Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hi again!
Amazingly enough I have made it to the internet cafe two days in a row-so now I can hopefully write a post catching up on some stuff that I haven't already had a chance to write about.

First though I will write about today. Today we went to Elmira which is about 15 minutes drive from cape coast. I realized that I wrote that cape coast was a city yesterday, and I don't want to mislead you- though these two towns are probably the biggest tourist attractions in Ghana, neither of them are much bigger than a suburb in the states that has a downtown shopping area. Everything is still sold in stall form and most everything is one level Also it is pretty hard to find a restaurant that isn't somehow attached to a hotel- and there are about three choices in town- so I have already visited one of the restaurants multiple times.
....ANYway, so Elmira is also smallish but it to has a castle that is important in the history of slave trade. This however was first run by the Portuguese and then later the Dutch rather than the British. We took a tour there too, which was equally upsetting.
The greatirony of this place is how scenic it is. The beach front here still remains pretty open- the castle is beautiful right on the water and there are palm trees everywhere. It is amazing to me that people literally live right on these beautiful beaches-mostly in hut like shelters- and the realestate is treated pretty much like anything else.
However after walking on the beach I realized that the beaches are more beautiful from afar than near because the beaches are covered in trash. In Ghana it is perfectly acceptable to throw your trash literally anywhere- and the beach is no exception. Everywhere you go there is trash on the road- mostly the left over plastic from the bags of "pure water" that people drink here (no one drinks other water). Also there is human excrement all over the place. So yea- a walk on the beach here means something a little different. However, from the roadside it is totally beautiful.

Anyways we watched the water from afar, and bought a pineapple from a woman with a plate of pineapples on her head- and it cost about 30 cents- including her cutting it up and preparing it for us. The pinapple here is so so so good. That is one thing I am going to miss.

Thats about all we did today.

Other interesting things about Ghana thatI have not yet before mentioned.

- Issue of Marriage- in Ghana, particularly the Volta region where I spent most of my time, there are a lot of people who practice a tradtitional faith- like I have mentioned when talking about the funerals. A lot of the people that I was woking with practice these faiths- and eventually I learned that it is perfectly acceptable and common to have more than one wife- and many of the people I worked with had multiple wifes. Usually each wife has her own house it seems- and keeps her own household. Itwas interesting for me to learn about this especially because I learned about people I was already friends with and repected- which forced me to keep an open mind about it. Any ways-- just an interesting fact for you...

It is alos not uncommon for these religions to practice sacrifices- and a few of the students Imet here even had the experience of attending one in which they sacrificed a bull- which I am not sure if I am happy or sad thatI missed. I have heard that select groups do (sadly) practice child sacrifice still- however I am not sure how true this is, and even it it is it is pretty uncommon and looked down upon. Actually there was a protest against child sacrifice in a neighboring town from my center..

ahhh ok... as usual I have more to say- but my time is out so I will have to do it later!

i;ll write again soon!
Hi all!

So I have left the center since my last post! I can't believe that my time there went by so quickly. The whole thing was great however the ending was bittersweet because I had yet another adventure which involved my foot and the hospital that kept me from dancing.

How this ended up happening- I am not quite sure. But basically there was a small patch of skin on my foot that got a little red and irritated- I though maybe from some hot wax that I had used to make cloth here (which was also super cool it's called batik and its basically an african tyedie but with cooler patterns)- or from my sandal- but it did not seem like a big deal. A day or two later I had a little cut on my foot- but still no big deal- and I assumed that my antibiotic cream would do the trick- WRONG! I woke up another morning and my foot had swelled 150% and I had this huge infection. So I went to the hospital- which was a five room building with no airconditioning and a long line to get it taken care of. However to make things worse- the hospital did not take credit cards or anything and I was down to my last 10 cedi( which is roughly 7.5 american dollars). So- thank god for good friends who lent me money ( since as I have said the nearest ATM was 1 1/2 hours away) and after a few tests, a few shots (during which one of the nurses practically scraped out the inside of my hand looking for my vein- I now have an erourmous bruise) things were better.
The big bummer of that long story is that ...... I didn't get to dance on friday night because of my foot- which I was super sad about.

