Volta Region Mountains

Volta Region Mountains

Friday, July 16, 2010

Last Blog post!

SOOOO it has almost been a month since I left Ghana. It is very strange being back in America. I miss Ghana, to tell you the truth! It really was the simple life! I like having choices, but sometimes only one or two ways work as well. I love being home though! You know, I'm not really going anywhere with this lol. It is just too hard to put into words lol.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What do you mean it’s time to leave?!

Hmmm ok. So. I don’t really know what to say. I’m kind of in shock. I looked at my calendar and it said that I am leaving in like four days. When did the end get here!! I know in my last blog I said 11 days…but it was just a number to my brain. Now that the number is so low…it is kind of reality…this is scary. I don’t know what to think! I can’t fathom leaving!! This has been my life and now it is just over! I have had so many amazing experiences and met so many amazing people! Leaving just doesn’t seem right.
Dear Ghana,
You have been wonderful to me. You have treated me well. I have seen your land and met your people. Everything about you is priceless. I wouldn’t exchange my time here for anything. After six months I have felt the pain you put in my stomach, the tears you put in my eyes, the compassion you put in my heart, the excitement you put in my ears, the adventure you have put in my feet, the logic you put in my brain, and the burn you put on my skin; you have put me through quite a run, but it has been marvelous. As my never ending summer comes to an end I would like to say goodbye to my foster country in hopes to see you again.
Adwoa (a.k.a. Celea)
On a side note, I spent the last weekend with Amy and her host family! On the way to her village Amy almost got robbed and we witnessed a riot between two villages. Every village has a chief, or elder, that finalizes decisions. Apparently there was a disagreement between the two villages, probably having to do with marriage. But it was actually really scary! They had all the young men carry their machetes and clubs and march to the next village. Then we went to Akim Oda to see where Amy’s host dad works and to see the largest tree in West Africa!!! So exciting!!! The tree is 404 years old and about 60 feet around the trunk. It was pretty cool!! Now I have seen the largest tree and market in West Africa! Anyways, I have one week in London and then I will be home!! See you all soon!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Coming to an end :(

This past weekend marked the points of my birthday and my SAT! I had a great birthday filled with friends and fun! I'm so appreciative of the friends and connections that I have made, it has really made my experience completely amazing. I even ate camel hump at my dinner!! That was also my last day of school so I was able to say goodbye to all of my new classmates. I can't believe everything is finishing. I have 11 more days left in Ghana!!! I can almost count the days on my hands!! I remember the first 11 days here. In my diary I wrote how hot it was here, what supplies I needed for school, and I tried ground nut soup (my favorite!!) for the first time! It is amazing how amateur I was when I just got here. Even the other day I was chatting with some volunteers and they were asking the same questions that I was stressing about my first few days in country. I feel like I am just going to wake up in a few days and I will just be home, I think I might go crazy. But now that I am leaving soon, I am in the middle state of traveling. I'm just excited to be home! But I don't know if I'm actually ready to be! My Auntie Val is going to South Africa tomorrow for the World Cup and she is packing up her room; it is weird to even think of packing!! My brain is so confused! Well, when I do get off the plane at Sea-Tac I hope that it is cold and rainy; this sounds very nice. Also, Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kitten Khebab

So, I'm sitting inside chatting with my Auntie Val, Auntie Rebecca, and Amy when we heard all the night guards on the street fighting! Val went out and found out what was going on. When she came back in she said that all the day guards were fighting with the night guards.

Let me back up, about the first week of March one of the stray cats around the neighborhood had three kittens on our front porch! I was even the second person to hold the kittens! So, for the past three months the kittens have been growing up around the house and seeing them and petting them. I even named them!!

The day guards all love the kittens, they play with them and everything! But the night guards don't care about them because they don't see the kittens in the same way.

So finally we find out that one of the night guards had come to steal kitten to eat it as his super!! The day guards were saying that the cats belong to the house but the night guards were saying that it was just an animal. There was a huge feud over the cats!! A lady had even come from down the street to cook the cat!

