Monday, January 23, 2012

hot season is coming . . .

The other night the wind did not pick up like it usually does. Instead the heat stayed in, near the ground—this creeping ooze that filled the compound and all the corners of the house. There was nowhere to go to get away from it. It was mostly calm, so the air was like this blanket that pressed against your face wherever you went. The next day, D bought a fan cause she has electricity. Hot season is coming.

I was going down to Bassar the other day. We got to one point on the Kouka-Kabou road where I did not recognize where I was, it was so different. Bulldozers are pushing back the brush and preparing the new roadway after logging crews cut out the useful lumber. Then people pick through the roadway for every burnable scrap of wood.

Speaking of traveling, this is the best time of year to ride in bush taxis, at least up here. The roads are turning to sand and powder, so a lot of the holes and ruts are somewhat smoothed out. Motoing is a lot harder cause motos don’t do well in sand.

I had a nice bush taxi ride down to Bassar the other day. The road was wasn’t too terrible, and the car left on time. We didn’t have too many stops, except for one flat tire. I got the front passenger’s seat. The guy sitting next to me kept dozing off and bouncing off of me but that was ok. When we got to where they are working on the road he kept saying “c’est bon, c’est tres bon.” I didn’t really care though because I love sitting in the front, and the seat was good. I don’t care how its allegedly not safe. Most of the bush taxis in Togo are Mazda or Toyota vans that have the engines under the driver instead of in the front of the vehicle, so a head-on collision is theoretically more dangerous in one of them. However, I’ve seen way more bush taxis that have rolled over and burned than have gotten in a head-on. I prefer to be able to get out of the car quickly, instead of being crammed in the middle of 20 other people in the event of an accident.

My wish list includes Clif Bars too

Its kind of interesting how much stuff has changed here just in the past year or so. My favorite egg sammie guy just rebuilt his little cafĂ©—its really nice now. A couple new storefronts have opened up in Kouka. Double and triple kit phones that play mp3s are more common—despite the fact they are all chinese knock-offs. MP3 headsets entered the scene about a year ago and a lot of people have them now.

Speaking of buying things, it’s the new year, so Nigerian moto salesmen have been through. Now a lot of the zed drivers have new motos, which they will resell again next year when they are worn out.

And speaking of Nigeria, current war/strike there is creating a problem here because that’s where Togo gets most of its gasoline. The gas stations in Kabou, Kouka, and Bassar are either out of gas or are hoarding it. There is a thriving illegal gasoline trade here—little stalls along the road that sell liter bottles of gas are ubiquitous. They are getting rich because, since they stockpile gas, they are the only source of it now. Gas used to be 500-600 CFA/liter in the station and at the stand. Now its up to 600 at the station, and 800-1 mille at the stands. Traveling just got a lot more expensive.

I saw the most hilarious thing the other night. Nighan was out and the kittens were asleep on my lit picot. I was watching something in bed when I heard this crash and snarling from the other room. I got my flashlight pointed at the door in time to see both kittens charge into my room side by side, growling and hissing. They each had one end of a mouse that Nighan brought in. The kittens ran under my bed where one of them eventually won out, and then I got to listen to kitty jaws crunching a mouse. I didn’t mind though, I was too busy laughing.

I sort of like TIME Magazine's Person of the Year for this year-- the Protester. It is cliche, but summarizes the year's most important development. I, however, take issue with the obituary section. Yes I love Steve Jobs-inspired/developed products and will keep buying them. Yes, the man was a genius. But, compared to the rest of the people who died this year, why the hell does he rate the first mention, like he was the most important? Buried back in the section is the obituary for Sargeant Shriver, the guy who founded the Peace Corps, among other things. Who has more of an impact-- someone who developed stuff that people want to spend money on or someone who created an organization that helps the world? Would you rather have an iPod or clean water? Someone's importance should not be related to how much money they made in their lifetimes, but, sadly, it is. Jobs did a lot, but no one in Nampoch knows what the hell a Macbook is . . . .

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