Monday, October 27, 2008


We had been pretty intense with classes so they decided to give us a field trip. It may have had to do with one of the 2 main presidential candidates coming to our town that day too. As PC we're not allowed to partake in anything to do with the election but we still get to learn about it, it's pretty exciting.
The field trip however was absolutely amazing. We went to Boti Falls. There are 2 huge waterfalls over 30 meters each, into the same pond. Omar and I were the first to jump in despite the signs. About 30 of us ended up going in and it was like kindergarten recess again. We were all just so excited about being completely covered in water and almost cold! It was easily one of the most refreshing and exhilarating things I've ever done, a few of us went into the falls as much as you could. After the swim we went on a 2 hour hike up and down semi mountains through a cave, and up to the top of an umbrella rock, what a view. West Africa has such thick vegetation and it's so green.
That night we got back and the city was still going nuts for the presidential candidate so we decided to have Team Ubroni, white person, take the only basketball court in town. I wish I had taken video tape of them playing. They have seen way too many and1 videos and not enough layup practice. We volunteers didn't lose any of the 10 games we played despite their cheating with scores, 4 steps before every shot or pass and fouls. I showed them what damage Polish Thunder can do down low.
This week they forgot our mail in Accra, that's a low blow so instead I've trekked to the internet cafe a few times. I don't want to spoil myself as I'll probably only be able to go to Ho, the major city near my site, once a week tops to get online. I'm ready for training to be over and become an official PCV, no more of this PCT stuff. Talking to current volunteers it sounds like I really got lucky in my site placement.
Some highlights have been:
*My entire family watching me sew up the rip I got in my pants dancing to Journey at a spot (a guy that can sew isn't as odd to them here but still amusing).
*Whenever the closest volunteer to me, Adam, walks by they call him Daniel. They yell out Obruni usually and I know just enough twi to correct them and say, " My name is not white person, it is Daniel, how would you like it if I called you black person?"
*Adam, Mike, and I went on a 45 minute quest to find FanIce late at night downtown. FanIce is a gift directly from god. It's basicaly frozen frosting that you suck out of a plastic bag.
*my malaria dreams: it's like reality TV every night. I never realize I'm in Africa when I wake up until I trip on my mosquito net.

I miss you guys back home a lot but am really excited about what I'm doing for the next 2+ years. People say that the PC is a lot like being pregnant, at first it's exciting but the first 9 months stink. Then after that it's pure joy.

"You visit East Africa for the scenery and West Africa for the people."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

About a week ago it was pretty rough but now thing's are much better.

The Red Sox losing has really been the only negative thing. I got my ball and gloves out a few nights ago and played catch with Kwocie. For never having played he was pretty good. It felt like back in the day when Dad and I would play catch out in the front yard. I'm making progress in Eve even though instead of saying "I have 3 siblings" I said "I have 3 girlfriends."

I didn't know I was the only accountant here until we went over bookkeeping. It looks like despite sleeping through most my college classes, I still got the just of the topics. The cool thing here is that it's the basics that need improving meaning the stuff I've learned is applicable whereas in the US a lot of it is automatically done.

The days go by quickly, we've already been gone almost a month. I take it one week at a time. Church every Sunday is nice to relax. I do find it hilarious that they even take a second collection here for "a mission." Where the heck do they send their money?

'That's quality you just can't get at home.' Marcus one night when the egg sandwich lady took the oil she put in the pan and put it back in the container for next use, adding flavor.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The REAL Ambassador

~Per Dannny for anyone looking to send things~

Some early requests that I forgot to add:

  • flavored drink mixes
  • instant mac n cheese
  • hand sanitizerhard
  • copies of pictures
  • cookies (boxed)
  • books (expensive to ship though)
  • computer games (Rollar coaster Tycoon)
  • foot powder
  • liquid soap and shampoo but may be able to rustle some up here.

Trial malaria blood test, I was shaking so bad when I had to prick myself. Lots of shots lately too.

Internet Cafe, 45 minutes walk from home and takes about an hour to do a blog post. Yahoo sometimes just doesn't work.

An Eve lesson
My room, complete with The Storm poster and GVSU rowing posters on the other side.

My sister Emma (14) laughing at me like usual

My brother KwOko (8) flexing for you.

Momma Aggie and Me

REAL Ambassador and me, the other kid woulda been sweet though

Saturday, October 18, 2008

You have a closet!?