In the end, when I walked outside there were only two kittens.

As a side note, cat is actually supposed to be really tasty! People in the north eat them all the time! But the cat was ours, he shouldn't have eaten it.

Now when I go outside and only see two I will think to myself "oh ya, the third one was eaten" I don't even like cats! But I watched these ones be born! We had a connection...

But anyways, just felt that I had to share my despair with you!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Adventure: Part 2

So part two of our adventure consisted of A LOT of travelling…a bit too much if you ask me. The single longest time that we travelled was when we went from Tamale down to Accra. This bus ride was TWELVE hours…it was a tad long. From Accra we made our way to the west! We spent some much needed time on the beaches of Axim! Then we made a day trip to the village on stilts, Nzulezo. The journey to get to the village was quite an adventure in itself! We spent over an hour paddling and walking through swamps and jungles! When we finally arrived at the village I was quite impressed! It was a very cool and structurally sound village! Schools were also available to the children! But because the water that surrounds the village is as dark as coffee, the national service Ghanaian teachers were frightened by it and left. There are now volunteers to teach the children. But the village consisted of 500 people that mainly fish, but during the dry season the village farms. But it was very cool to see the village! I felt bad for the natives though because they are basically on display for foreigners to come to see. Then we made our way to Cape Coast and Elmina to check out the castles. The Elmina Castle is amazing! It was so pretty; it’s too bad they were used to hold slaves. Did you know that 12-25 million slaves were estimated to be captured? The slaves were held 200 to a 25 by 25 foot room for up to three months. The bathrooms were exactly the same place that the slaves lived for 3 months. The captives also weren’t allowed to bathe. When we walked through the dungeons of the Elmina Castle the stench of feces and bodies was still there. It was sad. That ended our trip! It was exciting and tiring but all completely worth it! Now I just need to rest my brain for a few days and I will be fine! I will be coming home in a few weeks, it doesn’t seem real!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Adventure: Part 1

HELLO!! So, I've been traveling for the past week with two other American students on my program, Amy and Eric. We started off last week with a day at Lake Bosumtwi. My Auntie Valerie and her cousins came as well! It was a good relaxation day before we started traveling through out the rest of Ghana! After the lake, we spent a few nights in the city of Kumasi. We went to the zoo! It was a very depressing site; there was at least one dead animal in each cage..but it was still fun, in a way. Then we went to the largest market in West Africa! There are over 10,000 vendors, so we didn't see it all, but it was more than exciting! I did not purchase much, it was mainly more of the task of pushing your way threw the crowds and resisting the vendors yelling and pulling at you! Amy and I also got our whole head of hair braided! We took it out the next day though because it was paining us too much. Then we went to Tamale, up north, to have a rest before our next destination. I'm in love with Tamale! I think it is the best city in Ghana that I have visited so far. The city's roads are paved, people are active and friendly, and everyone rides bicycles because they have ACTUAL SIDEWALK! The atmosphere is just so light and free! Such a lovely place. Then we went to Mole National Park. We went to the bus station at 4:30am to buy our tickets for the 8:30 bus. But when we got on the bus, we found out that the lady sold us the wrong ticket. So, the bus went threw hundreds of little villages picking up people along the way. To tell you the truth, for the almost five months that I've been here, I've put in my mind that the fact that people still live in huts was a myth. Up north, that is not the case. People/villages are completely comprised of mud circular huts! Probably one of the coolest things I've seen! In one of the villages that we stopped at, a mother and baby son boarded the bus. The baby was so scared of us white people! It was actually really funny, but sad. He squished up his face and sealed his eyes closed as his mother carried him by haha! But then we got off at some random town called Daramongo. We ended up having to take a taxi to the park. But it's not like any of the roads are paved so of course our cab got a flat tire, ADVENTURE! Eventually we made it to the park and hotel and were welcomed by the friendly staff, clean rooms, a pool, and a look out over two water holes for the animals to come to! We went on a safari through the brush and wilderness and saw different breeds of antelope, monkey, and elephant! We watched the elephants bathe in the water hole, 25 feet from us! Then when it was over we decided to get biscuits from the shop. On the way back the baboons were waiting for us and bombarded us and stole our snacks from us! Scariest thing ever!! When we were at the look out the baboons attacked us and went right under my chair! They are vicious and evil!!! I'm so over monkeys at this point in my life, they are mean and greedy! I wasted so much money on food that the monkeys stole straight from us!!! So I was hungry and broke!!! But the overall experience was amazing, but I'm happy to be out of the park! But now we are off again!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Survey Results!

