When I found out that I was coming to Togo, I spent a month or so checking out current Togo Volunteers' blogs. One of them, I cant remember which, had a quote to the effect of "PC service is a series of sad goodbyes and anxious hellos." As in you constantly have to say goodbye to amazing people as they finish their services. They are sometimes replaced by new people whom you hope will be cool too. I'm currently in Lome to see Jacqui off-- she was in Karen's stage but she decided to extend for 6 months. Her post, Bassar, isnt being replaced. At least not yet. Her house was awesome; you could stand on her porch and look out at the Bassar mountain. I have a lot of memories in that house-- I spent last Christmas in the bathroom there, got dumped there, made ravioli there, had a hooded onesie party (don't ask) there, etc. More importantly though, Jacqui is leaving. A piece of the fabric of PC Togo is leaving. She's done a lot of great things in her service. She just finished building a school in a village in the mountains near Bassar for example. People will remember her, like they remember most Volunteers, for a long time. Jacqui is probably the best/ classiest dressed Volunteer I know in Togo. That is saying a lot. Service goes on, but its like a stained glass window just lost a piece.
I was standing in front of my bookshelf the other day looking for something to read when I realized how much stuff by Russian, or Russian-born authors Ive read in Togo. Asmov's Foundation series, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Rand (I refused to read Atlas Shrugged but the Fountainhead is really good), Pushkin, Boris Akunin, Boris Pasternak, and some others I cant remember. I have not read Tolstoy. I am not sure what this says about me.
One thing I've always found interesting about Togo is the clouds. I don't know if it has to do with elevation, latitude or what, but clouds here seem to hang lower than they do in the US. It makes for spectacular thunderstorm viewing. We were sitting at lunch today and I watched thunderstorms build out east of us, over the ocean and Benin. They looked like towering flying saucers. The other night there were a couple developing south of Bassar during Jacqui's going away party. The setting sun turned them into pink towers. Then the light went out and lighting lit them up from the inside.
Its sort of amazing how much I look forward to coming to Lome just to eat. Although, now that I think about it, its probably not that amazing considering I consider a bowl of rice covered in hot sauce a meal. However, Lome does have the best faux pizza in Togo. And Indian food. And Vietnamese. And it has Lebanese food. A lot of Lebanese food. I do not know why there are a lot of Lebanese in Togo, but I am thankful that they are here. D likes to go to Lebanese places to celebrate her roots.
Speaking of food, I love my region, but the food situation there sucks. We're entering the "season of famine." Most of last year's foodstocks are gone, or used for seed. This year's stuff isn't ready to harvest yet. The staple food is pate . . . pate . . . and more pate . . .. Bush food ( i feel like there is a word for this but i can't think of what it is) is really popular. Wild grapes are starting to come in. Anyway, this is weird because I can drive south for 4 hours down to Atakpame and eat fresh grilled corn and avacados. Its the land of milk and honey -- just because its been raining there for a couple months longer than it has been up north. oh well.
The rain difference is even noticeable between Kouka and Bassar, and they are only like 55k apart. Bassar is obviously greener than Kouka. The other day, my host dad was like "Rain for Nampoch is just wind.' Just goes to show that farmers are the same everywhere. They are always griping about the weather.