Trip to a waterfall

Over the weekend we made another trip into the countryside, this time it was to a fall about 30 kilometres from here.
Some of us had already been there and some local “tourist guides”, which accompanied you without asking before, wanted money at the end. At first they said that it was 500 CFA,
but at the end it was 1000 CFA per person!
They also went withus this time, althoguh we told them that we had no need for them. When there was a big argument about it, we posponed it to the end, where Abalo (one of the housemates of Tine and Falk) gave them 500 to avoid any nosebreaking.
They always only wanted money when there were white people around.
The waterfall itself was not so amazing, rather a little water dripping off a cliff, but we made the best out of it, listened to music and ate pineapple and crêpes, which we had made before.
At the end it started to rain, but we found a cave nearby, which looked like a place to pray for some people, since there were a mat and some candles.
Anyway, we stayed there, until the rain got a little weaker and then tried to get to the taxi, which was supposed to be waiting. There it started raining again, and the taxi was a little late, but it was an nice trip after all.

Jamming session and dead dogs

Over the weekend we had a farewellparty for Joe Kiki and the visitors from DeKaWoWo from Germany. It was a nice party with a lot of music – drums, guitar, saxophone and vocals.
At the end we had a jamming session, meaning, that all the musicians played together without a concept, but since all of them were professionals it sounded just great!

On monday we aeven had a pool party also with a lot of live music and midnightswimming! Awesome!

Joe Kiki is now back in Germany, and I went with him and the visitors from DeKaWoWo to Lomé, to get the my Visa.
The ride went well, although Joe’s wife had a broken leg and it was a two hours ride. Unfortunately we also hit a dog on the way, which probably did not survive.
In Lomé I first got my Visa and also those of two other volunteers. The responsible just opened the passports, as soon as I saw the pictures, I could say that it was them and he gave them to me – without an authorization or anything!

I also went into the city, but this dumb moto driver went out of town with me! Afterwards I got another driver to get me into the city – now it was a 10 kilometre ride – very refreshing.
Afterwards I went to the supermarket to get some goat cheese. It was 5 € a piece, but it was worth it after three months 🙂

On the way back 3 out of 5 police controls stopped us. At 9 o’clock I was finally home, but since Falk still got the authorization to stay for another 3 months, we still had to celebrate!

Jesus’ Visa and flight ticket

On thursday I was once again in Lomé to renew my Visa. On the ride there I sat next to a woman that was going to the court of appeals. I had no clue what the case was about, but I could as well have been about her singing – she was “singing” for 2 hours and I had to put my discman on full volume!

Before I could apply for the visa, I still had to get pictures made. In the first store they told me, that it would take 1 1/2 hours at least, so I sat down and awaited the taking of the pictures. There a mouse passed by hat seemed pretty tamed and acustomed to humans. I asked te owner, if it was his pet. He was exploding: “A MOUSE??!!” and started beating it to death.
When it was dead, turned to me and said: “Are you ready?” (he probably still took care of the mouse later on).
After he had taken two pictures of me, he said that I could still go for a walk. I thought that 1 1/2 hours would be a little much, so I asked the next shop owner, where I could make some pictures real quick. He said that at his place, the least would also be 1 1/2 hours, but there would be another place where it took only about 20 mintes.
In the end it took only three minutes – for the same price! From there I went to the ministry of the interior to get my visa application done. The moto passed by the univerity, where the buildings looked as if they were from the 70ies (they later told me that it was build in 2000).
As we know officials, they told me to come back about 5 days later, although my last visa would already have expired by that time, so I will be an illegal immegrant until next tuesday! 🙂

I also changed the date for the flight back, because you can only book them for 330 days in advance and since I had to book before I got here….
In Lomé there are also supermekets as in America, only the prices are a little higher and there is no fresh milk 🙂 For the lunch I got a piece of cheese, which was quite awesome.

