Leading Up To Leaving

Here are a few posts (and edited) leading up to my departure from the U.S.A. to Ghana

06 September 2012

Whenever I use the word “partner” as to refer to my roommate / teaching partner in Ghana, I have to make sure they don’t think Lover or Girlfriend. 

Anyways, I need to fill out these college applications. It is killing me.
Edit: No true college applications were finished by the time I left for Ghana. Majority were done while in Ghana on an unreliable internet and a few were finished when I got home in February. 

I have a list of things I should pack. Which is hilarious because it’s not really a list. 
Edit: It was a list, just poorly written out

13 September 2012

I have been maintaining this garage sale we are having and it’s quite hilarious.
Edit: It was not hilarious. It was cold but beautiful out. I am glad we had one. 
I’ve given a few dollars away not because I suck at counting money but because it’s a garage sale. 
Edit: I almost failed all my high school mathematics classes.

I am home. And I do not know if I want to laugh and rejoice or cry and curl into a ball (not because it is freezing). I am glad I had a eleven hour layover in London. Helped me settle into seeing so many obronis. Plus a salad from a sushi place, haribo, and a few local newspapers to keep me awake. Lots of people watching happened yesterday. 

Met Boston (obviously from Boston) while waiting for check-in. I arrived around 1200 (for no obvious reason) and learned check-in was not until around 1700. Sat on my bags, read, doodled, made friends with one of the airport service men who would come around occasionally and check up on things. 

Security, customs, all that was quick and painless. Even through London and Chicago.
(I did however, manage to forget my pull-over twice but quickly made up the error… and bought a box of Ghanaian chocolate for thirty). Quick and painless flight into London (whilst watching Perks of Being a Wildflower and listening to Mumford and Son’s Babel). A meal of vegetables – potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, and some other thingie and a fruit plate and a smaller salad with greens. London, simple people watching. Admiring stores, buying chocolate and a magnet. God forsaken magnet. Ten hours later, waiting in line to board the plane and I meet Ann Arbor. I would tell you the exact town he was from in Michigan but I forgot. I do know it is about seventeen minutes via highway to Ann Arbor from his location (his calculations). Nursing student, (I am going to stay something about his stutter because I admired it. We had a good conversation up until we split for seats. Especially with the media portrayal of Iran verses that of lets say, Saudi Arabia). Couscous for dinner and a rice pudding with soya milk. Excellente. Through customs relatively simple (only asked if I had tobacco or plants…) and I said no. I was caring alcohol, for which I am a minor, but it’s okay. I came from Ghana. KFC for dinner (and admiring a flushing toilet and hot sink water – I did burn my hand the first three times). Drinking water via tap and listening to my dad babble about the NRA, Faux news, and plenty of other right winged objectives. Then a detailed discussion that studying Human Rights will not find me a job and would need to double major in something job-worthy. Money, money, money. Naw. 

Hot showers and wasting water. All the best and all the worst. To Ghana, for making me a much wiser person than before (even if I forget how to spell basic words once in a while). To Goal, whom has made many fun weekend nights. I’ll take a proper shot with Bacardi and Hawaiian punch later. And will post more (text and writing) when I have rested from my sleep deprivation. 48 hours in counting and it’s what, seven a.m. 

Very long and necessary update

Sorry guys, I have not seen the internet in some time now (about a month).

I’ll do my best at updating about everything.

5/12/12

“It left me no choice but to drink in my pajamas for the rest of the night” – Zoe

Vasaloppet: 2 months 5 days

Update of the last month:
Takoradi with Duncan and Rogan (our second trip – our first being with Aly and Chrissy). Kokrobite. Accra. Cape. and back to Takoradi with Chrissy, Zoe, Mart, and a few others – Lauren, Kelsey, Duncan, and Rogan (where I was bitten by a malaria infested mosquito). No teaching (and no classes) due to Mr. Douchebag taking my Creative Arts classes and never returning them – but it is ok. I prefer to hang out with BS1 instead of BS2 or BS3. No class for the past three weeks or so (as of the 5th of December not the 26th).

