Yesterday was a busy day. We had a health and nutrition class. We received our “walk-around” money. We had our mid-training evaluations of our language skills…AND a cooking class facilitated by two peace corps volunteers who are going home in a few weeks.
Let me start with the nutrition class vs. the cooking class. For the nutrition class the nurse practitioner brought a variety of Togolese food that we would find at the market. She held it up, described it, told us the nutritional value, and how it is typically cooked. That was our first exercise of the day. After that class, I was really kind of discouraged. All the food she showed us, was completely foreign with the exception of the egg plant and ochre, both of which could fit in the palm of my hand. It’s not the first time I’ve wondered how I will survive in Africa because of the food. I mean…nothing is familiar except for bread.
After the nutrition class we all received what is called our “walk-around” money. This is extra money that we receive before going to our post visit, so that we can buy the things we need to have while we are there. For example I bought a small one burner kerosene stove, and some food items….rice, cous cous, tomato paste, a couple plates, a couple cups…etc. I still need to go back to the marche and get a couple items. We also opened our Togo bank accounts today. As I understand it….they will be depositing our monthly stipend into these banks, and we will have access to them through an ATM card?? I’m sure it will eventually become clear how all this works. For now…I just take their word for it, and have faith that I’ll receive enough money to live on and to set up my house. We get more “walk-around” money when we go to Lome for our swearing in on August 5th. At that time we will need to purchase a lot of things…like a bed frame, a bed, a table, a lot of miscellaneous things anyone would need to buy when settling into a new house. The logistics of all this Togo Peace Corps stuff is mind-boggling. You gotta hand it to Togo Peace Corps to be able to do all this, and their ability get everyone where they are supposed to be and with what they are supposed to have.
After we received our walk-around money and signed all the necessary papers for our bank account, we had our cooking class. The cooking class was optional, given by the Tesvie PCV's who are leaving. There were only four of us who attended. I'm so glad I did though. I can see that if I'm inventive, I can plan some really good meals. We made the African version of pizza, egg-drop soup, egg salad, and spaghetti with sauce. It was all good, easy, and do-able. I WILL SURVIVE! Next week when we get back from post they are going to do one more cooking class on baking. They use a dutch oven to do their baking, and we are going to make a pineapple upside down cake. mmmmmmmmmm.
The last part of the day was our mid-training evaluation on our language, health and bicycle maintenance skills. It was all done quite professionally, as is everything they do here. I had an interview with three of the trainers and they went through each skill, and critiqued me on how I was doing. They all seem to have very fun, playful senses of humor. I always enjoy meeting with them. They played a little joke on me when I first sat down. My language trainer looked very serious, and told me that I was remaining at the same level I started in. I completely believed her, and really panicked...then they all laughed and told me the good news. I’m doing well!! I went up two levels in language. I still have a lot of work to do with French, but they were very encouraging and complimentary. My host family is taking me out for a beer tonight after dinner to celebrate my language critique. They are part of this whole thing….working with me in the evening on language, and the technical presentation I had to give….so my success is their success, and my failure would be their failure as well. They completely understood evaluation day, and were waiting for me when I got home to find out how I had done.
Oh...and I got two more vacinations...my last rabies shot, and a hep B shot. I still have three more vacinations to get.
Today…back to the marche...to get last minute items for my post trip, tonight…celebrate!