this post finds everyone well.  Nathan and I are back in Kara for the day.  We came in this morning, withdrew money from the bank, and went food shopping.  Now we're on the computer for a little bit before grabbing lunch on the way back to village.  All is fine here.  Missing American food as always but am currently munching on Pringles.  This month Nathan and I will start cooking more for ourselves (can we say rice and beans?!) since Rachel's new baby is due in April!  We are super excited!  She of course doesn't know the gender or the due date, but just went to her last check-up.  When contractions start, she'll walk 3 miles to the local health clinic.  I was astounded and she looked at me, like, "What else would I do?!!"  Maybe by the next post I'll have pictures!  I've already bought a gender-neutral baby outfit ;-) 
Otherwise, Nathan and I are both back from In-Service Training and had good times.  It was nice to see friends from training and share experiences - good and bad - and we were a good source of support for each other.  I have more new ideas for projects at post including summer camp in village (think Vacation Bible School).  I am thinking of doing it with girls at the elementary school for a week this summer, including art, drama, life skills (self-confidence, good decision making), and recreation.  I'll recruit local women to help me and maybe serve drinks and snacks.  I'm excited so I'll keep you updated. 
Asher is doing well and spending the day with his brother, Beepo.  Nathan has taught the two of them to "sit."  Reine tells them to "set" and can't understand why they don't.  We're trying to teach her the right pronunciation ;-)
Another exciting, non work-related project is that I'm contributing to a Togolese recipe book another volunteer is compiling.  Women here pass recipes and cooking skills orally.  We are going to try and record them and share with new communities (other volunteers, other Togolese, and people in the US).  I have gone to three different cooking lessons and watched my friend, Jesslyn, cook.  I wrote the recipes and took pictures.  I want many more recipes, so I plan to ask different women around the community if can come and learn from them.  I think it will be a good way to get to know women in the community better.   I love food and cooking and feel excited about the activity.   And the women are excited that I want to learn from them - and after we eat together!
One fun side note - there are now products available at Whole Foods from a cooperative here in Togo.  The brand is Alaffia and from what I know it is shea butter lotions and soaps.  I know two PC volunteers who work with the women about 2 hours south of our village.  According to Whole Foods, Alaffia is "nourishing, moisturizing products made from local ingredients by a women's cooperative in Togo, West Africa.  Ten percent of sales go back to community projects."  Cool, huh?!  Women in our village sell shea butter and I have been buying it recently to use as lotion.  It looks like small pats of butter and doesn't smell wonderful, but my skin is very smooth.  I told other women in the village what I was doing and they of course already do the same!  So if you go to Whole Foods anytime soon, check it out!  If I get a chance to visit the coop, I'll get pics for you!
On April 7, I am going down to Lome for a committee meeting.  I have been nominated to be on the Peace Corps Gender and Development Committee and the next meeting is April 8.  Not sure what it entails so I'll have to tell you next post.  But I'll be back on email then.  Shoot me an email and tell me what's going on!  I'll have more to post and hopefully I'll get pictures up as well.  Please tell everyone hi and keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  This is birthday month for the two of us, as well as Easter, and I'm a little sad not to be with all of you enjoying birthday cake and Easter ham :-) But know that we are happy, miss you tons, and love you even more!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Back to Village

Thanks for all the emails!  It's so great to come into Kara and hear from you all!  Glad everyone is doing well.  We're checking email briefly this morning and then heading back to village.  We had a nice evening of AC, hot showers, and clean sheets!  I even had Pringles and a Snickers bar for dinner ;-)  It's a hard life here in Togo!  hehe  We'll buy vegetables on our way out of town.  There are hardly any vegetables in village.  Nathan has planted tomatoes but they will be the only tomatoes in village.  Crazy, huh?  Sometimes we have onions in market.  Nathan is trying to talk to everyone he can..."Plant vegetables!"  I hope to buy cabbage, carrots, a cucumber, onions, and green peppers.  Oh, and I saw some good-looking pineapples.  Maybe salad one night this week?!  And I might leave out the sardines and mayonnaise!  Otherwise, I'll be back to teaching the rest of this week. I'm looking forward to our normal routine and seeing Asher!  Please keep in touch!  Miss you all tons! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Maggie, Kevine, and Reine

Here are neighbors!  They came over to have their toenails painted.
So I made them pose for a pic!  They aren't used to having their pic
taken so it was difficult to get them to smile.  But they were very
pleased with the pic!


Here's the rabbit house and the cage Nathan built.

Inside the bedroom

So updates on decorating...

Improved Cookstove

Nathan and his homologue, Koulu, building a stove at Koulu's house!
That's the stove I cooked rice porridge on!


Kevine drew my portrait ;-) Don't you like my hair?!

Village Kids

They let me take a candid shot...

Nathan and Asher sleeping


Isn't he a cutie?!


Hi All!
Hope this finds everyone well!  Nathan and I are in Kara for the night and have already had cold Cokes!  For my birthday (yes, not for another month! but we won't be back for a night until after April) we are staying in a nice hotel and it's only $18/night. Yep, that's huh?!  And we get TV, AC, and a hot shower. I am a happy girl!
Weather is still hot, with hotter weather on its way.  We've been sleeping outside in our courtyard. Nathan sets up the mattress each night and we hang a mosquito net around it (it also keeps out mice and bats and termites).  It probably goes down to 70 degrees at night and we love it!  Asher sleeps on the mat beside us!
I am staying busy with school and am still really enjoying it. The students are used to very cut and dry lessons, so I've had fun introducing creative activities.  Thanks Mom and Ganny for all the construction paper and markers!
Plus, I've still been cooking.  I've cooked Togolese food with my friends Adele (corn porridge and peanut sauce) and Jessyln (rice porridge and peanut sauce) and I have shared American recipes with them, including popcorn, sugared peanuts cooked over a fire, and spaghetti sauce.  Everything has been received enthusiastically! 
Asher is well and we've left him overnight with Pierre and Rachel. He'll have fun playing with his brother,Beepo,but I miss him already ;-) 
Next week Nathan goes to In-Service Training at a retreat center in the South of Togo.  I will go the week after.  I'm looking forward to learning new skills and also seeing friends from Stage.  Plus the PC will be cooking all our food - yummy!  Remember, Thanksgiving?!!  Same cooks! 
There is a volunteer 20k away and we've hit it off great!  She is 23 and a health volunteer who arrived 3 months before me. She lives in a town and has electricity!  I biked there last week and spent the night.  Great girls night complete with No-Bake Jello Cheesecake!  Plus I'm super proud of myself for biking...My quads are looking good ;-)
Thanks again for all of the wonderful care packages.  I cannot write enough about how they lift my spirits. I have been a bit homesick this month but am still happy to be here and am learning something new everyday. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers!  I'll try and get pictues up before the day is out...Much love!