Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm in Accra, left site yesterday. The party turned out to be incredible. The week was stressful but worth it. I have to get a lot done in Accra so I'll write later but here's a picture.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I was at the internet cafe yesterday and I spent half an hour trying to do stuff online, none of which worked, including this blog. Most of the day had been frustrating. However, that is usually altered by someone, often my favorite guy in Cape Coast that sells Fan-ice (this really delicious frozen product, my favorite tastes like frozen grade school chocolate milk). So, I can't help but smile when the Fan-ice guy sees me because he gets excited - he knows I'll buy one.

Recently I was looking over my journals from the past two years. I didn't get very far but there was a theme early on (and throughout I'm sure) - 'Can I do this?' It feels good to know that I did do it. It wasn't always easy and to be honest, I'm pretty tired. It was worth it and it was an incredible experience. Here are some fun facts about the two years:

1422 Pictures taken
108 weeks in Ghana
101 books read
52 letters sent
26 new moons
17 shots received
9 (of 10) regions in Ghana visited
5 Tumbo flies removed
4 journals written
3 cat litters delivered
3 birthdays
3 beans grown and eaten (from my unsuccessful garden)
2 Christmas's
1 1/2 bottles of shampoo used
1 haircut in Ghana (and 1 in America last summer)
1 total solar eclipse
A few minor (okay maybe major) breakdowns
An infinite amount of laughter and memories

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I cannot believe how fast time is winding down. Where has it gone?

August and September have been whirlwinds. My last month, October, I can already feel will be busy and end quickly. I am trying to wrap things up, so far so good.

I, along with another volunteer, presented a Financial Management Training workshop in August. The workshop was geared towards community members who are involved on their community's tourism management teams. The TMT is the body that operates the community based tourism project. I really enjoyed the training and learning about the various sites and their locations and histories. It's unfortunate that this happened so late in my service but I am grateful that it happened. It also allowed me to get a start on making my way back into 'American life.' I haven't been a part of a group, organizing and presenting material in a long time, and I am very rusty.

Recently, my friend, Shawn, from Alaska, dropped by Ghana for a four day visit. It was a lot of fun. He was in South Africa for his job and was stuck there, doing nothing. So, he jumped on a plane and flew to Accra. I received his message on a Wednesday afternoon, cleaned up my room, and Thursday morning made my way to Accra. We hung out in Accra and Friday headed to Cape Coast and Kakum National Park. We had lunch with Dixie and then went to my village. It was a long day of traveling. Once at my site we briefly greeted a few people and then relaxed and went to sleep. We arrived in village around 6 pm so it was getting dark. I live by daylight hours - I wake around 530 to 6 and am ready for bed around 1830 to 1900 - asleep by 2100 usually. On Saturday morning we woke up, and started the day.

We greeted everyone, which took most of the day. Half way through we took a break and went to farm with Sister Nana and Kukua. Sister Nana was pulling some yams up so we just went to watch. We (okay, she) also picked some oranges. The farm is really close to my house so we went back home when we were finished. Not soon after Mabenna, Cecilia's daughter came to call us that Cecilia had started preparing the evening food - we had arranged to eat fufu with my friends Alex and Cecilia.

We get to their house and sit. After an hour or so, the pounding of the fufu is going to begin. Shawn was a true sport and participated, despite the audience. After a few hours we finally ate. Cecilia prepared a wonderful dinner - fufu, palm nut soup, fresh mushrooms and smoked fish. It was delicious. Shawn even ate fufu!

The next morning, we went to church. Afterwards we hung out at my house and 15 or so children hung out also. I had recently been given a frisbee by a tourist so Shawn played around with a bunch of the children. One girl, Lucy, was a lot of fun. She is about 9 or 10 years old and is REALLY bossy. She has a real attitude but it's refreshing and fun. She has a spunky spirit that is rare in my village for a girl her age.

Once we were all exhausted of frisbee, another girl, Rebecca, called us to eat dinner. She had invited us to eat plantain and stew. We went to her house and ate - we left very full. Before going home I wanted to go to Sister Nana and thank her for the previous day. We went to her house and she was preparing fufu. We soon noticed something dead next to her mud stove. She pulled it up and it was a freshly caught rat. Yippee!!! I was hoping Shawn would see a bush rat. So, her son, Moses, came and was preparing it. When he was nearly finished we started to leave, so that we could fetch a bucket of water before dark. She insisted that we stay and eat, but we were both really full from earlier, so we declined.

We fetched water and received a lot of attention from women in my village because I just stood back as Shawn, the man, carried my water. This doesn't happen!

We got home and Sister Nana and Kukua come over and bring us fufu. We were SO full! However, we found the room and ate her bush rat, light soup and fufu - worth it because delicious! Shawn then took the bowl back to the village and thanked her - we're still not quite sure how he made it there, but he did.

The next day the trip was over. We went to Accra and tooled around and he flew out. It was fun and fast. The community was so happy to welcome a visitor from 'my hometown.'

