Saturday, June 28, 2008

Togo Hiking, Paycheck Nightmares, and HOME!

Saturday morning I wished I could have slept in. However, that was not the case as Bianca and I got up at 5:45am to get to the bus station on time. We had no problems finding a taxi in the morning and got the station, boarded our bus and were off to Togo in no time at all. The trip was uneventful and went by pretty quick given we both took sizable naps over the course of the 5 hours it took us to get to the border. As we pulled up the station in Sinkansee, there was a swarm of taxi moto drivers who descended on the bus and specifically Bianca and I. While it bothers me that they do that, it really bothers Bianca. She can not stand these guys. And to top it off, the guys were calling to each other claiming each of us as their customer… yelling out things like “I get the tall one!” As you can imagine it was unpleasant. The funniest part is that Bianca can’t even ride motos, Peace Corps rules, and so we had to walk anyway. They kept on saying, “Oh, it is too far, yadda, yadda, yadda.” It took us 5 minutes to walk to the Burkina Faso immigration office. They stamped our passports and we walked over a small bridge packed with trucks trying to get across the border. Then we stopped in at the Togo immigration office. This was a bit trickier because we had to buy a visa on the spot. Togo doesn’t have an embassy in Burkina so there was no other option. Bianca and I had intended to go get ID size photos taken, but we ran out of time so we just hoped for the best. $30 and 30 minutes later we had our visas, no pictures provided, and headed out to find a taxi to Dapaong, a town about 40km away, where we would spend the night.

We actually had to walk a long time to find the taxi area. Since we weren’t sure where we were going and Bianca really does not like associating with African men, we stopped by a beauty salon and asked some ladies for directions. They were really nice and their whole little beauty salon hair braiding scene was very stereotypical. We kept walking and walking and I finally asked another little boy if we were headed in the right direction. He said yes, but then even better he found a guy like right there who had a taxi that was headed back to Dapaong. I think he was going anyway and so we only had to pay a small fee to go with him and we had the taxi to ourselves. Trying to get back to Cinkase (Togo side of the border) again on Monday, we would realize just how great a deal it was.

We had the driver drop us off at the hotel that we had picked out from the guide book. As we pulled up we saw that the name had changed. We figured no big deal. Except that this name change came with many other changes as well. When we asked the guy at the desk for a room and his response question was “Do you want the room for the whole night?” We were like um, yes… as he lead us to the room which was in a really dark hallway we slowly came to realize what he meant by that earlier comment. The room had no door handle, just a lock. The door jab had been busted in at some point and now was being held there by an added metal strip. To top it off there was a safe sex instructions poster hanging on the bathroom door! We spent about 5 minutes convincing ourselves it would be fine. Bianca was on a tight budget and this was in her price range. I thought very diligently and decided that there was too much at stake. I was too close to getting home safe and sound from Africa and I did not need to put myself in a less than optimal situation for a mere $10! So I told Bianca if should could chip in as much as she was planning to pay for the first place, I would pay the rest for us to stay somewhere nicer. That was the best choice we could have made.

We found a nice place the called Le Campement. This place was definitely less shady. It had clean rooms, a nice outdoor seating area and I did not fear for my safety… all good things. After we settled in, we struck back out and explored the market. It was market day so the place was hopping. However, I can’t say it was much different than any of the other West African markets I have seen. We got supplies for the next day’s hike; bread, cheese, and water. On our way back we checked out transport options to get to Bogou. We found the same guy who had driven us from Cinkase earlier and talked with him for a while. While he seemed really nice the price he wanted was really high. However, he assured us that there were no other options. He was a liar. Just down the road we found the shared taxi stand to Bogou where the transport was half the price the first guy told us.

Back at the hotel that night I worked out, showered, and then started reading a book called Ishmael that Susan gave to me. It was very philosophical. Good, but at the end it really seemed to have not made any really strong points. It was a fun mental exercise, but there was no resolution or call to change anything that was pointed out. We ate dinner out on the veranda. I ordered a hamburger which turned out to be crumbled ground beef on a baguette. You tell me… It was still good though. p.s. I think we were the only people staying at that hotel that night. Not that it mattered, it was just funny that as soon as we ordered our dinner they opened up the kitchen and there was no doubt that what we were smelling was our dinners being prepared. While Bianca went to bed super early, I stayed up and wrote the last two blog posts. Even though I was tired, I couldn’t let myself get anymore behind.