Crashed at Aly and Chrissy’s and went into Takoradi for the first time. Visited Vienna City and due to the overpriced drinks, walked across the street to the Shell station and drank on their curb. Hmm, vodka? Next morning or rather day, ventured to the market and ate at the Pub (a western – James Bond on the television restaurant). Then over to Vienna Beach and Octoberfest!  Wish I was in Germany. Moving forward to Duncan and Rogan, ate at Spikes’ (bar and grill). A beautiful special burger with BBQ, Bacon, an the works. Plenty of chit chat about Babes especially Emma Watson. Back to their placement and short clips of Harry Potter. Awoken by drumming which was actually very good. Left shortly after and as Leah left for Mampong, I left to Kokrobite. Kokrobite to send James off back to England and to celebrate his birthday as well. Italian pizzas and bruschetta. Kissing Ross in a boat for a shared sum of 40 cedi. David being my wingman for about two minutes and some guitarist trying to start Queen’s Under Pressure with no success at midnight. To Accra with Jack and Christy. Cultural shock at the four story KFC in Osu and watching James Bond’s Skyfall. With a delicious bacon, corn, and BBQ fluffy pizza. And walking out of the supermarket with Toffee and whiskey. To the night at the club with Pamela, Precious, Ike, Sheldon, and Majka (pronounced Mika). From Cape and Zoe’s Australian (Lucky) to disappearing for three hours (which I was probably asleep) and waking up with a swollen eye and hand. Finally meeting Mirko and his lecture about how Shitty Goal is.

To Zoe’s “Shooo” with her hand.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? 

20th December 2012

Oh and “Casually try to eat your own face”

Boy do I love Green Turtle Lodge’s Jenga. I also came up with a bucket list – Stay at majority of all Disney World’s Resorts, visit toy stores in Manhattan, and see a Broadway (or two) play.

Current Status: Malaria infected but still alive 🙂
Less than 20 days to go (with my departure on the 9th). Big Christmas break holiday with a crowd of about eight – with drop ins and drop outs along the entire way).

…And now my last encounter at Green Turtle with Ic-E and Bob and Alex and Fufu, Lilly, and Betty. (Originally where I met Polish Jan (pronounced Yan… Swedish). and Ken and Lauren who are Swiss french and a Swede – who I told her Jag Alskar Dig.

I will iss the days where I can wake up and watch the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean. I am going to miss Lilly and Betty and the Brown dog – no one knows the name of and how secluded it is.

Grant me an old man’s Frenzy,
My self must I remake
Till I am Timon and Lear
Or that William Blake
Who beat upon the wall
Till truth obeyed his call. 

 
The stream of the world has changed its course,
And with the stream my thoughts have run
Into some cloudy, thunderous spring
That is its mountain-source;
Aye, to some frenzy of the mind
For all that we have done’s undone
Our speculation but as the wind
25th Dec 2012

Thinking that I could be waking up to Zach, Abby, and Matt and a Christmas tree loaded with wrapped presents and stockings downstairs. Or walking out on cold floors and seeing a Christmas tree fully decorated with presents and on the fireplace, our stockings or the presents in the sun room in the chest. Good old Christmas and I cannot even call them because of this six hour difference.

Last update of Ghana:
I guess I owe myself an explanation. I have been constantly off guard when we get internet (especially the last few weeks when we have been all over with little to no plans. Now with Christmas break and leaving in about two weeks – things have been different and have left me out-of-contact with society. Especially with the news that a volunteer has slept with a student – thus kicking him out of boarding at first, and then school. And then his house and now with him unable to take his Senior exams in Takoradi – then this volunteer goes and sleeps with another much younger student. But of course, that is what idiot Americans do.

