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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Return of the Prodigal Daughter

I have returned.  I fit right back in.  I assimilated much easier than I thought I could.  The family was there to meet me at the airport where I was excited to dole out the presents and show them all the things I’d brought back.  I had milk, I had diet coke, and I curled my hair.  Felt so good to be back.  I went about my business.  I didn’t really start missing Ghana until lately.
Now, the word ‘return’ has a different feel.  Not to go or to come back, but many different things.  I learned a West African symbol called Sankofa, which depicts a bird with its head turned around toward its tail and picking something up off the tail.  It really means to “return and take it”, or to learn from the past.  I learned that returning to somewhere I’d once felt at home, now felt different.  It felt like anywhere I chose to make “home” could be my home.  Pondering these things while attempting to study, I started to really realize that my life was mine to take.  I can do with it and make of it what I wish.  The possibilities are endless. 
It’s hard to believe I did it.  I went to Africa.  I lived there.  There are so many things I did and put myself through and handled that I never expected I would.  I’m not a weak person, but this made me stronger.  I had to fight.  Some days sucked.  I missed my family and friends and I had nothing to do so I had time to just sit and think.  I had time to figure out whatever I needed to. 
Here is a list neatly comprised of some of the things I miss:
I miss the people profoundly.
I miss all the things that were ridiculous because they were so different.  I miss laughing at those ridiculous things.  I miss being stared at and cat-called to.  I miss walking into a bar full of people who think I’m beautiful and just “have to” buy me a drink…twist my arm!  I miss feeling like I’m making a difference when I walk into a classroom of little kids every week.  I miss learning new games to play with them.  I miss the sounds of African drumming on campus.  I miss the Ghanaian U.S. Embassy workers.  I miss going to Maxx Mart and buying jelly for bread that lasts all semester.  I miss reggae night.  I miss the ocean.  I miss tro tros.  I miss bartering.  I miss amazing colors everywhere.  I miss attempting to call myself “The dusty foot philosopher” because that’s what K’Naan’s titled one album (and my feet were always covered in dirt/dust).  I miss the sun beating down so hard on me that I felt like I was burning.  I miss burning in the sun.  I miss Vivian.  I miss the night market.  I miss Fui.  I miss Akua.  I miss remembering I was pretty cool and adventurous because I was in Africa.  I miss Thelma.  I miss her calling me “baby Miriam”.  I miss Tuesday pizza nights.  I miss running into our room and yelling, “SURPRISE!” to Thelma and having her laugh.  I miss Pearl.  I miss TT.  I miss Emma.  I miss class being completely pointless.  I miss walking a half hour to class and sweating profusely two steps into the walk and then realizing that class was pointless.  I miss going for runs with the family.  I miss being hassled.  I miss getting ‘flashed’ on the phone.  I miss buying cheap things that are awesome.  I miss the registry run with Scott.  I miss being surrounded in people who have a strong passion for God.  I miss being surrounded in really politically active people.  I miss listening to funny remarks being made and written down in a notebook so we don’t forget them.  I miss butter bread.  I miss egg sandwiches.  I miss soccer on the beach.  I miss it all. 
It has meant a lot to me to return.  I would like to return home again.  This reminds me of the poem by Robert Frost titled Swinger of Birches.  I will conclude with a favorite passage.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches. And so I dream of going back to be. It's when I'm weary of considerations, And life is too much like a pathless wood Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs Broken across it, and one eye is weeping >From a twig's having lashed across it open. I'd like to get away from earth awhile And then come back to it and begin over. May no fate willfully misunderstand me And half grant what I wish and snatch me away Not to return. Earth's the right place for love: I don't know where it's likely to go better. I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, But dipped its top and set me down again. That would be good both going and coming back. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Robert Frost

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cars


Having finished registration for home and classes here…we packed up and headed to the beach for a long weekend.  The night before I attended a play that students in the drama department put on.  One of our ISEP members was in it, so that was fun to see.  She was the only white person in the play.  We headed back and went to bed so we could get up early and make the journey to Busua.  We went to Kaneshie station to catch a tro tro to Takoradi before we made our way to Busua.  On our way off the tro tro to Kaneshie, Natalie’s shoe broke.  It’s a flip flip, so there was seemingly no possible way to fix it.  Oh we of little faith… Sure enough, a guy on the side of the road started hissing at us.  He’s a shoe repairman.  He fixed it right up and it lasted the rest of the weekend!  After that, we waited a good hour before one finally came.  Of course we can’t form a civilized line and get on in an orderly fashion…everyone pushes and shoves and fights their way on.  That’s always fun.

