9 October 9 2008
Remember when I said I would write more frequent updates? I’ve done really well so far on that promise, no?
I’ve just finished another vacation (I plan to return to village soon). My parents arrived in Ghana on September 25th and leave from Accra tomorrow. During their time here, I ran the marathon, then we went to the beach for five days, and then we spent a few brief days in Togo.
The marathon was basically what one would expect in West Africa. I spent the night with the three other Togo PCVs running the full marathon. Garth and Maureen, a couple who work in Ghana, both former PCVs, opened their house to us, which was super generous and very helpful. We woke up at 3 a.m. for our supposed 5:30 start in Pram-Pram. A van full of other PCVs picked us up on the side of the road around 3:30 and drove us to the village. Except we weren’t starting in the village, but at the Ghana Man Center. We eventually found that and at 4:30 were the first people there. No race officials. No one else.
Eventually more people showed up, but by 6 we started walking back in the direction we came. A bus pulled up, and a man leaned out and yelled, “You have gone too far! Did you see the white line? The starting line?”
We turned around and walked back, to find the white line that the guy drew about 10 minutes after asking us about it (the starting point had been marked by a pile of leaves and rocks). Once everyone else arrived by bus and van, we started – at seven, an hour and a half late.
Things went well for the first 10 miles or so. I stuck to my very slow pace and took advantage of the infrequent water stops. Fortunately, my parents and another couple, the Iwans, drove the course and gave everyone water when there were no stations. Without their help and cheering, those 26.2 miles would have been a lot more difficult and lonely. Except for that part where we ran through a market, along a traffic-clogged, two lane road. That wasn’t lonely, just extra challenging, especially since by then, everything hurt and I wanted to cry.
Anyway, we all finished and then ate lots of food that evening. I had a falafel, and about an hour later, when everyone else arrived, I had my margarita and nachos. And a brownie with ice cream. There were also chocolate bars in there somewhere.
The next morning, my parents and I drove five hours west to the Green Turtle Lodge, an eco-friendly paradise, basically. IT WAS SO NICE! They operate on solar-energy, have self-composting toilets (glorified latrines), hire local people in all kinds of capacities, and lead canoe trips, hikes and tours around the area. We went on the mangrove swamp tour, and I saw a monkey and a very large reptile (mom and dad were looking in the wrong direction both times). I went swimming every day, ate excellent food, wrote letters and read. I’m going back for Christmas.
We only spent a few days in Togo – went up on the “Lomé Limo” on Monday, spent a day in village, then came back to Lomé yesterday. My parents really liked my village, and a guy I work with treated them to guinea fowl and beers (I got beer, but no guinea fowl – even though it looked delicious. Still a strictly seafood “vegetarian”). The middle school president gave them a school tour, which means they visited all five classrooms and saw all 500 or so students. I think one day in Sagbiebou was exactly enough time.
Yesterday, a driver from Lomé picked us up to drive us back. Not 50 kilometers from my village, he hit a pothole and got two flat tires. I don’t think he knew how to change his tires – he didn’t know where to find any of the tire-changing tools in the car – because Dad and a guy on a bike did most of the work. Then Francis the Driver disappeared for an hour looking for a second tire, or getting it fixed, I don’t know. We made it to Lomé around 5 p.m., so it all worked out. Mom and Dad left for Accra around noon, and it’s back to normal life in Togo for me. So write me a letter, cause you know I get lonely.
Pictures from marathon are at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2031439&l=10944&id=66700997 and pictures from Green Turtle are at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2031442&l=e6f54&id=66700997. I hope those work for you.