The sky is a clear blue bowl that you look at through the haze of a smoky dive bar. The wind picked up. Finally. It kicks the heat around and beats it down to size through the compounds and under the shade. A lot of the trees are shedding. Teak leaves crumple and turn into brown sandpaper sheets. Neem leaves cascade into yellow showers that swirl in the gusts. Mango trees say "f*** you" to it all as they get ready to bloom-- their leaves staying a stubborn deep green. Bayobobs suddenly look like naked giants bearing pendulous green fruits. The landscape suddenly develops features close up but devolves into a brown blur in the distance as the grass and undergrowth dies. Vistas open up along the roads where there used to be green and brown tunnels. The dust takes on a life of its own; its this red-brown demon that works its way into the core of your life on the road. When you get home, its the grey gremlin that greets you at the door. Cotton fields vomit white and sorgham stalks bend low. Togolese wake up and wear long sleeves in the mornings. Its harmattan.
At least in the north. I just got back from Lome where I went to the swear-in festivities for the 2011 NRM/GEE stage and said goodbye to a lot of the Volunteers that they are replacing, like Karen. Before that, I went up to Dapaong to attend my stage's 1 year party. Only about half of us made it up there, but it was still a lot of fun. The northern most region of the country is beautiful. It was the first time I'd been up there.
It was a bittersweet week. Seeing people and meeting new Volunteers is always exciting, but its sad to see people leave, especially the ones who have formed an integral part of the first year of service. Chez Karen/Manoba is now chez Bryanna. Suddenly, if I have a question about something, there is no 'older' Volunteer to ask-- instead there are 'younger' Volunteers who might expect me to have all the answers. A paradigm switch in a week.
It was a fun week, but I am glad to be home. I like Lome-- I ate expensive (and delicious) seafood twice, Indian and pizza once each. I got a mint milkshake! And I enjoyed air conditioning at the Peace Bureau. But I hate the humidity and the dirt-- most of the streets are sand, so walking anywhere can be a hassle-- and dealing with expensive taxi drivers, etc. I was really glad to wake up on the bush taxi ride north and see the green of the south turning brown.
I just spent 2 days on motos touring the Bassar prefecture. We are starting a big pump replacement project that will, hopefully, replace 20 or so broken pumps in west Kara. More details to come on that.