Points of compass

The advocacy workshop ended on Wednesday afternoon on a high note with everyone knowing a little more about political advocacy. They also know more about the importance of knowing one’s audience and my colleagues are now quite at ease teaching the workshop again and again as needed. I rewarded myself with a dinner of foie gras accompanied by a delicious South African wine and nougat ice cream for dessert. This trip I will, once again, gain about 5 pounds although the foie gras may take me a little over.

Thursday morning I walked to the office to remove some of the foie gras and ice cream calories, knowing I would have the same meal again before boarding my flight to Paris and then to Togo.

The team that has been involved in the virtual leadership program that I facilitated between February and May is also the team I usually work with when in Tana. So we switched hats and they told me all about what the experience had been like on the other side of our virtual connection. The stories, including a short video that is still under construction, were heartwarming and inspiring. They showed one again that a virtual program can be just as motivating and transformative as a face to face program. This program, which is now in its second phase where the teams implement what they constructed during phase one is not over until September. At that time we will bring the teams together in a virtual event and learn what each has been able to accomplish.

I said my farewells took some time off to relax and listen to Harper Lee’s ‘To Set a Watchman,’  read by Ms Weatherspoon while finishing the cross stitch wall hanging that will be in the new baby’s room. Only the name and the date are missing. And then it was time to go for a wholenight and day in planes – from midnight, going from the east of Africa to the north (Charles de Gaulle), and then after a very brief touchdown, during the day, going south to West Africa, touching all the points of the compass.

The Tana-CDG flight remains an unpleasant affair in a overcrowded plane though this time without a 4 year old kicking and screaming next to me. All the babies on the plane were sound asleep by the time we took off at 3 AM. My neighbor was a man much too big for the seat but a trooper nonetheless, he didn’t move at all, mostly because he couldn’t. I slept half the trip and watched French comedies the other half.

On the Lome flight I was upgraded to premium economy which is a mini business class with its separate 3 row cabin and curtains to keep the riffraff out. I finished my trip report and watched more French comedies. It was a short flight, compared to the TNR-CDG ordeal. We arrived in chaotic and steamy Lome and we got to meet the new members of the team.

The hotel is within view of the beach but a dirty strip of marshy land separates us from the sandy beach. A watchman tells one not to go there. But the hotel has an Olympic size swimming pool. The hotel is a low stretched out structure, two stories high but with wide arms, embracing a lovely garden with the pool as centerpiece and looking out on the Bay of Benin with its enormous container ships passing on the horizon. There is plenty of seafood and other great French delicacies, though no foie gras. I see another 5 pounds iin my near future.

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