Malaria – Spent a good six hours just waiting for all the tests and lab consultations to go by. Then received a drip for three or four hours and a shot right above my butt. My host stayed the entire time (my roommate stayed until the drip came into place – still at that time it was dark). Got home around nine-ish, half delirious and according to my roommate “high”. Symptoms basically included, sickness and tiredness, and everything in between. No vomiting or diarrhea fortunately but just little appetite, fever which gave me horrible chills and the sweats.

“I recommend coffee and then beer” – James Jacobs

This has been one hell of an escapade. From KFC and watching James Bond’s Skyfall to learning that we will not be teaching for three and a half weeks. To new friendships, motorcycle rides to knowledge sharing and drunken (weekend) nights. To 37* C weatherand a week of football matches. To sprinting home with a student in order to get my first aid kit and being chased by trolls when we walk over the bridge to get to class-or-home. To carrying a student on my back through knee deep muddy water due to his injured foot or listening to Joseph describe me as a 20 year old coconut planting footballer. To bucket showers, power outages, and our pit toilet (no longer) swarming with sewer flies. To the children who always have a smile on their face even if they can’t pay school fees or have money for the canteen. To the kids who don’t have money for new notebooks or pens but still show up every day and try to learn. To Justice in BS1 who I will never forget. To the boy at the park with the most heartwarming smile. To the redheaded pair of footballers or watching the duck try to eat the fish. To Mr. Shadrock who is looking to volunteer in Europe.

Back to the chase and main storyline. From the farewell for James at Kokrobite to making out with a Botswana for 40 cedi to delicious brushetta and Italian conversations led by David (also my temporary wingman that weekend). To Accra and trying on clothes. To our delicious bacon, corn, and chicken pizza in the mall. Or that’s what I assumed it to be. To Ike, Pamela, Precious, Sheldon, and Majka (pronounced Mika) and our 20 goal packets littered on the bedroom floor and the shot of Odigidy. Not ogigidy. And of course, for riding the bus. Every. single. time.

Some quick highlights –

  • Literally sprinted home with a student home to get first aid tape. Had to bandage another footballer’s foot.
  • Trying to describe snow to the teachers. They clearly cannot comprehend.
  • Gave the kids a gummy hamburger and they were outside pretending to cook it.
  • Silvester is one of the nicest people I have met
  • The house was surrounded by trolls with the power was out
  • A girl rode her bicycle through the football match and no one said or did anything.
  • They sell “Soya beans” which is a tofu kebab with their spicy seasoning. Bought two andc gave one to Silvester.
  • Invited to play in the JHS football match.
  • A “form 3” student named Michael, asked me out.
  • Bonnie decided to buy black shoe polish and paint his blue shoes
  • No pants party when the power was out and it was a sauna in the room. Dancing to Queen!
  • Lightning storms at night are amazing
  • Redheaded footballers
  • Watched a ref throw “insert number of players” out of a match via red card
  • “Special Burger” with BBQ, Bacon, and the works at Spike’s. Plus live MTV and plenty of banter about Emma Watson verses everyone. With Rogan and Duncan.
  • Toured Takoradi for the first time with Aly and Chrissy.
  • Drank outside the shell station because Vienna City was too expensive.
  • “Obama is a beast” according to our host brothers and sisters. Due to the fact that he supports gays and ‘lesbianism’
  • Our taxi toward Nazareth had reclining back seats (partly due to the fact that there was no back!
  • First time I have ever been awoken by drumming.
  • Came into contact with a deranged turkey
  • Made friends with our neighbour’s goat two days ago and the next day I learned he was eaten. So I cursed and shed a tear. Those fuckers.
  • Witnessed a duck trying to eat an entire fish.
  • When I brought the football to school, their reaction was priceless.
  • The kids don’t believe me when I tell them that I am not 20
  • Kakra, my sister, is passed out in my bed.
  • Had K, SK, and Nefia sleeping on our floor one night. However we carried them to their house and put them to bed.
  • Introduced them to Grape jelly
  • I have met Capachino three weekends in a row (Cape, Kokrobite, and Accra)
  • Rice and Bread for Thanksgiving. Me oh my!

