The First Day - Saturday, June 4

One day in Togo. I made it! So far everything seems great, yet surreal. It is hard for me to believe I am in Africa. In some ways, it feels like a place I never went to in the US. 

We when arrived, we were greeted at the airport by three current Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and some staff from the Peace Corps office. We did not see the entire airport but were instead shuttled to a "VIP" lounge. The PC staff told us that only dignitaries to the country and PCVs get to see that space. It is comparable to a large lounge in the US, with couches, tables, and even flat screen TVs.

After spending about an hour or so at the airport to collect our luggage, we were driven to a hotel in the city. There we met some more Peace Corps staff and ate dinner. The food resembled American pizza, french fries, and meat on sticks. Of course, I did not eat any meat, but I am pretty sure it was chicken and beef. Instead, I ate the pizza and french fries. The pizza was made with the traditional tomato sauce plus olives and a few pieces had sausage. The french fries were made with local yams (yellow in color, not orange like the states). Both were pretty tasty.

After dinner some of the volunteers were taken to a second hotel because there were only seven rooms at the first. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky ones that got a room downstairs. No lugging my 67-pound suitcase upstairs! 

The hotel was modest but still quite nice. My room had its own bathroom, closet/storage space, two tables (one with a small TV), an end table, and a full size bed (equipped with a mosquito net).

Each day of training begins at 7 a.m. with breakfast and lasts until about 5 or 6 p.m. In the morning we walk less than a quarter mile to the Peace Corps office. The weather so far is cool but humid which makes for a nice walk. Today was cooler than the first night with some wind. 

Here the roads here are sandy and dusty. Our route takes us past local houses where we see many Togolese outside their homes working. Some sell food, craft/textile type items, and some just sit.

Our training sessions so far have been about safety, security, and health (which includes vaccinations each day until Wednesday). Even though we are busy learning about procedures for the Peace Corps Togo all trainees spend pretty much all of our day together. So in those brief few hours, minutes, or moments of downtime, we talk! It's interesting to realize that we know some much, yet so little about each other.

In the same way I know this post has covered a lot, yet so little so if you have any questions, please feel free to comment, or e-mail me about them!


  1. Anonymous06 June, 2011

    Hi Lydia,
    Great to know you got there safely. I know the next few weeks will be intense, but it sounds like you are excited to be there. It will be fun to keep up with your blog and hear about life in Togo.

    Kristin Smith

  2. Hey, if you get a chance, I'd love to see some pictures!

    So glad things are going well. How long will you be in the hotel before going to live with your host family?

  3. Anonymous10 June, 2011

    Sorry for such a late reply. I moved in with my host family last week in a city called Tsevie. There is not internet at the Peace Corps office here, so I have to use internet cafes. At least until August, my posts may be few and far between. However, I will definitely keep writing/typing, to upload things in bulk. I have taken some photos, and even made a video so far.

    Lydia Grate

  4. Anonymous11 June, 2011

    Hey girl!
    I'm super happy you made it safely and are enjoying yourself! I hope everything stays well! We miss ya here back home!

    Love ya

  5. The Henrys15 June, 2011

    Hey Lydia! We are thinking about you! We hope your transition is going smoothly! Is there anything you need or wish you had brought with you? We will send it to you!!

    :-) Clay and Tiffany

  6. Anonymous15 June, 2011

    I finally found your blog and it is such a treat to know you are ok and having a good experience. Not only is this an interesting thing to do, but you write so well I can actually envision what you are talking about. I'm so proud you are my friend!
    Good luck with mosquito nets and shots-that part does not sound fun!
    Love, Savanna

  7. Thanks everyone!

    So far, the only thing I really miss from the US is running water. XD

    I will definitely let you know if I need anything later though, Tiffany!

  8. Linda Bean21 June, 2011

    Lydia - So great to hear things are going well. I love your vivid descriptions of your surroundings and experiences. You will definitely have a story to tell or a book to write when you return home to us. I will also try to provide you with a vivid picture - it is HOT in Arkansas. so hot that when you walk outside the heat rises from the grass and the pavement. Even the birds are using do-rags to keep cool. We have promise of rain today but it has not happened yet, but at least it is a little cooler.

    Tomorrow is the halfway point for summer one. The time is passing quickly. I miss you already and every once in a while, I think I hear you coming down the hallway to my office.

    Take care of yourself. I always knew running water was important. That is why I never go camping without staying in a hotel.

  9. Dr. Bean, I miss you too! I hope everything is going well with Lindsey and the new SIFE team.

    Luckily, the weather has cooled down a lot here since we first arrived. We are in rainy season, but it usually only rains a few days a week here, and usually not for a long time. Just enough to cool things down. While it might be cooler than Arkansas now, we will definitely be getting some heat during the dry season. Haha.

    Oh, and I now officially know that my post will have electricity and running water!