Alright, I’m continuing from my last post through Sunday. Now it’s Monday Feb 3rd and I’m still feeling a bit sick from last week. I am still running this morning and feel I should call bush to tell him I wont be there because I honestly don’t know if I can spend that amount of time away from home without running to the toilet and I certainly don’t want to join the senior levels of “the club”. Meaning, I don’t want to soil myself. It’s about 6:45 and I should be leaving soon for Bush’s when I remember that there is a demonstration today. From Bonwire, almost to Kumasi there will be no traffic allowed to go down the road. The public transportation people are putting on a demonstration to get the government to repair the terrible road. That means that the taxi driver won’t be able to pick Bush and take him to work. I couldn’t bare thinking he might be found on the ground again, so I head for his house.
At Bush’s I get some stomach pains, but no close calls. From there we walk down to his work to start the day. There are no cars on the road and everything is oddly quite. That is, until we get close to the center of town where we hear people honking and yelling and a big plume of black smoke continuously rising into the air. From a distance it looks like, and sounds like, the city is burning down. I can see some people in the middle of the street and Bush tells me they have a bonfire going. After Bush I walk part of the way down the street and see their burning big truck tires. Not wanting any part of a big protest in a developing country, I go to sit with my grand parents. Nana Kofi is translating the loud speaker announcement and tells me that some people, two towns from here, were shot by policemen and some have even died. I suppose my intuition was correct on avoiding the big commotion.
The demonstration is only from 6 to 10 this morning, so I can still get some kind of car to my program when I leave at 12. My stomach is still not feeling all that great, but I’ve already been around this much, so I will pack some toilet paper and head to Krobo. I hitch a ride from a truck and get there in no time. The program goes well and I get a ride back and end the night early to get better faster.
Tuesday, Grace and I get up early to give a presentation at a High School near Antoa. I love giving speeches and at Grace’s request, I’m happy to take the opportunity. The speech goes well, especially when I greet then all in Twi. They erupted in excitement and we had to have the house master come over and quite everyone down again. They really do take after the British don’t they? Housemaster sounds like I’m speaking Twi to Harry Potter and the Gryphendor house. How’s that for a strange thought? Grace and I go to the Academic Headmasters office, where we talk to small groups in detail about the SAT and college advising classes.
From that school, Grace goes back to Antoa and I leave, in the opposite direction, for Kumasi. I need to get key copies for Grace and look for cinnamon for Bush. I let Bush try some for the first time and he fell instantly in love. He made funny sounds of excitement that I’ve never heard him make before.
Once in town, I start to look for the key filer that Spencer and I went to when I need them back in September. I have a general idea of where it is, but it takes some exploring and asking many people before I find his little four foot by four foot metal box of a shop, tucked in an alleyway. I drop the keys off and leave to find something to eat because I’m feeling a bit weak from being sick. I can’t find my usual lady selling boiled plantain, so I go to the Obroni grocery store to look for the cinnamon. I don’t find any there and feeling a bit defeated I buy a spring roll and head back to the key guy.
Now I can find the key place easily from anywhere in the city. I’m telling you, getting lost and really having to search for a place will make it stick in your memory. I sit on his bench and wait as he is drilling what seems like my keys still. I haven’t eaten the food yet because it’s very ackward to eat in public in this culture. When he cals me up to his booth I suddenly get an idea.
A type of Buddhism, called Therevada, that I’ve been reading a lot into lately has coincidently talked about sharing meals, after I’ve also discovered this joy since living in Antoa. However, most of my meals are shared with my friends and very rarely shared with strangers. When I get up to the locksmith he shows me the keys and I check their quality. After doing so, I ask him in Twi if he’s eaten and he says no. I ask if he’s hungry and he says very much, so I pull off a piece of the spring roll and give it to him. This is a much better way to share food with a stranger rather than both putting your hands deep into the Fufu bowl. I’ll half to work my way up to that. I ask him his name and he tells me Abraham, and I respond with mine and tell him that we shall meet again.
From there, I head to Oduom to meet the other employees and eventually with Spencer in the afternoon. When I get there, only Summer is there and we just relax a bit and eat some fruit. I ask if she’s had boiled plantain and cocoyam stew and when she says no, I immediately suggest we get some. It’s one of my favorite Ghanaian meals and is also very healthy. On our way to get the food my stomach really starts to act up again, so we get the food to go and meet Taisa on our way back to the house. When we get back, it gets really bad, so I go to the toilet and continue the streak of running from Saturday morning. I still eat some and we just hang around as Dara and Grace show up. I’m glad that there are so many of them now because I don’t think they notice as I continually make about 5 more bathroom trips when my stomach gets too bad to bear. Spencer shows up and we go over work stuff until about 18:30, when my stomach peaks again.
Spencer and I head back to the Kentinkrono house and get ready for our presentation early the next morning. I get back and too exhausted to hang the mosquito net, I just have it over me like a blanket.
Wednesday, we’re up and out the door at about 5:45. Oh and the idea of having the mosquito net over me like a blanket didn’t work at all… I know the idea sounds bad, but I thought the repellant would at least help a little bit. I think it worked in the opposite direction. The mosquitos must have felt like it was more of a challenge because I’m covered in bites. My stomach is feeling much better, but I don’t’ push it with a heavy meal. After meeting at the school, I get some banana on the way back home and eat while we’re walking, despite the terribly awkward feeling and the many stares I’m receiving. From Tafo, I got a few different rides on my way home.
It’s 9:00 and I’m back in Antoa, surprisingly early for feeling like I’ve done so much already. From there I catch up on some Expo stuff and reach out to some of my friends and family.
