Of Springtime and Fig Newtons

Spring has sprung here. I suppose. Its kind of funny though because “spring” means more rain and less heat than “winter,” i.e. dry season.

But still, the signs are all the same. Brown is becoming green. Birds are happy. Insects make joyful- sounding noises. The landscape is closing up as the vegetation gets going again. People in Nampoch are making new hoe handles, building yam buttes, and tilling fields. This means that people are a lot less interested in projects all of a sudden, but I don’t really blame them.

I woke up Sunday to the gentle patter of rain on my roof. It rained all morning. I went back to sleep.

In case you are wondering what a yam field looks like- imagine a group of gargantuan, symmetrically-inclined moles decided to build a subdivision. No? I will post pictures.

Last night a cricket with a body the size of two of my fingers got in my house. It was the biggest bug I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t be bothered to deal with it, so I got my cat. I am cat-sitting Nigarmi’s brother, Mullet, while his owner, my colleague Jen, is down at camp for the next couple of weeks. They growled at each other awhile before they ate the cricket.

Nigarmi caught his first (that I know of) lizard last week! Technically I think its some species of geko, but whatever. Nigarmi took it inside where its tail promptly broke off. Nigarmi had a hard time deciding between pouncing on then twitching tail or the scurrying geko. A couple of times he tried to do both at the same time. Eventually, he gave up and ate both of them. So much for a breaking tail as a survival mechanism.

I was doing something the other day, I forget what it was, but I became aware of an existential truth about Peace Corps service—its all about how well you can adapt, or, rather, how much you are willing to adapt. Like, for example, I would never wear a pair of jeans more than twice without washing them in the States. Here? If its not obviously dirty, or even if it is, no need to wash it! (my current record is 8 days in the same pair of pants). My point is not that I am dirty, I shower twice a day, usually, but that one has to adjust to one’s circumstances. If all your clothes are washed by hand, and if you carry everything on the back of a moto when you travel, you just can’t have access to clean clothes all the time. When I first got to post, I freaked out about the spiders on my ceiling. Now, I point out the big flat fast ones to Nigarmi because he likes to eat them and tell the spindly ones goodnight.

I catch myself frequently these days being like “damn, I never thought I would ever be doing/not doing this.” Oatmeal cream pies? Never touch them in the States, inhaled them rapturously here. Scrubbing? Never in the States, can’t shower without it here. Checking email/facebook/the news? Hourly in the States, bi-weekly, if I’m lucky, here.

I don’t necessarily view life here as “hard”, although I really really like taking over-head showers in Kara, rather I think that the process of adaptation can be hard. I’d lived abroad before joining Peace Corps, so I was somewhat aware of what life was like outside of the States and my own capacity to adjust to it. That definitely helped me a lot—helped absorb some of the shock.

I am eating smashed Fig Newtons while I figure out what to say next.

I learned how to make spanish rice the other night. This has increased my cooking ability to 2 dishes, aside from spaghetti and egg sandwiches.

I just got an egg carrier from my friend Maggie the other week, so actually getting eggs back to Nampoch to make said sandwiches is now possible. Its life changing. Seriously.

I think that Togo is the first place I have been where it is possible to watch a huge, immense, towering lightning storm and look at a sky full of stars (except for the part where the storm is) at the same time. Its pretty cool until you realize that the fact that you can watch the storm is because its going someplace besides directly at you. Then you go to bed and sweat all night.

My new all-time favorite magazines are, in no particular order, the Economist, Paste, Sports Illustrated, and the New Yorker. National Geographic and Time are my second favorites. Send them to me and I might sacrifice chickens for you.