On our way, we made it a little game to take pictures of all the sayings on the back of the taxis and tro tros.  I have a project to put together using them when I get home.  Makes the drive go faster, too.  After a long ride to Takoradi, we grabbed a taxi to Busua.  We arrived in the town welcomed by a very small town atmosphere and our choice of a few reputable hostels.  We checked in to Dadson’s and headed to the Black Star Surf Shop right next door on the beach.  We spent the next three days and two nights being absolute bums.  We walked the beach and the town and met a lot of the locals.  We met Daniel the Pancake Man, and Frank the Juice Man as well as Frank the Bag Man (which are two separate people).  The community reminded me of Pixar's movie, Cars.  We were invited to the African Rainbow later that night.  It’s a rooftop bar where everyone goes to hang out.  Live music and a view of the town and ocean…you can’t get much better.  We met some Germans and a guy that everyone knows as “Mr. Bright” from England who has started a surf school right on the beach.  The next day brought a suntan, street food, swimming, and sleeping…a beach fire and relaxation.  Yaw, a local guy, took us on a walk up the beach and a hike through the jungle up to a lookout point.  A Canadian guy built his house up a hill that overlooks all of Busua and the beach.  Gorgeous sunset view.  Don’t worry, we caught a few crabs on the way up along the beach. 

There’s nothing like standing in the ocean and seeing forever.  The feeling that I can pick up my beer and walk 20 yards and I am in the ocean is something that I’ll miss greatly upon my return to the states.  My peer adviser was right in saying that, “…you’ll have plenty of time to figure out whatever you need to figure out.”  There’s something about that ocean view that un-sticks my mind. 

I beat Yaw in his own game the next morning.  Oware is the Ghanaian version of Mancala.  He quit before I could beat him too badly.  Natalie and I went swimming again in the ocean.  It’s sort of fun to get rocked by the huge waves for a bit.  Knocks the ego back down from earlier being inflated by Ghanaian men.  Namely one who started telling me that, “Any reasonable person would pick you out of a crowd.  Miriam, wow.  I love blondes.  You are the most beautiful white girl I’ve seen in a long time.”  Thanks dude.  Anyway… we got a little too far out of our depth.  I got a little freaked out while swimming back in and getting crashed on a few times.  One wave almost got me.  It caught up to me and knocked me under before I could take a breath.  Just when I thought I wasn’t going to make it, I broke through the surface.  Feeling quite relieved and a little shaken, I threw my hair out of my face and put my feet down…I touched land.  It got shallow that fast.  Safe and sound, we got ready to depart to Accra.

Yaw came with us back to the city.  He decided to play nice guy and after my insisting I really didn’t want octopus off the street, got me some.  I ate it.  I’m still alive.  Just another day in Ghana.  On the bus on the way home, for a good two hours, a guy preached at us in Twi.  I put my headphones in.  Then they played two lovely Ghanaian films.  Just awful quality, but pretty entertaining.

I have an exam on Saturday at 7:30 am.  Wish me luck! I just realized my lecturer never covered half of the things on my syllabus…could be interesting!  It stormed last night, but the sun is coming out now.  I best be on with my day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

One Week of Class?


Five months doesn’t seem like very long in terms of a lifetime.  It’s not.  In retrospect, blink and it’s gone.  As I sit in my room on the day before Easter pondering my time here, I look down at my tan (that seems pathetic in comparison to the Ghanaians I’m surrounded by).  I’ve realized that when we go certain places here that are more heavily populated by white people, we’ll comment on it.  “There are a lot of white people here….”  “Yeah, that’s weird.”  Then we try to figure out why they’re here, especially those that have families with children.  “Hey kids! We’re going to Africa for spring break this year!” 