Bonnie and Michael

To start off with, it is sometime around 1300 and we just wolfed down KFC. In Osu.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

I would try and write more but my time is running down to four minutes and there are two Obrunis here in Vodafone that have caught my attention. Now I will appreciate their accents because one is quite attractive.

Quick pick points that I will update later.

– Visited Duncan and Rogan in Takoradi and ate at Spike’s. Special burger with Bacon, BBQ sauce,  and cheese.

– Went to Kokrobite with the Brits to send James off. Met Ross, Armen, David, and everyone.

  • Kissed Ross, in a boat, for 40 cedi (but we split it 20/20).
  • Bruschette (sic) was amazing. The pizza was amazing. The pasta was amazing.
  • The rooms were amazing and the food at the resort was excellent (and well priced for that matter)

– Football tournament with our school and the other schools at the park. Our BS football team won their first match, 1-0 with less than two minutes left on the clock.

– Was invited (and asked) to play with the JHS (Junior High) girls next week. All week there is a tournament and I have no idea if I will be teaching or not.

– Headed to Accra and while at a tro tro station, a university student (or that age range) helped us find a tro tro to Madina. His name was Ken and extremely generous. Able to get to Henry’s pretty easily. Drank Goals and Fanta all night and then went to the club with Atu until sometime around eleven. Fell asleep in a hotter than hell room with Jack. The fan helped little.

  • Walked to buy bread in boxers and a t-shirt while Jack was dressed in the bed sheet but made to look like a traditional robe
  • Almost lost trying to find Osu / Oxford Street but we found it.
  • Ate at KFC, huge three story building. Air conditioned. Just out of the blue. The food was amazingly brilliant and I almost cried. But they did not have popcorn chicken or mashed potatoes. They did have fried rice and their chips (french fries) were fantastic. Ate it all with Jack.
  • To the movies and mall we go! Western world, how dearly I love you only when we are so far away from each other.

Now next weekend, will be the drastic, holy shit, what has been going on.

Lover Of The Light

I miss listening to Mumford & Sons.

I wish I could write every little sparing detail about home life here – all I can say is that I dislike rice (but would happily have it over, lets say, Yams). I have been ‘sick’ twice with some mysterious bug – Malaria unknown but assumed (I have no intentions on visiting the hospital unless my symptoms get horribly worse or this drags on for more than a week). I have caught a chick with the help of the students and returned to his-or-her mother. James is going to be my wingman this weekend and why the hell do I always fall for the ones in relationships? Two job offers in Sweden, quite on the wall with that but want to see the Women’s Euro. If it all shapes up this could be an extremely fun gap year.

Russia in 2014 for the winter Olympics. Dun Dun Dun.

I just want to be close to you but I don’t want to feel needy and annoying. Edgar! I have attained the “unofficial” nurse title, thanks proprietor. Miss Constance, Madame Suzie, and another (who I cannot spell the name of) are the nicest teachers.

Definitely could add a list of students but we have about 30 per class and around 40 in the Kg1 and Kg2 classes. So 30 x 6 for basic school,  and then no idea how many in the Form 1-3 classes. Recently we have had a PT meeting and while introducing everyone, Leah stands up and starts saying what-not and I am just sitting there laughing. And then everyone else laughs because It is incredibly funny to watch an Obruni laugh at another Obruni.

I have learned to love when the power is on. Ours goes off about every night and more than likely during the day.
I love the cocoa drink we make for the students. Even though my mother won’t let me pay her at all. Even Kakra, my sister, refuses. Fine. I’ll just give it to you when I leave.

Received three meals a day now, compared to our two at first and then one. Maxwell, a good friend from Cape, decided to drive me home on his motorcycle due to the fact that I could not find a tro-tro that was headed up north. Bought Petrol and paid him a few dollars even though he refused it.

I will write more on Sunday, now I am running out of time and have to pee.

Looking into my old posts

Snowfall

Time: 1607

12 January 2012

How does one describe the sound of the snow? How does one describe the eerie silence accompanied by inches of snow resting? How does one describe the whistle or music that falling snow creates in collision with the wind? How does one describe winter without using words related to winter?

The hallowing collision between the dropping of snow flakes combined with the brisk wind, what type of sound is that? How does one describe the sound of passing sirens combined with that of the whistle of a freight train? How does one describe the sound of Philip Glass’ Knee Play 5?

How does one describe the happiness of driving on pure ice or the car’s anti-lock breaks? How does one describe the happiness of shoveling and hot chocolate? How does one describe freezing hands caused by the action of molding and throwing snowballs at an unexpected patron?

How does one describe the swishing of snow? How does one describe watching small children scamper through the snow banks? How does one describe the happiness of unexpected patrons slipping?

Running with Ghanaians

17 October 2012
That really is an understatement. It rather should be, Running After Ghanaians. It has been a frivolous five weeks since I departed the U.S. Five weeks of living in 29-32ish deg. Celsius weather. Hundreds of kilometres traveled via bus, tro-tro, taxi, and on foot. Last night while playing football, A man presumably from the village came up and hugged me. Is the concept of a female obruni playing football with Ghanians that rare of a site? Even when I hit the man in the back (not the hugging man) while taking a PK, he smiled and laughed. I sincerely apologise to all the people and children I have hit with the football (especially the one I hit in the face-). Runnign in the dark on a road with so many dips and divets, that it took me four tries of jogging, to not trip (over the same spot of course). Though when someone yells out “Run Obruni Run”, nothing in the world matters most than beating my younger sister to the pole. Of course without my excellence to cheat, she won every single race. Without a furrow of worry.

  • I admire the canteen ladies’ spirits and enthusiasm. The fact that they labour and sweat every single day, rain or shine. Especially when they try to get us to understand Twi and crack jokes when we give them that confused look. I am going to sit in the Kg1 (kindergarten 1) class and learn

I have been asked whether I am a boy or girl and just recently thought of a good response, “As long as we are not going to bed together, then why does it matter?

 

Update: 23 October 2012

Kate helped me out of a few situations on Sunday (morning). Not only walking me to my room but telling the fellow, “Charlie is going to sleep alone tonight… She said no at least fifteen times.” The sunrise on the 21st of October was beautiful – especially over the Atlantic Ocean’s horizon.

The language barrier here does not bother me. Just as long as I can act out everything and laugh at the fact that no one understands one another. All is well. Especially when they realise that I am trying to learn the language and not the other way around (like most people expect).

Update: 24 October 2012

If I knew the actual history behind Ghana, I feel like I could say this very differently but with what I have now: I have came down to the honest conclusion that I might become depressed when I return to the states in February. For reasons being, I think majority of all Americans are lazy, ignorant fools who loath money and materialistic goods.

That was harsh. My apologies (not). Majorily I forgot to add that on our way down to Cape, maybe four weeks or so ago, we passed anaccident in which a truck or other vehicle was sideways in the trees – and the front end of another tro-tro was smashed. It was more of a shock with the conditions of the road and how fast and “careless” they drive. Though “careless” should not be the right word – they speed especially with the conditions of the road yet can maintain the vehicle over all the swerving and potholes.

I have a new found respect for my brother Silvester who not only shows a huge amount of respect towards us but is awfully nice and welcoming. I wish he was not a form 3 student along with Michael and the others.

Update: 26 October 2012

We are going to be taught Twi by Miss Constance, the Kg (kindergarten) 2 teacher. In return, I am giving her some candies. Plus I went trudging through knee deep muddy water and gave Paul, a BS5 student, a piggy back ride because he had caterpillar spikes in his foot.

