Friday, December 25, 2009

Final Post Today

Hope you enjoy all the pictures I've uploaded! Just scroll below to see the latest posts ;-)

Today is Christmas and I'm celebrating by spending time on the internet and sitting in AC. Could be seen as anti-climatic but I'm successfully going with the flow today and enjoyed my fermented corn paste with tomato sauce this morning. Nathan and I are going to a Muslim Lebanese restaurant for lunch. I'm hoping for falafal! And did I mention it is already 100 degrees?! I guess that's Christmas in Togo! Yay for the folks arriving tomorrow!

So this posting is about a walk I took last week. Yes, a walk. Every Tuesday, Nathan and I bike or take a motorcycle to Siou, a town 8k from Pessare. There is a market every Tuesday and we have Togolese friends there. We go, charge our phones (yes, there is electricity there!), and have cold Cokes. Well, last week, I decided to walk. Women from Pessare walk there and back every week to sell and buy goods. No one has a bike and a moto is $1.50 each way...I only make $8/day. Now, I know you are thinking...well, you are in Peace Corps and you are supposed to be doing what the locals do. But it is much harder than you think! Why walk in the hot sun when you can be there in 10 minutes on a moto?! Because they walk. So given my previous experience with Crop Walk (thanks Mom and Dad for making me do it every year!), I decided when in Rome, do as the Romans. (Again, harder than you think. Did I mention the corn paste I ate this morning?! You know that doesn't sound good. But I'm doing it!) So, I asked a friend, Alia, if I could walk with her. And she was more than pleased to have the company! I made a list of everything I needed the night before...hat, sunscreen, water bottle, eye drops (dusty season), ibuprofen, camera. I was pretty confident I could do it. I was just worried about the heat. (Markets here are in the not ask me why...I have no idea. Seems like a bad idea to me. Maybe because they have so many chores in the morning?) But Alia agreed to start walking at 9am...a bit early for her, but she knew I was concerned about the heat. It came easily be 100 degrees at 9am. So I got to our meeting tree at 9am and she was nowhere to be found. I decided to walk to her house and once there learned she had walked to my house. Around 10am, we finally met at the tree and started walking. I convinced myself to be calm, not worry about the heat, and start walking. It's not like I couldn't have called Nathan at any point and had a moto sent. But ultimately there was no need. I had a GREAT time! We talked, visited with children and other women walking (men don't usually go to market), and she stopped often for me to drink water. I offered them some of my water but they all refused. Maybe they are just built to stand the heat?! Anyway, an hour and a half later, we made it! And I was just sweaty and thirsty...not sick or hurt. Success, huh?! I am really glad I did it. Makes me appreciate all the hard work Togolese women do for their families. I am truly humbled. Ultimately, I walked to better understand their daily work...And I am thankful to have had the opportunity. I think there are more Crop Walks in my future!
(The crowd in front of me...I had to stop to get the picture, so I got a bit behind)

Alia! And yes, I wore a skirt and flip flops like her.

Some kids walking...And no, I didn't carry anything on my head!

Running Partner

Ok, so I haven't been so good about running here. You'd think with all the time I have, it would be easy. But something about the immense heat keeps me in the shade ;-) However, Nathan runs everyday. And last week he found a new running buddy. Nathan runs fast and he tried to lose this guy just to see how hard this guy could go (not my approach to running...I'm not much for sports competition), but he kept up! Which is amazing given his shoes...Take a close look. One flip flop and one sneaker...on the WRONG feet. And this guy RUNS! Crazy huh?!! Nathan had a blast and they have future running dates! PS He's holding a soccer ball that was a recent gift from a friend! Thanks Yquem!

Garden Progress

The garden outside our house is going well. We've eaten all the radishes and I've used dill, parsely, and basil in several dishes. Now for the tomatoes ;-)

World Map

The grid.

Asher posing with the almost finished map.

A view from a distance...It is next to a Sinkaring statue, a festival that was held in Pessare in 2004. Here's what I found online....."Sinkaring (initiation and harvest ceremony of the Kabyés in the Binah region). Sinkaring would come from a couple of verbs "Sankuu" which means to wash hands, to purify and "Karuu" which means being ready to face the tests of life. Sinkaring which has its origin in LAMA-Tessi (a village close to Pessare). This is a test by which one subjects the Kabyé young person of Binah to endurance and with the force so he can defend his community. This is a test for the young people to allow their integration in the class of the adults. It is also a harvest festival because after the songs and the dances, tasting comes from the beans and the local drink, fruits of new harvests. It is rotary in canton and is celebrated each year 1st Saturday of December."

We are currently working on painting a world map at the middle school. The school has one map - a paper poster of Togo. There is no map of the world or even of Africa. Last year in English class I asked someone to point out Togo on an Africa map that I drew. The kid had no idea...and it wasn't just because of my bad drawing ;-) Thus I knew we had to rectify this someway and Peace Corps has a history of painting world maps. You can see some on the main highway throughout Togo. With some financial gifts from family and friends, we constructed the cement wall and purchased paint. Nathan and I painted it white and the 10th grade students along with the Math teaher drew a grid. Now they are busy painting it. By the time we return to village, it should be done! I think it looks quite great! And now when Togo plays soccer in another country the students will actually know where the country is! P.S. On the back of the wall will be a map of Africa...stay tuned!

Peer Educators

I recently finished a peer educator training at the middle school for 40 students. They came to four sessions and at the end received a certificate. Here they are!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays everyone! Nathan and I are in Lome awaiting our parents arrival on the 26th. Needless to say, we are very excited! A perfect Christmas present ;-) Hope everyone has a wonderful day...Much love! Ann

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


And here are the girls cheering on the players! Not your usual American chants, huh?

Soccer Game

Here is a recent middle school soccer game in Pessare. Check out the ball...It's from my sister!

Latest Food Finds

These guinea fowl eggs were a gift from a friend. They are a bit smaller than a chicken's egg and I have found the yolks to be a brighter yellow. I love when we have eggs...So many more cooking options. I made fried rice the other night with scrambled eggs...yummy. This is fresh ginger from a neighbor's garden. I think the picture makes the garlic look like extra fingers on my hand ;-)
And of course hot peppers! I love the colors here!

PTA Meeting

They were actually really excited to get their picture taken!