Saturday, October 29, 2011


I think I mentioned before that when it rains in Ghana, everything stops.  It has rained mostly at nights, and in the late afternoon/early evening, often when I'm eating dinner.  So I had been pretty lucky not getting caught in the rain. Well, come Monday, I got caught in the pouring rain!  Cara and I arrived back in Anyinasin at about 5:30, after we had gone to the internet cafe in New Tafo after training classes.  As soon as we got out of the taxi, it started to POUR.  We live too far out to have made it home quickly, so we took shelter under a tin roof and decided to wait it out.  By about 6, the rain was not even being to slow down, but it was also getting we had to make a run for it!  I gave Cara my umbrella since she had her computer with her, and I have my handy little backpack rain cover.  I'd say my house is about 1/3 mile from where we took cover, so by the time I got home, I was soaked!  My homestay mom thought it was pretty funny that I got stuck.  It was pretty amusing, and really fun actually.  It reminded me of getting soaked riding my bike in Davis when it would rain...well, minus of course the bike...
On Tuesday, my homestay mom surprised me with a gift- she had had a dress tailored for me!  I thought it was so sweet of her to do that, and the dress is really cute!  (I look like a REAL girl when I wear it haha)  The dress is purple, with black and white designs on it.  She wanted me to wear it the next day, but we were to go to a tree nursery for technical, so I needed to wear my boots, but I assured her I would wear it Thursday.  Come Thursday, my mom was thrilled when she saw me in her dress, and I got some extra stares and laughs and greetings on my way to language class.  I still plan getting dresses made for me, but I haven't had the time to go do that.  Ghanaians are very particular with their appearance-  they are always well dressed and professional.  We have been told many times that the biggest complaint of Ghanaians about Americans is their appearance.  Women are supposed to wear skirts or dresses, and men should wear trousers and collared shirts.  I think I have done a good job of looking nice everyday, but it has certainly taken some adjustment for me to wear skirts and dresses everyday.  The only time I can wear shorts is when I am working, or playing as you can imagine, I look for these opportunities every chance I get, haha.
Friday I wore the dress again because we had a family picture taken- me, my brother and Auntie Rose (the cat didn't make it into the picture).  The night before, I went on a walk through town with my mom the find the "camera man."  It was beautiful night- no clouds or fog, just a perfectly clear sky, all the stars shining brightly.  It was the first night that it was cloudless; most nights have been overcast and raining.  Ghana is littered with garbage everywhere you see, and you cannot trust any of the water you see around you unless its from a satchet or filter, but at night, when its clear outside, the sky looks beautiful and hundreds of fireflies light up the path around you.  Now I just need to learn what stars I'm looking at...
There is this amazing snack in Ghana called "bowl fruit."  Basically, its a fried ball of sweet bread- oh so very satisfying as you're riding in the bus or at technical training.  Everything in Ghana is fried or cooked in oil, MASSIVE amounts of oil, usually palm, but somtimes vegetable.  All the soups and stews I've had are dripping with the bright red palm oil, but it hasn't particularly bothered me like it has other people.  I think the only thing I've had that wasn't cooked in oil is these black-eyed peas my mom cooks up every few days.  Almost every meal I get some type of meat too- usually chicken or mackerel, or both.  A few times I've had some other type of light fish, I think tilapia, since it is so common here.  So far, I haven't eaten anythign I don't like, its all been delicious and different and interesting.  Last night my mom mashed up this concoction for her and her brother- there was garden egg (eggplant), onion, salt and pepe.  They scooped it up and ate it with boiled plantain.  I had eaten mackerel stew for dinner, so I didn't try it, but it looked good!  I'm still not eating enough, according to my mom's standards.  At every meal, I always get "EAT ALL!!"  I know I will never eat enough for her, even though I always tell her I am very full, and I never am hungry!
One afternoon we got done with training early and I needed a workout.  Bormally I do body weight exercises in my room, but that day I decided to go outside and use the step for stair cardio...and then once I started I remembered why staying in my room was a good idea.  All the kids who walked by stopped to watch me and yell "OBRONI!" at me, and a few sat on the grass and just stared.  And then they yelled to all their friends and everyone passing by that there was this obroni doing something that was a first and last, until I get to my site, and then I will just have to get used to all the kids watching me workout.  Someone said that you will be like Rocky, with all the kids following you as you run through town.
Another interesting thing in Ghana:  you see men walking down the street holding hands, purely as friends going somewhere together, not even any hint of something more than friendship.  Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana, as it is many places in the world, so any type of physical contact between men and between women is just part of the culture. Ghanaians are very touchy people though; I've met many women who will just keep hugging me, and many times you will shake hands with someone and they will not let go of your hand for the whole conversation.  However, you do not see couples openly show their affection- I have not seen anyone kiss each other, even in the big cities.  For as many marriage proposals I've gotten, you would think you would see more open displays of affection between men and women.
My mom makes a living by selling at her store, and from her farm, which she tells me has plantains, bananas, cocoyams and cocoa.  She keeps wanting to take me to see her farm and work on it, but I have class all day, everyday, so I haven't seen it yet.  At her little store, where I eat all my meals, she sells all kinds of household goods- laundry detergent, key soap (for washing clothes), t-roll (toilet paper, or as my mom calls it, "shit sheet"), canned mackerel, tanned tomatoes, cigarettes, vitamins, batteries, flashlights, diapers, biscuits, sandals, chilled water satchets, tea, coffee powder mix...and lots more.  This morning as I ate breakfast, I decided to look at where my breakfast came from: one orange, white bread and eggs- local, tea- packaged in Dubai, sugar cubes- France, milk powder- New Zealand.  I also know that the batteries and shoe polish come from China.  I still want to see where the canned tomatoes, carrots, green beans and mackerel come from, and the rice.  But I'd say a good portion of what I'm eating is probably raised not too far from where I am.

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