Testing the Tutors and Using the Big Bucket

Today I woke up at the norml time and caught up on the news I’ve missed over the holidays. New York Times sent me an email to get their newspaper for 12 weeks for 99 cents. THey have a new international section on their web site that lets you pick news by the continent. If you’re as fed up with local news as I am, then you might find this as a good alternative. There are no commercials and you can look up information that interests you. Any way, before I knew it, the time came to eat and get ready to go to Bush’s.

 For breakfast I got the mashed Kenkay from yesterday morning I couldn’t finish and added some banana. I greeted all the people on the way and than Bush’s family, starting with his Grandma, before going to his room. His Grandma responds to me with the normal beginning of the greeting, “yaa,” but then finishes with “bru”. Bush told me that’s a response only used by elders to address some one royal or to show them high respect. Bush is more busy this morning then usual, so I chat with his two brothers. They are very funny with how they interact with me and a lot of the time I feel like they are trying to challenge me on what ever the subject may be. At first I found it a bit annoying, but now I just think it’s funny and I have no problem playing along. I think they’re trying to find out how to push my buttons. They will take things I do throughout the day or week and will tell me that I’m living the wrong way or in a contradictory way. I know they mean well, so I take it lightly and try to keep the conversation on a joking level. It helps when I throw in some Twi to get them to laugh. Around 8:00 the taxi driver comes and collects us. At Bush’s office, he tells me he has bad news. He says that one of our friends died early this morning. I met her at Bush’s work place when I was still fresh in Ghana. I even talked with her right before the holidays. It’s a shame it had to happen to such a young person, but she was very obese, so I’m not all that surprised.

 After leaving Bush’s I head over to greet the old couple selling the egg roll and donut things. I think they expect me now because even when I’m still across the street, the husband gets up to give me his chair. Today we talked about how many years ago, there used to be a lot of monkeys that would run around Antoa. They said that the monkeys would generally jus stay in the forest area, but at night they would sneak around town and try to find some food. Then they talked about living in Nigeria and how much easier it was to make money over there. They also said that one the other hand armed robbery was much more common. They said whether it was broad daylight or night time a group of men wouldn’t hesitate to gang up one someone, run a car off a road, or throw a big rock to knock down someone’s door and raid their house. He went on to say that he heard of occasions when some extremist Mulsim groups would enter schools and churches and shoot everyone before stealing what they could and fleeing. Sounds like a place I won’t be visiting any time soon. With the ideas that all white men are rich, I don’t think I would last very long.

 From there I left to meet some tutors at the Antoa SHS. I gave them the preliminary tests and told them about the program. They seem like a good group of young men and I’m very excited to go back to Wonoo and use this new crew with Krobo.

 Now I’m heading back into town and regreeting everyone along the way. When I passed the first time it was morning and now since it’s afternoon, I’m obligated to greet them again or I take a risk of offending someone. Plus I want to learn about the culture and I believe the best way to do that is to live like one of the locals, with no shortcuts. After resting for a short bit at home I call Charles and tell him that I want to come over and greet his Grandpa. On my way over to his house Andrews calls me and says he just got back into town and asks if I’ve eaten. I tell him that I’m going to greet someone and for him to wait for me to come. I enter Charles’ compound and he leads me to his Grandpa’s room. I enter and greet him in Twi and after a short time we switch to Enlgish, which he can speak surprisingly well. I give him a lot of complements about how great Charles has been doing with my program and in general as a friend.  We chat a little bit and then he shows me a book that he bought in Kumasi to teach the Ghanaian culture for those who are visiting. Most of the phrases are basic and I have learned them already, but some are new to me, so I try to keep them in my head. Then there is a section about things to avoid doing in the culture. Number one was not to use your left hand in any exchanges with another person. I know that and have been getting steadily better at remembering to use only my right hand. Sometimes I slip up, but I will quickly correct myself and apologize. The next is not to greet people as you are heading to the toilet. That one is pretty strange and when I heard it for the first time I didn’t fully believe it was true, but I guess this means it really offends people. Next, there is to be no fishing in the ocean on Tuesday, anywhere in Ghana. Okay, this one is just strange. I bet there’s a story behind it and I think I’m going to bring it up to my elderly friends who sell the egg rolls. It also says not to sing while taking a bath because you will curse your mother to death. Again, strange and I’m sure there’s some explanation. Then, it says not to whistle at night because you will disturb the ancestors. Charles’ Grandpa chimes in at this point and adds that people who whistle at night are generally thieves who are signaling something bad. The next says that one day a week a community is not supposed to go to farm, the day depends on the community. I think I might be missing one on there, which is just as strange as the rest I’m sure.

