Now that we have phones in the village, getting in touch with me in a jiffy is a lot easier. Here's the plan . . . What you have to do is call one of the three cabines in my village:
and ask for Rahamatou, Phynessa, l'Americaine, or any English-sounding word you can think of. Hang up for ten minutes and then call the same cabine back. In the meantime, the cabine owner will send a kid to my house to find me. It's quite an efficient system, really!
Although it is my favorite type of correspondence, mail is kind of funny here. Sometimes a letter or package will arrive in just a few days, and there have been PCVs to get mail eleven months after it was sent! One day in June, my mom sent me four packages of colored pencils for the kids in my village; one arrived just a few days later, and the other three have yet to arrive!
I have a new mailing address, which I share with my closest Peace Corps neighbor, Becky:
BP 39, Bafilo
I am always thrilled to have the wonderful letters you have been sending. It is so comforting to get news from home, and most PCVs count down the days until mail day. You can also feel free to stuff this mailbox with as many postcards, coloring books, and M&Ms as you desire!
My old address through the Peace Corps Office in Lomé will always work, too. The problem with that one is that it just takes a little longer. Peace Corps gathers up our mail and sends it out once a week. With this new box, however, I can just bike to Bafilo (that takes about an hour), and check the mail any time.
Lots of people have asked what they can send. Honestly, I have everything I need. If you are still itching to send something, though, I love to receive care packages! Here are some of the things on my wish-list, but please don't feel obligated to send anything at all!
*I often color with kids on my porch and am running out of coloring books. I would particularly love to have ones with big numbers or letters (like Sesame Street books used to have) because the kids available for coloring don't go to school. I would love to trick them into learning something very, very useful while they think they are just playing!
*Similarly, I am trying to read to those same kids. Their parents don't know how to read and they don't go to school, so I feel like they may never know the value of reading until too late. It would be great to have children's books (it would be excellent to have French books, but since they don't go to school, they don't speak French, so English books are fine).
*The kids are also always impressed by my stickers. On September 11, I came out and four kids in my neighbor's family had plastered tons of little stars, flags, and "Proud to be an American" stickers all over their faces. It really picked me up.
*I would love to have postcards and photos. People love to see pictures of people, places, and animals they have never seen.
As for me, some of the things I miss are
M&Ms (I can get Snickers and even Kit-Kats in Kara, but no M&Ms!)
granola bars (great for taking on my bike!)
magazines/catalogues (for clothes/furniture ideas and for decorating with pictures!)
flavored teas (I can always find Lipton and peppermint, but nothing else!)
Kool-Ade packets (for sweet drinks anytime!)
soup or sauce mixes (for adding creativity to my rice and pasta!)
from-scratch recipes (it's fun to experiment with local ingredient substitutes and see what happens!)
Basically, anything that is yummy or pretty is a good bet! It is important not to ever send valuables, though. Apparently, the Togolese Postal System has already acquired an ankle bracelet my sister made for me, a Jello No-Bake Cheesecake (they left the crust and the topping in the package!), and a miniature Heath Bar from me. Those Jerks! Anyway, the point is that you should never send anything you would be too upset about losing. I hope that doesn't discourage you, though!
Of course, you can also always drop me a line at my e-mail account, which I plan to check at least once every two or three weeks: