The biggest news since my last update is that my village got phones! I can still hardly believe it! Now if you want to call me, all you have to do is dial 011-228-666-0221 or 011-228-666-0222, ask for Rahamatou (the name the villagers gave me), and either owner will send a kid to my house. You can then call back ten minutes later, prepared to fork out a fortune per minute. It's just that simple!
Besides rejoicing about the phones, I have spent the last few weeks getting some personal things in order. I whitewashed all my walls (all two rooms' worth), but have not yet painted, mainly due to the fact that local paint mixers are having trouble copying the exact color of Pepto Bismol and I won't settle for anything less. As I told them, I don't want rose-colored paint; I don't want fuscia-colored paint; and I don't want watered-down-generic-Pepto-Bismol-colored paint. I want the Real McCoy and will continue to throw a fit until they get it right.
OK, I am just kidding. The real truth is that my walls turn out to be Super Absorbant. When Brawny runs out of trees to cut down for paper towels, they should market Togolese cement. If my walls are any indication, the Togolese have already perfected the art of making a paper-thin layer to cover the mud anyway, so Brawny won't even have to invest in special equipment!
Anyway, since the walls are super absorbant, I have decided to put a second coat of primer on before I resort to the expensive stuff. I was thinking of you all when I made this decision. I thought, what better way to thank all those wonderful American taxpayers who have sent me on the best vacation of my life than to save them a few bucks by using less expensive paint? Yes, yes, you are welcome!
The primer is more fun anyway. I am not exactly sure what it is, but it's a riot. There are these rocks that you pour water over and then they start popping, crackling, bubbling, and get extremely hot. The liquid spattering out is so hot it will burn you, so you have to cover the bucket with a lid for an hour or so. After that, it is pretty much like white paint. I bought one sack of the stuff that had "Quicklime" in English under the French name for it, "Chaux-Vivre." I am not so sure what quicklime is, but it kind of looks like what I would imagine whitewash is. Somebody told me that the stuff is all natural, so it is not even harmful if you swallow it, but I am not planning to serve myself up a big glass on the strenght of that rumor. On the other hand, I did carry my drinking water in a bucket that had held the stuff, so I do hope my informant was correct. I figure that, while you are in West Africa, there are just a few medical questions you have to turn a blind eye to: 1) What is it about the mayonnaise here that makes it never go bad, even after months without refrigeration? 2) What are the side-effects of Mefloquine/Larium, the malaria prophylaxis Peace Corps recommends? 3) Exactly how many diseases do latrine cockroaches carry? and 4) What is the consequence of drinking water from a bucket that formerly held boiling, spitting rocks? If any of you knows these answers, I beg you NOT to share them with me until my service is almost over!
So, I just went to the Catholic Cathedral that is about a 10-minute walk from the Peace Corps Kara Workstation. I can't wait to add a page about religion (for which I have had several requests), but for the moment I don't have time, as I am heading back to village. At least, I think I am heading back to village. . . today is election day, which might mean that there are no taxis going between Kara and Bafilo. If I can't get there today, I'll head back tomorrow. I will have two friends with me who plan to give me advice on the local honey market and help me machete down some more 8-foot grass from my field. They don't know about that last part yet--it's hard work, so I'll have to trick them into it.
I hope all of you are well and happy and that I get news from you soon.