This past weekend, Emily and I planned to head to Lome, the capital of Togo. This was a trip with a three-fold purpose: to take a work team back so they could catch a flight home, to pick up the ABWE Project Office Director from the airport, and to get groceries. Mostly, I wanted to buy groceries.
The plan was that we would leave early Thursday morning, head south with the team, drop them off in Tsiko so they could head home, stay overnight, grocery shop all day Friday, pick up Bill from the airport, and then head home early Saturday morning. It was a good plan and were so excited to head to a REAL grocery store and eat at REAL restaurants, and stay at a hotel with AIR CONDITIONING!!
The problem was that I wasn't feeling so well a couple of days before we left. I had what we like to call "Togo Tummy." The day before we left I started on a medication for "traveler's diarrhea" hoping that it would take care of my little problem.
(For those of you who are already shaking your heads at me because of previous stories similar to this, all I can say is "I know. I should've known better.")
I told Emily that I had a little problem but she convinced me that everything would be a-okay, so I hopped in the van early Thursday morning with high hopes of a successful weekend of shopping in the big city. Alas, it was not to be.
In our big hospital van was me, Emily and the six men we were taking south. Now remember, a trip to Lome is about a 10 hour drive. In Africa. On terrible roads. With NO service centres. Thankfully, however there is a lot of long grass on the sides of the roads. Sadly, within the first two hours of our trip, Emily had to pull over FIVE times for me. I had to run out, hide in the long grass (which is super freaky when you're talking long grass in Africa ~ snakes, bugs, scorpions are all readily available here!), do my business, adjust my skirt and head back to the van, where I then picked out of my skirt the grass and seed pods that were attached to me. It was awful. By the time we arrived in Kara, to the first real bathroom on the trip, I was thinking Nate should just come and get me. But Em is a very convincing woman and she talked me into getting back into the van, because really, at that point, what did I have to lose?
It was about another hour or so down the road when I required stops number six and seven. And by that point, Emily and I were laughing so hard at what was transpiring that we just figured it would make a really good blog post when I got home. (IF I got home....)
After that, things settled down a little and we made it to Tsiko, where we dropped the men off, and stayed the night. Thankfully there is a doc who lives there and he gave me some hard-core-amoeba-killing medication for me to start asap. The problem with this medication is that it makes a horrible metal taste in your mouth from the moment you pop the first pills. So for the rest of the trip, not only was I afraid to eat ANYTHING, but anything I did put in my mouth tasted like I had been chewing on a rusty pop can.
When we finally arrived in Lome on Friday morning, we were told that it just so happened to be Tabaski, a Muslim holiday that celebrates when Abraham offered up his son Ishmael (????) and that all the stores would be closed. UNBELIEVABLE! Just at this point in time, the song "Momma Said There Would Be Days Like This" came on, and Emily and I started to laugh so hard.
We decided that our mothers never told us there would be days that we would have to drive 10 hours in Africa just to get groceries while stopping numerous times on the side of the road to poop, only to arrive in the city to find out that the traffic was horrible because it was a Muslim holiday and that all the stores would be closed. I am sure my mother never said a word about this.
BUT...all was not lost because GOD IS GRACIOUS! We were able, through a series of events, to find out that a couple of stores were open until one o'clock. So we headed right over and shopped for FOOD! Real wonderful glorious food!
Look what they have in Lome:
I didn't buy any Ben and Jerry's but I SO wanted to! First of all, I decided against eating for the weekend for several reasons and second, it would never have made the trip north, even in our super duper coolers.
Here's our first two carts! By the time we were done we had five of these babies loaded down:
Here's Emily with a half loaf of "Harry's American White Bread." This little loaf can be yours for the low, low price of $11 US:
And here's my grocery bill! Good thing that's in CFA's or Nate would have been a tad upset!
We left the grocery store and headed to our hotel, crashed for a couple of hours and then picked Bill up from the airport. We had a nice dinner with him and then went back to the hotel, where we settled in for the night. We got up early this morning and Emily bravely drove the 10 hours back north. It is such an exhausting trip! But it's over. And the pantry is stocked. And I am feeling MUCH better.