Sunday morning Bianca and I got up at like 7:00ish. We packed our stuff and ordered an omelet for breakfast. The service at this hotel was outstanding which is very unusual for Africa. After satisfying our appetites in the morning, we found a taxi to get us to Bogou. Bogou is a very small village about 35km south of Dapaong. There was no trouble finding the auberge (guesthouse) where we were going to spend the night. It had no running water or electricity, but that was the point. We wanted to rough it African style. The lady who runs the auberge found us a guide and within 20 minutes, we were off on our hike headed up to the cliff dwellings. It was a nice hike. The terrain was challenging; steep and rocky! When we got to the top of the plateau area we met with the local village chief and bought a ticket to see the cliff dwelling ruins. There were two little boys from the village who also accompanied us. In Mali you can just walk up to the cliff houses. But here that was not the case. This place had been used as a refuge during ancient tribal war times so getting to it was really tricky. So tricky in fact, a steel ladder was built to help foreigners descend to the ledge to explore the ruins. The ladder was made of rebar and was 18 years old. However, it looked like it was in very nice conditions still which I thought was impressive. The view from the edge of the cliff was amazing. It felt like you could see forever!

So we courageously climbed down to get to the dwellings. They were really cool. A lot like Mali, just a much smaller scale, no other tourists were around and you could climb all over the things! The guides also showed us a sweet little waterfall which served as the water source for the people when they were hiding out. We took lots of pictures, but saved our lunch for later. On the way back, when we were almost down, we paid our guide and told him we would stay there to have our picnic and find our way back. At first he was reluctant to leave us but then decided since we were going to stay for a while he would go. Bianca and I had a nice picnic lunch and great conversation ensued. After reveling in doing nothing for a while we decided to head back to the camp. I should note Bianca and I brought some water with us, but not enough. I figured we could buy some at the auberge. Normally that is a fine idea except all this place had was soda water which is infinitely less satisfying than mineral water when you are thirsty. After the hike we had used up our reserves and if we were going to stay in Bogou that night we would have to find more water. We found a Catholic mission that had a pump looking thing. Pump water can be safe to drink as long as it is stored safely and not recontaminated. The same is true for most rainwater. We weren’t sure what this source was, but given our limited options, we took the gamble. This was one we would win. Yeah. I would also just like to note that there was significantly more water infrstracuture in the Togolese towns that I have visited versus the Burkina villages. For example, in Togo I saw many roofs set up for rain water harvesting and many household sized water towers. It was really encouraging. Speaking of water, that night back at the auberge we bucket bathed (i.e. showered without a shower).

In the evening Bianca and I just sat around and read until it got to dark to see the words. We had a dinner of rice and peanut sauce (the sauce was sub-par in my book) with some nasty, no meat on the bones, chicken. After dinner I read a little bit more by kerosene lamp light, remember that there is no electricity, and then called it a night. I had a hard time falling asleep. There was no bed net and no window screens; so to discourage mosquitoes, we kept the windows and door closed, but this also meant we forfeited any chance of air circulation. It was hot. No electricity, not even a fan! Then I heard the thunder. The rain arrived not long after, and boy did it make itself known. The roof of our room was tin which means that the rain was deafeningly loud. It was a hard night.

We got up at like 5:45. What else was there to do because I couldn’t really sleep…? We left in a private taxi which was nice considering we were planned on waiting for a shared taxi. The only reason why we went that way was that the driver came way down in price for us. Back in Dapaong, we tracked down the Peace Corps hostel. We met a nice female Togo volunteer there and got a ride to a sweet breakfast place with another volunteer on his way out to a camp. We had an astonishingly good omelet sandwich for breakfast. After breakfast we took a taxi motos to find the weaving cooperative noted in the guide book. It was really interesting to watch these women hand weave these beautiful textiles. I was able to take some great photos, and bought a few coin purses. Back at the hostel, Bianca and I had a little less than 2 hours to kill. So what did we do? We found out the hostel had a sweet collection of Disney movies and watched The Little Mermaid. It was so cool because just the day before we were saying how much we wanted to watch that movie! We totally sang along the whole time.

Following our childhood reenactment we headed off to the taxi stand to get to Cinkase. We had to wait a while for the taxi to fill up and boy did it fill up. They put two people in the front seat and four crammed in the back. It was absurdly tight. In addition, one of the woman in the back seat with us had a very newborn baby with her. I thought it was insane she was traveling with a baby that small!

