My First Togo Blog

My first chance to blog since arriving at post:

Landing in Togo.

We’re here! The flight was long and tiring but thankfully uneventful. About sixteen hours in total. Dulles gave us a bit of grief about Winston’s weight but after some passionate discussions with managers and powers that be, we were allowed on the plane with our beloved furbaby. I was pretty upset and quite sick from the idea that he might not be able to get on the plane with us and cargo wasn’t an option since we did not have a hard carrier with us. I think half of what changed their minds was the fact that I looked as if I was going to retch on their luggage scale. The seats were tight and leg room was scarce but the flight attendants were kind and attentive, they fed us what seemed like a billion times and the food was quite good for the most part.

The landing in Charles de Gaulle airport was smooth and we had just enough time to grab some water and look around a bit before our flight to Lome began boarding. While in CDG I saw a woman wearing skinny jean overalls (Sorry Alex, I think our business plan is a bust, the Europeans beat us to the market punch. I bet the Williamsburgers are already ordering skinny’alls© in every imaginable colour and pairing them with a straw hat, drawn on freckles and clove flavored piece of ‘hay’ to chew on.)

By the time we boarded the flight to Lome, I was so exhausted I actually managed to sleep most of the flight. I am usually much too keyed up to sleep but I was glad for the three to four hours I caught. Once we arrived in Lome at the Gnassingbe International airport of Lome, we were met by a co-worker who came to pick us up and the handler who took care of getting our visas processed and grabbed our baggage. D and I were so thankful for the help of our co-worker and the handler. Entering the country was definitely a completely different process than any other time I had traveled abroad. There was no waiting in line as passports were stamped and paperwork perused. Instead we were put in a room with others entering the country and waited as the handler did all the talking and passport showing.

Once we were done with the airport, we were loaded into the waiting vehicle and taken to our new home (which is beautiful) and then out to dinner at a local Indian restaurant with some of D’s other co-workers. Although we were exhausted from the travel, it was great to meet people we will be working and living closely with for the next two years. It was important to push ourselves to stay up as long as possible and help our adjustment to Togo time.

Saturday we were invited to a co-worker’s home for a cookout and good company. He also showed us around the neighborhood a bit and gave us tips on great places to shop and dine out. Later that night we had (surprisingly delicious) pizza at a local restaurant with other co-workers. By the time we headed home that night we slept soundly but also very happy with how welcoming our new home was proving itself to be. We were able to walk home through our neighborhood for the first time that day and it really helped to make the move seem real.

Sunday morning we roused ourselves and managed our first trip to the grocery store. We were both very surprised at how many familiar items and brands were available and all the new items that we wanted to try. That afternoon we had another get together with co-workers and it was lovely to spend time with co-worker’s children and animals. The weather here is beyond lovely, especially in the afternoon. This is considered the cold season in Lome, so it is possible to sit outside without sweating miserably as we had in DC. It will definitely get hotter later in the year but I have been assured it never goes above 98°. Considering DC has lingered between 95 and up for most of the Spring and Summer, I think we can handle that.

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Step by Step Photo Journey of Reupholstering a Chair!

Step one: Get an awesome chair with potential:

Front view

Awesome barrel chair from JUNK in NYC

Back view

View from the back.

Step two: Buy supplies and tear it apart (carefully)

The stuffing was totally gross and mostly disintegrated. I think some might have been horse hair! Yuck!

Lots of icky stuff inside

Almost there!
Completely bare!
Almost finished! Just need to put on the trim and tacks!
Finished product! Hooray!
Close up of the fabric! Elephants!

The End

Here are some of my disjointed thoughts as departure day got closer and closer!

It is here! We will board the plane tonight (August 9th) and land in Togo tomorrow! Oh my goodness! So excited!!!!!!


“Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.” Lewis Carroll

Lately I have felt very much like Alice as she tumbled down the rabbit hole. D and I have prepared this whole year for moving to Togo and now when it is finally within reach and becoming very very real, I find myself on very unstable ground. The Oakwood apartment that has been our homestead for this past year is no longer ‘our home’. I am anxious to move into our new home in Togo but there is also a supremely large part of me that is scared straight with all the changes that are coming to us. New continent, new job (hopefully), new friends and all on unfamiliar terrain.

