I really miss home today, isolated from all things familiar. At times I find myself missing things that I never paid much attention to in the States; McDonald's, Corn Flakes, English. Wouldn't it be great to walk up to anyone and to be understood by them and to understand what they were saying to me!
I'd like to visit home in the Summer. I suppose it is selfish of me to want to come home, but I'd like to see everyone. I don't know if I'll have saved enough for a ticket.
There are 3 weeks left in this quarter. Soon it will be time for exams again. Then there will be lots of free time. There will be Semaine Culturelle (Cultural Week) in early March, then Easter break in the second half of March. After that, there are only 5 weeks left until finals. It is really going to be difficult to get through the program. Too much to do.
It is beginning to get hot. Nights are still cool, but not as cool as early January. The sun is coming back but I think the heat comes from the lack of harmattan, which was bringing cool air from the North. No rain yet.
I have to get back to work.
I like being in Africa because it is all new and different, but I miss home, too. I don't know if it is because it is so far away and so I think I miss it or build it up in my mind. We have our Peace Corps manuals that tell us about our emotional stability and the effect of our isolation. I'm not really that isolated with B next door.
Actually, I wish B wasn't next door. I'd like it if he were in some other country or maybe on another planet. Maybe it's because we live in close quarters. Consider: he's the only American within 30 km (except S, whom I see infrequently since I have lots of work and we have different schedules) so we are always around each other. It magnifies all those quirks that all people have. We seem to have completely different ideas about the way to approach life and so I often find this friction between us. He is thinking about doing a third year! I will have to have a frontal lobotomy or a bottle in front of me if he stays next door for another year. He wants to work in Lomé for his third year so there may be nothing to worry about.
It is Friday afternoon and I am proctoring exams. My seconde students ("11th graders") are taking a test I wrote for them. I have to sit here for 3 hours so I've brought some things to read, some letters to write, some class notes to prepare, etc.
[This is one of my Seconde classes, about 50 students.]
I've taken my first real Ewe lesson from A, the Lyceé English teacher. He taught me how to say greetings, which seem to make up about half the language. I'll have a lesson once a week to start, then more when I have more time. I took my tape recorder to my first lesson and recorded the whole thing. Then I listened to it in bed and tried to repeat everything. I'm not going to learn much of the written part of the language. It wasn't written until the Germans came 100 years ago. How useful will this language be to me after I leave Togo? But then how useful is it to know that Betelgeuse is a red giant, 500 light years away in the constellation of Orion? The nights are getting warmer. I'm having trouble sitting here without sweating. It doesn't seem like February.
I'll stop and give this to the "Postes et Telelcommunications" here in Badou.
More to come from Togo.
Tuesday, February 8, 6:10 PM
It is such a kick to learn something. Nyih pleh wo, mia wo do, egbe, but changed it myself to Nyih pleh wo, mia wo do, etso! The Ewe is something like, "You and I, we work today" which I changed to "You and I, we work tomorrow."
I just had a little idea and thought I would share it. I was just out urinating. Not very interesting, but let me continue. Togolese urinate anywhere so I'm learning to do the same (when in Rome, etc.). Our outhouse has just a cement block to sit on, so we don't like to urinate in there because we want to keep the seat as clean as possible. So we tend to urinate in our yard. I tend to urinate in different places because one spot might begin to be noticeable if I always used that same spot. Let me draw a bird's-eye view of my house and grounds:
Notice anything? It is easy to walk anywhere in the yard, but I have made a little border around my territory. Tonight I realized that I rarely walk out of the indicated boundary while I'm at home. And, I never urinate in B's territory. Am I subconsciously staking out my land like a wolf does in the woods? Before I thought of this territorial idea, I'd catch myself thinking, "why am I urinating in this spot? I could go anywhere." Something to note: B sometimes urinates my territory. He claims he likes the privacy between the cistern and shower or between the shower and out house. Perhaps the friction between B and me is because he is urinating in my territory! Who knows what mysterious forces govern our everyday movements?
The hot season is really upon us. It came at about the same time that the East Coast got that record breaking snow (I heard about that on the BBC). Nights, though, are still comfortable.
School still goes. I just finished writing my four 2nd quarter finals so the year is almost two thirds done. After these finals is "cultural week" which corresponds to France's Carnival. I don't think many classes will be held so things should lighten up a bit.
We had an American visitor this weekend. He had come to Africa with a Summer cross-cultural program called Crossroads. B and I showed him the waterfall down at Tomégbé. He left Monday for Lomé and is heading for the French Cameroons to teach English.
We finally got our cistern fixed so when the rains come, we should have water all the time. We've had students come over and fill it from the river so we have water every day. No need to heat bath water. A pail of water sitting for two hours in this African sun gets plenty warm for a bath.
I have to work, so I'll stop.
Until next time, love,
Thursday, February 10
I feel new today. I had my second Ewe lesson last night. I learn so much each lesson, and it's not hard but I'm only beginning.
The moon is very old.
For the record: it is 2:50 PM and pouring down rain. This is the first downpour since November.
The days are hot now. It didn't seem like gradual change. It was comfortable. Now it's hot. Nights and still comfortable but no longer cool. 1/2 sheet is all I need.
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