Now, the big news is that we're preparing for my 'send-off' party. I've arranged for speakers and a DJ and tomorrow will discuss purchasing a sheep to slaughter. We're all getting excited to have the big celebration. It's going to be hard to say good-bye but I am ready for something new. The party will show my appreciation to the community for their support and friendships over the last two years.

I recently made my way to Techiman to say goodbye to my homestay. The first of many goodbyes. It was a lot of fun to see my sister, who I haven't seen since leaving in November 2005. Dorothy looked fabulous and is working with a friend of hers, preparing and selling food. My brother is also working for a construction company on contract for a couple years. I was so happy to see them both doing well.

This month will be busy and fun. I'll try to update a lot this month - keep everyone posted.

My village has a new website -
Also, if you have Myspace, check out Shawn's blog from his trip. You can find him on my page and link up to him there (hope it's okay Shawn).

Take care! I'll be home before I know it!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Here are some pictures from Patrick's send-off - the instooling and the basketball game.

I have less than three months in country. I can't believe I will be leaving so soon. I have mixed feelings about going home. I'm excited to go back to the comforts of America, to family and friends but I'm sad that I will be saying good-bye to so many warm, friendly people. The majority of people I see everyday, I most likely will never see again. There is also some guilt - yes, I've been here for two years, but now, I am able to go back home, leaving this behind.

Well, let's get caught up with what has been happening the past 7 or so weeks.

I went on my vacation to Mali, via Burkina Faso. Another volunteer, Tim, and I went. I took off about three weeks, but was back in Ghana before my vacation was over. It was a great trip but I was happy to be back in Ghana. I don't speak any French and Tim only spoke a little so that was stressful. I felt dependent on him to get us around, which I am not used to. The bus system in Burkina Faso was really good and actually on time - that was a pleasant surprise.

So, we made our way north at a pretty relaxed speed. We crossed the border into Burkina Faso on a Sunday afternoon. We made it to Ouagadougou (pronounced Wagadoogoo) and crashed at the Peace Corps hostel. It was nice to be able to meet other Peace Corps volunteers. The food was fantastic - yogurt, baguettes and steak sandwiches. After two nights in the hostel we headed northwest, toward the Burkina/Mali border. We ended up staying the night in another medium-sized city prior to crossing into Mali. So we crossed the border into Mali on a Wednesday. Up until this point, the trip was uneventful. Getting across the Mali border was a little difficult but we managed and it worked out.

We stayed the night on a rooftop in Bankass, Mali and the next day met our tour guide, Hassimi. Hassimi is a tour guide for Dogon Country. We had been warned by other PCV's that he was a big guy and they weren't kidding. He climbed out of his car, aka Grandma, and he was a BIG man - perhaps the largest West African I've seen. Estimates around here are that he's about 6'3, 320. We piled into his little car and headed into Dogon Country.

It's not required to get a guide to tour Dogon Country, but it's highly recommended. We paid Hassimi a flat fee and he paid all the village fees, photography fees, sleeping and food arrangements. It was three days of no-stress, which was wonderful.

The Dogon people live in villages along the Bandiagara escarpment (here is some one's website with more information and a few photos We would hike in the mornings, when it wasn't too hot, then arrive at a village, eat and relax until late afternoon, when again, the sun wasn't too hot. We would then hike to our next village and camp overnight. The last night we camped at the top of the escarpment and it was beautiful. Getting up and down the escarpment wasn't so easy and stress-free, but we made it. I was sweating profusely, and right in front of me was big Hassimi, walking up the rocks like it was nothing. Amazing...

After our three days in Dogon Country we spent the night at Hassimi's house and then on Sunday, made our way to Djenne, with a brief stop in Mopti. Djenne has the largest mud structure in the world, the Konboro Mosque. To be honest, the arrival into Djenne was a anticlimactic. We ended up sleeping on a rooftop of some one's house, right next to the mosque. It was okay and slightly cheaper than getting a hotel - we were feeling brave. Luckily it didn't rain. There were two dessicated rabbits on the roof, which we didn't notice when we agreed to sleep up there - I'm not sure how rabbits got up there and why they were never taken down (I hope they were rabbits and not huge rats or something...yikes). Once we figured out where we were spending the night, we walked around Djenne a big and it was cooler than I had initially thought. There was some interesting history and architecture, all mud. After a half hour though, we were finished. Early Monday morning we headed back to Mopti, debating whether or not we would continue onto Timbuktu.

Once we reached Mopti we decided not to go to Timbuktu. I was pretty tired and we weren't sure if our money was sufficient. We sat all day in Mopti until we could get a vehicle to Koro, the border town. The next day, Tuesday, we crossed back into Burkina Faso, in the back a Peugeot pick-up truck. It was the best ride of the whole trip, breezy, not crowded and some reggae on the radio. Plus there was the most beautiful Tuareg man in the back of the truck with us, so I could stare at him (discreetly) when I needed a different view. Plus, along this road, you sometimes would see camels working in the fields with people. That was really cool. I was happy when we got into Burkina and saw donkeys everywhere, but the camels were really cool. So, before we knew it, we were back in Ouaga. The very next day, I headed back to Ghana.

