1. Which ones would you say are the top three?
2. Which ones are the most popular?
3. Which ones would you say are useless?
4. Do you miss any other? Can you tell me? I won´t tell anyone ;)
All right, if you have been really sincere,I´ll also be with you and I´ll show the one which really works, remember that I have also been a student... (please, please, be careful with this piece of information!!!)
Sakura Kishi died on 24 February 2011 at the age of 111 years, 149 days, as the 89th-oldest Japanese on record.
Sisnett celebrated his 111th birthday on 22 February earlier this month, at a function at Hilton Barbados.
Below is a report from Felton "Gerald" Ince, his great-nephew.
"James Emmanuel Sisnett celebrated his 111th birthday on Tuesday 22nd February in fine style at the Hilton International Barbados. Uncle "Doc" as we the nephews and nieces call him, was hosted by the Government of Barbados' Ministry of Social Care. Stories and photos of the event may be read at http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/a-toast-to-111-year-old-sisnett/ the www.barbadostoday.bb, of 23 February 2011, to list a few. He still has an amazing memory a hearty appetite and a blood pressure like that of a young person that being 120/70. Eight of his nine living children as well as there children, grandchildren and great-grands, plus diplomats, priests and a host of other guests attend the mid morning event at which there were speeches by government ministers, etc and the screening of a documentary of his life. He is blessed, having never been in a hospital as a patient and his super centenarian status has attracted the California-based research company, Acron Cell Biotech Company, currently on the island collecting blood samples form family members looking for answers to his and his siblings long life. ( http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/scientists-after-sisnetts-secret/ ) With God's help James Emannuel "Doc" Sisnett may be around for a while yet. Felton "Gerald" Ince ( Great-nephew)."
Currently residing in Bavaria, Bauch became the oldest living German on 1 December 2010 upon the death of Berta Zeisler, who had held the title for just 25 days prior. She is currently the only living German supercentenarian.
Bauch is currently the joint-35th oldest German on record at 110 years, 135 days, as of 24 February 2011.
She was originally accepted by Louis Epstein's list, Oldest Human Beings, on 3 December 2010, before being validated by the GRG in February 2011.
Bauch was last confirmed alive on 23 February 2011.
25 November 2011 - Bauch passed away on 2 May 2011 at age 110 years, 202 days, leaving Karolina Mair-Gröber as the oldest living German then. Grober herself passed away on 21 November 2011, aged 110 years, 208 days. At present, the oldest living German is currently Elisabeth Reuter-Schneider, born on 19 August 1901. She is unvalidated by the Gerontology Research Group, but appears on Louis Epstein's list, "Oldest Human Beings".
Hay nueva entrada en el blog de Philadelphia
(Esta entrada es sólo informativa, no hay que dejar comentario)
Carnival is here again, as every year, and I have several questions for you:
1.Why is carnival celebrated?
2.Where do you celebrate it and what do you do?
3.Where would you like to celebrate it if you had the money and the time? Explain why.
4. Can you send me a picture where you appear properly dressed in a costume for carnival?
Send it to my e-mail:
Looking forward to your answers and your photos!!!!!!
that's kind of the motto of my sojourn here in Togo. The exotic is normalized, mostly. Accessing Facebook is a pain in the ass. What used to be normal, like cell phone reception, hot showers, and facebook, is exotic.
I've found stuff that I thought I would find here and other stuff I never believed I would find here.
I've met wonderful people, amazing people, and amazing intelligent people. And I've yelled at assholes and tried to tackle a would-be mugger.
I realized that the only limit to what people can do is the limits that people put on themselves.
I also realized carrying a moto through a river is perfectly acceptable.
I ate goat testicles.
I have yet to meet someone who is fundamentally different than me
One of my best friends in village is a devout catholic. Another one of my best friends in village is a devout muslim. Another practices traditional religion. They live next to each other and get along just fine. People need to take notes.
