Thursday, January 29, 2009

I’m stoked to go get Accra mail on the 5th, I still have xmas and bday packages there I guess, real mature PC. I have lots to (besides mail even) in Accra it’s frustrating that PC has made me wait so long to go there. My buddy Marcus will be there then though. He lived his last year of college in a minivan so this is an upgrade to him, he cracks me up.
It’s the heart of the dry season here, 30 seconds of rain in the last 45 days. They set bush fires to flush out grass cutters to hunt, I tried to explain deer hunting and blinds to them but they think that’s just beyond stupid, maybe it is. The fires look pretty cool at night but they are horrible for the environment and they burn EVERYTHING including utility lines. We lose power all the time, the internet was out for 4 days, and our phones have been acting all jacked up. Normally I wouldn’t mind because this is Africa but I was supposed to be in contact with a few NGO’s and my supervisor. Being an American middle man in deals between a French NGO and Ghanaian villagers is not all that fun. This week hasn’t been fantastic but even my off weeks I still get to do cool stuff.
I spent a weekend walking to the tiny villages around Kpetoe, no roads to them. By tiny I mean like 6-20 huts total, insanely cool. I’d like to say that I did a lot but honestly any white person could have (true with about all I do). Oscar and I are trying to set up saving schemes for them and if Oscar goes by himself they don’t trust him, but if a white person tells them to save money and keep books they listen and their chiefs give him kente, coconuts, and palm wine.
I met a guy who’s trying to export kente. He’s like a Ghanaian big deal but so chill. He has a huge picture of him and Mr. and Mrs. W. Bush. He’s been to Cedar Point (with some congressman!) so we spent 15 minutes complete with sound effects and motions describing roller coasters to Mukaila.
Tuesday was my buddy Steve’s bday so we met up in Ho, the NGO capital of Volta. Lumen would disown me but it took Steve and me 30 minutes to figure out who was in the Super Bowl. It was pretty cool because at the table of 11 we had 7 countries represented. One of the girls was an exchange student in Charlotte, MI, how small is this world? I’m glad I wasn’t the only American or else Japan would think we’re all jerks. When a guy said he was from Tokyo I asked him what big city that was around. The Ausie next to me backhanded me.
I’m currently 3 days into the set up process for weaving, I can’t wait. We’ll see how it turns out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oscar weaved me this because I'm teaching him about computers. It's pretty cool

What I travel with, yes, it's a man purse, get off.

Football match at another village.

My life summed up in a picture I think. 2 best weavers in Kpetoe, the chop bar I eat at at least once a day, and PC.

me watching the Man U vs. Chelsea game, I'm not sure if you can pick me out or not but I'm kinda in the middle

Friday, January 23, 2009

Living the Life?

I feel like a real PCV now. Things happen and I think completely differently than I used to. I was in a tro jammed with 20+ people and 1 of the 2 kids in a mom’s lap behind me threw up a little onto the seat like 2 inches from me. The lady sitting there got really mad and jammed her way to the next row up, to me it was “Alright, more leg room.” I can seriously sit and wait for hours and be perfectly content, like 3 days ago I went to Ho to buy a bike and get on the internet. I paid for the bike and will get it in a month and the internet was going to be fixed in an hour all day and I had to email my supervisor, it never got going (nor did it the next 2 days). I wasn’t even mad because I still got back in time to go to my chop bar for fufu with chicken! I go there more than anyone in town and prefer chicken to goat or grasscutter so the owner calls me in the beginning of the week to see how many times I’ll be coming that week, if it’s enough he’ll do a pot of chicken brown nut soup. Not all of this is good, sometimes I can just feel myself getting mentally slower. The way I travel, eat, dress, don’t shave and pretty much just live is very different than how I used to but I’m getting the hang of it.
I’ve been in a great mood for a long time, ever since I started getting mail again, coincidence? The new PO Box works! Just letters though, I would still send packages to Accra, a US Embassy worker is there when they open them. I try to avoid that city however, I don’t like traffic. I still have some Christmas packages there I think but they’re not too great about letting us know.
I got to see some PCVs that I haven’t seen in a long time, one since like my second week in country! It was really refreshing and we had a ton of fun. 2 of my favorite PCVs ever leave this summer already. It makes you realize just how short of a time you are here. They’ve done so much and I hope I can match them. Karley found people back home to donate 7 laptops to bring the first computers to her village and got the school power to open a computer lab on top of teaching a full schedule. I play football and eat.
I’m currently writing the NBA Cares because I want to get Kpetoe its first basketball court so bad. It would be pretty cheap actually in US dollars (working on an exact quote but it’s hard with labor and inflation, my very rough guess right now is $2,000-$4,000) for a good court that would get tons of use. My favorite tailor was on the national armed forces team so he and I would coach. The court we played on during training was bad but got used a ton. Team sports and fitness is huge and all but on top of that PCVs have just started using sporting events to promote HIV/AIDS awareness. Due to the popularity of sports you can make a presentation at halftime of a game with white people in it and get to so many people. If I can give these kids access to a new sport, one which they idolize its stars, and get the word out a little more on HIV/AIDS then I think I have to do it with or without the NBA’s help, preferably with.
I tracked down some badminton rackets and can’t wait to set up a new somehow, mom’s proud. The Finnish documentary maker single handedly doubled our sales over the last 2 months; I’m glad people thought we were brothers and introduced us.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The country was at a standstill for elections and now they're trying to make up for lost time it seems which is great, I've actually been busy in Africa! I had a tour bus of 50 college kids from ELON (in NC) stop and when I walked over they were like, "Are you here to buy kente too?" I said, "No, I live across the street." After about 10 minutes of kente talk it switched to PC/Dan questions. I haven't spoken in in front of a group since spring banquet and my English is fading quickly so I hope I wasn't too bad. PC owes me though, I gave out a ton of PC info but I really do love what I'm doing so why not encourage others?
The last 4 days I've spent with a Finnish couple, the guy is a documentary maker and the woman is a textile expert. Kente was a perfect fit for them and add it to the fact that they hadn't seen the sun in over a month in Finland, they loved Kpetoe. Mr Agba and Oscar are the main 2 people interviewed! They were so happy, Mr. Agba made me a sweet kente bag as thanks. Maybe it kinda looks like a purse but I got no one to impress here. I delayed my kente lessons so the woman could use my loom so I'm excited to get started soon. It'll be about 4 or 5 months until Annte gets me the finished product but any exposure we can get kente is great. He wants to sell things like my purse in Finland, men there would like it, jk.
I forget that what I'm doing is different because most people I talk to are also PCVs. I was shocked when Annte wanted to interview me but I hadn't shaved in a few days and I think a Polack wouldn't really add to the Africa feel in the documentary. Ya, Dan Vainner turned down an interview, Cit Pat and Lanthorn would write an article about that. But I wrote about it in this so my modesty is still same level don't worry.
Right now I'm in a HUGE city. It's like America, well to me, and it's really weird. I haven't been in a big city since my first week here, I got ice cream and beef, I like Kpetoe better.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

