Volta Region Mountains

Volta Region Mountains

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ahh the village...!

So, I visited my American friend, Amy, and her host family for the past couple of days in her village. Village life is very different than cosmopolitan Accra life. In the village, the days are longer, the food is spicier, and the activities are limited. But the weather is cooler, at a mere 95-100 degrees F., and is relatively cheaper than Accra. I even pounded fufu for the first time in Ghana! The “pounder” is made out of a bamboo branch and you just pound the cassava and plantain mixture. I didn’t do it for very long because my arms got tired very quickly haha. Fish is also eaten with almost every meal. Chicken and meats are very rare. If you want a chicken you have to buy a chicken and kill it. This is the case in Accra as well, but it is just rare to physically see. On my bus home, the lady sitting next to me was holding a live chicken in her lap…I always just laugh to myself because half the things I see in Ghana are so random haha I love it. In the village, waking up at 7 or 8am is considered sleeping in. Most people wake up early to do laundry and other chores to avoid the heat, even though it is still hot. By 6am or so, music is playing, people are talking, and the roosters are screaming. I always get worried when I hear the sound of people pounding fufu…It’s kinda really difficult to eat it for breakfast. Also, as we are approaching the rainy season, it rains pretty much every day. It is good because it cools Ghana off a bit, but bad because people don’t like the rain here; therefore everything closes. I even brought my rain jacket from Seattle! But…no one goes outside…haha. In the village, the surroundings turn into mud! Amy and I really wanted to go mud sledding! But…ya…that would be weird…people just don’t understand!!
Every night before I go to bed I always think about Ghana and all the crazy and amazing stuff that happens here. I go to bed saying to myself, “I love Ghana.” And I’m not just saying that to pretend that I actually like it here, I honestly love it here! At this point I have been here for 105 days and I only have 60 left…I feel like any day now I could be on that plane back home!! I don’t even know if I’m ready to leave!! It will be weird to wake up in my bed, to eat bagels, to drive, to go to Starbucks, to get French fries at McDonalds, to drink water from the faucet, to take a hot shower, to just hang out with friends and make stupid music videos…I don’t know if I will remember how most of this works!! I guess part of this journey is how I react to the modern world when I come back, and appreciate modern marvels. But even though I’m in Ghana and I don’t really have any of the things that I listed (except maybe the hot shower, but only when the water has been sitting in the pipes all day, very rare) life is still pretty good!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fun Facts!

Here are some phrases, words, and general facts that I've jotted down!

Here are some words that I didn't understand when said; this is due to the British English Ghanaians speak mixed with their own:
-A "rubber" = a plastic bag
-A "que" = a line (that people stand in)
-A "bureau" = a bank
-A "parcel" = a package
-A "tro tro" = is a form of public transportation
-A "canteen" = a lunchroom
-"Vat" = is tax (when purchasing stuff)
-"Slippers" = are flip flops
-A "duster" = is a black board eraser
-An "Insector" = is a tampon (sorry, I had to let you know that one)
-"Pomade" = is lotion

Did you know...
...that Oranges, lemons, and bananas are naturally green here?
...when you flush a toilet, the water doesn't spin, it goes straight down?
...there are no "hot" or "cold" option faucets, only 'on' or 'off'?
...the moon's crescent is on the bottom (so it looks like a smile)?
...Ghana is the closest country to the middle of the Earth?
...that using your left hand for basically anything is a huge insult?
...mostly everything is eaten with a spoon or hands?
...Ghana is the largest supplier of cocoa beans?
...Ghana grows and produces coffee beans but Ghanaians never drink coffee?

Words and Phrases commonly used...
-"Do you need to go to the ladie's and Gent's?" (do you need to go to the bathroom)
-"I'm so bored with this homework, it's too difficult" (To be bored = to be annoyed)
-"He is going to be sacked from work because he doesn't come" (to be sacked = to be fired)
-"Did you chuck up when you were sick?" (to chuck = to vomit)
-A wasted pregnancy = an abortion
-"Do you want take-away for your rice?" (take away = take out)
-"Sit well as I peel your oranges" (sit well = to take a seat)
-"Sit skinny so the person can sit next to you" (sit skinny = squeeze together)
-Chocked = clogged
-"I'm Coming" (this is commonly used to let people know that they acknowledge you. If you ask some one for a pencil, they will reply with "I'm coming." This phrase is used for everything. Most of the time when some one says it, the person never comes back lol.
-"Obruni, how are you?" "I'm fine" is the common street talk when you pass people.
-Hissing and making a kissing noise is commonly used to get your attention.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Volta Region