At the Togotelekom I also still had to gather some information for usage of the internet. Since the central (in Kpalimé they sent me to Lomé)was not open yet at 1pm, I had to wait until 2:30.
I did this in a bar, where the barmaid said, that my face reminded her of Jesus. OK, she did not gasp and say: “He is still alive!”, but she was not the only one, since today another man said independently the same thing. Let’s see when I can find my picture in the churches 🙂 :).

After the waiting I got into the combined central of the postal service and the Togo Telekom. There, they sent me back and forth and back again – but they also burned some cd’s for me, which I usually do not get done in a postal office. They also had screensavers with dancing aliens, but they were rather annoying, since it also had acustic support 🙂

The ride back was a whole lot betterand funny, since I had plenty of room for my legs and I it was a pleasant ride. Directly afterwards I still had to give language courses.

Language courses and America

Last night our hostfather (Claude) still wanted to talk with us. He said, that we should not worry, but he still wanted to talk with us after dinner for about 5 minutes.
We thought, taht it might be because of an unofficial farewell party the evening before, where due to a misunderstanding nobody had informed our hostparents.
But now he told us that he would go to America for more than one year, which I interpret as an emigrating. His fiancé, who has up to now been like a hostmother for us, is going with him, and a friend of the familiy, who is also
a member of Campagne des Hommes, is moving in. I already knew him beofre, but the other volunteers living with me did not even know his name until today
He would fly next saturday, but he would already go to Lomé the next day, because he still wanted to visit his family.
It was a pretty heavy shock! New new hostmother is also not as much at ease as the former one, she is acting more like a maid, but that might also be because she has no experice with volunteers and is younger than me.

Concerning that language courses, I seem to be back in business, since about 2 stundents wanted to change, one of them is the 60 years old one! So by now I have a 60 years old one and two student
– one mostly knows the grammar and the other two most of the vocabulary, at least there are only three of them!

Farewellparty, Lomé and Bank problems

Over the weekend there was a birthday on sunday morning, but I could not attent it, because I had stomach cramps and amoebas. It got better over the day and so I could got to the afternoon farewell party of Andreas
and the welcome party of Joe Kiki. He is a famous musician over here, who makes music for about 20 years now. He is a Togoian and for the uprising in 1992 one of his songs became it’s anthem.
So he had to flee and is now living in Germany but is still coming here about three times a year. That was also the case on sunday and musically he had a lot to offer!
He wrote many songs himself, but when he started at that party, his first song was a famous German one!
That night Andreas was still with us at the “La Case” and we talked all night.

On monday we were at Andreas’, because we wanted to accompay him to Lomé the next day, but the cellular network was not working. We (Falk and I) wanted to withdraw some money there, because it is not possible in Kpalimé anymore because of a order from the administration.

So we went to see Andreas in person. He lives a little bit out of town, and since no other moto was awaylable, we went there on a crossbike, but as it is the case quite often over here, we had a slight technical defect after a short period of time, the throttle was stuck! So we stopped to take a look at the problem, but after about 30 seconds another motodriver stopped to help us, and after 4 minutes even a skilled technician. After about 20 minutes everything was working again. We gave him 500 and went on.

When we arrived at Andreas’, he had just left for an internetcafé, so waited a little, which became about 2 hours, but we were talking with another volunteer who had just arrived a week earlier, so it was no problem. When Andreas returned at 10 pm, we still had the delicious rests of rice with ananas and curry (strange, that there had been anything left at all) und still looked at some pictures from his stay.
Two other africans, which had lived and worked with him, were also there.
When we wanted to get back at about midnight, the crossbike once again did not want to start, but we had it up and running again about another 20 minutes later.

