Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I wrote this blog while waiting for a fellow volunteer and his brother. I was sitting in the Castle Restaurant in Cape Coast, with the ocean breeze on my face and a beer on the table. It was lovely – one nice thing about living in the southern part of Ghana.

“My gas is finished…” That’s how you say that the cylinder of propane for my stove is empty. This happened a sometime in February. I debated for a while whether or not to fill it. The gas lasted over on year – what would I do with a half filled cylinder when I leave? Plus the transportation and hauling it to and from Cape Coast was giving me a headache just thinking about it. So, after about two weeks of deliberation I sold the tank and stove and instead bought some coal (charcoal) for a coal pot. I’ve never grilled on a charcoal BBQ (or a gas one for that matter) but I have slowly learned how to start the fire and cook my food. It gets hot, sitting there fanning the coals, but it feels good when the food is ready. I think my fellow PCV’s think I’ve lost my mind, but I can assure you I have not. I never cook in the morning. After sweeping, fetching water, and putting on dry clothes (after spilling water everywhere), I go to the town and buy food from the ladies. Usually Ga Kenkey, rice and beans or coco (corn porridge). When I wasn’t cooking at all (about a month or so) I was getting sick a little more – I was being careless on my food choices. Since then I’ve been better and never anything a general antibiotic can’t get rid of. I have been very lucky – no girardia or amoeba’s since I’ve arrived (other PCV’s I know who eat very well have had one or both, I guess I’m lucky – knock on wood). So, all of my rice, pasta, or soup/beans are now cooked on coal.

On Palm Sunday we had church and it was very memorable. I wore my lime green skirt and top, which I’ve only won once. The church congregation met at one end of town, the opposite of our summer hut church. After reading some scripture we formed two parallel lines, and with some freshly cut palm fronds, marched through town singing. It was fun to take part. I will also say that I can still keep great alignment.

After Palm Sunday my plan was to go to the Eastern Region to be with fellow volunteers for Easter. I went to Dixie’s first (in my region) and spent the night at her new house. It is beautiful and has a totally different atmosphere than her last one – much better. Then off to Accra and Koforidua. I met Urji in K’dua and we bought some beads at the market. Then met her friend Angie and were off to Angie’s house. I am embarrassed to say this was my first time besides homestay where I stayed at a Ghanaians house. Angie is my age, with an accounting job and two rooms in a large house (room and kitchen). It was amazing to be with her. She had all the things I would have – TV, DVD, couch, bed, vanity, and excessive kitchen ware. It was very different than what I experience in Mesomagor. It was a nice treat. One Good Friday the three of us went to Kwahu to paraglide. This is the third year the Ministry of Tourism puts on this paragliding festival the weekend of Easter. The price was higher than anticipated but we had just enough. Urji and I (Angie chose not to go) went up with two Americans, tandem. It was so much fun. I couldn’t have asked for a better Easter weekend. Unforgettable. Sunday, Urji and I relaxed, back at her site, went swimming (there is a pool near her house – who knew?) and then prepared pizza in her stovetop Dutch oven. It was delicious!

When I returned from the trip I learned that two young women died over the weekend. My friend Abban told me that both were basically curses. The first one had been given by her parents to marry a man who already had a wife. The new wife wasn’t happy and possibly cursed the girl. The second girl to die was more of a concrete story. She died because of a river near Kumasi, which my understanding houses a God. As told to me, the young woman had a husband from another area. He had been a worker in my community (a mason) when they married. Then he left to work elsewhere, leaving her and their daughter (recently also a son). Slowly the visits became less and less, further apart, maybe he would send money in between visits. Soon the husband heard that his wife was ‘sexing’ with another man. The husband was angry and came to the village to have a meeting with her and her parents. She swore at this time that she hadn’t been with this other man and said that the God should kill her if she was lying or kill the person saying these things. As time went on when she became sick they, believing it was not a sickness a hospital could cure, took her to a spiritual healer. At this healer, in and out of consciousness, she admitted she had had a relationship. She was dead soon after. Now the family has to go give sacrifices to a priest/priestess in order to bury her. The sacrifices will be for the God, but will go to a human person. These include two packs of roofing material, goal/sheep, chicken, alcohol, etc. This is the part that I don’t understand – the exploitation of the beliefs of these people. It’s frustrating. As for the offender (as it was put to me – the man who had a relationship with her) he will probably have to pay the priest/priestess or the family. I don’t know some days…

It has been two weeks since I wrote the above entry. I am just now able to get online. I came to Cape Coast the other day with a student from my village. I was so excited to show him the internet. Unfortunately, lights off. Most of Ghana is on an electricity rationing program and every few days Cape Coast will have twelve hours of no electricity. It happened to be the day we chose to come and do the internet. We were both disapointed but we may try it another day.

Things are going well. As far as being sick, I am still fine, except now I have about three large hives on my stomach that are weeping. They hurt. After doing some research in our health handbooks I believe they are from eating the local mangoes. These little orange mangoes are now in season and they are everywhere. They are really delicious and I was eating them last week, a lot. According to the handbook, the sap and juice can creat hives and a lot of volunteers are somehow allergic to it. No more mangoes for me. Hopefully with some calomine lotion and hydrocortisone cream, they will go away soon. I hope so anyway.

My time here is slowly winding down. Around seven more months. Where does the time go? I am trying to get organize and focus on the few things that we can finish before I leave. You just never know. Hope all is well and enjoy the spring!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great entry!! I'm always so glad to read all about your journey! Can't wait to see more pics and am hoping that we will be able to actually visit with each other within the next couple years. I miss you greatly. I love you!!

10:42 AM  

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