Back to before I noticed that I’m still a Caucasian... My tan is symbolic.  I earned it.  I hope it sticks around a while.  I’ve grown accustomed to it.  That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Aimee Mann singing in the background, it’s a peaceful, reflective day in room 154.  I think it’s safe to say that the atmosphere will change when we attend a Fabolous concert tonight.  Here’s our day plan:

1.     -Get my life together.
2.     -Walk outside and immediately start to sweat.
3.     -Negotiate a taxi to the mall (which will cost approximately 3 GHc (Ghana Cedi)
4.     -Go to the mall to get tickets for the concert.
5.     -Enjoy a little of what looks like an American place with A/C.
6.     -Go to a grocery store to get marshmallows and Ghana’s version of rice krispies.  (Claire and I are making our roommates rice krispie bars- they’ve never heard of marshmallows.  We weren’t even sure we could get them here, but we can!)
7.     That’s as far as I’ve thought ahead…..

We went to Till’s beach yesterday.  Walking along the beach I came to a few more realizations.  The beach looks like something you sometimes see pictures of and think, “That’s so beautiful, maybe someday I’ll get to a beach that looks like that.”  But then you never actually get there.  But here I am.  Funny enough that someone trying to get me to go to the beach with him sent me a text message describing the scene I would see if I went with him.  “next week we can plan going to tills or bojo beach it’s a nice beach like pirate of the carribien look”  And I quote.  Despite the horrible English and stupid reference…it really does look like a scene straight from a movie.  (Also, needless to say I didn’t go to the beach with previously said stupid man.) Pinching myself and asking the most commonly asked question of this journey, “Is this my life right now?” I walked the beach in amazement.


Fast-forward the concert.  50 GHc later, we arrived at the conference center promising a look at Fabolous.  It rained earlier in the afternoon, so it was cool out.  You would think that since we have been here a while that we would know by now not to assume that things would start on time.  Set to start at 7 pm, we left the embassy at 7.  We didn’t hear any artists until about 10:30.  They had a good lineup of local artists to perform, and nothing against Fabolous, but I enjoyed the local artists more.  When Ghanaians surrounding us see us singing along and dancing to their music, they get a kick out of it.  Fabolous came onstage at about midnight.

We were pretty casually dressed in going to this concert.  I had jeans and a tanktop on (under my sweatshirt) and looked like I could be going to the grocery store instead of a concert.  The locals were dressed quite fancily.  Heels, short dresses and skirts, dress shirts, and of course some really strange outfits.  One guy had a sweater we deemed as something we’d wear to an ‘ugly sweater party’.  Leopard print leggings, paisley shirts, and sunglasses were other unsurprisingly common sights.  So many funny things.  There were a lot of younger teenagers there, too.  They started standing on each other shoulders and on a wooden divider in order to see better.  We were sort of annoyed because they were in front of us.  Until they broke the divider.  Whoops.  Problem solved.

After about 6 of Fabolous’ songs, we decided to leave and go out.  I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that much on a night out.  We went to one of our usual spots, saw a lot of the same people, but for some reason there were some new, odd really drunk people out.  After being grabbed right after walking through the door and being told, “I have to buy you a drink.” I politely accepted and continued on to being with my friends.  An older Indian man came up with his camera and started grabbing us to take pictures with him.  Not the most coordinated dancer in general even without the alcohol, you can imagine what he looked like a little intoxicated.  Then he handed us his camera and we took full advantage of his drunkenness and took loads of stupid pictures of each other.  I can guarantee this man is having a great Easter morning recapping what his night consisted of through those pictures.  “Who are those white people?!”  Then there was another man who was really drunk who wanted to dance with me.  After pushing him away a few times, he started giving me attitude.  He turned around and sassily said, “Bye bye,” to me.  Really, really funny.  His friend approached me and told me that his buddy wanted to dance with me and should he, “tell him to go away?”  Yes, please tell him to go away.  His friend returned and informed me that his friend, “wouldn’t go away.”  He kept ‘cheers’-ing us by touching his glass to ours.  After breaking a glass on one of ours and then trying to continue drinking out of it, we struggled to prevent him from coming close to our glasses.  He would ‘cheers’ us when we weren’t looking and then run away.

