I haven’t updated in over a year. So, now, I’m going to start posting all the crap that happened in the last 14 or so months, a bit at a time.
The end of 2013/beginning of 2014 was pretty auspicious. A good friend from college (who was then living in Germany) came to visit us around Christmas, and we showed him all the sites we could. We went to Kpalime to buy souvenirs for his family (and get him a bit out of the city), to Ouidah to see the Snake Temple and the slave trail, and even to see monkeys in Ghana. (He also wanted as many stamps on his passport as we could pull off.) We celebrated Christmas at our favorite Chinese restaurant (which is his family’s tradition.)
The monkey sanctuary was adorable!
I should add that this was a friend who had encouraged me through all my trials getting into the State Department, and even helped me make sure all of my essays were the best they could be. I owe this friend a lot, and so I made sure to show him all that I could (esp. considering I didn’t really have the ability to take a lot of vacation, as I was the only one in the office. My office mate was on R&R at the time.)
Also, amazingly, he got to the see the Togolese bureaucracy at its best. There was a problem with his visa into Togo (it had expired before he arrived, but the people at the airport didn’t notice, and so he had some hassles trying to go into Benin.) However, as he dealt with it, everyone was always very polite to him, very professional, and when we was back in Lome it was taken care of pretty quickly.
Then, in January, my mother came to visit! Her ticket/passport fees were my Christmas, birthday, mother’s day, etc., gift to her. This was her first time out of the country, and she had a fabulous time. She was particularly interested in coming to Togo because it’s the home of Vodun, which as a Pagan she had particular interest in. We made sure to introduce her to as much (safe) Togolese stuff as we could. We had peanut sauce and fufu her first night in town, we went to Chez Brovie for the amazing grilled fish, and hit up every Vodun thing we could. I took her to the Fetish Market, which she loved (despite the godawful smell), and to the Snake Temple in Benin. (Yes, the Snake Temple was one of my favorite places in the region.)
A snake! Oh, it’s a snake…
What interested just as much was a lot of the everyday aspects. Mom actually “smuggled” a loaf of bread into the US, because she wanted to share with her friends how soft and wonderful it was. She kept trying to get pictures of ladies carrying babies on their backs. She also found the overloaded trucks interesting, and she snapped several pictures of those.
From her FB account.
Though her visit was only for a little over a week, I felt like she had the chance to really experience the country. It also reminded me in many ways why I never stay at home when going back to KY (my mom’s stubborn and meddling!), but it was wonderful to see her and to show her the life I was leading, to help show her what I had made of myself. I know about many of the sacrifices she made when I was young, trying to help me succeed, and so I wanted to show her that her sacrifice had paid off. I also think I helped to expand her worldview a bit.