I'm listening to the A-N tape, live from M'town. It's hard to keep a smile off my face, if not because of the happy memories it brings, then for the great performances! It seems like it will be forever until we can play again. Your collaboration with W on Raise Some Hell is, well, I can't find the words. The funniest part on the tape just happened: in the middle of Raise Some Hell you say, "Do you want to turn that light on?" [I must try to find this old tape...]
As you can see, I've retaliated by sending you a tape of my own. The first thing you will hear on the tape is an African choir. On the last day of the year, a group of carolers came to our house and sang songs. They are religious songs sung in French and in Ewe. There were some in English but I didn't get my tape recorder out fast enough. The last is accompanied by drum and bell. You can hear the director give the pitches before each song. I like the one before last with the rhythm break in it.
The tape is a lot of babbling and some songs, a few old C-A, a few new C-A and some Crozier tunes. There is also a problem with a buzz in the recorder during certain notes. There is nothing I can do about it. I liked making that tape, being able to talk and know that someone will hear it.
I'll stop here, since I babble a lot on the tape anyway. Keep the news rolling in. More to come.
Thursday, January 6, 1983, 9:40 PM.
I got the A-N tape today. After hearing it, I really wanted to rock. When will we jam again? I'm thinking about going home for some of the summer but S says no, "immerse yourself in Africa while your here."
Saturday, January 8, 1983, 8:00 PM
I'm tired. I went with S to J's today, across a rice field, then up a winding path through cocoa and banana groves. It's a big view of the world. Maybe I'm just tired from the walk. I'll take a good book to bed.
Sunday, January 9, 1983, 3:00 PM
Much better today. Climbed the mountain again to the waterfall this time. Beautiful.
Tuesday, January 11, 1983, 3:00 PM
I'm in a low phase. My happiness must not be only a function of work/pressure. There is a fête on Thursday and I am already prepared for Friday's classes. It must be hormonal. I'd like to visit home. How could it be so far away? I'd like to know if people were going to come visit or not.
I'm getting better at writing tests. Each test is a challenge. The physics has to work out, the French has to be correct. Then I have to type it up on a stencil and run it off on a mimeograph machine. I end up with a finished product, almost like a work of art. I'm getting to know the students weaknesses. Very few have a good idea about what a molecule is. They will do a calculation and come up with 55.5 molecules in a liter of water and will think that the result is reasonable. They also have trouble with finding the direction of a magnetic field created by the current in a wire. They can't add vectors, but could I in high school? I wondered in Michigan if half of the students would ever use chemistry in their lives. Most of these students will never again have to worry about the direction of a magnetic field near a wire. What keeps me going is my own education. When you have to teach something, you really have to understand it. And I'm learning other things than just physics and chemistry. There is French and Ewe. But the best is that I'm learning about Africa.
Africans mix languages. They mix Ewe and French together and Ewe already has words with English roots from colonial days. They say Gode (Guh-day) which means good day, but then they stick loo (pronounced low but with no diphthong) on the end which is an endearing word which they stick on to be friendly. When hearing two Ewes on the street talking, I can pick up French words mixed in. They are usually the "filler" French words like alors (well) or bon (good) or chose (thing). Occasionally a French word is heard in Ewe conversations that doesn't have a popular Ewe equivalent, like "director" or "president," so these can be heard also. A woman walking by my house just said good evening and said it this way: Bon soir, loo. She spoke French but added the Ewe "filler" word. I still only know little bits and pieces of Ewe. My students help. Sometimes when I give some students a project to do in class, and a group of them work together, they start speaking Ewe to each other. There are strange consonants and a lot of words with repeated sylables like nu-nu or da-da. Something which I will bring home with me are certain inflections in my voice. Ewe inflections carry over into the Togolese French and since that is really the French I am learning, I have picked up some of these inflections as well. There is an affirmative noise in Ewe, and a negative noise and a questioning noise, like we might say uh-huh, uh-uh and huh? Surprisingly, the sounds are similar to what we might say which suggests a universality of language. I noticed odd speaking habits of the two year volunteers that I met in training. Now I know where they got them. I don't suppose I have to pick them up. They won't do me any good in the States, but to really immerse myself in the culture, I have to adapt to some of the idiosyncrasies.