 I leave Charles and his Grandpa and head over to the nearest store to buy some Kenkay, milo, and ground nuts to make the mashed dish for Andrews and I to eat. I bring it all over to him and he prepares the dish. This time I don’t add any sugar, unlike last time I’ve had it. Andrews buys the chocolate biscuits to give it texture and some bread to go along. We start to eat and the hair dresser ladies next door yell “Obroni” and when I look they say “mensaka”. They are reminding me that I should have invited them to the meal and Andrews wasn’t in a position to do so since I was the one who brought the food over as a ‘gift’. Slightly embarrassed I repeat the mensaka and then invite the ladies on the other side of us. I’m still not very good at that whole thing of inviting everyone in the area to the meal I’m eating. I also still feel weird to eat in public. I’m not sure why, but it just feels different here. Everyone watches me like I’m eating a thanksgiving dinner. I push through the awkward feeling and get back to enjoying sharing a meal with a friend. I’m really not used to sharing food with anyone like this. Sometimes at restaurants I have shared a dish like with Indian or even another dessert, but not a meal in the middle of the day, around other people not eating, and everyone using their hands. I have to admit once I get past the strange feeling I realize that I really love the intimacy that comes with sharing a meal, especially when everyone is eating with their hands.

 It comes to 17:00, so I leave Andrews to fetch some water. I made the commitment to use the big bucket today, so that’s what I’m going to do. I grab the big black tub and get my head wrap ready before I leave so I can practice balancing it on my head on the walk over, while it’s empty. I put the bucket on the ground and fill it with the raised pipe. When there is some water in the tub I lift it and put it on my head as it continues to fill. I’m trying to feel down the side of the tub to se if it’s full so I can turn the faucet and turn it off. The more full the bucket gets, the harder it is to balance on my head with one hand off the bucket and on the faucet. I almost lose the bucket a few times so I lean it forward against the wall and reach down to turn off the water. Not wanting to cheat, I stop resting on the wall and continue to turn the nozzle. After about four turns I walk away and as I see the water still coming out of the pipe, I realize I was spinning it four times in the wrong direction. The other people in the area run over and turn off the water. This bucket is shorter than the other one I was using, so I don’t have to stretch as far to have my hands on the top edges. That’s just the way everyone does it so I try to copy them. After I get about half way back I realize that this isn’t really that bad and I could have probably switched to this bigger bucket sooner. I get back and fill up Fad’s big tub first. One of these huge buckets almost fills up half of her tub. Feeling strong, I head out for the second run to get water. This time I don’t lean on the wall at all and turn the nozzle four times in the right direction. As I come back from the pipe, water is still coming out. Someone comes over to turn it off again and I thank them. My second trip back and I fill up Fad’s big tub completely. Now I’m not sure if I ‘m still really feeling good or I’m just going off of adrenaline, but I head back for a third trip. The big community tub could use a little topping off and I want to practice the balancing of the empty bucket. On my third trip back to the watering hole I balance the bucket on my head nearly the entire way. This time I stay and turn the nozzle eight times in the correct direction and when I come back away there is still water leaking out. I’m really bad at this whole thing. A small girl comes over and spins it a few more times to the right and the water doesn’t really stop completely and she tells me I did fine. On my walk back I see Bush and he laughs as we talk about carrying the bigger bucket. The woman outside of my house yells to me in Twi, “Why adeay,” which means you’ve done well. I thank her and keep going because I’m starting to feel a bit tired now. I pour the bucket in and go back to my room. The lights are out so I get on my computer because it provides a little light and frankly because I wouldn’t be able to see anything else if I wanted. The rest of the night looks like it’s going to pretty quite so I’ll post this one from here. Tomorrow is another adventure waiting to happen.


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