But things are still plugging along- and yesterday took two three hour tro tro rides with a friend to the city of cape coast- which has a lot of historical importance because this was a major port along the trade route back in the day- for many things (gold, indigo etc)- but most importantly the slave trade. Today we visited the Cape Coast Castle which was one of the places that Africans were kept anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months before they were shipped off to America, or Europe or wherever. It was really powerful and sad to see the dungeons where a thousand people were crammed in- and to see the scratch marks on the wall and floor that were left over from desperate attempts to get out. Apparently during the 400 years of this slave trade about 40 million africans were taken from africa and another 20 million died before they made it to the ship- and those tallys did not even count children. This was a statistic I don't ever recall hearing before- and it pretty much floored me. I realized that , at least in my particular experience of american education, we learned a lot about slavery but it was all focused around the conditions in america- and it was a totally new and horrifying presepective to think about it from this side of the Atlantic.

Anyways- this has potential to turn into a rather depressing posting-so I want to assure you that things are still great- foot and all.

Otherwise I am starting to think about the next leg of my trip which is fast approaching. I can't wait to get some easy access to a mac to load some photos or videos on here- I think that it will really help share all that I am seeing here-- things are way different.

ok time is running low so got to go!
miss you all!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hi all

This has to vbe quick because I have about seven minutes left of time here.

But just checking in to say that I am alive and well. I was a little sick this week- and after reading the malaria section in my guidebook I determined that it was just a cold and decided just to rest and take the cold medicine that I bought at the market here ( which seemed to have normal ingredients----- plus caffine?) and I am recovered.

Things are going well and I am performing two dances for the village on friday-- haha

Oh yeah-- also I realized that in my posts I have failed to include one crucial fact ( which I realized while chatting on the phone with one of you the other day)-- that I have been the only student here at the center for most of my time here. At first I was really freaked out about this, but pretty soon I realized that it has made for a really cool experience- I have gotten to know the people who actually live here rather than other tourists- and because of that I have learned so much.

Otherwise things here are slow. I leave on satruday for cape coast which is another tro tro ride away ( six hours) . Today it rained so hard that it woke me up and I thought the roof was going to crash in....and... my time is running out.... so Ill talk to you later!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Hello all!

Finally back at the internet cafe. Therefore I can continue where I left off.

Since I last wrote I actually have attended another funeral- a little smaller- but drastically more successful on my end in terms of the dancing. This funeral was a little sadder in tone it seemed and I could see people who were crying- which was not present last time- but still it was really amazing.

It is really interesting to see ritual in practice here. A girl in the village here named Gifty has become a friend of mine and she took me to church last week. It was there that I really finally realized the obvious- that you just can't understand Ghanaian culture without experiencing dance and song. I have only been to church a few times in the states, but this was definitely different than anything I had experienced before. People were praying and singing literally at the top of their lungs-- everyone- and people were dancing to the drums for about 2 1/2 hours. It was so amazing and totally transformed the space we were in which was a sort of lean-to out in the open air with plastic chairs and lizards running everywhere ( there are more lizards in ghana than I have ever seen in my life). I was so glad I went. The only bad thing about going was the way in embarrassed myself. OK- so a little background info- here in ghana it is considered INCREDIBLY rude to use your left hand. Like to eat, to pass something, to pay for something, to wave. So- keeping this in mind- this church held it's collection in the front of the church- twice. So the first time I happily put in some change with my right hand and all was fine. However-- they collected again---- so I go up with my change and, ofcourse, I use my left hand- ( ofcourse in front of everyone at their sacred meeting place). I sat down and literally felt like I was going to die because everyone in the church noticed- and I think I pissed a few people off. I felt so so bad! However, I think most of the people eventually forgave my western ignorance- and based upon the multiple offersn I got after church from different men to bring me coconuts later in the week ( haha) I think that the mistake was soon forgotten

Speaking of lizards- a note about wildlife. First off, there are millions of lizards- and I have eventually accepted them as guests in my room. On a not so pleasant note- I nearly peed myself when I opened the bathroom door and saw the biggest roach of my life scurry accross the floor. It took me about ten minutes to get up the nerve to brave the bathroom.
Another cool thing though is I have seen multiple preying mantusus (manti?) which I had never seen before.
Also- there are miniature goats running around literally everywhere- about as many as there are squirrels in the states I would say.

