Saturday, January 7, 2012

ho ho ho its a new year . . .

Merry 2012. I forgot today that it was not 2010 anymore.

New Years was fun. Togolese know how to celebrate the new year. It is, however, not a good holiday for Togolese poultry, or other livestock. Togolese start feting on the 31st and they do not stop until at least the 2nd. The holiday coincides with a lot of the harvests, and it is not religion specific, so it is really popular. Of course, I had one Assembly of God friend try to tell me that it is really a Christian holiday that no one else understands, but whatever.

My friend Christine came to visit me over the New Years. She got into Lomé on the 28th; we got up to Nampoch on the 30th. It took her the same amount of travel time, or maybe even less, to get from the US to Togo as it took me to get from Nampoch to Lomé. Anyway, it was a lot of fun showing her Nampoch and feting together and stuff. She flew out yesterday.

It was kind of interesting seeing how Peace Corps is reflected off of someone who is not a Volunteer. I found myself having to adjust my vocabulary cause most Americans do not habitually speak in acronyms. I take a lot of stuff for granted, like the instinctive response to “ça vas?” or laughing at ridiculous zed drivers, or being one of 25 people in a 15-seat van for 8 hours straight.

The highlight of New Years was popping a bottle of champaign at 1700h with my host family on the 31st. Specifically it was N’tilabi going "oOh” when the cork got 10 meters of altitude over his head.

Cat update: I am down to 3. It does not look like Nigarmi or Mullet, Jen’s cat that I am babysitting while she is in the States, survived New Years. They have not been seen for a week and the consensus is that they were probably on someone’s menu. To say that I am really pissed about this would be an understatement; the public nature of this forum, however, limits what I can say on this matter. The matter is being investigated.

In the vein of sad things, Jacqui and I went out to Dimori, my friend Sangbo’s village, today to get some of his stuff and to tell the community what happened to him. That was one of the harder things I’ve done in a while. It is hard enough for communities when their Volunteer finishes his or her service. But many times, like in the case of Sangbo, Volunteers leave without warning and people in village have no idea what happened to them. Jacqui and I went with a couple people to the local school where Sangbo did a lot of work and told the students what happened. They were pretty sad about it.

It kind of goes to show that you should never take anyone, or any relationship, for granted. Life can change in a heartbeat and bonds can be severed by unforeseen events that are out of your control. It is not a concept that life in the United States prepares people for. We are conditioned to plan, to think that no problem is insurmountable, to think that there is some kind of magic cure or surgery or drug that will fix any problem. We do not have holes in our lives that are left by people except by death, which is usually foreseen in some sense. Anything other than this is a tragedy that we can numb away through media, electronics, drugs, or by drowning ourselves in the endless noise that characterizes western life. But most people do not have the luxury of such temporary amnesia. What is there when the only thing you can do is wake up the next day clutching the previous day’s sorrow? You mourn, adapt, and go on.

The best laid plans of mice, men, and Peace Corps Volunteers . . .

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