So, a few people took the small survey to the right! It looks like the most people want to hear about the culture! Culture refers to pretty much everything in Ghana…so I will try to touch base on as much as I can!!
1. So, as some of you might know, Ghana is a former British colony known as the Gold Coast. Ghana is the first African country south of the Sahara to win its independence; which was 53 years ago. Ghana has been under democratic rule since 1992 but I have heard from many Ghanaians that “democracy” doesn’t mean what it should for Ghana.
2. Ghana has 10 regions. Within those 10 regions, there are over 50 ethnic groups and over 90 languages and dialects. English is the official language but other well known languages are: Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe, Ga, and Twi. 70% of the people live in the southern part of Ghana.
3. Accra (the capital and where I live) is 4.5 degrees north of the equator and is on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. From north to south, Ghana is about 418 miles long and from east to west it is 333 miles wide. The bordering countries are Cote D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Togo; these are all French speaking countries. Other major cities in Ghana are Tema, Secondi-Takoradi, Tamale, Sunyani, Koforidua, Ho, Wa, Cape Coast, and Kumasi.
4. It is actually really easy to travel around Ghana. Busses and tros are labeled and people can usually direct you to the right place. I usually take Busses when I travel anywhere that goes in the direction of north. You can take S.T.C and Metro Mass Transit which are the government busses or busses such as V.I.P or V.V.I.P (HAHA) which are privately owned and are usually on schedule (Ghana Schedule) as compared to the government busses. Tro Tro’s are easy to catch and are the cheapest way of transportation. Tros will usually stop to drop you wherever you ask. But this means it takes longer to get to places. Also, you can always tell if someone has been on a tro just by how they smell…haha! I think there are more taxis than people in Ghana. Taxi’s find you, especially if you’re white. And if you don’t know the price, they will rip you off. Taxi is the most expensive way of transport but is the most efficient since there are no added variables. Shared taxis are good as well! It usually just takes them a while to fill but they have a set and fair price.
5. I consider Ghana to be very safe. I have not yet been robbed or assaulted so I think it’s all good! Of course travelling at night isn’t a good idea, I have learned. There are areas and paths I don’t take if I walk at night but it mainly has to do with using your brain and your gut feeling. And usually if I feel scared it’s because I’m in a sketch area, but that doesn’t usually happen.
6. The currency of Ghana is the Ghana Cedi (GHC). No one takes credit cards. The one and only mall in Ghana accepts credit cards and some hotels do as well. ATM’s or “cash points” are available in Ghana. There are even three ATMs within 500 feet of me. But outside of Accra, you will only find a few in the entire region.
7. The food!! The entire diet consists of yam, cassava, corn, plantains, and rice. Many tropical fruits are plentiful, but vegetables are scarce and more expensive. Fish is the most common “meat” eaten in Ghana; poultry is next, followed by red meats which are rarely eaten. Fufu and Banku are the favorites in Ghana. These are usually eaten with soups or sauces. Gari is dried cassava. I hate this stuff. But my classmates will eat it mixed with water and even my friend Amy will eat it with Milo (like chocolate milk powder) and peanuts mixed with water. People also put Shitto and Peppe on everything. This stuff will give you the runs. It is honestly too spicy for me haha. Beans are also very popular in meals. Red Red is a bean dish. Ground nuts are the same as peanuts here. Ground nuts are served with all plantain dishes, with bananas, and made into peanut brittles, and even soups. Ground nut soup is my favorite. I usually eat it with white rice or rice balls accompanied with tuna in the soup.
