Full Moon

3/12
It is Saturday and I've just returned from a 2-hour ride to the big city, Atakpame. I went to by some luxury items like butter! The other day I had a craving for Chef-boy-R-dee®* Ravioli and thought I'd have to wait till I get back to the States for that. Then a volunteer came by the other day and casually mentioned that she had ravioli for dinner that she had bought in Atakpame. She said, without prompting, that it tasted like Chef-Boy-R-Dee®*. Naturally, ravioli was a prominent item on my Atakpame list. So, sitting in my kitchen is a large can of ravioli. Now...when should I eat it?? [Below, the building on the left is the SGGG in Atakpame, pronounced "ess trwah zhay" in French (S trois G), the closest thing to a supermarket in Togo. This is where I bought butter and cheese.]

Thursday, 3/17
Dear Everyone,
It is the first week of vacation and I've lots of visitors. Sunday night CC came. Monday noon CM came. We went to the waterfall. Tuesday we took a taxi up the mountain to Dzogbegan market and bought two pineapples and a live chicken. Badou doesn't have a frozen meat section in their supermarket. Badou doesn't have a supermarket. I've said to myself, "I have the opportunity here in Africa to butcher my own chicken so I should do it once." CC spent some of his early years on a farm, so he knew how to do it and he encouraged me to go ahead and do it. The chicken was very calm. Chickens in Togo are used to being held by the feet. The Togolese hold them upside down, they tie them to bicycles, tie them to the tops of taxis, etc. I just held the chicken by its feet in the taxi. This was morning and the chicken was to be for dinner, so I gave the chicken to K to hold until dinner time. We made fruit salad in the mean time with the pineapple, oranges, bananas, papayas, coconut and grapefruit. At 4:00 PM I started some water boiling... I got the chicken from K. CC told me I should just chop off its head but K told me I would get blood all over me. So I did it the Togolese way: I held the chicken's feet down with my right foot. I held its head back with my left hand. I cut its throat with a knife. K said I only had to cut the two cords in its neck. But it still moved, so I cut the spinal cord, too. It still moved! And for two minutes it moved. But its head was dead. I don't think I will do that often. It was good to do. It made me think about eating food and what happens before I eat a chicken. It was a nice looking chicken and got nicer and nicer looking as the time came to take away its precious life, the only life it had ever known, would ever know, perhaps, because who knows what happens to a chicken when its little red heart stops pumping the red blood, that blood that is just as red as, yes, just as red as yours or mine, dear reader. I'm still going to eat chickens. After slaughtering the harmless animal I dipped it in boiling water so its feathers would come off easily. After taking off the feathers, I cut off its head completely and also its feet. Then I singed off its hair. At this point it looked like it had come from Acme or Pathmark. However, one look inside the chicken told me that it was still different than the store-bought variety. This chicken still had all its insides still inside it. So I cut open the back end and pulled out things. CC helped me with some of this, too. We cut up the chicken into pieces and fried them for awhile, while making a delicious peanut sauce, then mixed the chicken and sauce and ate it over rice. It was good. In the mean time, two more volunteers, A and D showed up and there was news that two others, W and S were on the way. They came and slept and the next day CC and CM left and A, S, W, D and I (and K) went to the waterfall again. [Photo below: the path to the falls.] We all liked it so much that we went back today, this time with D and F, who showed up last night . So I've had lots of visitors and I hear that P might show up sometime during the break, too. I think all that are here today are leaving tomorrow and I'm actually looking forward to some peace and quiet. Most of my guests are good guests, that is they help to keep the place from going to complete disorder, and "pay their way" as it were. Then, there are those that drink all the beer or soda and expect to be waited on. It is interesting to see the contrast. It's good to see my friends and to have some vacation.

3/18
Now it is Friday morning and all the visitors are gone. Peace and quiet. I could have the day to myself which would be fine. It was hard to keep enough boiled and filtered water for everyone. The filter is a bit slow and who wants to drink hot water? My frigo makes ice but not quickly.
All my visitors liked Badou. It is the only green spot left in Togo. And they liked especially the waterfall. One can swim and there is always a cool breeze blowing from the falls.
That's all there is to say.

Love,
Bill

Friday 3/25, 5:00 PM
Back from Lomé. Looks like I'm going home around July 8th. Hope all works out.
I feel fairly content. I get waves of contentment. I'm reading Siddartha. He found happiness in simplicity, when he could read, think, write and fast. But he became sad when he became rich. How will it end? I've forgotten.
It's hard to write while content.

3/26

Hausa is supposed to be a good language to learn here. You can find someone in any region who speaks it, the language of the Fulani wanderers who herd cattle all over West Africa. I haven't had any Ewe lessons for awhile but I want to continue to learn it. I was with A, my Ewe teacher. We were going to have a beer and he asked me, in Ewe, in front of the server, what I wanted to drink. The woman said to A in Ewe that it was useless to talk to white peolpe in Ewe because they could never learn it. When A explained, I asked him what he wanted, then ordered two beers, in Ewe. This made the woman very happy. A told me later that he had had doubts about teaching me Ewe, because I would never use it after I left Togo. But when he saw the effect on the bar woman, he could see the value. He says Africans put on a mask for foreingers and he saw this woman take down her mask a little when I spoke her language.

Some Ewe words are taken from English. Examples: a watch is wotchee, a flashlight is torchee, but batteries are called torchee kpe which means flashlight stones. Water sellers yell, "Essee glacé!" which means iced water, mixing Ewe and French.

Sunday, 3/27, 2:00 PM
It's really hot. I'm correcting compositions and I feel low. I'm so hot. Grading is going so slowly. And soon (tomorrow) the third trimester will start. There's a lot to do. Will I finish the programs? There are still some teaching hurdles to cross...
5:00 PM Still down. Everything is irritating. Someone is using a chain saw down the street. Little children are clapping, clapping, clapping outside. Arrrrrgh. At least it is cooler now. There was some rain this afternoon. I must be at a real low cycle. I hope it ends soon. I'm really irritable! A little sore throat, too. Low cycle.

3/28, 11:20 AM
I'm touching it! My past and future are all one like H. Hesse says and K. Vonnegut. I'm touching little bits of it all.

A song.

Excuse the primitive quality of this recording but appreciate the authenticity: it comes from an audio cassette I sent to a friend while I was living in Badou.

mp3

Full Moon

There's a full moon out on Badou
What does it mean for me?
What does it care what I do?
But it's giving me some misery, it's giving me some misery

Tonight I'd like to be a night bird
Because the woman in the moon
Is calling me, that's what I heard
And I'm going to be there soon, I'm going to be there soon

Oh, she's a beauty, oh she's a beauty
But how can I take her home?
What of the children, what of the children
Won't they be so all alone?

But she could be the mother
Of the most beautiful children in the world
How could there be another?
Let me see my little girl, let me see my little girl

Oh, she's a beauty, oh she's a beauty
But how can I take her home?
She's one of my children, she's one of my children
Won't she be so all alone?

But I can see me walking
By the river in the afternoon
And I can hear them talking
About the children of a man and the moon
About the children of a man and the moon


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Copyright © 2005 Bill Crozier