Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bikes and Bibles

Sorry about the post confusion. Here's the proper blog from last week.

Our time in Togo has been filled with mundane activities; class, break, class, lunch, class, dinner, bed. We are in class from 7:30 am to 5:30pm, with a two and a half hour midday break to give us time to go home, eat with our family and get back to school. Classes include local language classes (French and Ewe), safety and security sessions, health sessions, Peace Corps policy and teacher training. Saturdays have morning sessions, but the afternoon is free.

Saturday morning was a good break from routine because one of our classes was our bike class! We talked about shifting gears a bit, donned our helmets and set out for a ride. None of us is Togolese, so we tend to get a lot of attention no matter what, but we got twice as much for being a thirteen helmet wearing bikers. (Note: Not wearing your helmet on your bike, or on a moto gets you sent home from Peace Corps)

I was pretty nervous about the ride, as the roads here basically make all biking the equivalent of off-roading. Despite almost wiping out on the first turn (a big soft sand bank was the turning surface), the rest of the ride went pretty well. That first turn didn't do anything for my confidence for the ride, but still I might give biking a try once I get to post as I'm slightly less intimidated by it now. After getting completely sweaty and covered in dirt from our ride to have lunch with our families.

We decided to make use of our free Saturday afternoon by studying French in a big group together.

Haha, get serious.

We went back to the pool. The sun was out in full force, in contrast to last week which was rather overcast. The afternoon was a lot of fun, and I managed not to get sunburned (haven't yet :). We also met some French volunteers/ interns at the pool which was interesting. Most are only here for three months which is kind of funny, since that's how long it take us to just finish training! They were headed back to the pool on Sunday and wanted us to join them, but family obligations kept us from doing so.

What are those Sunday host family obligations?


My family is a very religious Catholic family. They tried to get me to go to church with them last weekend as well, but I ditched out for the pool. I figured I could make it happen this week (with the caveat that this shouldn't be expected to become routine). While I did mind the 6am start time, I didn't really mind the church service. It was easy enough to follow the general flow of things, as Catholic services around the world have the same format. The downside was that it was all in Ewe. I was able to pick out “Mawu” (God) a few times, but that didn't really help me figure out what the heck was going on. Of course, here in Togo, they didn't stick to the typical hour long format either. The synthesizer and drums started up at every opportunity for another song. Collections were done by everyone dancing up the aisle to give in their money (twice). Fruit baskets were auctioned off as a fund raiser. Everyone shook hands for the “Peace be with you” bit. Really, not that different from church in the USA.

From start to finish, the service took about 2 1/2 hours. At least it wasn't too hot in the building, and the beautiful African print fabrics (“wax” style or more generally “pagne” as they're called here) gave me lots to look at. Afterward, we took a tour of the neighborhood to stop in at houses and say hello to various relatives. They were all a bit surprised to see a white person in tow, but they all were happy to suffer through my crappy Ewe introduction (which Rebecca and Joseph would repeat for them afterward).

An early start to the day, but it justifies a long afternoon nap.  

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