8. Most people shower twice a day here, I usually only shower once at night. Mostly everyone washes their clothes by hand. I personally wash my clothes every 2 weeks; this is when I usually run out of clean clothes haha. I’ve gotten used to hand washing my clothes. I just put on my iPod and scrub away for about two hours haha. Malaria does kill a lot here. I was given a daily medicine to prevent malaria but I actually haven’t taken it for like 3 weeks haha oopps…but I actually haven’t gotten sick here. I got sick earlier while I was here, but it was because I had sun poisoning. But if someone does get sick they go to the “clinic” here they will usually inject something into your butt.
9. From my observations, most teenagers do not smoke or drink. But adults usually drink beer and women usually drink Smirnoff ice (which apparently isn’t alcoholic…but there is alcohol in it…but people consider it a soda…). “Star” is the Ghanaian beer and the favorite beer.
10. Watching television is a big leisure activity here. Other families will go to the beach on the weekend, especially after church on Sundays. When the lights go off, people usually just chat. The teenage life is very different here. Because all of the students are boarding students, you can’t really hang out after school. But when hanging out, dancing and singing to American and Ghanaian music is popular. I am a fan of Ghanaian music. It is called High Life. Most HipLife artists are actually signed by Akon.
11. Dressing appropriately is very important here. Kaba and Slit are the most popular form of dress. I had one made specifically for the funeral, but most women wear them every day. I liked wearing mine, but it is tight and hot. I even got heat rash from it, so I couldn’t imagine wearing one every day! Teenagers, when they aren’t wearing their school uniforms, wear jeans and dresses; teenage boys wear designer tee shirts and other flashy items. Ghana gets a lot of rejects from designer shops around the world; seeing such brands on Ghanaians is very common. But all clothes are washed and ironed and having your elder fixing your clothes right before you step out of the door is common. But flip flops and sandals are the most common form of shoe.
12. Most Ghanaians have up to three cell phones each. Cell phones are huge here. Everyone is always reachable. But most of the time people will just call you and have nothing to say haha
13. As you all know by now, Ghana is extremely religious. Everyone is Christian, Catholic, or Muslim. You will see signs and psalms listed on cars, buildings, shops, and tros all throughout Ghana. Some shops and listings are called: “Love Jesus Barber Shop” “Accept God Chop Shop” “Jesus is your friend” “As nice as Heaven fashions”. As you can see, Ghana is highly influenced by religion. This is also why most girls do not drink “good girls don’t drink Star”…that is why…lol
14. Ghanaian families are relatively large. Most families live on shared compounds where the family stays together. This is due to financial reasons, to take care of the elders, and have assistance in the upbringing of the children. If a family has their own home, cousins, nieces, and nephews will usually live at the house anyways.
15. So here is some etiquette that is common in Ghana. Some of these I have already listed in past blogs.
a. Never use your left hand
b. When greeting a group of people, start greeting from the left
c. You must say “you are invited” when you have food in front of you
d. Never refuse food. RUDEST thing you can do.
e. Do not compare people to animals. Even if you mean it in a non hurtful way.
f. Saying that you are getting fat is polite.
g. Public affection is NOT appropriate. Holding of the hands is disgraceful. Amy and I saw this one couple kissing near the poolside once and we were appalled. Haha Ghana. Hugging isn’t normal here either. When you greet someone you usually do this handshake thing and then you snap fingers between the two hands, it’s actually really cool haha.
h. You always address strangers and teachers as “Madame” and “Sir” usually if you want to ask a question you say “please, madame, blah blah blah” it shows respect.
i. Eating while walking is considered weird here. But I usually do it every now and then. It is probably just weird because it distracts you and if you get distracted to where you are walking, you will probably fall in the gutter.

Well, this was long!! But I hope it was helpful and answers any curiosities you had! I will try to upload more pictures as well; it just takes a long time.