I dread those first few days where I will be without internet or phone, in an unfamiliar land, without connection to the world that has always been known to me.  I try to reason with myself: it shouldn’t be that scary. After all, I lived a life of disconnection and seclusion for nearly the first twenty years of my life. I’ve lived in tiny hollows on the side of a mountain and deep in a valley where the mountains towered above, blocking out cell phone reception and rogue wireless internet signals. Laughing in the face of modern technologies. It wasn’t until college that I had regular access to the internet and I’ve only had a cell phone since senior year of undergrad. But I have also never faced a gulf between friends and loved ones like this before either. It is a daunting proposition.

I will have to put far more effort into making phone calls at odd hours of the night. For those who know me well, they know just how much I loath talking on the phone. But it will be a necessary inconvenience as many of my close family members are not internet savvy and thus unable to email, Facebook or read this blog. Also, it is just nice to hear loved one’s voices. There is also the knowledge that losing family members while I am away is a very real possibility and so each goodbye is is filled with uncertainty as to if or when I will get another hello. The possibility that I will be unable to pay my final respects. These are all realities of this chosen lifestyle.

I am certainly not a stranger to new beginnings but this one is going to be a doozy.

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OMG!!!!!  BUY ALL THE THINGS AT COSTCO!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, if I can give you one bit of advice from personal experience. Do not, please, DO NOT schedule your DMV driving test the same day that you plan on shopping for bras (super stressful, amiright, ladies?!) and doing your entire consumables shopping at COSTCO. It is not a good idea, it will not end well. I definitely failed my test that morning, the testing lady was SUPER mean and unprofessional and made me cry in the DMV parking lot. She definitely made me feel like the worst person in the world. Then we went bra shopping (UGH) and COSTO TRIP OF DOOM!!!!

By the time we got to Costco, I was so drained and zombie-fied and of course it was a Saturday, so the store was packed to the max! There is nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out how much shampoo you will need for two years while pushing a huge cart already filled to the max as others milled about me. D, my husband, tends to err on the side of conservative estimates and I tend to worry about not getting enough so we had to talk out most items and I had to fight my inner worry wort/anxiety demon that kept assuring me we were not going to buy enough of X amount of item and THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD END AND HAPPINESS WOULD DISAPPEAR AS WE KNOW IT! So yeah, stressful.

So, of course, once we finished shopping and paid at the register, everything was super simple. The Costco manager was expecting us, so he was able to have all of our stuff boxed up, crated and prepared for the shippers to pick it up the next business day. No fuss, no muss. The world did not end. Yet.

Then we went home and ate Chinese food (Happy Family!) and licked my wounds/vegged on the couch while watching crap tv.

This is what 405 lbs of kitty litter looks like!

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I reupholstered a chair!

So, we bought this barrel chair at JUNK in Brooklyn, NYC and I finally got around to reupholstering it! I think it came out pretty well for my first try!

My first attempt at reupholstering. It is a chair that is made out of an old bourbon or wine barrel

This is what it looked like before the big transformation:

The original chair.

I managed to finish the night before the movers came! Huzzah!

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Ahhh! The movers are here and they are taking all of our stuff! Bless my heart! I never realized how attached I was to THINGS until the packers came and carefully boxed everything up. I had to physically make myself sit on the couch and not get in their way and hover as they packed my spices and Kermit, my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer.

However, after the movers left, ZEN descended upon my being. It was out of my hands. And then an hour later I felt agitated again because I kept thinking of awesome things to cook and bake that involved all of my wonderful and beloved kitchen supplies. Yeah, I know, I’m crazy. Don’t judge! (Okay, you can judge, whatevs).

Also, I definitely have to call myself out for all my angst about the movers. They were totally awesome and efficient and I was totally WhiteWhining in my seperation anxiety/crazy/moving angst. Totally lame.

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3-5 days til flight!

I go from being agitated and wanting to be in Togo already to being quite calm about the whole situation. Lots of calls to family members and friends to say goodbyes. D and I both have a bit of a head cold/sinus thing, so lots of vegging. I am getting so excited about the teaching I will be doing and wondering what kind of classrooms I will get to teach in and what the kids will be like! Also, nervous! I am finally getting to teach!

August 6th- OUR ONE YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!!!! HOORAY!!!!!!!

August 7th- We had a lovely steak dinner and milkshakes at Ray’s to the Third to celebrate. Absolutely delicious! I highly recommend!

August 8th/9th- scurry to clean the apartment, repack the suitcases (since we have been living out of them), stress about flying with Sir Winston. We are taking him on the plane as carry on so I’ve been worried about having issues with that. Otherwise I am feeling really calm and excited about the journey to come! We are moving to Togo! Holy moly!

Let’s do this!

B