I finally found an animal that Togolese, or at least the Konkumba, dont eat. Crocodile. I think that this is because crocodiles are reputed to eat people.
I never thought that I would love "tofu."
The thought of planting trees or designing a chimney for a thatched roof is really exciting.
At least once a week I have the following realization "holy crap, I am in Africa"
its the strangest life Ive ever known
Anyway, getting there necessitated a lot of travel. Traveling in Togo, the act of getting from point A to point B, is an interesting experience. The main mode of long distance travel is the bush taxi. this is a toyota, or mazda, van that has been extensively modified with a cargo rack, beefed up suspension, and extra seats. Many of them have also been patched back together. Depending on the number of babies, the bush taxi carries about 21 people when fully loaded. Seating requires negotiation and a willingness to swap a lot of sweat.
The plus side is that Togolese take traveling seriously; most of them dress in their best clothes. It makes me feel bad since I am more interested in which Tshirt that I only want to wear once.
In addition to being stuffed with people, bush taxis carry a lot of cargo. It is not unusual to see a bush taxi whose height is doubled, or more, by the amount of cargo stacked on top. I saw one today with a moto strapped upright over the driver's seat.
The Route National is the main road that runs north/south through Togo. The remoteness of one's village is directly proportional to distance to the Route.
At its best, the Route is roughly equivalent to a state highway back in the States. At its worst, the Route, well, doesnt have any asphalt where it washed out. Most of the time it is a pothole infested obstacle course.
Massive lorries use this road, their size determined by how much stuff can be crammed on them, as opposed to a weight limit. The Route through the passes in Togo's diminutive mountains is littered with the hulks of crashed, broken down, and turned over trucks. Alisha has trouble getting back to her village from the regional capitol because the Route is often blocked by wrecks in this certain pass.
Today, for example, i saw this one lorry being driven up a mountain. It had obviously just wrecked. The cab was crushed, the roof caved in, and the pieces tossed in the trailer. But the engine still worked, so some guys were driving it off.
Bush taxi hulks are somewhat less common.
Driving in Togo requires a lot of skill, luck, and optimism. For example, "my brakes are burning going down this mountain, but Im sure they wont fail." Lanes are more of an idea than an actuality. Drivers treat potholes as obstacles to be avoided, even in the face of an oncoming overloaded lorry. I dont blame them. Some of the potholes are big enough to gut the underside of any vehicle. It is kind of fun careening through towns with the horn blaring and watching people, goats, dogs, and the odd chicken diving out of the way.
The Route is also a footpath. Crowds of school kids use it to walk home. There are no shoulders. Use your imagination.
entry way into the adjoining compound
this was during new years. i feel like the village photographer when i carry my camera around
Kodjo's father in law is a fetisher. this is him and his shrine
three of kodjo's kids. they are all really cute.
Gbatope, where I did my training
me helping dig a grave . . .
I usually, however, do the following things on any given day.
I wake up between 630 and 730, depending on the noise level in my courtyard. I hang around outside for a little while trying to wake up, eating peanut butter (togolese) and bread (togolese but french-inspired) for breakfast, and greeting people who come to saluate me. Sometimes this involves talking to people who want to do projects, sometimes it involves talking about how it was hot last night and so no one slept well.
Then I get dressed and read, or go to town, or go find out who is brewing tchakba that day.
Then I drink tchakba and hang out with people.
Then, late morning, early afternoon, I repo/go hide in my house for awhile.
At 2 pm I take my doxy. my malaria medication.
Then I go over to Kodjo's house, or go drink tchakba, or read, or go learn french, etc.
Late afternoon/evening, I receive more people who come to saluate me.
Then I take a bucket shower.
Then I eat supper. Usually. Then I read/watch tv shows on my computer/ sit outside and look at the stars/ sit outside and talk to people/ help kids with their english homework.
Then I sleep.
Some days, I spent all day in Kouka. Some days I spend 20 minutes out of every 2 hours in my latrine. Some days I spend half the day or more at village events. It all depends.