Back in Cinkase we walked to immigration office. We had a similar experience with the taxi moto guys charging us when the car pulled up. But before Bianca would even got out I leaned over and yelled “NO!” out the window at them. They backed off really fast. My very serious, don’t mess me, “NO!” has that effect on people. Anyway, during the epic walk back to the border I really had to go to the bathroom. But FYI, there are no public toilets. There are rarely toilets at all and so the people that have them hardly make them public. I knew my options were limited, so I took my chances and asked the border police if I could use their bathroom. Sure enough they said, “Yes.” I was totally surprised, but very pleased as they had a flushing toilet which was clean and had toilet paper. You never know until you ask.

From the Togo immigration office we headed back across the border to Burkina. We thankfully had no problems. Since I was leaving in two days, I was a little nervous about having problems with immigration. I wanted to be able to go home! Once we checked in at the bus station, we found more water, and then I ordered spaghetti for lunch. It was cutting it close for the bus departure, but I was so hungry. The bus on the way back was the small size which I tend to prefer because I feel like they go faster. The driver seemed to be a pretty aggressive man, which I thought boded well for him driving quick and getting back to Ouagadougou in good time. NOT! He was so slow! He kept on stopping at random villages just to say hi to people. All the while there is a storm rolling in from the East. It normally takes 2.5 hours to get to the halfway point. It took us 3.25 hours! 45 minutes longer than it should have. 45 minutes crammed in those buses in nothing to dismiss lightly. Anyway, we are on our way to Ouaga from Koupeala and the driver stopped and got out again. As I said this was not unusual. However, he pulled over again like 2 minutes later and everybody has to get out of bus. We had a flat tire! Doah! Add to that the fact that the rain is coming quickly and you have a recipe for two unhappy white girls. We could feel the cold wind coming. At the first few drops, Bianca and I get on the bus. The problem was everybody followed us. This was bad because the jack was still under the bus. They got everybody else off again, but Bianca and I stayed on, we were not about to go get wet. We got off the bus at the first Ouagadougou stop, the Gare de l’Est where Ben and Reid came to pick us up. They were a few minutes late because they went the wrong way which meant we had to wait in the eerie post rain dark in not such a great area.

Final note about the bus… partway through the trip, some guy got several people to move so he could sit next to Bianca and I. I was not pleased by this. He started trying to talk to me and I just ignored him completely. Not even a response. I was not in the mood to talk especially when this person made other people move just so he could come sit by us. Not cool. After his first attempt to start a conversation in French failed, about 45 minutes later he tried starting a conversation in English. Again, I simply ignored him. I’m not necessarily proud of this, but I really just want to illustrate that I learned I don’t have to respond to people if I don’t want to. After I wouldn’t talk to him, he started singing Jesus songs in English in a low voice. That did it for me. I was thinking, “Seriously!” To top it off he looked a lot like my friend Pascal from 2iE who is nice, but just doesn’t get it. I was happy to get off of that bus.

Anyway, Ben and Reid picked us up. We were tired and gross from traveling. However, it was Ben’s last night in Ouaga. He was headed back to the US for 3 weeks that night on the Air Maroc flight. We went back to their house and they had dinner of rice and brochettes ready. Yum! We hung out for a long time. I was able to check my email which was important because I had a lot going on in the next two days before I left. However, one email I feel compelled to share was one from Pascal. He thought I was already gone and wrote me this very nice, but unwanted email about how much he will miss me. He even attached a picture of himself to the email. Wow. This was in addition to a text message I received before I left for Togo again saying how happy he was to meet me and how he will miss me forever… Oye!

At Ben and Reid’s house we chilled through dessert and tea, then the power went out. Lovely. Again, the powers that be were just making sure I got the full Africa experience in my last few days on the continent. At 11:30, I asked Ben to drive us home since I was really tired and still wanted to pack that night. They drove us home and I said good bye to the guys. They had been really great friends to have! At home, after showering I should have gone to bed, but instead I stayed up until 2:30am going through my life in Burkina Faso and packing. I got pretty much all of it done which would prove to be very helpful. Bianca slept on the couch at my house again that night. She could have stayed at Leanna’s but we planned to make French toast in the morning so she camped out at 2iE for one last night.

Tuesday morning the French toast making was a huge success, despite the fact that we had to go use the communal kitchen next door because I still didn’t have a new gas tank for my stove. On the way over we saw Namaro and asked him about it. He gave us some lame excuses, but really there is no excuse. He should have had it changed already, it was 5 days since I first told him about it…Anyway, as we were eating breakfast, the tailor came by. The green dress I was really skeptical about came out great! I was really excited. The dress he was copying wasn’t such a success. He still needed to work on the sleeves. I tried it on, he took some measures, and assured me he would be back that night to drop it off. He also asked for money to pay for gas to get there and back. I didn’t really care so I gave him some. Also, I think he may have showed up the night before looking for me because I told him, and thought myself, that we would be back earlier than we ended up getting back.