inspiration from scotty
THANK YOU to everyone that sent me anything over the last month! I got it all late Wednesday and was blown away, like didn’t sleep that night. Some people spend way too much on shipping. Don’t get me wrong, I love packages but they’re expensive! You don’t have to, letters are great and I don’t feel so bad about it. My closest neighbor loves it when I get packages though, wow contradict much? Once I find out if this new PO Box works I should have access to mail about once a week.
I met the district engineer Mukaila, a great guy. He introduces me to everyone at the District Assembly (DA) which is similar to our state governments. I stopped by his office yesterday to say hi and they were working on inventories of every office of the DA since many people will change due to the election. They had a brand new flat screen Dell and there was a guy on it typing with one finger. They were using Word to make the inventory lists and having trouble with the columns, well heck Bill Gates has trouble with columns in Word. All I could think about was Dad when I called about accounting. His first question was always did you put it into Excel yet? If I said no he’d tell me to then he’d help. Well the Republic of Ghana owes ya Pops. In 2 hours I had all 15 offices of the DA set up with reusable spreadsheets. They couldn’t get over how fast I got it done and treated me to my favorite chop bar for lunch. When the owner came out with my usual fufu order without asking they about lost it.
These are extremely intelligent people; let me make that very clear. There just is no training for IT. Anyone that knows much about computers works for an NGO or has left the country. Here they are with amazing technology at their fingertips and they didn’t know the difference between putting a computer in Sleep Mode and Shutting Down, BSed my way through that one and wanted to call Suave to see if I was even close, I was using numbers and stuff.
So many NGO’s throw money at Africa because they have this image of poor people in mud huts. It’s changing so fast right now but some things are staying the same and it makes for a chaotic symphony. PC told me I’d be reading by candle light every night even, I usually watch MASH. People in my village and some of my PC friends do live like that though. Africa doesn’t need more technology; they need to use it to help even things out. This is coming from an American where the gap between rich and poor is astronomical.
Anyways last week was a down week, this week’s been great. Hope all is great back in the States.

Bless: Close your windows and lock your door and do not come out around midnight tonight.
Me: Umm ok.
Bless: Tonight is the festival that we kill many animals to prevent diseases. If you are not killing them you will surely catch the diseases from the air.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

That's right, all 6 Star Wars, and like 5 other movies on a $3 DVD, gotta love 3rd world sometimes

My kitchen post chicken

My expert weightlifting coach.

100th Day in Ghana

Bless called me on New Years Eve saying “a fowl was in my house and was spoiling many things.” I didn’t know if it was a “foul” like a robber or a “fowl” like a chicken, either way not good. I got there and my kitchen was trashed and there was poop EVERYWHERE, chicken poop, not robber poop. I searched for it but the chicken had left already through the small hole in my screen that it got in through. She even left an egg on my desk. I spent the rest of the night cleaning up and passed out at like 11, Happy New Year. My neighbors felt horrible, Michael caught the chicken and brought it to me ready to kill it. At first I was frustrated, but how do you get mad when a chicken gets in your house? As my buddy Andy texted, “How many of your friends can say that happened to them?” Or you could go with Adam’s text, “That sucks/is hilarious.” I’ve blocked up the holes and took it as a life lesson.
After almost exactly a month the election is finally over. Atta Mills won and my village went nuts, kinda scary. They all put white powder all over them, drove around screaming, and even burning flags of the losing party. When they lit a scarecrow on fire representing the guy who lost I decided it was time to go back to the bungalow. It makes you think if our first elections were similar. The worst part for us was the “Standfast” which meant no travel and for some reason no mail. This made for what will hopefully be the loneliest few weeks of my life. A few of my buds almost went home. My buddy Steve was stuck in Accra the whole time and is hopefully bringing me all my mail so I get a late birthday/Christmas today.
I’ve started teaching computers from scratch and really enjoy it. Hopefully this week I’ll also start learning how to weave kente and schedule my first tourism management team meeting. Now that the elections are over people can focus on other things actually which means things will pick up. Hope all is well back home.