Monday, June 14, 2010

Week One

Arrived in Lome, Togo a week ago Saturday, June 5, 2010. There are twenty-four of us…new Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV’s). We all met in Washington D.C. for one day of orientation. We then all took the same flight to Togo, via an eight hour layover in Paris. Everything is well planned and coordinated. It is a multi-faceted entre in to this new world. Trainers and planners have done an excellent job in facilitating that the twenty-four of us have ample opportunities to bond and to learn all that we need to learn in a short amount of time. It is obvious that every step of this introduction to Togo as a Peace Corps Volunteer has been well thought out.
Week One – June 5 through June 9
We landed in Togo around 8pm on June 5th. We were met by the PC Director of the Country and a few other staff members. Our luggage was quickly loaded onto buses and we were driven to our “hotel”. There was a tasty Togolese meal waiting for us at the hotel. The Director made a few welcoming remarks, and we were left on our own to settle in. I shared a room with Christine on the third floor, and managed to “lug” all my luggage up the three flights of stairs. There were two beds in each room. The beds had very thin mattresses and mosquito nets. The ‘hotel’ was rough to say the least. Our first night was a good stepping stone into a life without luxuries such as ice, warm water, plumbing and absent of anything American. We awaken to the roosters crowing, and it seems that will be our alarm clocks from this day forward. It is the rainy season in Togo. The ceiling in my bedroom leaked each time it rained, and you could see mold growing almost everywhere. This was to be our home for the next four days, as we processed through the Peace Corps system in Togo. The next several days in Togo were all about how to stay alive in Africa. Our workbook with the acronym (SHIT) Staying Healthy in Togo, covered malaria, African diseases, and how to filter our water, and care for our very own water filter system. We also received a couple vaccinations a day, and began to take two different kinds of malaria prevention medication. We had training on how to take a bucket bath and how to wash our dishes and our clothes, and the day we left for the training site we received our very own bath bucket and got to pick out a panga (pon-ya) which is wrap around fabric you wear after your shower. The malaria training session was quite effective. I’m quite sure all twenty-four of us will be vigilant about staying on our medication and making sure our mosquito nets are secure.
We did have free time in the evening, and everyone got to know each other. We stayed up and played cards and drank warm beer. I have found nothing really cold in Togo since I arrived. It’s a fun, smart, serious yet light-hearted group and even the trainers have said that it seems like an exceptionally good group of new PCV’s. The second night we met at a local bar, and many of the current PCV’s and those PCV’s soon departing met us there and introduced themselves and welcomed us. It was a fun party, but the Director had said the new PCV’s needed to be home by 10, so we left the old PCV’s and went back to the hotel. The third night we went to dinner at the PC Country Directors home. The Assistant U.S. Ambassador to Togo attended this dinner. She sat at my table, right next to me. The dinner was delicious and the conversation was fascinating.


  1. What is the average age of volunteers. Stay very wary of the Malaria....Dan had it in Nam and it isn't pretty!

  2. I love reading this and I love hearing about your experiences. Tell me more about what the food is like if you can. Thinking of you. Stay safe!