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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 afternoon...do 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)