So to officially become a PC volunteer it's said that you have to poo your pants. 3 people in my group have already officially become members. Marcus said I could tell this story. He missed class because he was sick and we asked him what happened the next day. He said, "I'm an official volunteer as of last night." We asked what he did with it and he said, "Threw them in the closet." Without missing a beat 3 of us were like, "You have a CLOSET?!!" That's all that mattered to us.

One day some people went to a grass cutter, the animal, farm and had to report to us about it. We asked many questions and one was "What about reproduction?" Steve answered, "Mostly doggystyle." We had meant how large and how often their litters were, close enough. We've had some great laughs here.

The classes are a bit much, 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. When I get home I eat, hang out with my siblings and go to bed. Running is crucial for me here. If I don't run I will have a pretty bad day. 2 days ago during my run a kid on a bike tried to beat me so I picked it up a little, then he went faster, then I sprinted and I beat him. Despite him having 2 girls on the back of his bike I was still proud of my victory. There's a marathon in Accra every summer and last year a few PCV's ran in it and some even finished. That's what I'm training for. Speaking of which the boys are racing at Charles today, I hope they dominate.

Ma and Pops called me after the Red Sox had their great comeback! I was waking up, what better way to start the day?! That was pure love, I mean it was 1:30 their time and Pops doesn't make it past 8:30 on some nights. My cell phone is very random when it likes to work and when it lets me answer. The number is country code 024 then 131-7596. I've tried a few text messages but I haven't gotten any replies yet, my calls have gone through though.

THANK YOU to those who sent letters. The other PCV's are very jealous as I'm in 2nd place in the letters received contest, trailing Andy by so much that I'll never catch him. I have written a batch of letters replying to those who have sent me them. We'll see how long they take to get there, I'll try to send them out Monday. The letters made me so happy. There's just something awesome about getting a hard letter. The pictures ma sent me have been passed around, hard pictures be awesome. As for emails, I do read them all and appreciate them very very much but I don't always have time to reply.

Days here have been up and down, sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am to be here, other times I'm like what the heck am I doing here? Training will be rough but I get to see the all volunteers at least twice a week. Now that we all have cell phones we can at least text each other. The weather here is killer heat all day, then it rains very hard for like 10 minutes then it goes back to killer heat. I bucket bathe at least 2 times a day, if I don't Momma Aggie knows because the buckets get refilled. I tried to give her the calender of Michigan but then Nana (host dad) came in and was like, you know where this will look office and took it. They love to hear about the US. Celion Dion is HUGE here, one night at a spot they played her nonstop for 3 hours.

Today I have a somewhat fast internet so I'm writing a lot, I'm sorry. I think about home a good amount and when I do it's not always about what you think it would be. I miss chilling in backwait with Sue and Pam and pulling pranks with Chrissy. I miss darts with Tripp, Cody, and random 4th person. Random adventures with KTP and Suave individually. We were setting up a SUSU and needed to have a board and everything and went over the roles of all the members and it really reminded me of Kyle and my board. That board rocked. However I didn't want a spot on this one, I'll leave that to the older volunteers, they made me a key holder instead. My job is to hold onto one of the 3 keys and to keep track of it, I think I can handle it.

Well now I'm going to try to send some pictures to Beth so she can post them, we'll see how these ones come out. I miss you guys lots and thanks for reading, it makes me feel loved.

"Calm seas do not make expert sailors."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The last few days have been the most exciting and emotional of the PC so far.

Saturday we got placed in our homes. It was done Price is Right style. They called out a family then had the volunteer run up to greet them. The second lady for the business was a short but powerful elderly woman and I go to Katherine sitting next to me, this one is me. It was. My family is pretty dang awesome. The mother speaks no english at all and feeds me way too much. Her name is Agnus, just like my grandma. I call here Mama Aggie. She feel in love with me because I go to Catholic Church with her, all 3 hours of it but that's another story, and I love her cooking. Her husband is like on the town elders counsel and runs the city pretty much. They have about 6 kids I think, kinda hard to tell.
I hang out with the boys around my age a lot but my favorite kids are Emma, 14 and Querko, 8. Emma translates everything for me and doesn't make me feel too stupid. I have one electrical outlet in my room and no running water but the house is very nice. They cook me way too much food and sometimes I'm not sure what it is. They are very proud of me and protective of me too. Last night Adam and I went to the spot literally 200 yards away for a beer and I was 5 minutes late getting back and they sent out 5 people looking for me. Yesterday was the first day our whole group got back together and PC provided us lunch, which I tried to tell Mama Aggie. I ended up walking to class with a backpack full of books and a lunch box. I was the only one that brought a lunch. It's like being in 6th grade again, kinda fun tho.

