Saturday, April 24, 2010

But Aren't You Afraid Of...

After speaking with a great number of people who have not been to Africa, but have been able to correctly identify it on a map, I have learned that Africa is exceptionally scary. No one said Togo itself was specifically scary, but that's because no one had ever heard of Togo until I told them it was my new home. I will address these fears because we have nothing to fear except things that are truly scary like Spider Bears and simultaneous Global Warming and Global Cooling thus confusing you on whether to buy more Winter clothes or just scrap your Winter wardrobe altogether.

What about the super-spicy food?
I do admit that I have never been known to have an iron stomach or the ability to handle Taco Bell Mild Sauce. I am not worried about this. I am eating more spicy foods in preparation and am 65% positive that no one has ever died of spicy food. I also once ate a piece of molded bread by mistake, and I think that says a lot about why you should look at your food before you eat it.

What about the rumors that drinking is more prevalent in their culture?
Once again this problem is solved before I get there. I saw an episode of Happy Days where Richie drank a bottle of Olive Oil. I think that says it all.

Running Water? Electricity?
It is true that parts of Togo do not have these things. Ever been camping? Me neither, but I have heard of camping and plan on asking about it at The Sports Authority before I go. My title is Information and Communications Technology Advisor. That has to indicate electricity at some point doesn't it?

What about jokes?
I am glad you asked. Here's one: What do you call a blind dinosaur? A DoYouThinkHeSaurus. HAHAHAHAHA!

Isn't that joke from Jurassic Park?
Next question.

What about giant spiders?
My assumption is that I will encounter wildlife and insect populations that I am unfamiliar with. Unless one of these is Spider Bears, or worse... Robot Spider Bears, I think I will live through it. But seriously, if there are Middle-Eastern Desert-Style giant know, the ones that are 8 inches across...yeah, that will take a little getting used to.

Won't it be a challenge to not speak the language?
Yes. Yes it will. I mean Oui. C'est vrai. I am hoping that learning French will be like falling off a bicycle. That's probably not the saying, and if it is, then it's a dumb saying. Not speaking the language well will give me an opportunity to listen more closely to what people say. I know, crazy, but I'm going to try it.

...and what about having your support system missing?
I have not personally confirmed this, but I think there are people over there. In the unlikely event that everyone in the whole country does not want to be my friend, then I will make shadow puppets who I am hoping will like me very much. Secondarily, the mail is slow, not missing. My old home is a letter away.

Isn't it dangerous to assume so much before you go?
Nope, it will make for hilarious reading a year from now when I find out how wrong I was. If I knew any less about what I would be doing day to day, then I would literally have a knowledge-sucking black hole in my head.

I am not a traveler by nature. I feel that you really can make a home anyplace and enjoy what is around you. Togo will be my home for 27 months or more. It will be different than I am used to, and in the end I will be, too. When people point out all the worries I could have, I think of this quote: "Fact. Bears eat beets. Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica." What does that have to do with it? Exactly.


  1. When are you going to Togo? I'm going June 3rd with the Small Enterprise Development Program for Peace Corps! And I share your fears/thoughts.

  2. I am also SED June 3rd. Go us!!/profile.php?id=1541329350

    This makes FIVE of us so far!

  3. Lizzy and I are the only CHAPs thus far.

    I read your blog a while back and have been too distracted with preparations to come back until today. I too am tired of all the ridiculous suggestions that Pirates are going to come steal the white girl in the village. I know I live in Alabama, but it's like 1950 again or something.

    Oh, and I talked to Sam on Facebook. He's a volunteer in Togo and an SED like the two of you. He says that due to the nature of their work SEDs almost always have electricity. He actually has dial-up internet and a Wii.

    Unfortunately he said CHAPs seldom have those things :( Pauvre moi

  4. I know a little French - my name - and Mon Petite Pain - I call my kids that. Please stay alive, and if you see something scary - run! and if you see something good. Don't.