Arrival in Badou
Badou - Sunday, October 3, 1982
Greetings from Badou.
Don't worry about your previous letters. The Peace Corps Office will forward my letters up here to Badou.
Mail will get here faster if you use the Badou address, though Peace Corps will route all my mail up this way. The Badou address:
Mr. William Crozier, Lyceé de Badou, Badou, Togo, West Africa
When I arrived Thursday afternoon, I was introduced to the Prefect (sort of like a mayor) of this region by K, the director of the agricultural education program. I moved my things into my house and then I was taken to the Lyceé to be introduced to the Proviseur of the school. He taught English for some time; that may come in handy. I met some of my colleagues also, the professors of French, geography and German. The proviseur told me to get settled in and come back in the morning to get my schedule. Then K dropped me off at my house, shook my hand, said good luck and took off. I started unpacking and then went into town to buy some needed items. As I was bargaining for a charbonnier, S rode by and offered me dinner. He was the physics teacher here last year but he has switched to the rural development program...interesting. I got some eggs (one which had a little embryo in it) and went back home. Before I went to S's for dinner I picked up the mobylette which was at the Prefet's house. I had dinner with S and we talked about teaching physics. Then I went home and went to bed. At 5:30 AM I got up and took a bucket bath and went to school. All the students were lined up in rows facing the Togolese flag and softly singing the national anthem. The Proviseur took me to his office and gave me my schedule, then introduced me to three of my four classes.
[This is my house. Shutters opened, shower buckets, papaya trees by the door. Top right: the chute which delivers water from the roof to the cistern.]
It is Sunday morning and I just listened to Voice of America news while eating my breakfast of Quaker Oats with bananas and powdered milk. I get the major headlines.
It is very quiet here. I'm a isolated from town by high grass and fields of manioc. I'm visited everyday by the student who works for B, the volunteer who lives next door. I think I'll have him work for me, too. I'd like to do most things myself, but I won't have time to do everything. He'll probably wash my clothes. I'm going to cook and shop myself.
There's no gas in town right now and I have no lock for my mobylette yet, so it is in my "living room." I spend most of my time at my desk or in the kitchen. Right now I'm boiling water on the kerosene stove. It is then filtered so that I can drink it without unhappiness. I have a charbonnier which will be cheaper to use than the kerosene stove.
I take a shower with a bucket and a cup. It doesn't take much longer than with a real shower.
Hello again. It's evening, 6:45 PM, and I'm writing by the light of a small kerosene lamp. It can be lonely here, the work is not easy and the hours are long. I can't see it getting easier for months. I'm not only more isolated from my friends - my "support group" as they called it in training - but also from the USA. I think mail will take longer from here in Badou and even though the Peace Corps Office in Lomé knows I'm here, I don't know how long my letters to the BP 3194 address will take to get here. Also, I haven't received your tape yet. I don't know whether it is lost for good or just hung up somewhere.
There's no time yet to write songs. I spend a little time fiddling with the guitar but can't take time to write things down.
The kid that works for the PC volunteer (PCV) next door carries my water for me. It comes from the river and so must be boiled and filtered before it can be drunk or used in cooking. That's not so bad except that the gas station in Badou is out of kerosene right now and my stove is almost dry. I have charcoal now which is fine for boiling water, but I use kerosene to start the charcoal. No one said this would be easy.
I have to get back to work now.
Send all news, good or bad, to my new address. I'm waiting.
I really wanted to go home this afternoon. I had feelings of self worthlessness. If school goes better or if I adjust to it the way it is then I'll be fine. Doing the kitchen stuff is frustrating. No kerosene in town. I need a lock for my Mobylette, too. Did I want to leave! The town is not that friendly. I need time to circulate. The market women don't laugh like those in Lomé. I'll have to learn some Ewe. We had a 3 hour teacher's meeting that I got little out of except that I saw some of my colleagues in action. I hope things get better. It's probably hormonal. There will be ups and downs. And the family seems impossibly far away due to the mail gap. I'll feel better when letters start coming in. Back to work.
I've had school for one week. The beginning was bad. I wanted to leave. That feeling will come again. It's too soon to really like it. There is a lot of work but maybe I can learn Ewe or Mina. There are many good things that I have learned here. It would be silly to say it was a waste if I'm just as depressed as when I was in Michigan (which would be difficult to say in any case). Even if I do end up not liking it, there are good things in that, too. I met P today, who teaches English in a nearby town. He says there are always love - hate relationships. How true. Will this be meaningful only if there is that duality? All first year volunteers say "one year will be plenty." That's what I said, too.
I can write again. I haven't gotten any mail for weeks. I sent a letter last week and here I go again.
School is hard. It takes a lot of outside preparation. It will take some time for the people of the town to realize that I'm here to stay. I get called "Yovo" a lot more here since Yovos are rarer here than in Lomé. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes not.
I've got a a little one-cylinder motor bike called a mobylette. I rode it to school today for the first time. It cuts a lot of time off the journey. I don't think I'll ride it everyday unless I get enough exercise walking in the hills.
Badou is really beautiful. I forget sometimes since there are so many other things on my mind. It is hilly and there are mountains all around. Badou had been out of kerosene for a week. It just came in today. My refrigerator is running again with the new kerosene. The town had also been out of gasoline but it's in again, too. I hear that this doesn't happen very often so I should have the "modern comforts" most of the time. I had a papaya off of one of my trees this morning. It has the color and consistency of ripe cantaloupe but is not as sweet and has a different flavor.
One of my students works for B and me. His name is K. I've been doing all my own cooking and shopping, K carries water and is doing my laundry this morning. When I get settled in, I'll do some of my own laundry and just leave the important things for him. Once I get some more clothes made, I should have enough surplus so that laundry need only be done once a week. I'm not sure how culturally sensitive I'm being. The more I let others do for me, the more money I put into the system. K won't take money, which is the African way. But I'll help him out financially with school and provide him with some meals. A problem is that I think he's really sort of B's helper. I might find someone else. I have to get settled in first. There is another fellow that comes around and wants to help but I didn't get good feelings about him and haven't heard good things from other volunteers.
It's 9:30 PM. It's very quiet here in Badou, even on Saturday night.