Yesterday was also a huge day because it was the day we all got our cell phones! my number is 0241317596 . If I call you it won't cost you a thing but costs me a lot of my little pay. I can text you cheaply but not sure when you'll actually get it or if you will so that will be fun. I hear skype is only 15 cents a minute to call here and you can get calling cards. It would make my day to hear from people. Even a Suave/Dan type call of 30 seconds would rock. Don't forget that I'm 4 hours ahead of the eastern time zone and I operate on different hours. I go to bed around 9 here and wake up by 5 and have classes from 8/5. That means calling windows would be from 1 am (perfect for DDs) to 4am and 1pm and 5pm eastern time.

The biggest part about yesterday was our placement though! They drew out a huge map of Ghana with sidewalk chalk and announced us one at a time with dancing. I had asked for a Twi speaking, small village, and to not do tourism. I am now taking Ewe classes 4 hours a day, in a village of 10,000, and doing tourism. At first I was like...umm ok. I've been doing Twi for 2 months almost and now I'll just use it for getting around. The more I read into it the better I feel about it. It's a big project and I'm lucky to get it. I will be living in the Volta Region, the most scenic of the 10 regions in Ghana. It is seperated from the rest of the country by the largest manmade lake in the world, Lake Volta. I am stationed at Kpetoe, pronounced pat away, a village on the border of Togo. Being walking distance from another country will be fun. The best part is that I get to be the only volunteer working with Kente in the city in which it started. If you don't know what Kente is you should look it up as much as you can and let me know anything interesting you find. Simply, its the expensive hand woven fabric that is the most famous in all of Africa, especially West Africa. I will be working with the ecotourism board there and they have set me lofty goals that I'm sure I'll get into later. It's very exciting and a little overwhelming.
Now I live in a house that speaks twi, my english is switching to ghanian english, and I'm trying to learn Ewe. Ewe is harsh, the exact same word can mean gun, closed, or plucked if it's accented in a way. Today at lunch was the first time since I got here that I got down, it sucked. I'm placed literally 26 hours of travel away from my two closest buds Adam and Mikey, working on a pretty important assignment, frustrated with a new language, and not sure what meat was grinded on top of my rice in a bucket for lunch. The hopeless feeling passed didn't last too long but still wasn't fun. Won't be the last time I feel like that I have a feeling.
Last night I showed the boys a lot pictures and they loved them, some really great quotes.
"God has blessed you with many beautiful lady friends, except for that crazy one."

Friday, October 10, 2008


This is Dan' sis finishing up his post for him, he ran out of time to post all the pics. He told me what the rest of them are, however I don't think the correct ones got sent. He said "one is of me and the ambassador", this is the only one with him with a specific person, and I'm doubting it's the ambassador, but here's Dan in class, with someone who someday might be an ambassador.

"the cafeteria at the deaf school"

This is the road that goes to Karley's house. It was the best run I've ever had in Africa. The hills were crazy after this little one.

This is me after a day of classes. I even took notes.

Swing of Things

Heck ya Bosox. I hope we get to beat Manny in an East/West coast series.

In Ghana sporting news, Team Obruni, white person, won 5 straight games a few nights ago. Karley and I organized a football game a few nights ago. It was like out of Fields of Dreams, the kids came out of the fields with their cleats in hands to play on a dirt field with 2 stick for each goal. 65ish in total so we played pickup winner stay if it's a tie go to a shoot out style. They said You are very strong, which I think is African for you run around and push hard but suck at soccer. They asked what team I played for in America and I said the Smokey Bandits so now they think it's some American Premier League team.
Anyways the 5 day site visit was truely awesome. Karley is a transfer from Kenya and can cook like no other. She even taught me some. One day we visited Alison from Michigan. She works at a Deaf School and they used ASL! I could communicate with them better than most Africans. Karley is a teacher so I got to sit in on the classes which was amazing. My Twi is coming along very well actually thanks to all my practice back in the states.
Now all my group of volunteers is back together. Tonight is our last night in a hotel and tomorrow we get our host families for the next 9 weeks of training. This morning I got locked in my room and thankfully my buds got me a leatherman so that I could break out, I felt like a badass. Monday is the big day, we get our site placements. The regions of ghana are about as diverse as the US but it's the size of Oregon so it's crazy and where you end up will really tell you what type of stay you will have. I had my last interview today and I asked for a small village but we'll see. It was a hard choice.
I've gotten lots of emails about the cost of things here. It's my retirement plan I think. A round of shots for 5 guys will cost you under 1 CD, almost a dollar, and you don't tip. 3 dollars, that's more than I tip my server at Arnies.
Speaking of Arnies, I miss those people and the food a lot. Not sure which one more, jk. Actually food has been very good. We get really excited about pasta night. Back to Arnie's tho, I've told the story of Chrissy and I singing Summer Loving at Diversions quite a few times. Peace Corps people are really all just huge dorks.
So much to say and so many stories to tell but I don't want to bore anyone. I really feel at home here but I haven't been on my own too much yet. We did get the first batch of mail and those of us who's friends didn't send them stuff while we were still in the states didn't get any. We wrote each other instead. I tried to mail Therese a Ghana Black Stars bandanna but it was too thick, sorry kid.
I said I was born on a Saturday so my name could be Kwame in the last village after the great detroit mayor. I was really born on a thursday it turns out so my name here for now is Yaa Dan or something like that, real creative. Miss you guys and don't be afriad to ask any questions, I'm pretty open about them.