For the past week I have spent my time with fellow AFS-ers hiking and trekking through the jungles of the Volta Region. Let me tell you…it was not easy. The jungles are hot, humid, and sunny; climbing mountains in these conditions is very difficult. But it was fun! It was fun to be with the other foreign people and hear how their experiences have been. It is really interesting to see how us 11 kids (we were 14…haha) can come from all different countries, speak all different languages, but in three months time, we all come together and speak the same Twi and say the same weird English phrases that get us by. It is nice to see I’m not alone. But it is actually weird that I got home sick from leaving my home in Ghana to go on this trip! When I got back to Accra, I was happy to be home! But the trip was amazing! We saw lots of cool places! The rain forests in the Volta Region are so beautiful! The vines hang down from the trees as they smack you in the face, and there are trees covered in ants as you grab them for balance, as well as heat that transforms into sweat that drips off of your body and soaks your clothes. It was definitely an experience I will never forget! We also hiked to the top of a mountain and could see the bordering country, Togo, from the top! The most spectacular site we visited was the Wli Falls. The falls are estimated at 150 feet in height and is said to be the largest water fall in Western Africa. We went swimming underneath it; it hurt so very much, but was completely worth it! Outside of our mountain top escape, stick bugs and scorpions lived…which was really scary…but it was neat to see them wild, and not in a zoo. We also went to a village where the monkeys live next to a village. The village people said that the monkeys are sacred to them. They also say that the monkeys take their food haha. I got to feed a monkey a banana though! It was a fun trip! I’m just now realizing that I will be back in my natural home sooner than later, time is clicking!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Amazing Easter Weekend!

This Easter weekend included the best two days of my life! No joke. Over the weekend we went up to Nkawkaw to camp in the mountains. There is a big Easter weekend paragliding festival on the top of the mountain. Apparently the people I went up with know the people that own the land under the TV tower, so we got to set up camp right there; next to the paragliding runway. We had the three dogs with us (Ghanaians are scared of dogs, like nothing else) so people thought we were all legit. And during this festival the chiefs came to dance and do a ceremony thing so they parked their vehicles in our territory, so when people asked where we were sleeping we pointed to our spot and people were like “ohhhh…!!” haha. But the festival was a lot of fun! The food was good and fairly priced! The DJ was playing all of my favorite Ghanaian music! By coincidence some of my fellow AFS friends were there also, so that was fun! Then Auntie Valerie and I got our tickets to paraglide; we were numbers 184 and 185. The first day of flying they took 20 people…so our luck for that didn’t look too optimistic…but we had fun watching other people jump! Everyone jumps different ways; some land on their face, so the Ghanaian crowd is fun to hear. Then that night we had some flares and stuff we set off! No one else was camping where we were so we had it all to ourselves! This one flare I set off shot out like a missile and I honestly thought I put the entire country out…but I didn’t! So the next morning, we sat next to the pilots and chatted with all of them! The people I went up with actually do crazy base jumps with the organizer of this event. So I was chatting with him and I ended up paragliding first!!! Paragliding is the most amazing thing I have ever done! It is so peaceful but exciting because we were doing turns and stuff! Then in air, we decided to do some circle trick with another paraglide, and the paraglide below us came up and the strings that attach the parachute to the person got caught in my leg and ripped their chute and cut my leg up. I was just happy that I didn’t die haha. The other paraglide had to land because it wasn’t safe, but we continued to fly! The view was amazing! Everything was so green because the real rain forest started there. The clouds were also visible and they crawled up the mountains, it was amazing. But then when we landed I was supposed to run as we land, but I think my body was in physical shock because we collided. I was mentally good, I planned on running, but my body didn’t want to haha so I just fell to the ground haha! It was such an experience though!!! Then we got driven back up the mountain! The festival was so much fun because there weren’t really any tourists, mainly just foreigners that live in Ghana but from all different countries. There were a lot of Peace Corps volunteers there. While we were watching people jump we sat next to some people originally from India, and they were chatting with us. It was all just really fun! If you ever get the chance to paraglide, do it! HAPPY EASTER!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Batik slide show, look at pictures on posting before, then these

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Slide Show of Batik Process

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Batiking on Cape Coast’s Coast!

I did a batik workshop in Cape Coast! Batik is a much utilized form of art for clothing in Ghana. Every Ghanaian woman, even men, own batiked fabrics and clothing. Batik involves melted wax in the form of designs that are applied to fabric, and then removed to reveal the print after it has been dyed. Here are the steps to creating a batik masterpiece! There is a slide show that shows the pictures when it was taking place.
1. Choose the stencils that you want to use
2. Dip the stencil into the bowl of melted wax; shake the stencil so that it does not drip
3. Carefully, slowly, but efficiently press the stencil onto the fabric, allowing the design to be visible. Applying more wax onto the stencil will be necessary. Following the creases of the fabric is a good idea in order to maintain the quality of the pattern.
4. Fold the fabric so that when tie-dyeing, it will result in the design you wanted.
5. Mix the dye with other chemicals to allow the dye to move through the fabric and allowing the color to come through evenly and clearly.
6. Soak certain areas of the fabric in the dye. Mine has two colors: purple and yellow.
7. Wring the fabric and let it dry for a bit
8. Rinse the fabric and then place in a pan of boiling water to melt the wax off
9. Wash the fabric once more in water to remove any impurities then hang to dry and then it’s done!!
It was a lot of work for two yards of fabric! It took 3 hours from start to finish to complete the batiking process! It was tough and tedious work!