This has probably been the weirdest, and by far the most difficult, past 10 days of my service in Togo.
Contributing factors to the weirdness- we have internet (sort of) in Guerin-Kouka now! I am sitting in my friend Karen's house typing this. Her homologue is the head of a local NGO that recently got some internet 'keys' that we can use. I think the official name for them is USB modem. We can (sometimes) connect to the cellular network. . . right now it isnt working. Oh well.
Last week all four stages (sectors) from 2010, this includes mine, had their Mid-Service Conference at the PC center in Pagala. Since the CHAP/SED stage swore in 3 months before ours did, it was their actual mid-service, whereas for us in NRM/GEE it was more like our 10 month service, but oh well. The conference was 2.5 really busy/hectic days. We had stuff scheduled all day, plus all the other committee meetings and collaborating that PCVs do when we find ourselves around each other. It was really good to see everyone again, as well as to meet new people from the other sectors. There was a bit of wrenching personal trauma at the end of MSC, but oh well.
After MSC, I went, with a bunch of other Volunteers, up to Bassar for the Yam Fete. This corresponds, roughly, the beginning of the yam harvest in Kara. Yams are one of the staple foods in northern Togo. In Nampoch, people were anxious for them to mature because corn stocks were nearly depleted and the prices were going up in the marches. Anyway, the Yam Fete was fun, except for the personal problems and the fact that Bassar's football team beat Guerin-Kouka's.
Friday was the Yam Fete in Nampoch. Karen, Jen, and Abby all came out for it. Here, it has more of a religious overtone; its regarded as more of an animist/fetish holiday because people make a lot of sacrifices for security, good harvest, health, etc. And they dance a lot too.
The highlight of the party was yesterday. I was picking stuff for people in my garden, then Karen, Abby, and Jen, went over to eat at Kodjo's house. I stayed behind to fill up my water filter and stuff then joined them. In the 15-20 minutes before we got back, a meter-long green mamba crawled up the rear wall of my house and hung out on the wall by my water jar/garden gate. By the time we got back, someone was carting its writhing remains off on the end of a stick. The Togolese response to any kind of snake is to beat it with a big stick until it stops moving. In this case, I fully endorse that action. I will post pictures sometime.
The weather is changing again. Now, the days are hot, the nights are cold(er), and there are thunderstorms almost every day. I like having to sleep under a sheet for once.