So we went to Lomé this morning, since Andreas is leaving. After we arrived during the early afternoon, we ate in a restaurant, which is quite different from europe or America.
We also listened to Joe Kiki, since he had returned to Lomé – he is really a fabulous musician!
We were also at the fetish market, where they had a lot of dried animals and other voodoo stuff. The guide at first wanted 1.500 CFA from us, but at the end he said 1.500 per person.
We said that we did not have enought money with us and that we had agreed on a lower price earlier. We gave him the money and left – I think that my headache that night might be caused by hm :).

That evening there was a lot of in the city and we passed some trash dumpsm that you would not have expected between two bank headquarters.
I also got my money, but Falk was less fortunate. WIth Falk they said that they had problems with the traverlers check – although we already been at the banks headquarters!

At the end we also went to the beach, but we did not go for a swim, since there were two sewer exits at each side of us in a distance of about 50 meters.
After a nice day we returned quite exhausted at 6 pm, which took about 2 and a half hours with about 15 people in the small bus and someone always getting somewhere
Now my voice is a little weak from the smoke, but it was a nice day. Good night!

Internet, language courses and dry season

Once again a long break with writing…the 60 year old guy seems to resist his course change and since I do not have any inscriptions for my course, I will end it.

The internet seems to be quite strange through out the whole city. In none of the internetcafés you can get a connection and even on the telephone only one person can talk during a session – you cannot hear the other.

By now the dry season seems to start again, but it stays humid none the less. Is is raining less, but one can not sweat “effectivly” which is quite annoying.

Another ONG seems to be interested in the health centre also (RADI), we will see, how we can cooperate.

Now we are also doing the conception for a webpage for future volunteers, since there is very little information on Togo before you get here, except the telephone calls with former volunteers.
So the webpage is supposed give some information (also concerning the malaria prophylaxis)
I will let you now, when it is done 🙂

Printers and language courses

Until now, there happened quite a lot:
Tine and I are now starting with the conception for a project, concerning the interior of a health centre in a village, which is quite in the bush.
(13 kilometres – 1 hour drive).
Falk and I now also took two laser printers apart and put together a working one. A laserprinter really has about three times as many pieces as a normal computer – it was all a big puzzle!
The language courses started slow, but by now we almost have 20 inscriptions and for the courses themmselves even more show up.
On monday we have the due date. After the start of my cours with one inscription but no students present I yesaterday even had one that was present! But another 60 years old is also supposed to come to my course, he is always bringing a candle with him, because it is too dark for him.
This weekend I will take a time out from all activities!

Volleyball and cockroaches

Today I went playing Volleyball for the first time! There seems to be only be one team in all of Kpalimé, but that one is pretty good. They are better than me, but I cn keep up, and so it is still a lot of fun!The hostdad of two of the other volunteers was already playing in the team and so he took us with him. sports over here are always done in the morning, because otherwise it will become too hot to play. Unfortunately the game was already over after two hours, but they are supposingly playing tyo times a week, and so I will be there again!
Directly next to our court the current school team was playing against the former students and there were severals speakers with loud Hip Hop playing. I was as if you were entering the Bronx, but it was also quite interesting. At first we were playing 5on5, later 4on4 and 3on3. At the end it was the most challenging, but also the funniest.

Last night it was once again a running for cover against the cockroaches through the bathroom. By now it are about 2 which are crawling along the wall and the floor, but they are afraid of the light, and so you just have to wait until they disppear. They are only in the bathroom, but is quite interesting to study their behaviour (at midnight!).

This afternnon we are visiting another German, (Andreas) who’s mother is married to a Togoian. She founded an NGO to support different project over here, DekaWoWo (one world), and at the moment they are building a hostel for whites to live in, but at the same time it is supposed to be a meeting point for colored and whites: there is supposed to be a swimming pool, where also colored people can afford to swim in and at the entrance court will be the possibility for artists to sell their merchandise. All of it sounded pretty interesing and now Anreas is helping to build one of the houses himself. Unfortunately he is only staying for 11 weeks.