"This internet is so slow that I haven't gotten any pictures up yet. So far I made an entire photo album and all I have in it is a picture of some guy making a philly cheesesteak in Philly" Julie.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ghana so Far

Things so far have been going pretty perfectly. We've lost no one from our group and that's very rare. The ambassadors dinner was really fun. Ana and I did some swing dancing to a live band on the patio and it was really run. Shirley Temple was the ambassador back in the day and installed a pool. In the last 10 years Clinton, Bush, and Mrs. Bush have all been to the main PC headquarters in Accra because it's a very welcoming country and the PC is so strong here.
Yesterday was probably the most fun I've had in a long time. We paired up and were sent into Accra to accomplish certain missions. Cynthia and I had a blast. In the first tro-tro (taxi) I paid for her which was perfectly fine. In the next she paid for me to get even. Everyone in the tro-tro laughed at me because a woman was paying for me. Then we bought a water pouch and I whipped out my leatherman to cut it open, way too wide open. Turns out you're supposed to bite a tiny whole in them, not cut a huge corner off, we got a little wet but we laughed a lot.
We eventually got led to some shops literally on the beach, so pretty. They gave us drums to play while they were getting us merchandise. They thought we were husband and wife, we told them friends. They said friends first, love second, wife third.
They were really nice so I wanted to buy something from them but we didn't have much money. I ended up getting the badass shirt I'm wearing now for 11 cedi. He started at 30 cedi and everyone said I got a good deal so I'm pleased. After that we walked along the shore and beach for like an hour. I almost went up into the lighthouse in the pier but Cynthia stopped me from going up there with some random guy, probably a good idea.
Now I'm in the 2nd largest city, Kumase at the PC sub office. After a day of travel I'll sleep here tonight then head out with Karley to live with her for 5 days for my vision quest. This will be my first village experience since Mali. Being white here draws so much attention to you. They all think we're rich, which comparitively speaking is true. Today for example I had a 5 hour tro-tro ride, 2 beers, a shot, a chicken and rice dinner, and a kabob for about 9 cedi total (just under $9).
It's not America at all, but I think I could get to like it here. Things here are just at a much slower pace.
There is so much to say right now but there is just now way that I could fit it all and I don't want to bore anyone. I'll know my site assignment by next Monday and should have a cell sometime around this Thursday.
Go BoSox.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Things are going wonderfully. Turns out that I won't have much access to internet for a little bit.
Written letters to:

Daniel Vainner
PCT Peace Corps/Ghana
P.O. Box 5796
West Africa

will be the best, I promise to write back eventually but make sure I have your address. Anyone who gave Katie Phelan a letter to give me on the plane, thank you so much. That was probably the best I have ever felt about myself. I'll have those to look at everytime I get down, which sounds like it will be a lot. If you wrote one please get me your address, I owe you.

I'll get a cell phone within the next week or so due to mother's orders. It's great to be back in Africa and I'm trying to represent Michigan as hard as I tried to represent Jackson at Valley. This country really is beautiful and the people are beyond nice. Last night Mike (Tex), Cynthia, and I went for a run and had 8 little guys run after us for a good 1/2 mile. The food and weather are not splendid but I would call them tolerable..

The current volunteers really get me excited. We've had warm greetings everywhere we've been including a police escort from the airport. The country director seems to really like me because I was wearing my Boston hat and he LOVES the BO-Sox, who doesn't?

Miss you guys and thanks again for the letters, I will never forget that.
So much more to say but access is limited. Take Luck.