 

Thoughts on leaving

It is more complicated than what I just write on here. I am staying for numerous reasons. A few because of the people I have met and others because of the experience / adventure factor. I am going to stay until the passport gets the extended visa and go from there. Which will be around November to December. Of course since I have made it to mid-November and into December then why do I not stay the entire time? I have great friends and connections down in Cape Coast with the locals and plenty of relationships with the other volunteers and I hate the term volunteers while referring to them.
I will post more when I write it all down and put some thought into it.

Extremely late update

I have become fond of the six o’clock roosters, mutated duck chickens, and the many spiders, lizards, and unknown amount of milimeter sized ants that inhabit and share our living space. I have (successfully) played football in a skirt and pet a cute little chick – without the consent of the mother. I have traveled in a non-regulated boat across the Atlantic Ocean with three of the finest people. I have shared stories while drunk on the beach and swam in the dark (The ocean herself has been a never ending adventure. We, Jack, and I, must have been nice to her prior to Friday evening because she could have easily swept us out but did not.) There are some things I understand in life but the ocean, not her.) i have learned to take quick bucket showers and ave been without power for the last three days (that changed last night).

I don’t know how to fully describe everything that I have been through in a month. Most houses being brick slabs with tin roofs. The school, rather B.S. (Basic School) classrooms are just wood planks for walls and tin roofs. The weather is indecisive. Some days hot yet others rainy and loud. Saw a rainbow a day ago, always a beautiful sight and first one in Ghana.

The first day upon arrival was definitely a shocker. Put 20 of us, ranged from 17 to 23 and from completely different backgrounds into a single house. That would make a good ‘Big Brother’ episode. Even though I have never seen ‘Big Brother’ or the likewise. The heat can really wake you up, especially the instant we got off the plane – on the tarmac. Of course, long pants and a long shirt do no good. One lady asking hundreds of incoming foreigners to display their yellow cards (Yellow Fever) for her to check over. I would say more but Wasaaba! Welcome to Ghana.

The first week was full of adjustments and readjustments, meeting the household and forming new relationships. Bucket washing clothes and hanging them on the upstairs deck railing thing. Dance lessons in the market place. Whomever has the video of me dancing, I would like to see it!

I still cannot fathom this ‘God’ culture but like always, Cada Loco Con Su Tema. To each his own.

Back to the important stuff, I am unaware of the population of Twifo Mampon but I can find it on my map of Ghana so the population must be large enough. The main export is Palm Fruit (though I will not miss the smell). The palm fruit is mixed and mashed into palm oil and other items that are exported to neighbouring countries.

The school is run by our host, Mr. Nakumah (pronunciation is better than spelling in this case). Now at first I was awstruck at the condition of this school but then I learned that it was a private school, the funding for the buildings were raised by the first volunteers who arrived five years ago. Most of the children are unable to afford textbooks and even so, the textbooks are laughable. The first week of class was just pure boredom and really made me want to leave. Chaos of just sitting in the back of the classroom for the entire day. Even through the third week, we still have no timetable and teach as we go. Which means we don’t know where we are supposed to be. To say that I go through the week awaiting the weekend makes me mad. I am just planning on creating a class for all those who cannot afford to go to school.

No mother had the dreams that her daughter is going to grow up and be a junkie

Food: I dislike yams with a burning passion. Rice is okay and fried eggs on fluffy bread beats it all. Banku and Kanku are not the greatest but oh well. (I ate noodles at lunch with my hands today – and I asked for permission!). There are plenty of little things i have not written – my internet time is running low and a lot of it is teenage rated. Maybe i will post it all when I get back home. I also do not plan to spend all of my time in Ghana on the computer.
I am still amazed that the ocean did not take us away Friday. Two lucky son of a bitches. I will add more next week or whenever I can think of anything else.

I am enjoying being an abomination here! Plus, my tan is orangish-brown.

You know i could use somebody

My playlist is getting old.

Aut Viam Invenium Aut Faciam – I will either find my way or make one.

P.S. The cocoa drink is always the finest – unless they add too much cocoa. Then it is just nothing. I am not religious but I hold true to:

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall not fear a thing.