I went into work about 8:00am which was part of my plan. I went to check in on the pay check situation. The guy told me I needed some document from the bank proving I didn’t have a loan out! Are you serious?! Okay, no problem. I was going to go to the bank to close my account anyway, I will just go right now and do it and bring them the paper after lunch. I was planning on making up a poster about Jstor that morning, but instead I spent it waiting at the bank. I went to the main branch because last time I had to go there anyway. I was told I have to write a letter asking them to close my account. There was no form and I am like, 1. Where do I get the paper? and 2. My French isn’t really good enough to be writing something like that… When I finally got someone to help me, I learned it would be 2 weeks to verify my account was closed or at least two days to get the no loan verification. I HATE African bureaucracy. And to add insult to injury it was going to cost me about $20 to close my account. What would have happened if I just took out all my money and left, I don’t know. But frankly I’m not a fan of messing with that sort of thing in a place like Burkina Faso. Anyway, after all that they then tell me I have to go to the branch where I opened my account. Are you kidding!? No, they weren’t.

What was I going to do? I was very worried about this stuff, but I had my last tennis lesson that morning at 10:15am. I decided to go to the tennis and leave by 11:05am to get to the other bank before it closed at 11:30am for the afternoon break. I HATE the African time schedule… Besides it was my LAST lesson; I had to go! I tried very hard to be focused, but it was very tough. However, I gave it my best, best effort and it was fun, even though I had to leave a little early to get to the branch office before it closed! When I got to the branch office I had a long meeting the accounts manager guy. He was not all that helpful and the number of people he called in the time span of our meeting was absurd! No one knew what the other was doing… At the end, I did submit my demand to close the account. I got no promise for the official document, but I did get an account activities report print out. I was hoping that would work. I should also mention at this point I am wearing my nasty tennis clothes. I felt rather out of place. In any case, I brought the print out back to 2iE and gave it to the secretary explaining the situation. She said if there was a problem she would call. I was expecting to get my check the next morning.

I went home, showered, ate lunch, went back to the office to send some emails, then happily awaited my last French lesson. It was great! No exercises, just a nice French conversation where my teacher asked me all sorts questions about my time in Africa. It was sweet. At 3:00pm I was supposed to have a meeting with the director. That didn’t happen. It kept getting pushed back until it was time for the farewell cocktail party they were throwing for me… Even that got pushed back 30 minutes. I had planned to slip out of 2iE pretty quietly. While this was not quite, it was actually really nice. The director, Yezouma, and Konate all said some very kind words. There were refreshments as well as tons of presents for me. It was amazing. I got a table cloth, an African dress and necklace, a tourag box, a leather imprint picture, and a beautiful large batik. The funny thing is the gifts were all things I wished I could have bought for myself but didn’t feel like I could justify spending that much money on. It was great! I felt very good as I said good bye to everyone. I had been doubting my contribution to 2iE, wondering if I had made any sort of an impact. I guess I had! I also wore my new green dress for the event. What you do you think?
That night after the cocktails I went to dinner at Gondwana’s with Susan, Bianca, Keith and Sheryl at Gondwana’s. I had been looking forward to this goodbye dinner for quite some time. I planned to order the taxi burger… the epic burger of Burkina Faso. Not even on the menu this is 4 full size patties with cheese. It is literally about 10 inches tall named after the taxi buses which stack cargo to unimaginable heights. I was totally geared up to eat one all by myself. However, I only got half way through and then hit a wall. I cut off a small piece for Bianca and that gave me the inspiration to keep going. All the sudden I was done! It was amazing. I had conquered the taxi burger! Originally, Bianca and I had planned to watch a movie Tuesday night, but I thought better of it. I needed to finish up life stuff and wanted to get a decent amount of sleep. Bianca slept at Leanna’s for the night. I went to bed at a reasonable time and for my last night in Africa, I slept very well.

