Futbol!

This morning I want to take the Twi lessons in a bit of a different direction. There are two sets of letter like an e and like an o that sound very similar. I want my tutors to help me go through them and differentiate between the two. Richard, one of the tutors, actually showed up 15 minutes early. We sat down and he pulled out his Twi workbook from school. It had all kinds of exercises. One had a table that paired different letters together into a two-letter segments. This really helped me hear the difference between the different letters and how they change when certain ones are grouped together. But, the e and 3 (looks like a backward 3) are still very hard to differentiate. Richard wasn’t really able to break it down for me. After all he was still in high school. Once I am in Antoa there is a Twi teacher at the local SHS that will be willing to teach me for as long as I will want to learn. The only problem there is that she teaches the very formal version of Twi. Not necessarily the version used on the streets. There is also a man named Tio that taught Adam some Twi. Tio will teach me the Twi used on the streets to help me with vendor prices, getting around town, and having better conversations with people I meet. Until then I still want to get the most out of Richard and Emmanual and their willingness to help. We then went through longer phrases and I practiced speaking a little faster. I didn’t have any breakthroughs during this session of Twi, but I can feel myself getting closer to where I want to be. With all the help that will be available and living in my village 4 or 5 days out of the week, I plan to become fluent. This is a perfect second language to learn because it is very basic and you don’t have to build any new muscles in your mouth. I remember the first time I learned how to roll my r’s with Italian. That was not very easy. Especially when there would be the two r roll and one r roll in the same word.

            Today was Adam’s last day before he headed back to the US for good. He had only been back once to visit family in the last two years of his Peace Corps service. It was interesting to see his perception of being abroad. He seemed completely over living in developing countries. All he ever talked about were the things that he missed from back in the US. Who knows, maybe that is how I will be by the end of this experience. However, I’m on the opposite side of the boat and need to focus on learning Twi and the overall success of my program in Antoa.

            Our next big plan for the day was to go to the Futbol game at the stadium just south of Kumasi. They are playing Zambia and apparently this game will determine something about the world cup. I’m not really a sports fan in general, so Futbol will probably be lowest on my list of priorities. However, I would be interested in seeing the World Cup game in Brazil next year. We went out front to take Tro Tros to the stadium exit. Out in front of Kentinkrono there were only about 20 people waiting. The people in my organization told me that I need to be very aggressive and push my way on to the next Tro Tro. Since I was the last person of the group to show up I was very uncomfortable with this. I can be aggressive if I need to be, but not when it goes against my principles. First of all it was rude to cut in front of everyone who had been waiting longer that I had. Then, it was just impatience that perpetuates this problem in the first place. Sure there is a problem with the infrastructure if there just aren’t enough transportation vehicles. But that shouldn’t mean that people all try to cheat each other just to get a small reward. I missed a few of them that came by and my co-workers were getting impatient. Now I felt a sense of frustration and panic. This was completely the opposite impression I wanted to give, coming here as an American. Especially since the people at this stop live close to our main headquarters. Then Amber handed me her phone incase we got on different Tro Tros, since my track record wasn’t very good about getting to the right place. We had to get off half way at Tech junction and yes I did recognize it this time. As we went to board another Tro Tro, it seemed like everyone else within a 5 mile radius had the same idea. This time there was 10 times the amount of people as were in Kentinkrono. This location I saw why you would need to push toward the front. I finally got onto one after pushing some children and women out of the way and crawled to the empty seat in the back. I put down the seat and the guy sitting in the bench seat scooted over to the empty seat and said they were all taken. It is definitely not easy to be a white person here. It is an obvious indication to most people that I just shouldn’t be here. I realize now that there is a lot I could do to lighten the situation, but I was still a bit bothered by this whole process. Then we found another Tro Tro and were on our way to Stadium. On the way there I was feeling very down about the whole situation. I was really questioning why the hell I am in Ghana and why their basic infrastructure is still so bad. I realized my second question answered my first and I was trying my best to take a positive out of the whole situation. It honestly would have been best to be on my own through these adventures. I can be much more analytical and really figure something out. Though I do appreciate my colleagues help through this. I know they mean for the best for me.

            We met two of our Ghanaian friends and went into the game. Apparently there is no assigned seating and the seats fill up from the middle upward and then the last seats in the front. We showed up pretty close to game time and we got seats down at the front. I’m not sure why this was a bad thing. I could see the players very well and all the vendors walked by close to us. The energy of the crowd was intense and heightened by the presence of so many riot police. The game went pretty fast because there wasn’t much time for breaks or penalties. I do have a lot of respect for their endurance and foot skill. I just think the sport would benefit a lot more if the stadium was half the size. As far as I could tell, which wasn’t much further than the frozen yogurt treat vendors in the front row, the game was a lot of fun. I would say that I probably wouldn’t ever initiate going to a Futbol game ever again. But, I really wouldn’t initiate going to any other sporting event again. I just don’t care that much about watching sports. I would rather see the top 10 plays of the day.

            We ended the night getting a drink and watching the crowd as everyone scrambled to all get home at the same time. I don’t think I mentioned before, but the beers here are about 22 ounces for 2 Cedis. Which is equivalent to $1. I can basically buy the amount of two beers in the US, for one dollar here. And unless you are eating some kind of foreign food, I can eat until my eyes burst for 2 Cedis. You could eat and drink enough to make it hard to walk for $2 total. Pretty good huh? I have been thinking about that a lot and I think it is balanced out by the lack of infrastructure here. Unless you are in the big cities of Kumasi or Accra, or on a main road, all the roads are dirt. Even the ones that are paved are in pretty bad condition. Again, depending on how close you are to the big cities, the electricity will go out at least once a week and could be out for days. Washing machines are rare and there is basically no dry cleaning. The police basically don’t enforce any traffic laws and can take hours to respond to a call. Most likely the only time you deal with the police is to bribe them to not “find” an infraction. I’m sure there’s much more I haven’t experienced yet. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing Ghana, I’m just trying to provide a clear picture of the living conditions. There are so many positive aspects of Ghana. Hopefully I have and will continue to list those in much more detail.

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