I preface this post by saying that the New Year's fete here in Togo makes New Year's Eve in the States look tame and lame. I thought one bottle of gin was going to be plenty for Jan. 1st and 2nd. I needed 3.
Anyway, the morning of January 2nd, the sister of the "old man" of my compound died. My family's, and quarter's, fete was somewhat dampened as we prepared for the funeral the next day. Or so I thought. We definitely dug the grave on the 2nd. I helped. It was hard. Throughout the day I noticed people riding into my compound on bikes with 20L jugs on the back. I didn't figure out until the next day that these were full of sodobe. The room across from my house was dedicated to the distributing of sodobe. This point is important.
On the 3rd the dancing commenced. Traditional konkumba dancing. It included 2 big drums. The actual internment happened about noon. The coffin was carried out, paraded around the dance ground, and, after the woman's grieving daughter? was talked out of the grave, positioned over the opening. There some ceremonies were performed. One of them included some complicated string thing that looked kind of like a cat's cradle that was wrapped around the head of the coffin. This is purely conjecture on my part, but it looked like it had something to do with preventing something from escaping. I dont know. Anyway, the coffin was then lowered in the grave and was, along with the objects used to prepare the woman for burial, buried.
More dancing. Into the night. All throughout this guys were wandering around with bottles of sodobe and shot glasses. This was on a Tuesday.
I think there was more dancing on Wednesday, especially in the night. The women had a seperate dance a couple of times. Thursday was the day when the "strangers" came to saluate the family. Many of them came to saluate/see/frighten their kids with me. I went to Kodjo's house eventually to escape.
Friday was the last day of the funeral. They had a traditional dance throughout the day. That night, a generator and speakers were brought in and the area outside my compound was transformed into a massive dance party that lasted until 6am Saturday.
I would walk out of my door at about 7 am, and immediately be offered a shot, or several, of sodabe. Kodjo explained to me that it was custom, and a sign of respect, to offer the family of the deceased several liters of sodabe for the funeral. I bought them 5. I think it lasted half a day. I asked my host dad how much sodabe was drunk during the whole week, and he said 50-60L. Between drums, sodabe, and strangers, it was a tiring week.
Kodjo's uncle died last week. I only went to the funeral for about a day. That was enough. I was asked, however, what funerals in the States were like. I found myself trying to explain that they were somber, sober affairs. Funerals here, while there is definitely grieving, are fetes. As Kodjo explained about his uncle's funeral, because he was closely related to the man, he danced a lot in his memory. He celebrated his uncle's life. Drinking aside, this seems, to be, to be a happier perspective on funerals.
That being said, while I was in Nampoch for my post visit during stage, I watched, and subsequantly smashed, a scorpion trundling along my bedroom wall. Some of my friends have seen snakes at night; the only ones I've encountered have been road-kill. I am fine with that. There are spiders, and they are huge, and, if they are in my house, they meet my broom. Cockroaches, thus far, haven't been much of a problem for me, but they are definitely around. The last time I saw a cockroach-like beetle in my house I gassed it with enough insecticide to give generations of the lizards in my ceiling cancer.
Lizards are ubiqitious. There are big ones, small ones, striped ones, ones with blue tails, multi-colored ones, drab ones, and so forth. Gheckos, chameleons, ones that look like iguanas . . . Around dusk, which lasts for about 20 minutes here, the bats come out of the trees. I mention them only because they are big and I like to watch them. There was the one time I was taking a night shower and a small one flew in to join me and we danced. It was fun.
