29 August 2008
It’s 10:45am and I just got back from my first bike ride in Mission Tové. As soon as I closed the front door on my return, the heavens opened. Seriously. I can barely see across the compound, the rain is so heavy. I was very lucky to just miss it. It’s rained every day since I arrived. My host father* said that the rain is a ‘bon augure’ a good omen. Local saying goes: “the rain comes with a visitor to bid them a hearty welcome” ( roughly translated French, of course). My guess is that visitors are very very frequently warmly welcomed. Although, my homologue did say that they hadn’t had rain for at least a week before I arrived.
I am very lucky I didn’t get caught in the rain, it was delicate enough managing the mud beneath my tires from the morning’s rain. I am going to try to take a ½ hour bike ride every day to get in shape for AIDS ride in October. 15 volunteers from each region of Togo get together and bike around the region stopping in lots of little villages to do “sensibilisations” (trainings) on HIV/AIDS prevention. We bike about 30 – 40 km a day. This won’t be so bad in Maritime region as we’re mostly flat, but I’m sure that the further north regions must have a really tough time.
The coordinators try to target villages where we don’t already have a PCV. Often these villages have never had a real information session on HIV/AIDS so there’s a lot of stigma to overcome as well as simple ignorance of safer sex practices. So I’m really looking forward to it, but I’ve got to get myself physically ready for it.
Current reading: Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (yes, I’m reading a lot of books simultaneously)
*M G – owns the compound where I stayed during my visit week. He worked with the previous volunteer here (10-15 years ago) and is a retired high school English professor who spent some time in Edinburgh. He’s awesome.