Tomorrow is Independence day for Togo, January 13. Togo "won" its independence from France on Jan. 13, 1960. No school tomorrow. There will be another national holiday on Jan. 24, the anniversary of a presidential plane crash.
[Here is the crashed plane, as a national monument. I took this picture while on the mobylette trip up north.]
It must be a big day since there is a street in Lomé called Rue de 24 Janvier. Then there will be another two days off the 27th and 28th when all the Peace Corps Science teachers go to Lomé for an in-service training session: we will go gripe about our jobs.
Saturday, January 15, 1983, 8:15 PM
Here I am on the outside. I'll always be out here, I think. I'll never feel like I belong. I'm thinking about going home in the Summer for a visit. I really miss home. But is it feasible economically and is it wise?
Doesn't seem like mid-January here. There is still Harmattan but it no longer blows as much during the night. There is still a lot of dust in the air and the banana leaves are all shredded and dried up.
Last Thursday B and I rode out past the new Lycee to the Ghana border. The road stops at a small river which is the dividing line between the two countries. We went down to the river and looked over at Ghana. The border is closed but someday it will open again and I will go over to look around. Text books (in English) are subsidized over there so if I ever get the chance, I'll go book shopping.
[Village on the road to Ghana.]
I have some ideas about my future. I think I'll go back to graduate school after this. I'd like to find a good school in the East. There should be openings, since chemistry graduate students are always needed. Teaching has shown me what a student should do to succeed, and I didn't do all those things when I was a student. I could go back with a different attitude. I didn't really know what I was doing at Michigan or why I was doing it. I can sort out while I'm here and start fresh. I might just go home and play Pac-man for the rest of my life.
I had the runs on Sunday night and didn't go to school Monday. Must have been something I ate. I had to get up all Sunday night, thought I was done, but I was in the WC lot on Monday. It seems like my system wanted to flush something out. I lost my appetite Sunday morning after what could have been a bad batch of rice and beans (I'm not going to that rice woman again!) then everything came out Sunday night. I've been healthy otherwise. The harmattan has dried out my heels, but I can wear sneakers all the time, which helps. Harmattan gives people respiratory problems because of all the dust in the air, but I haven't had any problems like that.
Thursday, January 20, 3:30 PM
I took a clove of garlic with tea last night, then again this morning. I hope that fixes things. I haven't had to go to the WC today except for right when I got up. I'm afraid to really start eating, though. I'll remain cautious until the weekend. I'll say this: when I smelled the garlic in the market, it smelled like the best thing in the world. Did my body know there was something good about the garlic?
Something inside is calling me home
I know I can't hide but I know I won't be going
I won't be going home
Can't say I know why, it's just what I think
But I'm not going to die
I'm just a little thirsty and I'd like to take a drink
I feel like a salmon that wants to go jammin' up stream
But who'll take my footsteps and walk through my dream?
All night long I see my friends and family
but I know I won't be going, I won't be going home
I don't know the sky, no it won't talk to me
But I'll continue to try, we'll trade a few little secrets
And I'll try again and see
I feel like Uncle Sammin'
To feel the Jersey sand on my shore
Who could believe it?
I've never felt this way before
All night long I dream of my new New Jersey Queen
I only hope she's waiting to see me coming home
The days go on by and soon I'll be gone
But with hot dogs and apple pie I might just be singing
This very same song
Will I feel like a salmon that wants to go jammin' upstream?
Will I have taken my footsteps and walked through my dream?
All the world is green, all the world I've seen
I'll never have to worry, I'm always going home
I finished writing and typing two three-hour tests today and feel quite loony. It is hard to relax after working like that.
It is night. There is a night bird making warbling sounds outside and the harmattan is beginning to blow. There are crickets. There are always crickets. The moon is gibbous, very bright and I can almost read by it. Africans like a bright moon. There are few street lights in Badou and electricity is intermittent, so a bright moon makes life easier, makes the day longer.
I went to bed and got up, had some school, then went to Lomé. I stayed with all my Peace Corps buddies at "Le Prince," so it was like an anniversary, a great weekend. Not only was it good to see all my training buddies, but I learned some teaching strategies which I will try out on my students. There were 2nd and 3rd year volunteers there to give us ideas, and we 1st year volunteers had some ideas of our own to put in. It was really a great weekend.
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