Later in the afternoon, around 16:00, I go and visit Andrews to get something to eat. He suggests something I’ve never tried called Chinkafa, which he describes as a local type of rice, similar to the wachey. Like the wachey, it comes with stew and egg or fish as the protein source. After trying it, I could easily be fooled into thining this is the wachey which again is local rice boiled, or somehow infused with beans. Before I leave he reminds me about a blender that I asked him to find for me. After some thinking, I decide to get the blender to help everyone, especially Fad for cooking. It will also be nice to make smoothies or other fun concoctions.
After that, I fetch some water and really struggle because for some reason I can’t seem to get my head wrap right. I really think one of the most difficult parts of fetching water is getting the wrap even, so you don’t have to compensate for the constantly tipping rubber. Once I get the wrap straightened out it’s much easier, but now I’m tired from the earlier trips. I eat some of the fod Grace makes and Charles comes over to hang out for a bit. Grace leaves us to read and we have some guy time before I call it a night.
Thursday morning, I wake up feeling great. Some how I’ve completely fought off whatever sickness I had and now I’m back to normal. I’m not sure what I had or how bad it really was, but I think my immune system is getting much stronger since having gone through so much in Ghana. This morning I’m preparing for my program and to leave straight from Krobo to go to Kentinkrono. Like usual, I go to Bush’s at 7 and his family is all questioning where I’ve been. After I’m done explaining and greeting, I wait in his room with his brothers for the driver to come.
Down at the office, Bush tells me that his mom didn’t give us rice today, so I go and buy us both koko and kosi. Back at his office I eat as he seems too busy to eat for a while. Literally, as I’m finishing, his sister comes and drops off a heaping pile of rice he said we wouldn’t get today. Bush tells me to get a bowl and I do so as I reinforce that I will only have a few bites because I’m stuffed from the koko and kosi. When I come back, his church friend is there and he joins us. Bush is very adamant about finishing the food in one sitting, so I’m grateful we can rely a bi ton his friend.
After Bush’s I visit my grand parents and Nana Mary seems a bit agitated today. She is complaining about everything that is going wrong in their lives at the moment. Then, they go on to say that one of the ugliest parts of Africa is how people plan to destroy each other’s futures. There are these people in every family called witches and wizards, who try to bring down successful people in their family. Apparently every eyar they even plan who will die. Nana Kofi tells me a story of his twin brother who fired an employee and was caused by him, only to die two weeks later, exactly when the man said he would. This is coming from a man and woman who have traveled all across West Africa and Kofi even has his masters degree. I’m sorry, I don’t think if Einstein was telling me this story I would believe that this cursing and witches and wizardry are real. It’s awful how seriously worried they are about it all and how they really think it has affected their lives in a serious way.
From there I go back home and do a few things around my room before I leave for Krobo to do my program. At Krobo, my program goes well and I’ve been noticing some very interesting issues with this program. I’ve noticed that the students attendance has not been that great and the teachers seem to reinforce them playing football over going to class. I thought the football thing last week was just a special week, but it seems like this will be a continuing theme, unless we try to do something. I meet with the tutors like normal afterward and tell them all about the problems I’ve been seeing. After they agree, I propose a lesson for next week. I want to devote an entire lesson to explain why school is important. I honestly don’t think these students have ever had this lecture in a serious way from a parent figure.
After the Krobo program, I buy some banana to go with my egg beaufruit for dinner tonight. I head to Kentinkrono and catch up on some of my blog once I’m there. I try to wait up for Spencer to get back, but I honestly just get too tired to be able to form any useful thoughts once he does.
Friday, Spencer and I leave a little later this time in the morning to go to another school speech. We get a bit lost going to the school and miss the time for the morning assembly. We find out that all the form 3’s are in church with their masters and we feel like we’ve lucked out. We come into the back of the room and talk to some people before they offer to show us to the front of the stage. Spencer turns to me and says well this is going to be a little bit awkward. I don’t know what he means and try to ask him, but we’re ushered up to the stage. When he get there and take our seats the whole auditorium breaks out in, not so quite, murmurs. Not only did we just walk up the middle row of the assembly while the headmaster is talking, but we’re also the only white people within a 10-mile radius. The headmaster calls someone up to speak after him and her first opening statement is talking about her organization helping students like them to study abroad in the U.S. NOW, I understand why Spencer said this is going to be awkward. Our Ghanaian competitor company is here and we happen to be giving a presentation on the same day! What a coincidence. The lady gives her presentation and honestly is an awful public speaker. Her upper half of her body is spinning back and forth like she’s an embarrassed twelve year old girl. It’s not that easy to understand her and the inflections in her voice never change so she sounds like Ferris Bueler’s teacher rambling on and on. We get up to stage and give a better speech and then meet the students out back to give them our information.
After leaving the school I’m hungry, so I buy a little plastic pouch bag of food with oatmeal and condensed milk. It looked interesting, so I wanted to try some, but warm and fake milk don’t mix well. It at least gives me enough energy to run my errand in Kumasi.
In Town, I head to the Obroni store again, but instead of going inside I go around back to a small spice shop where I find cinnamon. I buy a small sized bottle for five cedis, which is actually not all that good of a price compared to the U.S. I suppose it is imported though and the cinnamon I bought in the U.S. was in the bulk bins at the back of the health food store I used to visit. Back in Antoa I immediately go to Bush’s place and he seems oddly disturbed today. I’m not sure if he’s mad at me for not being there in the morning or if he’s just not having a good day. I immediately start with the funny sounds and jokes and get him to crack a bit of a smile. It looks like him and his customer are in a heated conversation, so I try to keep quite until he leaves. Once the man is gone, Bush lightens up a little bit as we go through our normal routine of strange sounds and funny pronunciations. When he’s back to normal I tell him that I got him something as I pull out the cinnamon. His face lights up and he starts to praise and bless me. He starts talking about all the foods that he’s going to try it on and after some more back and fourths I leave to go back home.