Well, here I am with a few minutes to myself for the first time, or at least a few minutes that I have taken away from the trainee group. Tonight was a dinner with the Peace Corps Togo Country Director and the Assistant Director of Mission from the American Embassy. So much French being spoken. I'm barely keeping up, but that should change after Wednesday when we move out to our training sites and start launguage and culture training. We have some trainees with some very strong language skills, and even more trainees with extensive previous overseas travel and volunteer credentials. Just a really good group overall.
The food: Nothing really hot or weird yet at all. They have been babying us with wonderful and recognizable dishes. Pastas, Chicken, Pancakes, you name it.
The drinks: Coke here tastes different, we have been soooo lucky to have endless bottled water so far, and if you get a chance to pick up a bottle of Cocktail de Fruits do so.
The weather: Hot, humid and rainy. It is the rainy season afterall. It has been mostly dry, though, but I always feel sticky.
The volunteers: The current volunteers have been really awesome to us trainees. We had a party last night and I swear there were more of them than us. Remember that there are 29 of us, and maybe 90 of them total in the whole country. They came in from far and wide. Made us feel special.
I do not have malaria yet. Go me! I do, however, have lots of vaccinations and such to lessen the potential impact of what I may inflict upon myself when I inevitably forget to wash my hands before a meal. So much diligence is required to keep from getting sick.
The city: Lome is a real deal city with lots of familiar amenities...along with an endless parade of motorcycles on every road and baby goats on the sidewalks. When we ship out to our training sites in a few days things will get a bit more rural...and by a bit I mean possible lack of running water and electricity for many weeks. Ever used a latrine? Me neither.
The electricity. Hit or miss. It missed last night when my roommate was in the shower. Oops. That's what flashlights are for.
The few days so far:
Washington Day 1: Land in DC. Cab driver explains that he was in the War Corps in Afghanistan and that the Peace Corps does not pay enough. Meet another early arrival, have dinner, go to bed.
Washington Day 2: All day training, dinner with the trainees at PF Changs (still convinced it stands for Pretty Foul), go to bed.
Washington Day 3: Vaccinations, airport, off to Paris, then Togo
The flights were long but we were well taken care of. International amenities are plentiful and awesome. Movie, games, meals...no charge!
Togo Day 1: Arrive, Welcoming party for new trainees, deer-in-the-headights looks all around, settle into hostel. Hostel amenities meager, toilets look different, shower head uninterested in cleaning you, but definitely sufficient. Go to bed.
Togo Day 2: Training, vaccinations, French test akin to dental work, party with the volunteers, cloudburst, go to bed.
Togo Day 3: Training, vaccinations, dinner with the Country CD, head to local bar with wifi...soon to go to bed.
Well, this has been random. I think I am getting tired. Later, gators. My love to all. I apologize in advance, but things will get sappier as the days go by. This experience is really helping me to find perspective and value in my life. I wish all of you were here to share in this. It's only been 48 hours, but it feels like at least a week. If Lisa were here I would have her quote those lines from The Jerk. She always could.