This time last year I sat on my porch and watched thunderstorms march across the southern horizon and wept.
Now its been raining for about 2 weeks. Not steadily, but rainy season is definitely here. A couple weeks ago this big storm blew through Kouka (it missed Nampoch). The marche looked like a tornado hit it. There was this unfinished church (block walls, no roof) that was completely demolished. Trees down everywhere.
The rain isnt good for the dam dredging project. Shoveling/carrying mud is harder than shoveling/carrying dry dirt.
The funeral that i mention in my last post was a lot of fun. my cartier and a couple other villages all did theirs at the same time. My cartier killed 6 cows (which never happens), and a lot of other stuff. Slitting a cow's throat is kind of intense. Bry came out for 2 days of it. We went to a neighboring village and watched charlatan stuff for awhile (in which they tried to figure out why certain dead people had died). The next day we went from house to house, drank tchakpa and collected hunks of pig. It was a lot of fun.
I'm glad its started raining. The haze has been, mostly, washed out of the sky and the landscape looks greener.
The setting sun still looks like a vanilla wafer
I saw like 4 dead snakes on the road when i was biking into town today. they come out in rainy season cause their holes flood. The bad thing is that there is too much vegetation to see them . . .
So Ningan dropped 4 little bundles of joy on my bedroom floor one night a couple weeks ago. I got back from training in Pagala and discovered that they are now mobile-ish. Now my house is swarming with cats again. Two of them apparently cant tell the difference between my foot and mommy . . . .
People talk about guard dogs and stuff, but what about guard cats? Its so much more comforting to go to sleep at night with the knowledge that any creepy crawlies in my house will be a snack for Nighan.
Speaking of creepy crawlies, I am cursed with a screwed up curiosity . . . the kind that leads me to shine my flashlight down my latrine at night to see whats there. This resulted in me spraying enough insecticide (the active ingredients of which, im sure, are banned in the US) down there to turn my latrine into a toxic hell. Ants love immobile cockroaches.
One thing I love about it here is that there is always something new and cool to discover. Like yesterday, I went up into the northern part of Dankpen prefecture to talk to a couple cantons about this gender equality thing we're going to do in a couple of months. The last village i went to was up on this ridge overlooking two river valleys. It was pretty amazing. I could see Ghana on one side and a large chunk of northern Togo on the other.
Does time exist where there are no clocks? Yeah, seasons changes, stuff grows and dies, rains come and go, but does this require "time"-- the minutes and hours that constantly slip by like water droplets in a cosmically infinite ocean? the more i think about it, the more i find that looking at my phone is a way to measure the passage of my own mortality rather than to see how long ive been sitting in a meeting. In the broad scheme of things, i really dont have much better to do than to talk to people about how to reduce child trafficking or repairing their pump.
My host dad got a cellphone. Whenever it rings, its a big deal in my compound. In Togolese culture (i think west african in general), there is this idea of "saluating" people. That's franglais. It means that when you see someone you say hi, ask how he or she is doing, ask how the kids are, etc. its a sort of a ritualistic, formulaic process that has deep social connotations. If you dont saluate someone, its disrespectful, especially an older person. Conversely, Togolese love it when you can say hi in local language. No meeting starts without saluating-- late arrivals saluate everyone, and vice versa, no matter who is talking. Anyway, basically, now that Petit has a cellphone, he calls me like twice a day when Im gone to say hi and see if i'm still alive.
So i decided to extend for a 3rd year. in case i havent mentioned this yet
Watching my host mom with my little host brother, david, is interesting. She's tall, taller than Petit, has a gruff voice, and kind of an intimidating presence. When I first got to post, I was kind of scared of her. But watching her one on one with david is really cute. He's a year and a half now, he's walking, sort of speaking, and not as scared of me as he used to be. The other day he tried to help her lift a basin full of stuff up on her head. He had this big grin on his face. I cant really describe her reaction except to say that its probably in the dictionary next to "a mother's loving smile/laugh at her child." Ive been meaning to blog about it for awhile, but i find it hard to describe. Its just this example of unadulterated maternal affection that I dont see often.
Yesterday we stopped in a village to fix one of the motos and like 20 kids came up to shake my hand and say hi. then it started being a dare for the kids who were scared of me. Just one of those things that makes me laugh on a daily basis.