When I reached the border town I was so happy to hear Ghanaian English and local languages. I was walking to Immigration and this man started yelling at me "Adwoa, Adwoa," which is the name of a girl born on Monday. I just chuckled to my self, happy to be back. The ladies next to me looked over and asked me if I understood Ghanaian language and I replied I did. They were so happy when I greeted them in Twi. They said "Oh, you are a good girl!" I love Ghanaians!

I quickly made my way back to the southern part of Ghana, just in time to go to Patrick's send-off party. It was great and I am so happy that I was able to attend. Patrick was my closest volunteer and I really liked the people in his town. He coached a basketball team at the secondary school so for the send-off the team played PCV's. The team ended up winning but we took it in stride. The whole town was so excited, and the players were really proud. Patrick was also installed/instooled as a ceremonious chief. This was really cool too. They carried him in a palanquin and everyone wanted their picture taken with him. I am thankful I was there, enjoying the celebration.

After this I headed back to site. It was good to go back. My cat has had three more kittens and they are all doing well. I have a new dinner mate - this little boy comes over almost every day to eat. If he comes early enough I'll include him in my portions but sometimes I don't cook so I have to send him away. He's about five or so, really nice little guy. After we eat he doesn't seem to want to leave, so I end up walking him to town, to his house.

Our Close of Service (COS) conference was two weeks ago. It was excited to see all the volunteers that I flew here with. Pretty much everyone is preparing to leave. A lot of people talking about grad school, med school, jobs, etc. The overall conference was uneventful, I think everyone can't believe we're already preparing to go. It feels like we just got here (okay, some days).

I guess I had more to say than I realized. I'll try to post more the next three months. Sometimes it feels that nothing exciting happens, it's all so normal now. If you have any questions let me know - questions always get my brain working. Take care!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Headed up north today to end up going to Burkina Faso and then Mali. It's pretty unplanned so it should be fun. Not much to say. Will fill everyone in when we return. Take care!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I can't believe there are only five/six months left of my PC service! At times the time has gone by so fast and other times so slow.

We recently had tour guide training. I worked with the old, experienced tour guide to develop the material for the training and with his help, successfully trained three new tour guides. It was a lot of fun to work with Abban (the old guide) and with the three new guides. We had a rough start; the first two times we "planned" to meet, no one showed up. They made up for it by being committed for the next eight or so sessions. On our last "working" day I set up a Jeopardy type game. At first the guys didn't really understand but they got the hang of it fast, and had a lot of fun. The last official day was a small party (Cokes and meat pies, along with certificates). Once again, I waited for an hour and a half and no one came. As soon as I set off for my house, one of the guides came and told me that they decided that I was too tired to have the meeting. I wish they would have told me that I was too tired, so I wouldn't have waited. We met the next day and had a nice time. There are always cultural things that I just don't know so it's best to appoint a Ghanaian to be the host of the party. My friend James did that job and good thing because every one was asked to give little speeches, something I would not and did not plan for.

I am hoping to take a trip to Mali in July. I still have vacation days I can take out-of-country. Once we get back from our trip I'll have our Close of Service (COS) conference. Then we'll be into August. Time is going by fast.

Nothing else is really happening. Katie, my friend and fellow PCV in Cape Coast, is leaving in about a month. Patrick is just a few weeks after that. It will be strange to come to Cape Coast and not meet or see them. Katie and I always meet and have lunch when we can. We also like laying on her bed and looking at old People magazines. I've looked at the same ones a million times but it's still fun. It feels "normal."

Hopefully I'll write again soon. I am having a "vision quest" volunteer in two weeks. It will be a new volunteer from the teacher group. She'll have been in country for only five days or so when she comes to my site. I'm really excited to host someone. She'll be there for a few days and then head up to Techiman for training. I can fully remember how scared and shocked I was on my Vision Quest. I started crying as soon as I reached the community where I was staying. Everything was so new and overwhelming.

It's nice to see things coming full circle.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I have been reading a lot lately and feel like I have a new narrator in my head. It's making me want to blog more.

The other day I was eating dinner at Mame Komfo's house with two of the teachers and the gong-gong beater came around (town criar). I noticed that it was a different person than usual. Abe-ka, the normal gong-gong beater, who is an old man who walks with a stick and has a very quiet voice, which really isn't that great for getting the announcements to everyone, wasn't doing it. In fact, it was Okyer (ky pronounced like ch) who does have a very loud voice. These were the announcements:
It was time to collect your sheep and goats and put them away for the evening. If they were caught you were going to have to pay 20,000 cedis per animal.

Bra Akwa (he owns a spot - place to buy alcohal, cokes, and various food) wanted his coke bottles back. Some people have had the bottles for two or three months and he was requesting their return. (Soda is served in 300 ml glass bottles)

Another man was making the announcement that people should stop going to his pepper farm and plucking his pepper. If they didn't stop they would face the consequences.

That's the big news around my village. Thought I would pass it along. Take care!