It’s been almost a full year since I last updated this blog. Partially, I blame Togo. It’s hard to maintain a regular blog when you live without electricity and internet. But that’s kind of a pathetic excuse. There’s no good reason why I can’t handwrite blog entries at my house in village, then actually update during my twice-monthly trips (sometimes more) to the nearest internet café.
So, I got to admit: laziness has been a factor. But there’s another reason for my lack of blogging, a reason potentially more important (or at least more excusable) than laziness: Life here has become normal.
During my first six months in Togo, every interaction and experience I had was an opportunity for a blog entry. Every time I got in a bushtaxi, or traveled to a new village, or ate a meal, or visited a government office, or taught a class, I would find a new source of fascination or frustration or curiosity. Granted, I was never the world’s most avid blogger (that’s where the laziness comes in), but, during my first year, I felt like everywhere I turned there was potential for awesome blog entries. I was always an American observer, looking in from the outside, trying to figure out where I belonged, what was going on, and what in the world I was supposed to be doing.
And now? Well, after over 20 months in Togo, life has settled into life. I’m still the American observer, but things that struck me as strange or illogical during my first year are now bizarrely normal.
It hit me a few weeks back, when I was talking with a group of fellow volunteers about the relative merits of cisterns versus wells. A few lucky volunteers here in Togo have running water, but most of us rely on wells, cisterns, or rivers for our drinking and bathing water. I get my water from a well (then filter, bleach, or boil to make it potable), but have been toying lately with the idea of building a cistern. Rainy season is coming on fast, and it makes sense to have some type of sanitary way to catch rainwater.
We were tossing ideas around about design plans for cisterns, when for some reason, I realized: This is a weird conversation. Weird by American standards, that is. I mean, there are still some cisterns left in America, but wells are pretty much a thing of the past, and I’m not sure there’s anyone who physically goes to a river to get their drinking water anymore (other than backpackers and that’s mostly by choice). In fact, before coming to Togo, I’m not sure if I ever seriously thought about where my drinking water came from, or how lucky I was to be able to drink water directly from a tap.
And now it’s strange to think that when I go home I won’t have to think about filtering or bleaching water anymore. Normalcy is relative, I’ve come to realize. Strange how easily we can adapt! Things like eating unidentifiable meat, taking cold bucket baths under the stars, spending ten minutes negotiating for the price of a five minute motorcycle ride, having a child carry my bag for me, or jamming eight people into a car built for five have now become, well, just life.
P.S. I had a great picture of a monkey sleeping on a basket outside of my house that I wanted to post with this entry but the internet is too slow to upload photos. Oh well. A la prochain!