Otherwise I have been busy with classes- slowly improving. Also taking some cooking lessons from gifty- which is totally different from home because we cook on a little ground level stove. The first recipe called for stomach and cow hide-which wasn't so appetizing to me- and needless to say I broke out my first luna bar from my stash later that day- but I was still glad of the experience.

Ok-- still more to say but time is running short! Miss you all ans keep those posts coming!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Hey guys!
Sorry it has taken me so long to write again! Some cool stuff has gone down- seriously. I have so much to write about and very little time- but I will try to catch you up a little bit for now!
One thing I have to write about was my experience right after I left last time. The center got a call that there was a funeral happening that evening in a neighboring village, so we cancelled classes to attend. We all pilled into the van- 17 of us to be exact in a 12 seater- and set off. This might sound incredibly unsafe and uncomfortable- which it was - but take come comfort in the fact that we could only so about 10 miles an hour the entire way because we took a crappy dirt road all the way there. Fifteen minutes, about 200 potholes and 9,000 palm trees later we arrived at this village.
What you have to understand is that here a funeral is really different At least for the "Fetish" spririt religion that is practiced here ( most people are christian and there are some fetish groups here and there-- as for jewish people here, I think that I am the only one in all of Ghana haha).
Basically what happens is that the entire village comes out and starts dancing. They play drums and spend hours and hours sending this person off. It is totally joyous and wonderful. I was all set to dance- when we learned that the person who had died was actually a member of this village's shrine, so there was a stricter dress code than we had anticipated to partake in the dancing ( rather than just watch). We were told that to dance we had to take our shoes off and the men had to take off their shirts. But the women seemed to be given no option to dance because we were supposed to wear dresses but we only had skirts on. I was so upset about this while were were walking into the village center- but it was not until we got to the village center that I realized that the women actually did have another option, it was just assumed that western women wouldn't want to do it-- we could take off our shirts too! Women were dancing topless all over the place. And tempted though I was, I was not prepared to strip down in this african village.

So I am standing there witnessing one of the coolest things ever but not able to participate in it, when one of the women of the village came over and offered to re dress us in her home. So me and two other girls went off to her home were we changed into proper attire and then went out and finally joined the village dancing. Ofcourse we drew a lot of attention becausde a) we are white and b) we are bad at this tradtional african dancing- but we tried our best and the people of the town seemed to be happy we were there. Whether they were laughing at us or with us I am not sure- but either way I had a great time. We danced for like an hour an a half, and finally we left even though it was still going.

so so cool.

Agh there is so much else to tell, but I am going to have to save it for another date! Miss you and love you all! xoxox

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hi Guys!
So good news is that there is internet access down the road from the center where I am staying so I will hopefully be able to send better posts!
secondly- I just got a phone in ghana- which takes photos- so probably I will be able to send pictures to the blog if I am able to figure it out- which I think will probably make these posts a lot more exciting.
Anyways- there has been less crazyness since I arrived- but still things to tell. All the teachers here are great- really talented and so welcoming. Their families all live nearby and they are all pretty wonderful as well.
There is no running water here- but there are showers from rain water- which is suprisingly totally fine, and there is electricity- which is good. I am glad that I have antibacterial wipes and stuff- thanks mom- just to be completely comfortable but everything here is simple but clean.

I started my drum and dance lessons and am realizing how much there is to learn. I am going to be in great shape by the time I leave. Yesterday they did a ceremony that had to be done before I touched a drum to "the ancestors" which involved some very strong alcohol- which I had heard a lot about and was a little scared of- but turned out to be totally fine too.

More updates to come- my time is running out here but I will talk to you soon!