Wednesday June 25, 2008. That date had been engraved into my mind. There were times when I thought it would never come. There were times when I willed it to come sooner. And now it was here. I can’t be sure if it was nerves or the massive hamburger I ate the night before, but I woke up on Wednesday feeling not all that great. In fact, I had no appetite what so ever and when I thought about food it gave me nausea. My stomach would knot up and then relax again in waves. It was not fun. Anyway, I had to get on with my life. I was leaving Ouagadougou that night! My plan was to get up early to get my check, go to the bank, go change my money, run my errands and get to the pool. Unfortunately, Africa had other plans for me. The first issue was that there was no check waiting for me. Apparently the boss said the record I gave him was not good enough. They were seriously going to make me go back to the bank, when I was certain it wouldn’t do any good and just waste the limited time I had left. I said I wanted to talk to the boss. No problem, except he wasn’t in yet! Oh and the guy who I saw last Friday had the nerve to tell me I should have closed my account earlier. Um, no. If I needed something more, YOU should have told me that when I came in to see you last Friday. Don’t make it seem like I should have known it would take 2 weeks to close a bank account. In America, it takes all of 30 seconds.
I was all fired about this, but decided to go back to my office and chill. I chilled reassessed my situation and went to the library to show the librarian how to use Jstor. As I was walking over I saw the financial bosses car pull up. I quickly showed the librarian the neat features of the website and then went straight back to the financial office. I had every intention of making myself a nuisance until I was paid. After waiting like 15 minutes, the boss came out and told me he will try and call Bank of Africa to verify I didn’t take out any loans. The reason why the yneeded to verify this was that if I had taken out a loan and left town the bank would come knocking on their door. It is a legit concern, but also a stupid one because why in the heck would I take out a loan. I can hardly get my own money out without a myriad of issues springing up… So the guy calls, and no one is available. They are in meetings until 11. I lost it a little bit, but figured I could wait until 11. If after 11 there was still no movement, I would go see the director who told me yesterday to go see him if I had problems getting my last paycheck. He said he had already approved it. In the mean time, the boss’s assistant gave me my pay bulletin. This was when I learned that I was getting paid twice as much money as I expected because of vacation pay! WOwowowow! Talk about an amazing blessing!

I went back to my office feeling both utterly frustrated, yet overjoyed at my discovery of a “bonus”. I stopped by and saw Konate. I explained the problem to him and my one consolation was that according to Konate this guy does this to everyone. So it wasn’t just me getting the short end of the stick. Really though, how would they have paid me after I left? I surely wouldn’t have forgotten the money and it would have made more work for them!

Anyway, I resigned to wait until 11. In the mean time I called Bianca and asked her to come over. We went through my kitchen stuff dividing it up. Then we started watching a movie called Dan in Real Life. I got it from Ben who loved it. Wouldn’t you know, just as we start the movie, it starts raining! Sad. No pool I guess... The rain made it hard to hear the TV sound, and it was still down pouring as 11:00am rolled around. How was I going to get to the office again? I waited until 11:30am. The rain had slowed, but not stopped. I put on my rain coat and decided to brave the elements to get my paycheck. This time when the boss called the Bank of Africa he got through. He wrote up the form and I was able to go to the money lady at the school and get cash instead of having to go to the bank to cash a check. Yeah! Walking back to my house at that moment I was full of joy and didn’t even care that it was still raining. I had gotten paid, and I was leaving that night to go home!

I got back and we finished the movie. I couldn’t eat anything for lunch because my stomach was still upset. I thought maybe a little exercise would help shake out any thing that might be bothering my stomach so I did a short workout routine. By 3:00pm, the rain finally slowed to a mist and Bianca and I decided to brave the conditions to run my last errands. I bought my spotted ceramic chickens, changed my money, and picked up two other little trinkets. We also stopped by Helvetas and SIM to drop off some stuff I had promised to get to Nicolas and Rosie. Oh, side note: At first I couldn’t find the change bureau I was looking for so we stopped in to Bank of Africa. Their rate was worse than I had anticipated and I was ticked off at them about my account stuff, so I left. After leaving the bank I was able to locate the place I went to change my money when I first got to Burkina. The place had a worse rate, but with my new knowledge of Bank of Africa’s price I was actually able to negotiate an even better rate than at Band of Africa. It was a pretty solid moment for me…p.s. when I first came to Burkina the dollar could buy 445CFA today you can only get 390CFA. What is going on!?

Anyway, after SIM we dropped our bikes at the Burg’s house and walked back to the main road. We stopped at Prix Bas looking for oatmeal for Bianca. This was third boutique we stopped at and we had all but given up hope, when voila, they had it! From there we took a taxi back to the University. I wouldn’t have been unbearable to walk, but we tired. Walking back to 2iE from where the taxi dropped us off, I picked up some credit for my phone to leave on my card for Hahna. I also passed Susan as she was headed for her class and gave her a final good bye hug.

