Volta Region Mountains

Volta Region Mountains

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.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A day at an orphanage :)

I visited an orphanage this weekend! I mentally prepared myself to expect the worst on the way there. Mostly all of the orphanages here have hidden agendas. They look nice on the outside, but the management doesn’t do as they say. Usually the directors of the orphanages take the donation money and buy fancy cars or beer. And instead of using the money on food, water, beds, fans, electricity, and toys for the children, they use it for their own personal reasons. Knowing this, I put my mind in a state so I wouldn’t freak out and break down when I arrived at the orphanage. But when I arrived at the orphanage I actually thought I was at the wrong place haha. All of the buildings are new, the dorms weren’t packed with children, they had clean running water, food was plentiful, and the women that worked there even played with the kids! The kids here were obviously happy. They played games, sang songs, and acted out different animals; traits that aren’t usually seen in children around Ghana. These kids were comfortable in their skin and were happy to live where they live! The reasons why the kids are even at the orphanage are: Their parent(s) have HIV/AIDS and are incapable of taking care of their child, the child comes from a deprived home, the child is not wanted by the family, and the mother of the child was also an orphan when she had her child, etc. One of the cutest, liveliest, most creative kids was named Sarah. Her mom was an orphan at age 11 and somehow got pregnant. Her daughter is now five and is the biggest bundle of joy on the planet! My favorite kiddie was named small boy/Baby Ema/Emanuel. I don’t know what his story was or even how old he was, but he was the cutest thing ever! Mom and Dad, can we adopt him???!! Please! I’m guessing that he is 3 or 4 years old. When I called him, he came running to me and he always wanted me to hold him! He was quiet but he talked when he wanted to say something and was never short on smiles! It was such a nice and fulfilling day! I’m just glad to know that not all orphans are treated poorly! It’s a shame the orphanage is kind of far away, I wish it was closer! By the way, Happy Mother’s Day! I love you mom :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


As I am a junior in high school, the SAT is the most stressful thing to think about at this point in my life! I am actually taking the SAT here in Ghana two days before my birthday! So, to prepare for my big test, I have been taking some SAT study courses at the US Embassy at the EducationUSA Advising Department. To the equivalence of 70 US cents, I sit in an air conditioned room equipped with a full library and computers. For four hours my fellow Ghanaian "classmates" and I sit and exercise our brains with SAT practice problems and standard English lessons. It is so nice that the US Embassy has made this available to its country's citizens to able themselves to fulfill their dreams to go to America to study. One person that I chatted with wants to go to America to study to be a marine biologist. In Ghana they don't quite have the resources and equipment to support such a career fully. So studying to get a good score on the upcoming SAT would enable this person to travel to America, learn all that is required, and bring it back to Ghana to educate others! This department (Ghana) also receives the largest amount of financial aid and scholarship awards for college students out of all the African countries. I just think that it's great that people get the opportunity to carryout their passions here in Ghana; whether they come from a wealthy family or not. All it takes is a bit of hard work and dedication! Osei Ghana (Go Ghana!!)!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Funerals are awesome!

For the past week it has been planned that I would be going to a funeral over this past weekend. Whenever someone asked me what I was doing I said “I’m going to a funeral!!!!” in a really excited tone with a huge smile on my face haha. I was excited to go because 1.I get to have a funeral Kaba and Slit made and 2.Funerals here are supposed to be like a party! I went to a funeral with Amy and her host dad to the funeral of Amy’s grandma. When we get there, we sit outside of the church where everyone else is sitting; you can only sit inside if you are immediate relatives. But then we got introduced to the daughter of the deceased woman and she let me go inside to take pictures!! You’re also not allowed to take pictures at funerals, unless you are the professional photographer. The church “service” consisted of many songs and a few speeches. Then they carried the coffin to the grave yard! Then everyone gathered at this one place where they played music and everything! This one old guy kept hitting on Amy and me haha. He even tried to sneak a kiss, SHAME ON HIM. HAHA but it was so funny, it made my day. The guy was probably 100 years old. Then everyone wanted me to dance, and I refused quite a number of times, then I gave in! I started dancing like the Ewe’s which looks like a chicken dance or something, and everyone got up and started cheering me on and stuff, it was really funny! But it was such a good time! Then we got party favors when we left!! It was a long day, but very exciting! Funerals are a huge deal in Ghana, everyone attends them. They last the entire weekend and are filled with services and dancing and eating. Like I mentioned before, Ghana is not a credit/loan country, but people take out loans to throw funerals. At most funerals, thousands of people can show up.
Also a side note about food in Ghana. Ghanaian food is relatively very good! And I know when I’m starting to love it when I choose yam chips over French fries. But the only problem I have with it is the serving size. I can eat rice, but not a whole crock pot of it!! It’s very difficult to force yourself to eat more than your stomach can hold. But ya, I just wanted to reflect on that!