Malcolm – First Impressions

First Impressions

PRE-VILLAGE: Before we left for Farendé, we all spent a couple of days in Lomé just looking around and preparing for what was to come.  Looking back, I’m glad we started there instead of the village because I wouldn’t have been ready otherwise.  It was a pretty new experience since I’ve never been outside of the United States.

The first thing I had to get used to was the heat.  That first night in Lomé I tried sleeping without the air conditioning on in an effort to prepare myself for what the village would be like.  In the end, I decided to just sleep with the AC on, since I didn’t feel like waking up in a pool of sweat.

FOOD: The only traditional Togolese food we’ve had so far is fufu.  Charlie said it’s best if you don’t chew it.  Instead just dip it in the sauce and then swallow it whole.  My American throat certainly wasn’t ready for that and I don’t think it ever will be.  But the taste was pretty good.  Once we got to Farendé, though, my host mother only served rice and pasta for the first two weeks.  Honestly, I was perfectly fine with that.

INTERNET: Before we left, Charlie told us we’d have internet here once a week.  He definitely used the term “internet” liberally.  At the very least, the internet here has taught me how to be patient.  Incredibly patient.

ELECTRICITY: I’m honestly fine without having electricity in my homestead, but it’s a little weird at night.  Now there’s a time of day when I can’t see anymore.  I feel like I sound dumb right now but trust me, it’s weird.

CHILDREN: All of the children in my homestead just stare at me.  Then again, so do all the people here.  I’ve never really been someone who likes children, so I don’t know how I’ll deal with the six kids I’ll be living with for the next 6 weeks.

FRENCH: I’m definitely the worst one at speaking French in the program, but that doesn’t really bother me.  Usually when people speak to me I nod and smile, unless it’s a simple question that I know how to answer.  I had downloaded some French-learning apps on my phone before I left, but now I realize they need internet.  So instead all I have is my French-English dictionary, which I’ve started studying.

BEER: I had been worried that I wouldn’t like the sorghum beer here but luckily I do.  The first time I tried it I thought it tasted a bit like grapefruit.  The people here are cool with drinking it at any time of day, so I’ve gotten a little too used to accepting beer that some old guy offered me out of his own cup at 10:00 am.

OVERALL: Other than the heat and being covered in sweat most of the time, most of the experience has been good so far.  I’m trying to get used to the flies and being outside all the time.  I’ve never considered myself to be the outdoorsy type.  Every night I dream about killing that rooster outside my door, and every morning when it wakes me up at 4:00 am I stand up and seriously consider it.  But other than that, all is well.

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