25 December 2009
Christmas in village
I actually spent Christmas Eve with volunteer friends, making lots of yummy foods – much of it put together thanks to generous packages from friends and family in the states. We had salad with eggs and bacon bits, sausage and cheese on bread appetizers, Christmas-tree shaped pasta with mushroom sauce, and three grilled pintades (guinea fowl) yum!
This morning I made what I consider to be my family’s traditional Christmas breakfast: baked green apple french toast. Yum. Basically, I just bought bread, cut it into 2” thick slices, laid it in a pan, then poured a mixture of egg and milk over it, put apple slices on top and liberally sprinkled cinnamon and brown sugar over the apples. Then I baked it until the egg was all cooked. We made a really scrumptious (fake) cream cheese icing to drizzle over it.
I’m trying to space out the presents I’ve received in the mail – so I just opened one from my Grandmother – a lovely little Nativity set.
I arrived back in village around noon, changed into my new Christmas complet that Da E made for me as a surprise. Then I stuffed my gifts into my bike bags like a sporty Santa and pedaled over to E’s house. I was dead tired after having stayed up late chatting, but it was a lovely low-key lunch – fufu with tomato sauce
and papaya for dessert. My contribution was the money to buy a chicken. I set up my new Nativity set on the corner of the table and put on my favorite Christmas album – the Mediaeval Baebes “Mistletoe and Wine.”
After the meal, I gave E and her two kids little gifts – pagne for E, crayons, a coloring book and a bracelet/toy car to S and E, respectively. Then I crashed – as the sky got dark, threatening rain, I pedaled home for a nice long full-stomach Christmas nap. I didn’t wake up until E stopped by with tonight’s meal – rice with spicy tomato sauce. Sweet! I don’t have to cook. I ate a couple of mouthfuls and then got dressed and headed across the street for the choral concert at the Baptist Church.
In addition to singing with the Chorale, I agreed to sing a last-minute solo. No one told me I’d be first on the program! So I put on my brave face, grabbed a good luck hug from a tiny child, and sang O Holy Night into the acoustically void cement and tin-roof church. It was fun and over quickly, and the women’s choir danced up the aisle with their opening song.
The women’s choir is a cute group – some young mothers but lots of tiny wrinkly, spunky old women. Among the volunteers we had an interesting conversation last night where we decided that older women in Togo must be in the happiest time of their lives. They’ve out-lived their pesky drunken husbands and they now have an army of children and grandchildren to do all the housework. So they’re free to do as they please. And it pleases lots of them to sing and dance with abandon and joy