Back home I was able to see that the dirt and water that splashed up my back from my biking adventure was way worse than I had imagined… That is why I put on grubby clothes when we went out. I knew they would be gross when we were finished. Anyway, I showered and then went to my office a final time to email my parents and finalize things. On my way back I called Nancy Burg and told her she could head on over to pick us up. It was so nice she came to get us! We first stopped by Leanna’s house to drop off all the stuff Bianca was going to keep. Then we went to the Burg’s house for a lovely dinner. I was surprisingly able to eat. I hadn’t had much all day so I was surely hungry. I was just glad my stomach agreed that I should eat.

At about 8:30pm we left for the airport. I was nervous about my bags being overweight. I had no scale to use when I was packing. However, in general I am an okay estimator of those sorts of things. Just to make sure everything was good Nancy, Diana, and Bianca waited for me to check in and come back out and tell them the status. Turns out you get a
22.5 kg allowance. My heaviest bag was 21.7kg. Amazing! I just have a sixth sense for packing 50 pound bags! Check-in went really fast and I had no word on my large basket carry-on. I went back outside to say goodbye. It was weird. I was happy to be going home, but also sad knowing that this chapter of my life had ended.

Back in the airport I filled out the Burkina Faso immigration card. When I started there was no one in line. But Wham, as soon as I finish, there is a team of like 30 people who got in line. My heart sank. What should have been 5 minute wait was 25 minutes… I was still was doing fine with time. I got through customs no problem. The only bad part about the whole travel thing was that the security took the baby giraffes that I had packed in carry-on. I was unaware that you couldn’t pack bronze in your carry-on. I guess they count it as a weapon. Watch out, my baby giraffes are really dangerous! (NOT!) I was so sad, but didn’t want to mess with trying to get them into my other luggage which had already been checked and done. I did not want to mess up getting home.

I thankfully had an aisle seat on the airplane. Funny enough, sitting next to me on the plane where three kids whose mother was behind me in line through security and clearly did not grasp the idea of personal space if you know what I mean. I stayed up for dinner, but then fell fast asleep. I didn’t wake up until we were in Paris! It was great. In Paris, the flight to New York was in the same terminal as where we arrived. While I did have to wait a long time to go through security again, no terminal change meant I didn’t have to wait in the immigration lines again. Phew! While I was waiting near the gate, I sat and worked on my final Africa Update email.

On the flight to New York I got an excellent window seat with no one in the middle. The only downside was that Paris to New York is a long flight! I read, watched a movie, ate, slept and we still had 3.5 hours to go. The first movie I watched was Fool’s Gold. The second movie was 10,000BC. Both were pretty bad. I felt like I got really shafted with the plane entertainment this time. But whatever, I was just so happy when our plane finally landed. I went right through customs, no problems :) I rechecked my bags and went to the domestic Delta terminal. There was no line at security and there was, to my luck, pay phones right across from gate that I used to call my parents. The only bad thing was that it was a really small plane and my basket did not fit in the over head bins. It was a bit of hassle to figure out how to make it work, but I did. Oh, and there was a lady was sitting my seat! Like, really, please don’t assume I don’t want my window seat. It is a little presumptuous and makes me seem like the bad guy for asking for my rightful seat… The small plane made for a long flight. I read a lot, but otherwise just tried not to get too excited as the Chicago skyline came into view! My parents met me at the bottom of the stairs leading to the baggage claim. It was so nice! My luggage came out right away and we were on our way home…

Home. I could have kissed the ground, did actually but not literally. Kissed my hand then touched the ground; you get the idea. I quickly showered and then headed back off in the car to see Ryan at his Boy Scott Camp in Michigan. It might seem a bit weird to get off the plane and then into a car to drive for an hour and half again, but my parents were going anyway. I got to see Jordan when I got home, but Ryan was obviously still at Camp… I could have sat at home or I could go along and sit in the car with my parents. I chose the later which was a great idea. The Boy Scout Camp had a very nice authentic American feeling which was awesome. I stayed up until 10:15pm at which point I crashed pretty hard. Lying down in the back seat, I was out like a light bulb in Africa when the power goes out. When we got home I showered one more time and then crawled into my princess bed which had been waiting for me for nine long months! Wait no more. I slept with reckless abandon, safe and secure in MY room, in MY house, with MY family.

I love home.


The next post will be my Togo pictures. After that there will be one more follow up, wrap up post… so stayed tuned!