Togolese cuisine, for the most part, revolves around two staple dishes. Pate and fufu. Each of these, in their final form, look like a lump of dough. Pate is made from either corn, sorgham, or rice, and possibly millet, although the former is most common. Basically, you boil cornmeal until its a mush, then you eat the hardened mush. It can also be used for glue and to patch tires. Fufu is, for the Konkumba, boiled yams that have been pounded until they are the consistancy of mashed potatoes. In the south, the Evé, for example, use manioc instead of yams for fufu. The Konkumba scoff at manioc. These dishes are eaten with a variety of sauces, many of which include meat or fish. I, personally, love rice pate with peanut sauce. Corn pate with ocra, or edame, sauce makes me want to hurl. Fufu with any variety of pepper/tomato sauces is great. The trick to eating fufu, by the way, is to make sure you get your (right) hand wet first. Otherwise it sticks to your fingers.
Rice, beans, spaghetti, and, to a lesser extent, couscous, are all popular here. One of my favorite things is beans with this pepper sauce sprinkled with gari-- crushed and dried millet. Soja, or tofu, is popular in the marchés and with street vendors. It always makes my day when I find some. Fried in oil and soaked in pepper sauce . . . so good. Its not usually avaliable in village though. My staple diet, that my host mom feeds me at least twice a day, is beans and rice with a bit of tomato/pepper sauce. One of the good things that the French left in Togo is a legacy of good bread that is sold about everywhere . . . except in village. Fresh fruits and vegetables are, especially here in the north, marché day buys. You can also get them from street vendors in bigger towns. I have this one lady that I buy oranges from whenever I go to Guerin-Kouka to get my mail.
--what I said up there about couscous isn't totally true. I taught my host sister how to make it the other day.
Kodjo was really happy about finding, and subsequantly braining, this huge lizard that he found the other day. As near as I can tell, the meat menu in Nampoch goes something like this-- goat, chicken, sheep, guinea fowl, pork, dog, fish, lizard, cow, and random birds that kids shoot with slingshots. I haven't had the guts to ask if they eat cats around here yet.
PS. A couple more points about dog. 1. "Butchering" one involves a machete and flying bits. 2. Apparently only men can eat it. 3. Get a chunk with bone through it. That way you can be sure it is mostly muscle . . .
Now, that there is a difference between the two is undebatable-- people in one area consider their drink superior to whatever anyone else has. The hard part is in determining exactly what the difference is. After much, um, taste-testing, and discussion, I am prepared to offer a few comments on the matter.
Tchuk is brewed mainly in the south, and also in east Kara. Tchakba is the northern, and western Kara, brew. Tchuk is redder (more the color of sorgham), and the fermenting "stuff" (I can't remember the right word for it) floats on the top. It is less complex and more prone to wild swings in sweet/sour between vendors. Tchakba is browner, and a bit more like beer. The fermentation "stuff" bubbles up from the bottom of one's calabash as one is contemplating life, or what have you. Its flavor is a bit more complex, expecially in the aftertaste. Tchakba, I think, tends to be a little stronger than tchuk. It is also lighter, and does not give me heartburn. A couple of my friends in village remarked on the same thing. I like tchakba a lot better.
Two other local drinks are sodabe and its little parent, palm wine. The latter is essentially the fermented sap of a palm tree-- a young palm tree is uprooted, and its sap ferments in the trunk. This is then drained into a bowl, strained for bees and ants, and drunk. It looks about like skim milk but tastes a lot better. Sodabe is palm wine that has been further fermented and refined. This is at least true in the south. I am not sure what they make sodabe out of up here. Anyway, sodabe is clear, and probably about 80-110 proof depending on who is making it. It is basically moonshine. Sodabe also tastes better in the south where it still retains some of the flavor of palm wine; here in the north it can, and does, taste like anything.
PS. Two months later Ive found out that tchakba is also brewed with some kind of tree bark. I crave it. That is all.
Over my right knee I can see, in order, a papyaya tree, a neem? tree, and a baobob tree. Google baobobs. For they are huge and awesome. There are mango blooms about three feet from my head.
The compound. If you take a typical American home and turn it inside out, you would have a Togolese compound. Bedrooms and storerooms-- there is little distinction between the two-- line the perimeter of the compound. The doors open into the compound. Never outward. My "house" is two rooms lining one side of my host family's compound. Where there are no buildings, there is a wall. This is typical of Konkomba architecture. Dedicated granaries are usually outside of the compound, unlike, say, Lamba compounds.