I can’t paint an accurate picture of that night unless you were there, but that’s my attempt.

P.S. Don’t worry mom, I’m keeping those two-legged sharks at bay.

Speaking of mom…I miss you!  It’s weird to spend a holiday away from home and family.  It’s definitely a lonely feeling.  But I’ve been informed that my Easter basket will be waiting for me when I get home. 

I haven’t made my title point yet.  I only have one week of class before finals begin.  Where did the semester go?  It will be hard to leave here.  There are so many things that I’ll miss.  I’m not excited to have to readjust to being home, but I will have to do it soon enough.  Though, I am excited to go home at the same time.  Strange adjustments.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mole National Park..... or something like that.


I had another visitor come to stay with me in Ghana.  I gladly welcomed Flat Stanley to the University of Ghana – Legon when he arrived in the mail.  If you haven’t heard of Flat Stanley, you’re missing out.  He is the main character in a ‘self-titled’ children’s book that I read when I was in elementary school.  Stanley was a little boy when a bulletin board fell from the wall onto him.  He was very tragically flattened, however he remained alive.  Then everyone realized how cool it could be to be a flat person.  Stanley could slide underneath doors, do other acrobatics, and even be mailed to different places.  Each year, at my alma mater, (Lewiston-Altura Elementary School) where my mother conveniently works, at least one class does the Flat Stanley project.  Each kid will trace out their own Stanley on paper and color it to his or her desired liking, and they choose someone to mail him to.  The class teacher mailed her Stanley to me here in Africa!  My instructions were to “take Flat Stanley around Ghana snapping pictures of him where you go”.  Then I was to email a letter and pictures back so that she could teach the kids a little about me and Ghana.

Poor Stanley was in for a bit of a rough ride.  When he first arrived in customs, I’m surprised no one opened him up and charged me 5 extra cedis to get him out.  He was really hot and stuffy in that envelope.  He sat in the ISEP office for a few hours waiting for me to pick him up.  When I finally got to him, I greeted him with a hug and an excited smile.  However, he had to ride around in my backpack for most of the week.  He got a little crumpled up, I’ll admit…  One of my friends, after I excitedly told her about having Stanley (and making her take a few pictures of me with him) said, “I don’t know if I’ve seen you this excited about anything.”

He got bumped around on buses and trotros, and even got a taste of how African dirt feels rubbed on him.  A true Ghana experience.  Even though I failed at the picture taking aspect of this assignment, I seriously took Stanley pretty much everywhere I went.  Including Mole National Park………

We had been planning this excursion for about a week before we went on it.  We thought this enough time, since the last trip we took was about 2 hours in planning.  We got a driver (because public transport can be pretty unreliable and difficult to navigate, and we wanted to do our own thing) and had everything planned out.  We left Thursday morning at 6 am to get there by Thursday night so we could have all of Friday to go on a safari and hang out before leaving to come home Saturday.  We get in the car early Thursday and head out.  After riding around Accra for a while with the windows down, we decided to flip on the A/C.  Rexford, our driver, informed us that it was “finished”…in Ghanaian terminology…broken or done.  Great.  Not exactly an ideal situation for a 12 hour car ride anywhere, let alone in Africa.  But we let it slide (planning that we wouldn’t pay the full amount for car and driver because of it).  The whole no air conditioning thing wouldn’t have been a big deal if we wouldn’t have gotten extremely dirty because of it.  Windows down is one of my favorite ways to ride around in a car.  In Africa…emissions ruin the thrill of my favorite ride.  My hair has gotten pretty blonde from being in the sun here, but you would think that I had dyed it back to the brown I had for a brief period.  We had black, disgusting-ness all over us by the time we got out of the city.  It only got worse along the way.  By far the dirtiest I have ever been without voluntarily going down a homemade mud slip and slide.  The worst part was knowing that not only was this blackness all over us, but it was also inside our lungs.  We got to Mole at about 8:30 or 9 p.m.  It was dark when we pulled up to the entrance gate and they informed us that they had no rooms left to stay in because they had a convention this weekend.  After repeatedly calling a number that never connected earlier in the week and again that day, we had given up on trying to make reservations prior to arrival.  At this point, I just wanted to throw up my arms and proclaim, “I’m through planning.” (Mom’s coined phrase)  I didn’t get the chance because they found us one room left in a guesthouse.  The 4 of us slept 2 people each in 2 single beds.  After a really crappy shower, we crawled into our cozy arrangements.  Since it is so much hotter in the northern region, there was quite a bit of sweating going on and not very much sleeping.  We awoke to Rexford revving the engine of our Land Cruiser outside our guesthouse.  Good morning!  We went to the information center to start our walking safari.  We were hurried along in the beginning because someone had spotted an elephant and they wanted us to see it before it moved on.  We saw that elephant indeed.  One of those things that you see people stop moving up ahead and you wonder why…then you realize that they’re looking at something either really gruesome or really cool.  The elephant was the latter.

I really enjoy elephants; they’re huge and kind of cute…what’s not to love?  This bush elephant was breathtaking.  It was moseying around eating leaves and spitting them out onto himself.  Doesn’t sound very glamorous, but truth be told it was amazing to see.  We got within 20 yards of this creature.  We were told over and over and over again, by our safari guide, facts about elephants.  Edem turned out to be a pretty cool guy, but it took us a while to warm up to his annoying facts.  He kept asking if we knew the scientific names of all the animals.  Of course we don’t… and we won’t remember them if you tell us 15 more times.  In our tour group of about 20, we walked for 2 hours.  We saw antelope, water buck (a huge antelope), baboons and other varieties of monkeys, warthogs, birds, and cob (smaller antelope).  The highlight was the elephant.  We were hoping to see more throughout the day, but no such luck.  Our one and only made a good first impression.

Fun fact for you about elephants:  Their tusks (said like ‘tuxes’ by our guide) have two separate uses.  The right one is used as a weapon, and the left one is used to eat food.

We proceeded to walk to a few watering holes and through the bush.  It was a really cool area to see, even if we didn’t see any more big game.  We went back to eat breakfast and relax until we went on a driving safari later in the afternoon.  We swam in the pool for a bit, and took naps on the pool deck.  We headed back to the information center to get in our vehicle.  Just the four of us, Rexford, and our guide, Edem, were in our Land Cruiser.  We headed out while being asked if we remembered the scientific names of all the animals he’d told us that morning…no Edem.  You’re smart, we get it.  So we started making jokes out of it.  He was killing flies in the front seat, so we asked him what the scientific names were of the flies he was killing.  He laughed!  Then said that he doesn’t study insects. 

We saw many antelope and monkeys along our way.  It was a pretty cool day, but I wish we had seen more large game.

After our safari, we told our guide to come and eat with us at the canteen later on that night.  We met up with him there and sat around in the Mole community.  A little kitchen surrounded by tables and chairs in the dark.  A group of guys were crowded around one small TV watching a football game, and others were playing checkers on a table.  Kids were around and their moms were holding them or feeding them.  We got to ‘babysit’ for a brief time while our cook was making our food.  It turns out that we were holding onto Edem’s brother’s baby, Arabiatu.  She was the highlight of the night…so much so that we wanted to take her back with us.  We sat around and ate with our driver, our guide, and our guide’s friend.  They were speaking in Twi amongst themselves, like they often do, when our driver asked me if I wanted to know what they were talking about.  I just laughed and said, “Sure.”  He told me that our guide’s friend thinks that I am “very beautiful and he wants you to stay here.”  Sorry buddy, it’s too hot up here.

We headed to bed setting alarms for 4:30 so we could be on the road by 5 a.m.  Good thing Rexford woke us up at 4.  We went back to sleep until our alarms went off, and still left 10 minutes early.  We took a nice shortcut over some boulders back to the main road and stopped at Kintempor waterfalls.  These were pretty cool.  We ate breakfast near the falls, and then headed out determined not to stop again until we either needed gas or reached Accra. 

After reaching Accra, we met with a lady to renegotiate pricing…after intensively arguing for a good half hour to no avail, we quite angrily gave up, paid, and headed back to Legon towards a MUCH needed shower. 

Maybe in a week we’ll be able to laugh about it.  Until then…it may take approximately three more showers to get all the exhaust/dirt off of me.  All that matters is that Stanley and I are back safe.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Attempted Sea Turtle Excursion:



To prove to Tom that I’m not too busy with African boys ;)

So we got a great idea at about 2:00 p.m. on a Friday, that we should go and find some sea turtles.  In order to do this, we made reservations at a beach resort called, Green Turtle Lodge and then had to find a way to get there.  Yay for public transportation in Ghana!  We jumped in taxis to get to Kaneshie station, where we would catch a bus/van to Takoradi and then get a cab to Busua to the place where we would stay.  This is something that we learned would prove to be a little more difficult to accomplish than we had originally comprehended.  We made it to Kaneshie to meet our other friend and then waited amongst the market bustle for a van to take us to our next location.  We found one and hopped aboard the 15-passenger vehicle.  Traffic was horrific.  It took us about 7 hours total for this expedition.  We arrived in Takoradi alive (thank God for air conditioning).  We got a cab who swore he knew where our lodge was…of course, what have we learned about cab drivers…don’t trust them! We drove to Busua and had to ask around to find where we were going.  The road that took us to the lodge, mind you it was pitch black out by this time, was probably the worst road ever created.  If you could call it a road… The car can’t have been better off for taking us all the way out there.  We got to our site and no one was awake.  Dark and very much alone, we walked around to try and find where we would be staying.  Since we didn’t really know what else to do, I took a walk on the beach.  The most amazing beach I’ve ever seen.  It felt like a deserted island.  I’ve never seen so many stars in my life.  We found a couple of tents that looked like they may be for us…so we crashed there for a few hours until we were going to get up and look for the sea turtles that were supposed to be hatching.  Needless to say, we didn’t find any..why would we see something that we planned to see? That’s too easy.  I did see the sunrise though.  Walking along a serene beach in the morning with a dog that decided to join along was a pretty good way to spend my time.  Made me miss Scout quite a bit.  A guy came out with a long pole with a blade attached to it.  He was going to go cut some coconuts down.  I got in on that, too.  We hung out on the beach for the morning, and then it was regrettably time to begin the long journey back to Accra.  Quite hard to leave.  Places like that leave you with nothing but thoughts and tranquility.  I imagine it to feel how the North Shore does for my mom.  A crazy adventure, but overall…glad we did it.  Maybe next time, we’ll start to plan a little earlier.  Makes for a good story, at least.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Family Ties



I arrived at the airport just in time to meet my brother, Jed, and my cousin, Sarah, at the arrival gate.  I made the guard let me rush the gate so that I could go and meet them before I was supposed to.  They were happy to be off the plane.  A little jet lagged, we made our way back to my campus to check them into the guesthouse where they stayed for the week.  Not letting them rest for too long, we headed out to see my hostel and campus until my other brother, Jonathan, was set to arrive from France.  Jed was captivated by the lizards, and attempted to make one of them his friend.  Sarah was enjoying the sun and heat (coming from Minnesota).  We sat by the library for a while and hung out before we decided a nap sounded pretty good before we’d leave to go and get Jonathan from the airport.  Reisetter family reunion in Africa!  Mom and dad can rejoice in the fact that their three children were on the same continent for at least a week again.

Now for the adventures…  I think my family realized (and reminded me) of just how hard living here can be.  It’s much more difficult to get around and do things than it is back home.  I’ve gotten pretty much used to this fact in the two months that I’ve been here, so it was a good reminder to see their reactions.  We got to go and see Cape Coast for a day with our quiet but amazing driver, Jeffrey.  We walked on the rope bridges along the canopy in the rain forest, and we saw Cape Coast Castle with them too.  We went to a few markets and beaches as well.  The three amigos also got to come with me to the place that I volunteer with.  They took us from the headquarters to four other sister schools in the community.  It felt a bit as if we were on parade, but it was really a good experience for all of us.  Jed, Sarah, and Jonathan got to see a more intimate view of Ghana this way.  The kids sort of put on a show for us.  They were pretty cute, but I think a better picture of what their schools are like would have come through observation of the way they teach.  Jed got to challenge the students a little bit, but, I think, if given a better opportunity, he could have actually gotten somewhere with them. 

Jed had heard of a really nice beach that I hadn’t been to yet, so we decided to check it out.  We get in a taxi that knows where the beach is and head out.  Of course the cab driver was lying because he takes us to a random spot that he calls Bojo beach.  Not the correct beach.  We get back to the main road and ask someone else to take us there.  He decides, without telling me until halfway through the journey, that he’s just going to take us to Kaneshie, which is a public transit station just outside the city so that we can find someone else to take us to the actual beach.  Thanks, dude.  We’re all a little frustrated by this point, so we make the cab driver pull over and find us a new taxi to take us all the way to the beach.  Success! After about another hour, we arrived.  We weren’t disappointed.  Bojo is a beautiful place located west of Accra.  It’s sort of like a sandbar so we were rowed across to the sand by a gondola-looking boat.  We spent the rest of the day at the beach enjoying each other’s company, believe it or not. 

We went to an art market and another market in Osu, a different part of town.  Osu is probably the least crazy market that I’ve seen and been to since being here, but it was still a little too crazy for Jonathan.  Being hassled constantly by shopkeepers gets a little old, and Jonathan got a little flustered at a few people in the market.  This provided us with some good reasons to pick on him for the rest of his stay, claiming that he had ‘slapped someone in the market’.  Needless to say, this didn’t really happen, but it makes for a good story. 

My family learned that honking has its own language here.  Cars honk constantly in different situations for various reasons.  Some drivers tend to honk more than others, and some a little unnecessarily.  Sometimes as if to say, “Here we are!”  Jonathan came up with the ingenious idea that we should all get our own little horns for daily use.

After the family went home, despite a little trouble with the return flight, the excitement of new people and the pressure of showing them a good time died down.  Here I am in Africa…….. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, and I’m glad they got a taste of my life here.

Maybe I’ll go to class this week……

Volunteering



This week I’ve made it to a much higher percentage of classes than I did last week.  I’ve only missed one, so you can be proud of me for that.  Even though by physically missing class, I’m not actually missing much of anything, I still should attend.

Last night we attended a pool party at a hotel in Accra.  Well…we sort of worked at it.  We know the owner and a lot of the staff, so Claudio asked us if we would help out at his event.  Our job?  To wear their logo shirts and have fun.  Sure, we’ll help out.  We also got roped into serving drinks and such, which isn’t a big deal at all.  One of the managers asked me and one other friend to serve a few football players.  We had to wait for them to sit down, so we walked back to the bar.  Claudio, the owner, pulled Natalie into the pool (it’s a swim-up bar).  The manager grabbed my arm and told me not to go in after her.  I said I wouldn’t, but it wasn’t up to me…Claudio grabbed me from behind as the manager was holding my arm…Claudio won that fight and into the pool I went.  She was not very happy with me!  But since I’m not really an employee, it wasn’t an issue. 

Rewind to before I entered the pool involuntarily.  My brother’s college friend is in Accra for work for 3 months.  I finally got to meet up with her last night at the party!  It was awesome to get to talk and hang out with her and her roommate.  We might start running with the running club they’ve joined since being here.

That’s my life this week! Today, I think I’m going to go see baby sea turtles…:)