Tomorrow we will go on our next trip with the artists to a local waterfall to swim 🙂 and on monday our language courses will begin for which only 5 people signed in by now. ;(

Computers and Swimming

Well, now I have not been on a computer with internet access for some time, but at some others:
Horace, my boss got 6 new computers, “Directimport from Germany”, and I am getting them set up and everything, together with Falk, another volunteer, which is kind of difficult with no CD-Rom drive and a humidity of about 80%, where you constantly get shocks from the computers (about 30 per evening) . The shocks over here are a little stronger that those in europe, also since it is not only static, but there is an electric current, when you do not back off!

I also got a cell phone card by now, but I use it only seldomly, there is just not the opportunity to do it!

Over the weekend 2 ne volunteers arrived, Heike und Andrea, although only Andrea had been announced, but that seems to become normal by now.
On Sunday we also went swimming in the swimming pool in one of the local hotels for about 2 bucks, but I needed the feeling again to be completely surrounded by water once again. We were also pretty surrounded afterwards, when a rainshower soaked us thoroughly!
Even today we had nothing but rain all day long, it has never been this strong before and almost all of the planned activites are cancelled, even all the official meetings.
Because I still accompanied Conny (another volunteer) to school to help her introduce herself to the new classes (with about 100, yes, 100 Students per class), I went jogging at 5am(I must be crazy). It is interesting to see the sunrise, although it is not quite spectacular, but we also saw our hostparents rise, they must have been sleeping long, until 6 am.

09/16/04

After doing sports once again at 6am I still wanted to sleep a little, but after 10 Minutes (7;30 o’clock) Bruno, who had recovered by now, asked me if I wanted to accompany him to the deputy of the Ministry of Education, to demand some things for the theatre project, and of course I accepted!
Barely returned, we went to the deputy of the Ministry of Youth and Sports at 9:30 to announce our plans for the upcoming sports event against Aids. This meeting was a bit more relaxed, since the deputy was not so conservative as the first one, but on the way back our Moto ran out of gas and we had to refuel at a little gas store next to the road. They had some 1 litre bottles of gasoline and prepared the right mixture right there. That is quite common here and so we continued. At 11:30 I was falling into my bed to get at least still some sleep at all for that day. I would need it…

During the afternoon, Tine and I wanted to post some advertisement for our language courses in the city, at the market and in private stores. Almost everybody checked the ads immediately, since whites are quite an attraction over here and when they even post things…
We also wanted to post some at the local police station and the post office; at the police the entrance guard first wanted to redirect us to the city hall to ask for authorization, since the police chief did not respond at once, when we knocked at his door. But about 30 seconds later the door opened and the police chief appeared, his appearance was that of Al Bundy:
Quite a big belly, his belt still open …and YOU were still supposed to shake that hand happily as a greeting!! 🙁
Since the police chief gave his OK anyway, we could still post the ad, but at what a cost… Anyway, we had the feeling that it would suffice to ask the responsible of the particular institution and that would be it.

So we also went to the post office to ask. One of the clerks put up the sheet after beeing in the back for some time, probably in an office, but by the time the first one had glued the sheet to the black board, another one said that it would still be necessary to get the OK from the mayor.

So I still went to the city hall later on and they first told me that it would be neccesary to file an official demand for authorization, but he could give me an appointment right now. So about 15 minutes later I met the 3. official for the day, the mayor. He told me that before he could give me his OK to put up the sheets, he would require the authorization of the ministry of education first, otherwise, all the sheets that I had already put on in public places could be torn down.
At that point I went to my boss at Campagne des Hommes to ask if we had that authorization, since he had already given me the order to order some radio advertisement. He said that it usually takes up to two years to get an authorization and we did not have one, but what the city did was mostly scare tactics and they did not really ever do anything. I should leave those sheets that I had already put up hanging and if any phonecalls should arrive, he would take care of it.
– and I thought that the German beaurocracy would be bad!

Tonight I have another appointment for the excursion on the weekend and after that another one for the sportsfestival…