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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.