Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

It’s very exciting to write “2009” because this is the year I finish my service and come back to the States, for however long. Happy 2009!

I moved to Lomé on December 22nd. Peace Corps paid for me to rent a car to move all my belongings, and I called the guys that drove the chase car during AIDS ride. The apprentice brought me a bag of carrots as a gift. The journey down was typical – we broke down for two hours before leaving the Savannah region, then ran out of gas in Lomé, about five kilometers from my house. All was well once we arrived, and I even did a happy dance after I got the house tour. Three bedrooms, two bath, kitchen, big living room, great porch – I’m in Posh Corps now.

I spent that night at the house, then left the next day for Ghana. I almost didn’t go, because we were only staying for about two days, and the trip to Green Turtle Lodge can take more than 10 hours. But the lure of Christmas on the beach, away from Togo, beat any financial concerns.

As expected, the trip was long, but travel in Ghana is so much easier than in Togo (unless you and the taxi driver misunderstand the agreed-upon price and get into a screaming match). We arrived on the 24th, spent a restless night in our tent, thanks to mosquitoes, then spent most of Christmas Day in the water, swimming and floating beyond the surf. We had to cut the stay short, due to elections in Ghana, so we left early the 26th.

Peace Corps staff told us the border would close at 6 p.m. on the 26th (the borders close for elections to prevent non-Ghanains hopping over to vote). At the lodge, someone told us they’d been closely following border activity and that it wouldn’t close until the 27th. We decided not to take any risks, but just outside Accra, my dad called to say the internet said the borders were closed. So we got out in Accra, called a bunch of people, ate lunch, called some more people, went to Peace Corps Ghana’s office, and ended up in a hotel for free (the same hotel where I stayed on my way back from South Africa. Except I didn’t know then to announce myself as Peace Corps and paid too much money for a room).

And thus began our vacation from our vacation. We were exhausted from all our Christmas fun and traveling. In Accra, we recovered by doing nothing but walking around looking for our next meal, eating too much (Indian food! Pizza! Smoothies! Soft-serve ice cream!) and watching movies in our room. When the borders reopened Monday, I was ready to go back to Togo. Ghana is expensive, even when your hotel is free.

Since then, I’ve been settling into my new home, and getting to know my new roommate, JT, and my new dog, Manu, short for Emmanuel (he loves JT more, which is ok, except for he won’t let me walk him unless JT’s there). JT’s been here for a month already, and he has Togolese friends. They cooked us a huge meal last night, and also took us dancing on New Year’s Eve. So all is well. Work starts Monday, and I’m ready. All this free time in the big city means I have no routine and end up with a very bizarre sleep schedule.

I want to wish you all a happy new year again, and thank everyone who keeps up and puts up with the blog and my rambling. Only eight months left - enjoy it while you can.

I believe you can see Ghana photos here: