Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It’s been a pretty slow week but it’s still been pretty fun. After 2 months of shopping and miscommunication I bought a mini refrigerator, ya that’s right, cold water and I’ve even had leftovers once. Of course power has been out over half the days since I got it. Buying large things without access to a car is a lot harder than you think especially when you have to travel to the regional capital to get them. I should get my bike within the next 2 weeks. A bike and a fridge, can you say spoiled? I’ll just the bike home the 25 k from Ho.
The bats in my ceiling have reached an all-time high when it comes to annoying me. The last 4 nights I’ve been up from between 2-4 since they’ve been so loud. A few nights ago I was really mad and true to my roofer roots shimmied up on top of my bungalow and tried to scare them out. Crazy white man with a flashlight and a stick on top of his bungalow at 4 AM.
The power being out lately hasn’t really affected me too much since I spend a few hours a day at the weaving center. However, I will never think candles are romantic again. Bathing by candle light sounds like something out of a chick flick but it sucks.
I’m still by far the worst weaver ever but I’m not quite as loud as I was when I started spinning the thread. I finally have almost everything set up and ready to actually start, told you I was slow. Somehow I managed to be spinning the thread backwards once, Bright just gave me a really confused look and said, “That is a new method.” I think he was impressed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weaving Kente is probably a lot of fun. I’ve spent 3 days setting up and I’m not even close to starting yet. I’m the slowest (and loudest somehow) yarn spinner in Kpetoe and I have had to cut each day short for meetings. Bright, my teacher, has had great patience with me and all the knots I’ve made. Despite my lack in skill, I still enjoy it.
The Paramount Chief and I just finished a catalogue for potential sponsors for our annual Kente Festival in September. I say annual but last year it was cancelled due to disputes between big men in the village. The previous years it has grown pretty large and has attracted some legitimate sponsors such as the countries largest breweries. The week will include speed weaving contests, Kente quizzes, a Ms. Kente Pageant, plenty of Kente stands, and each night will end with a street jamboree. It should be a good time.
On Sunday my dad mentioned my sister took the Kpetoe brochure I made and put it in Microsoft Publisher to clean it up. I decided I should learn it too so I messed around with it. Like the next day the Paramount Chief sends for me and wants me to help with the catalogue. Funny how things work out like that.
Days are starting to go by faster now, well at least this week. My training has kept me pretty busy even when the Kente business doesn’t. I’ve run here more than any Vainner ever should but am still getting some weight back on compliments of my cement weights. I read a ton and have picked up a few other hobbies, like listening to BBC, chess, and Minesweeper. Tripp and I decided last year that there were some things that all Americans should know and we memorized the 50 State Capitals, I started with those and have an entire page of other things I want to memorize. My first big successes have been identifying all the countries in Africa and listing the presidents (US, not GVSU Rowing) in order; I have a little free time.
My buddy Andy and I are organizing the PC Ghana March Madness Pool. It should be interesting since none of us have seen a game this year. I am an early favorite though because I was sent a SI with preseason rankings in it. More interesting will be the phone calls, brackets sealed in envelopes, trust when it comes to the 1 Cedi entry fee, and just getting brackets here come tournament time. The joys of living in a developing nation.

“Well look at your cute little costumes!”
-Jenna from Australia when she saw a picture of the 2003 Lumen Football team’s offensive line.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The District Assemble Rep and me

Kids at a village out in the bush

The road to one of the villages that we're organizing savings groups in

The look on her face when she sees her first white person

Matthew was playing with my camera

I tried to tell them to make a funny face, only 1 understood my ewe apparently

2 months of work and they can kinda play catch and not chase

Officer Michael and Lt. Collins

Keta Lagoon on the Ocean Side

Ypsi's finest arresting some bum
The packages I got blew the mall out of the water. I said I don’t need any but people seem to have a hearing problem. Therefore the neighborhood kids got to try American candy and liked it; my 4 closest adult friends got American candy and LOVED it. I thought Mr. Agba was drunk dialing me but he had his mouth full of gum and had just had his first M & Ms. I ate enough to upset my tummy the first day and then decide it was worth it to do it again the next day and the next.
Finally we have a Kente shop here almost completely stocked. They make some really cool products but never have them ready for when tourists come. As I can afford it I’m getting a package together for people back in the US. It’ll probably take about 3 months to be able to afford and get things made. If you have any requests email ( me and I’ll get it to you, especially if you sent a package!
Last week our tourism management team met with NCRC (Nature Conservation Research Centre) and we’re in the running to have them build us a visitor’s centre! Right now we have no good way to absorb tourists, if we got that it would help so much. They want to help but they’re going about it the right way. They won’t just give us the money; we have to accomplish certain goals. The first is to have a constitution written up. We have to edit our first draft and get it to NCRC this week hopefully. The paramount chief is really excited about this and it helps to have his support. This is why I’m here. I know it seems petty but all that GVSU Rowing Board stuff has really helped running the meetings.
Yesterday morning we were to have a meeting at 6 am, a few people showed up at 7 and we decided to have it at 5:30 pm, welcome to Africa. I’ve been having dinner with Mukaila and his fiancĂ© Ayisha most nights and it’s really nice because we have conversations and I feel like I blend in with them and that’s not a feeling I get here. Lunch is still at my restaurant usually. It’s no Arnie’s but it’ll have to do. The yearbook Chrissy sent me made me want to work at Arnie’s again so bad, I miss those people.
The old government is giving the new government a hard time when it comes to filling positions. One night I watched some of the vetting process and it was almost funny. Simple things like spelling errors still happen here at high levels and someone misspelled one of the members of Parliament name on a form and they were trying to have that stop her from swearing in.
On 2 separate occasions’ women over 35 asked for my number this week. The girl PCV’s get it much worse. Julie, my closest neighbor, wants us to get rings but what happens when I meet the German volunteer of my dreams? Anytime I get a letter from a girl Mukaila thinks I’m engaged. He’s pretty worried about me and is probably taking me to the beach for Valentines Day.
I weighed in for the 2nd time since I got here and am up a few pounds to 183, I came in at 197 but it’s good to put some back on. Sunday literally as I hung up the last of my laundry it started to rain for the first time in 2 months. It poured and I did the clichĂ©’ PC thing and went and stood in it.
“The African sun rises on the horizon. How are you this morning?”-I taught Oscar how to text and this is the first one I got from him

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dan goes to a Mall

On my way to the PC office I stopped next to the airport at the only mall in Ghana. I have lived a pretty great life so far but I would have to say it was one of the happiest moments of my life. It looked like a mall, smelled like a mall, and WAS a mall, well a small one. I hate malls in the US, ask Lisa, if not for Sears I wouldn't go near them. This had a Nike store even. I was in total disbelief. It wasn't like a dream, I was there but wasn't. I went into the Shopright (grocercy store in a mall, who would do that...jackson) and just had this stupid grin on my face the whole time. I started at one end and just went up and down every isle. When I got to the other end I turned around and did it again. I didn't buy anything but I was so happy, I texted my friends and they couldn't believe what I was telling them. It's only been a little over 4 months but I've never felt like that before. I woke up to chickens clucking and goats whatever they do at my door and 3 hours later I was in a store that was selling PS3s. When I walked out of the mall and came back to Africa it felt kinda depressing but also I was relieved for some reason. Weird.
After that I went to the University of Ghana to get some Kente books and I forgot how much I love college campuses. It was cool to see the similarities and differences between their schools and ours. Now I'm in an AC office on free Internet. Life is good. Half of my mail however seems to be getting sent to Bumuda first and then sent back to the States and then sent here. Somebody get these guys a map. The mail I did get I won't open until I get back, too much happiness is wasteful in one day.
Work is actually moving forward. NCRC, an NGO, is very happy with our progress and is interested in possibly sponsoring our visitor center if we can keep showing progress like we have recently! They sent 2 reps out last week and we had a meeting that I was very pleased with. Our paramount chief is a badass first off, but secondly is very excited about the process so that helps.
I think this is a link to an artical about one of the groups that stopped and I talked to, not sure tho, internet keeps freezing up, sorry if it's not.

There's starving Dan Vainner's in Africa- Justin Ott at Fresh Food this morning in Allendale, MI when Sadek threw food away.