Two weeks ago we left for our village that we are doing our training in. When we arrived there was a big welcoming celebration for us with dancing and music. We are living in a large village in the maritime region (I can’t say where for safety reasons). I’m living with a host family until August when I move to my permanent post. I won’t know where that is until Mid-July after my language assessment. I have a host mom who is so kind and genuinely worries about me all the time. She goes around telling everyone I’m her daughter and they can’t call me “yovo”, which is pretty hilarious. “Yovo” is the word for lighter skinned foreigner. I also have a host brother who is pretty shy around me, but loves to help me with cleaning. We play soccer with the other village kids on the weekend and I’ve taught him some card games.
I’m living in a pretty nice house for our village, we have electricity pretty often, a well in the yard with plenty of water in it, many goats, and many chickens.
The training days are some of the hardest in Peace Corps. It is great for learning the language and total immersion. A typical day for me, I wake up around 5:30, because the roosters start around 4 on my roof. Then I sweep my room (it’s a cultural norm here to be very clean and dress very well), then I take a bucket bath, which I think is highly under rated because I never stop sweating here and a cold bucket bath is magical. After I eat breakfast with my host Mom, which is usually fruit and Nescafé. Coffee is grown in Togo, but it is exported and can’t be found easily. Then I bike to school, which is about a 30 minute ride. We have school from 7:30 or 8 am to 5:30 or 6 pm and then I bike home usually in the dark. When I get home I try and help my host mom make dinner, do some sort of exercise, take a bucket bath, eat dinner, and go to bed around 9. We don’t always have electricity, but when I do I study French in the evening and practice with my host family. It is pretty exhausting to speak French all the time and be in school for 8-10 hours a day, but I am really loving Togo.
The people here are so kind and genuine. There’s a bridge made of wood slats that I have to bike over to get the school and the other day a person cut me off when I was merging onto the road and I had to swerve out of the way, which meant me landing waist deep in mud/ potentially sewage. Everyone around me rushed over to help pull me out. I was covered in mud, and my shoes were broken, but I was totally fine. I went back to my house and took a bucket bath and changed clothes, but I had a crowd of people follow me home to tell my host mom what happened.
Our French Class and teacher Honore.
The food has been pretty good. The first few days my host mom made donuts because she thought that’s what Americans ate, but after I told them I like Togolese food she has made a variety of things. Vegetables are difficult to find this time of year because harvesting season is in December. So I have been eating a lot of fruit and rice with beans. It’s currently the rainy season and coolest time of year, I’m not sure how that’s possible since it is crazy hot.
Internet is difficult to access here, but I will try to update again soon!