For the past six months I’ve watched progress slowly and steadily invade my little village of Tchekpo. I saw the huge trucks roll into town. I watched the workers slowly and systematically chop down ancient trees and clear brush from each side of the main road. I watched the poles go up, one by one. I watched them string the wire from pole to pole, rolling the wire off their giant spools. The workers never looked like they were in much of a hurry. Little by little they got the job done. I never heard anyone in Tchekpo talking about the coming of electric current in Tchekpo. I was the only one who talked about it, and I brought it up often. “When do you think we’ll get it?” Are you excited about Tchekpo getting electricity?” Everyone I asked appeared to be pretty unimpressed about the prospect. I decided their reaction, or non-reaction to this phenomena was because they just had no idea how it would impact or change their lives. For me…..All I wanted was two things. A fan, and an easy way to charge my electronics. I don’t even care about light. I’ve gotten used to living without light after 6pm….but a fan….oh a fan, would definitely change and enhance my life for my remaining months in Tchekpo.
It’s the hot season in Togo right now. From January through May. I had always heard that the hot season went through March, so I’ve looked forward to the end of March. I’ve had a big smiley face on my calendar on the last day of March to mark the occasion. I’ve thought…HA…if I make it through to the end of March, I can go the distance for sure. The other day I was talking to a Togolese woman about making it through March. She laughed, and said “the hot season lasts through May!!” That little bit of information stopped me dead in my tracks.…I fell to my knees and screamed in a voice that sounded more demonic than like my own voice…NO! NO! NO!…tell me it isn’t true! It can’t be true…..and then I wept uncontrollably. Ok..well, not really, but that’s what was going through my mind. Instead I slapped the woman who told me. Ok…not really, but I wanted to. Now my only hope for survival was the coming of electric current….and a fan.
How do I cope with the heat? I take at least four bucket showers a day, and at night when I go to bed, I lay a big thick towel on my bed, and a little towel over my pillow then I just step outside my back door and poor a bucket of water over myself…over my nightgown and all. Then I crawl into bed soaking wet. It works! However half way through the night I wake up, completely dry, except for the sweat. I get up, out of bed, half asleep, fumble around for my flashlight, walk down the hall, knocking into the walls, step outside my back door, and once again poor a bucket of nice cool water over myself. This is an every day/every night occurance. Approximately four bucket showers a day, and two at night. Electricity and a fan, would be a really nice addition, don’t you think? As stifling as the heat and humidity is….It is surprisingly bearable once you come to terms with it. Once you develop your coping mechanisms. Nothing…and I mean nothing feels better than those bucket showers, and then I’m good to go for at least a couple more hours. My friends in Tchekpo are used to the heat, in fact when there is a rare cool day….let’s say the temperature is 95 instead of 105, they pull out their jackets and long sleeved shirts, and tell me they are cold. Yeah…it is beyond my comprehension that when I am finally a little bit comfortable, they are uncomfortably cold.
|David's Birthday Party|
I had a birthday party for David, my French teacher the night the lights went on. David helps me teach my English class to adults, and I help him teach English at the high school. He has become a very valuable partner. He helps me with all my projects. I told him the other day, to his delight, that he was a Mover and a Shaker. He asked me to repeat, and then he wrote it down, and laughed. Now every time I see him, he laughs and says, “I am a Mover and a Shaker.” No one can say Mover and Shaker like David says it. He sounds like an evangelical preacher when he says it. He roars it….”I am a Mover and a Shaker.”
|The night sky, from my porch|
The night the lights went on in Tchekpo is the night my friends lives were forever altered...and for me...I got a few days closer to getting a fan.