Anyway, the compound is an open area that serves as a kitchen, common area, work area, threshing floor, etc. The Konkumba thresh stuff by piling it up and beating it with sticks. I could do corn for about 10 minutes. My host sisters did it for hours.
Chickens, goats, and pigs (here) wander in and out of compounds looking for food. I just kicked a bench at a pig that strayed in. Chickens are a pet peeve since a hen and her chicks crapped all over my sandals that were outside the door of my house. Actually, I hate roosters even worse. Guinea fowl are annoying as hell too. Anyway, right now, Kodjo's son, Eelayo is throwing corn cobs at chickens and piglets that have come into the compound and are getting into stuff.
In Nampoch, each compound is sort of considered a "house" except when multiple families live in a big compound. I think. The compounds often ajoin each other-- so when I go to visit someone it feels like that I am walking through someone else's living room. This is something I need to get over. The concept of a "home" here is different. In the US you would not enter someone's house without permission. Here, the bedroom is sacrosanct--you don't enter it without permission. During cotton harvest, my host family is using one of their bedrooms as a cotton store room. The room is about full. I hate picking cotton.
The purpose of this piece is to provide a bit of context for the following, or preceding, entries. I plan on posting these at once and I have no idea how it will turn out.
I left Indiana on September 16. I think. It seems like a half a life time ago. I met the rest of my stage (stAj) in historical Philadelphia for 2 days of meet/greet and staging before departing for Togo. We got to Togo on the 18th, spent a couple of days there doing orientation and health stuff, like getting shots, and went out to our traing sites.
My official job designation is Natural Resources Management. There are 15 of us in my stage. 14 people working in GEE, Girls' Education and Empowerment, round out the members of the September stage. We went through orientation and swear-in together, and did some training stuff ensemble as well, but we trained at different sites. GEE's site was Tsevié, a large town/city about an hour north of Lomé. NRM trained in Gbatopé, a village about 7-10k east of Tsevié. Each stagaire was placed with a host family to facilitate acclimation to Togolese society, cuisine, etc. My host family was a farming family about 2k outside of Gbatopé on the road to Benin. They were awesome.
Stage was about 9 weeks long. We mainly did language (French and local) and technical training. We had joint sessions with the people from Tsevié on stuff like health, Peace Corps policy, and Togolese culture. On the 6th week I think it was, we went to our posts for a visit.
The 9th week was a whirlwind. We got our language test results (I passed), packed up, and went down to Lomé for 3 days of shopping and swearing-in. The ceremony for swear-in was held at the US Ambassador's residence. Some Togolese dignitaries were there and we were broadcast on national TV. After the appropriate, um, festivities, we were bundled off to our posts.
A little note on Togolese geography and society-- The country is divided up into 5 regions that are, in order from south to north, Maritime, Plateau, Centraal, Kara, and Savannes. Togo itself was the French half of the former German colony of Togoland (or Legoland). There are something like 40 different ethnic groups in Togo, each with their own language. French is the official language though, and it is also what Togolese from different ethnicities use to communicate. French is taught in the primary and secondary schools. This means that most men and children can speak it fairly well but that a lot of older people and women may or may not if they did not go to school.
My post is a village called Nampoch. It is located in western Kara, about 30ish miles from Ghana. The main ethnic group here is the Konkumba. They extend about 10 miles east of Nampoch and westward aways into Ghana. Another wonder wrought by European colonial map makers.
The nearest 'city' is Guerin-Kouka. It is where I to buy most stuff (it has a big marché), get my mail, and to recharge my electronic devices. I do have cell phone service here in Nampoch, depending on where I stand. I am lucky that there is a really good (dirt) road connecting Nampoch to Guerin-Kouka, and to Ghana. This is because the area is a sizeable cotton producing region and a cotton consortium maintains the road. There is a 2nd year GEE volunteer posted in Guerin-Kouka. She is really cool. I go to her house to charge my stuff and also to experience luxuries like a fan and a couch.
