Merry, Merry Christmas, everyone!
It seems like ages since I have updated the site. So much has happened.
On December 12, Peace Corps celebrated 40 years of service in Togo with a luxurious party at the Ambassador's house. It was so interesting to see all the colleagues I am used to greeting in watering-our-compost-piles clothes decked out in tenue de ville. We had a wonderful time. There was the swearing-in ceremony of the newest round of PCVs (my group is no longer the rookie clan), and plenty of dancing and beverages. One could perhaps argue that there were too many beverages (especially compared to the amount of hors d'oeuvres they provided for us) because about 30 PCVs ended up jumping into the Ambassador's pool. I was not one of them, but I did get to impress everyone with my martial arts skills by lifting a colleague onto my shoulders when he tried to throw me in. Really, we had a blast. The Ambassador even seemed amused at the whole charade, at least until one of the new crowd decided that she didn't want her evening wear wet and thus dove in wearing only her birthday suit. That broke up the party pretty quickly, and most of us are still struggling not to be bitter over getting kicked out of the most elegant party we've ever been invited to.
Speaking of birthday suits, it was great to be in Lomé during mid-December because our Medical Unit is there. That means I could pick up all the necessities for turning 24: a cane, Bengay, Metamucil. I haven't needed them yet, but maybe the pains of aging don't kick in until you're 24 plus 3 weeks. I figure that it's better to be prepared.
Really, the good thing about being near the Med Unit is that I could drop in and make sure that it's alright that I have lost 17 pounds since I left the States. They said I'm fine, and I feel healthy as a horse, otherwise I'd have never mentioned it. I think I'll repeat that all one more time to quiet the worries of Mom and Aunt Jayne: they say I'm fine--fear not!
The other great thing about being in Lomé is that I could stay in a hostel with hot showers! Other than one hot shower I took at the missionaries' house, I hadn't had one in six months. I took full advantage, lemme tell ya: I must have taken 7 in the 3 days I was in Lomé. It was fantastic!
I came back up to the Kara region the day before my birthday and organized a little party. A dozen or so PCVs met at a German restaurant that serves American food here in Kara, ate pizzas and cheeseburgers, and then went back to the PCV house to eat the two cheesecakes I made. I made a chocolate one and a mango one, and didn't drop either. They were pretty good if I do say so myself!
I hope everyone is eating a lot of good food for the holidays. In a few minutes, I am going to the Kara market to find salad and stir-fry vegetables to take to Becky's for a Christmas Eve feast. We are having deep-fried turkey (killed by our very own Ariana), mashed potatoes, brownies, probably pumpkin pie, et cetera. I laugh at all of you who thought I'd be roughing it here. Just kidding.
Just after dinner, my dear friend Greer are taxing up the mountain to a PCV's house where we will have left our bikes. From there, we plan to get an early start on the little bike trip, well, big bike trip we are in the middle of. We are biking all of Togo, and so far we've completed about a third of it. We promise to be careful, but would love it if you'd keep us in your prayers.
Blessings to all!