Monday, August 10, 2009

y text and is therfore choppy. I have yet to find internet access here. So- actually if you want to contact me- don't email me- text me cuz I recieve tex
ly and generous - too generous. I am really excited to start learning tomorrow- everyone seems very talented and welcoming.
Anyways- sorry this is all b
inally finally we arrived. I will say though that I was surprised that the man got angry because everyone else I have met here has been incrediby friend
And one of the men got really angry and started yelling and pushing the driver when he was trying to fix it. But another 45 min later they fixed it and f
as been so wonderful.
Anyways - we got on the tro tro- which is really a minivan- and about an hour into our 2 1/2 hour ride- ofcourse it breaks down.
is all in good humor though. And though I was a little thrown off in the market, I didn't feel unsafe- especially because everyone who has picked me up h
o touch my white skin. That was not the first time this has happened either- and there have been many little kids waving and yelling "white person!". It
ch was a little intense- everyone was trying grabbing my bag- offering to carry it- for pay of course - and some people would touch my arm or something t
orrow at the nearest ATM which is an hour and a half away. We took public transport to the center , called tro tro. We caught it in the market place- whi
behforehand because I had run out of money - but the ATM was broken so after waiting for them to fix it for 45 minutes we left. Now I am getting cash tom
Hello all,
Finally made it to the dagbe drum school. Finally got my luggage! Yay.
The trip to the center was an experience. First we stopped at an ATM

Friday, August 7, 2009

I have one question for you.... Where...... Is my luggage?
If you ever plan to take Afriqiyah airlines all I can tell you is plan on spending at least as many hours waiting in line for your flight as you do on your flight and pack necessities in your carry on bag. As they have no self check in service I started the day off with three hours in line- an experience that was duplicated in tripoli on my layover. Tripoli airport is not among my list of favorites not only because they failed to get our luggage on the flight and possibly sent all our luggage to the other end of the continent - but because the bathrooms use spray hoses instead of toilet paper- a new definition of ecofriendly.
Anyways, after waiting in line for another two hours I was told my luggage should arrive on Sunday night.....
However I made it to my hotel, and Pius the program representative is going to take me to a festival tomorrow- so all in all I am still thrilled to he here.
Ok I have been up way too long and this is a really long text message so... Goodnight!!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hello all! Arrived in London about 2 hours ago. It's raining -who's surprised?- and I am here overnight because I had to switch airports to fly to Accra tomorrow. Gatwick is pretty quiet - but I did manage to find some uk Indian food out in the rain to eat before I retire ( nothing can keep me from that haha)
Anyways so far so good- so far traveling solo is good fun- though things might be entirely more chaotic once I hit Africa. We shall see!
Signing off--;)


Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, August 1, 2009

about to go....!

 So today I have tried to start packing (and by that I mean literally putting things into my suitcase/backpack thing because I feel like I have been "packing" all month for this!) and my suitcase is seeming smaller and smaller in light of the five months that I plan on living out of it----- like where do I fit my eyelash curler?:) I  personally think that one should be included on the Swiss army knife that I bought, but no such luck.  I guess that I need  the "high maintenance knife" rather than the one labeled "camper"  that I bought. 
Anyways, I am leaving really soon- Thursday to be exact.  And this time next week I will be looking back at you the opposite way over the Atlantic Ocean from Ghana. 
I made some changes to the itinerary at the bottom of the page, and it is still subject to change thanks to British Airways, but it is pretty much as final as it will ever be. 
The pictures I posted are of the most important thing that I am  packing methinks- thanks to the forethought and generosity of my mother.  It is called a "Freshette" (emphasis on the "ette"). This is a personal device for women to make emergent/public restroom situations ( or lack thereof) easier. I will leave it to you to infer from the photos how to use it, or to google it.  It is up in the air whether or not this is  actually worth packing, though my mother seems convinced that this is  entirely  useful and necessary.  Feel free to post your thoughts :)

 Ok well, the posts will be coming more frequently now, as I am actually now leaving.  I am  getting really excited, but will miss you all, so please please comment on  here or send me an email/post!

more to come....