Sunday, September 4, 2005

Bet you didn’t expect to hear this so soon...

I have to send out a huge Thank You to all the people (and there are lots of you) who have sent us encouraging e-mail over the past couple days.

I know that the first few entries to our Lome’ Adventure sound frazzled and depressed… they are true to how we (ok, I) was coping the first couple days. I’m happy to let you all know that today was a great day. Our sponsors took care of us, meeting us at the Franciscan church for Mass then taking us to Coco Beach for some playtime in the sand and a yummy lunch before we came home to swim in the pool. (As an aside, so far I’m unimpressed with desserts here, but I’ve been told I haven’t been to the good places. But you know, if dessert is my biggest complaint at the moment… life could be a whole lot worse.)
First off, I have a question for those of you who know what I’m talking about. Here in subSahel Africa, there’s an issue with line drying clothes. Some rather obnoxious flies like to lay eggs on wet material and when you later wear the dry clothes, the larvae burrow under your skin. It’s as gross as it sounds. In our Embassy “handbook” it says to iron dress shirts that have been hung to dry, and some folks we knew in Ghana said they wouldn’t even use a towel at the pool that had already been wet. So here’s my question: Is this only for items dried outdoors? What about swimsuits that are rinsed and hung to dry in bathrooms? Or towels used after a shower? In our welcome kit we have 2 adult towels and 2 kid towels, that’s it. We don’t even bring towels out to the pool, just drip back to the house. What if I took a dress shirt out of the washer and hung it to dry in our bathroom? Should towels be dried in the dryer after every use? How about kitchen hand towels? What if you happen to be wearing wet clothes, like the boys did at the beach today, is there a risk? You see my dilemma.
If no one knows the answer, that’s OK. We have an appointment at the Clinic on Wednesday and I’ll ask there.
On to our day. Eight a.m. Mass is too early. The church is nice but basic, the kneelers and seats are really hard, the choir is very loud (African choirs tend to be) and most of it was quite familiar. As I’d spent quite a bit of time in church in Zaire when I was very young, the music and words are quite ingrained. There was one unique aspect to the service. On the first Sunday of every month, the offertory is completed in 8 sections. Birth days are extremely important to the Togolese and naming children after their day of birth is rampant, reducing name variations here quite a bit. But because of this, on the first Sunday the collection is taken up by birth day. Basket #1: Dimanche… everyone born on a Sunday go up and drop their coins in the basket. Then basket #2: Lundi… everyone born on a Monday gives their offering. And so on. Thankfully I do know the birth days of each child and myself. Ian will have to look his up. Today though, we did not join in as we still are using cash from the Embassy Cashier and haven’t broken many bills down.
The sand at Coco was surprisingly nice. And while there is a quick drop in the water, the waves are broken by a nearby breakwater. Not a true breakwater as it turns out, but a washed out road, built by the Germans about 100 years ago and now out in the ocean as the waves have worn away the beach. Plenty of shells to collect and two very friendly golden labs romped around in the water and out. And then…
And then we learned that the female had given birth to 10 puppies a couple days ago. The kids were smitten with the furry blind pups and you know how the rest of our time was spent. I wish I had brought a camera, both for beach pictures and for the dogs, because chances are we’ll be adopting one in a couple months (NOT two, Ian, just one). They almost look pureblood, and if the parents are any indication, they’ll be friendly, well-mannered and most importantly carry a resonating bark. They’re awfully cute too. Our sponsors adopted a dog a couple months back and have a vet, but I don’t know about dog food yet. Table scraps won’t cut it for a healthy pet.
News on that as it develops.
Back at home, Ian discovered the switch for the pool pump and flipped it on. After Thursday’s dip, Rebecca had itchy red patches she figures came from the water, which wouldn’t surprise me so hopefully the pump will fix that problem. The kids and dad played in the water to wash off leftover sand and work off remaining energy.
Tomorrow is Labor Day and a holiday for Ian, but not for the kids. It's an American School without any American holidays but Thanksgiving... hmmm. We'll drop the kids off then walk our way back. Have heard tell there's a great bakery along the way.
Yeah, we’re all more upbeat now. It’s not home yet, and won’t be until our belongings arrive, but maybe I don’t need to make that countdown chart just yet.

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