I think that there are about 500 people or so in Nampoch itself. There are quite a few smaller outlying villages, and compounds, that are connected economically and socially to Nampoch however. I will talk more about this later.
Nampoch is technically a "new" post. That is, I am the first NRM PCV to be posted here. Sort of. There was a PCV originally posted here from last year's NRM stage, but he was medically seperated by the Peace Corps after only a month at post. I inherited his furniture. It took me about a week here to figure out that there have been PCVs in Nampoch in the 90s and early 2000s, but they worked in health.
I live in a two room house that's part of a larger compound. My host family consists of a father, mother, and their six kids. The oldest girl is, I think, about 16. I pay her to get my water. My host mother just had a son on December 23rd. They wanted me to name him, so I named him David after my dad. My host dad, like most of the rest of village, is a farmer. He farms 8 hectacres by hand. Corn and yams are the principal food crops; cotton and sorgham are the principle cash crops. There is also a lot of soybeans, rice, peppers, and okra. And probably also some stuff that I forgot.
I have mentioned my homologue a lot. When a village requests a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer), it has to identify someone as the PCV's principal counterpart/contact person in village. Thus, the homologue. Mine's name is Kodjo. He is a farmer (7 or so hectacres). Kodjo has 2 wives and 4 kids. His oldest is 11 and his youngest, the first by his second wife, just turned 1. His second wife does my laundry.
I am really happy with Kodjo as a homologue. Not only does he have a moto, so he can take me places, but he has worked with several previous PCVs in the past so he has experience working with Americans. He serves, on some level, as an intermediary between me and the village, whether it be translating my crappy French into Konkumba or explaining what someone is trying to tell me, to telling me who is a chief, to instructing me on cultural norms, or to making sure the carpenter knows how to build my bookshelves. Kodjo really likes music, so much so that I told him that his radio is his third wife. He thought this was hilarious. He is easy-going and relaxed about stuff.
This could describe Nampoch in general-- relaxed. Topographically, the place is not too exciting. But I really like the people here.
Born 26 August 1896 in Tennessee, Cooper was a teacher and was thus not allowed to have children; she had her first child at 33 and her last at 48.
Cooper's age at becoming the world's oldest person has been the highest since that of Californian Gertrude Baines, who took the title at 114 years 271 days on 2 January 2009.
Cooper is currently the 56th oldest person on record, in front of fellow American Walter Breuning, born 21 September 1896, at 60th place. Breuning, who is also at 114 the world's second oldest person since Sanborn's passing, is only 26 days younger than Besse Cooper.
Besse Cooper has revealed that she thinks that her new title is 'rather great'.
Click for a report from The Walton Tribune documenting Cooper's ascension to world's oldest person.
I think we all have a favourite, or several love songs, well I love this one:
Which one is yours? Send it to me with subtitles so we all can get to understand.
Yes, please, if you are in love, write your sweetheart a love letter; if you are not in love, just imagine you are and write him/her a love letter, or simply write the love letter you would like to receive. I know you are very sensitive under this appearance, if you don´t want the others to see you name, don´t write it, but tell me in class who wrote the letter.... Oooops, about 100 words, please!
Regrettably, Eunice Sanborn, declared the world's oldest person at age 114 years, 107 days on 4 November 2010 upon the death of Frenchwoman Eugénie Blanchard at 114 years, 261 days, died yesterday, 31 January 2011, of congestive heart failure in Texas, US, aged 114 years, 195 days.
Her death finishes her life at 114 years, 195 days and as the 43rd oldest person on record, surpassing Grace Clawson by one day. The death also ends her reign of 300 days as the oldest living American from the 6 April 2010 death of Iowan Neva Morris.
Sanborn's death leaves Georgian Besse Cooper, aged 114 years, 158 days, as the new world's oldest living person.