Posted by: jodentz | November 12, 2011

Rogue Sorcerers On The Loose In The Moyen-Mono

Today, while I did not do very much for reasons which I will soon divulge, I did learn a lot of interesting things. Interesting fact number one: You can get a yeast infection in your stomach. How do I know this you may ask yourselves? Well, as it happens I am the one on the unhappy end of that discovery and while I’m not sure what is technically considered an infection, I’m sure that “Levures bourgeonantes” or budding yeast particles are not the type of thing that I want working themselves through my digestive track. Needless to say, this has negatively affected the quality of my day, but so it goes in Africa.

Fun fact number two: there are two women in a village nearby, one who claims an age of 183 and still going strong and her daughter of 164 years, both in perfectly good health. I questioned my friend about this as it would seem the likelihood of one person living almost two centuries seems quite impossible nevermind a mother-daughter couple pulling off it together. Good genetics I mused? “No,” he said, “someone cast a spell on the family. They look for death but cannot find him.” Someone call Dr. Kavorkian? I pointed out that it would seem odd that people have been searching since the dawn of humankind for such a way to extend life for a century and yet these two women do not enjoy it? This is especially interesting considering that the average life span in Africa is 57 and the women are both still in good health. I said that this sorcerer should market this curse of his and that as a small enterprise development consultant I would be more than happy to lend my services towards his cause. Of course I was joking and there is a more logical explanation for the two womens’ advanced age. In the past, and even up to present times, birth certificates have not been issued as regularly as one would expect and therefore age is often calculated (or miscalculated?) based on events or a rough timeline. Actually, I just found out this week as well that because of this, people had trouble determining when to send their children to school. Officially the age is six but as people didn’t keep track of birthdays they developed a test. When the child could reach over their head with one arm and touch their opposite ear then they were old enough to start school. I found a few people who recalled the procedure for me with a few good laughs.

Interesting pieces of gossip numbers three: The gossip running around my prefecture is that there is a sorcerer on the loose (who knows, maybe it’s the same one who cursed the two previous women-there are some similarities in the case). The story is that this past week a mother and daughter were walking to their field together. The daughter calls back to the mother that something bit her on the ankle. Though the mother is behind the daughter she didn’t see anything and asked what it was that bit her. Then she herself gets bit by something that is never seen. Both women ended up passing away. Due to the mysterious nature of the bites everyone is attributing this happening to voodoo, as is normal in my region.

Fact four: The nice dreadlocked fou (a fou is someone considered mentally not all there-not dangerous in any way) who everyone refers to as Rasta Man apparently was not always a fou. Though he now wanders around village mumbling and with voodoo items sticking out of his coat (I guess no one has yet thought to implicate him in the voodoo fountain-of-youth scheme), he apparently used to have a family, and quite a large family for that matter including four different wives and a number of children. I myself was quite surprised to hear this.

Fact wise that is about it as of late. On the work front, we held our third village cleaning/development day. We got about 250 people this time around bringing the total to slightly less than 1500 people that will have participated over the course of the month and a half. We scheduled another for the coming week as well. So overall I’d say the project is going well. During this past day we even killed a huge snake which is pictured above. By huge I mean that they measured it and it was roughly 2 meters long (over 6ft). And this was not a python, it was a highly poisonous viper that popped out of some hole and tried to bite more than one person before a group of able-bodied, shovel wielding men came and put an end to the drama. Surely the snake was taken off somewhere and prepared as someone’s dinner. I know more than a few people, myself included, who would have bought the snake for just such a purpose. Otherwise, it’s just a few routine things that have been occupying my time. It is crazy to think that I have little more than half a year left of my Peace Corps service-December will be my 19th month in country. Once the New Year hits it’s just a countdown till the end, especially considering my plans to be in Morocco for three weeks. But until then, I will continue to enjoy this simple life where often the biggest local scandal involves voodoo and my biggest daily concern is determining what to cook and how much to buy so that it will not go bad due to lack of refridgeration. And with regards to that impending decision about my future, well, a wise fellow once said that when you come to a fork in the road you should take it. Well, I plan on taking it, I’m just not yet sure where to. That being said, I do hope everyone at home is well. I heard about the storm that hit the northeast a bit back and that some people were without electricity for a week. Du courage. Now we can share stories of what it’s like to live without electricity 🙂 Anyways, take care all.

Oh and of course, it’s been a while since I’ve stated it so I will say again that the stories, opinions, and everything else in this blog is mine and does not represent the views of Peace Corps Togo or Peace Corps as a whole.

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