I’ve been back in the States for four days, and still a bit disoriented. What I’m realizing most is that I adjusted very quickly to being in Africa–the bucket showers (always cold water), the crowded vans, the lack of variety in the food (God help me if I eat another yam); what is surprising is my slow acclimation back in the States. We have so many things! American roads don’t have potholes (well, they’re a rarity, and they’re sure to be fixed)! We are so very privileged, and I’m still in shock when I drive my little Mini Cooper to notice how spacious and developed the urban landscape of Boston seems.
It’s a bit of a cliche, but I think you live closer to the Earth in Ghana or Togo. Using a latrine, without a flushing toilet, you can’t avoid the fact that you’re shitting in a hole in the ground. And when you forget to bring toilet paper, you’re really reminded how we take for granted clean restrooms everywhere in the States.
Also, I ate a lot–A LOT–of street food in Togo. I was never worried about getting sick; in fact, the food was more fresh and tasty. If I ate a kebab from a woman grilling it over an oil can in Badou, I knew that the beef was likely killed that morning, that any of the chickens running around the streets would soon be in my stomach, and that the food I ate didn’t magically appear in my deli case, wrapped in plastic and butchered so that the ugly parts of the chicken were out of sight.