Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last week I had my first repeat tourist. This time she brought a different friend and gave me Girl Scout Cookies. Weave a few hours and people bring me cookies, this ain't so bad. Another guy mentioned that for being in Africa so long I seemed to be in good shape. Then he said that he rowed for his university in England until last year and had lost a lot of weight. Bloody ‘el, fancy that. Needless to say we had a pretty long conversation about Henley, Empachers, Hudsons, and missing the teammates.
We’ve also started selling the stationary and it’s received great reviews. Bright said, “The women, they really like your idea.” I had to clarify for my ego’s sake that it was definitely my mother’s idea.
With the European football leagues approaching their championships there have been a lot of big games lately. Watching games here makes me wish we were this into one sport back home. At the main junction in town the biggest signboard is a chalk board where they list all the games for the week. Everyone in town, especially at the hut with satellite, knows I’m an Arsenal man. Ghana’s best player plays for Chelsea so they’re everyone’s favorite team. Whenever Arsenal scores, I basically get tackled, last night we lost 0-1 so no tackling but plenty of friendly taunting. Sometimes the power goes off during the game and you have to guess who won, adds a whole new aspect to watching sports. When I ride my bike through town I hear lots of “ARSENAL”, “Go Chelsea”, or there is the mechanic that calls me “Junior Agogo” (my favorite Blackstar, who recently got cut). I still like baseball a lot better but don’t tell them.

Thought I’d try to get you a better feel for life here rather than just what I do so here’s
A Day in the Life of...

Age: 17
Occupation: Student
Siblings: lots
Family lives in Kpetoe but he attends Keta Senior High Technical School where he lives in a dorm that has 3 rooms and 100 occupants.
5:00-wake up, morning prayers and brush teeth
5:30-Sweep dormitory, clean rubbish, bathe and dress
6:00-Inspection (checks on beds, facilities, and uniform)
6:15-Go to School
6:30-Clean and sweep campus
7:00-Assembly with morning devotion
7:30-Breakfast of rice pourage and tea
8:00-40 minute classes
12:00-Lunch of Wache (rice and beans), yam, or kenke (fermented corn, not bad)
12:30-More Classes
2:30-Siesta (Spanish?)
3:00-More Classes
5:30-Dinner of Akpla (green yuckiness), Banku (kinda like kenke), or rice
6:00-Required to watch evening news (cool idea)
6:30-Extra classes or study hall
9:30-Back to dorms, homework until sleep

Friday, April 24, 2009

A few of my favorites. The face is getting better from the bike/goat incident

He is not photoing well today but normally he is very good-o.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The next big thing to hit kente

1/4 the way through already

Last week a few of my favorite PCVs and I went to the capital to get packages, heck ya!, and do some legit work. Adam and I went to the Ghana Tourist Board and had a really great meeting with one of the big men; he even drove us to our next meeting. I spent a good couple hours catching up on things on fast internet for Africa. It’s hard when most of my work involves the internet and it’s just so unreliable around here. It’s getting better, speaking of which they are now putting up a 4th cell phone tower in Kpetoe. Along with work we also had some fun. On separate occasions I had a ham sandwich, pizza, a cinnamon roll, and a burger. We also went to the only movie theatre in the country. It was seriously like being home, can’t even explain how weird it was.
I definitely am going through baseball withdrawal. Summer isn’t summer without the Tigers on in the background. I’m going to miss 3 World Series, that’s like uber mortal sin.
We sign our constitution this Sunday and hopefully will make some progress on our next step, rubbish bin placement. I also introduced my mom’s stationary idea to the weavers and other PCVs already have some, I think they will really sell great, awesome work Ma. Between that, visitor center stuff, getting estimates for the basketball court, and weaving (made my first cut and I had 13 strips) I’ve actually been kinda busy, which is great. I just hope things keep going as well as they have. Yesterday we almost doubled our sales so far this year with over 830 cedi sold to some Ghanaians visiting from Accra since the President was in Ho.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We had around 26 people come to Ho Ho Ho Easter and I would have to say that we pulled it off pretty well, though I’ve used my entire monthly allowance already. Julie spent even more and was such a great host. With my site being so close I came back a few times with other people to show them my village, kente, and let them weave. Hanging out with friends, Euchre, chess, maybe a beer or two and selling kente, what else could I want?
The neighborhood kids thought that Alan was my dad and Marian was my sister (they’re married). My kente vest and matching tie made their debut for Easter mass as well. I looked like a Vegas card dealer.
We have great group, came in with 42, swore in 40, and still have 40 which is unheard of. The group that is leaving in 3 months (more goodbyes..) has 22 left and 2 of them were transferred from Kenya when they evacuated. We’re not the newbies anymore come June 4th when around 80 new trainees arrive.
Lately I’ve had to get online for my assignment a lot which has really been awesome to catch up with people from back home and still manage to be at or near the top of my fantasy baseball league (Ya Kpride of Kpetoe). This brings me to the big question, what the heck is Twitter? I’ve been gone 200 days and I’m already out dated.
Things have been changing here too. Prices are soaring due to inflation and our living allowance doesn’t adjust (I still live comfortably for now because I brought USD and still mooch off my parents 6,000 miles away). In Kpetoe they are working on our 3rd cell phone tower and paving our second road. I’ve even heard talk of an internet cafĂ© opening within a few months. Within a year or so I would think that a lot of PCV’s will get internet on their cell phones. I really wish some of you could see what it’s like here because it’s not at all what I expected and I’d already been to West Africa.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t America at all. If you dropped into a day in my life you would definitely notice so much more than I do now, but you get used to it. I do still think 2 kids who just walked by in winter coats and hats, it’s like 75, are humorous. 2 of the 3 goals of PC are about cultural exchange and I’ll try to get more film of some of the daily occurrences here posted soon. If anyone has any questions or topics that they’re curious about just let me know, it’s part of my job and I’d rather answer questions than just talk about me all the time.

“Whose cows are these?”- Front page story in the Dailey Graphic complete with picture of cows walking around the capital city. They literally wanted someone to claim the cows and get them out of there.

Some strips at the weaving center

Kente up close and personal

Cha Chang

Progress..I am slow but I've still done some

Entire Cloths

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bride and Groom during the 4 hour ceremony...all in ewe. Notice the Kente

The groom and I before the wedding, note Kente.

Mukaila and I after the wedding

My design for the new logo of the Agotime Tourism Governance Board and Staff

Saturday, April 4, 2009

After working inside all day I needed to get out of the house so I "mowed the lawn" for my neighbors wedding
Being easily entertained is very important to staying sane here. We probably didn’t fool too many people with our April Fool’s engagement but the few that we did made us so happy. Thanks, especially to Kelsey Arnold, I haven’t laughed that hard in a long while. We each got a few calls, including Maria’s dad, and lots of messages. I was laughing and really touched.
I got my payback the next day though. I was on my way to a meeting at the paramount chiefs to present our new constitution to the NGO that is hoping to build our visitors centre for us. The NGO representative also happens to be very good looking and is my supervisor. I was in one of my best shirts and took off on my bike. Back home I’ve ridden 100s of miles on my road bike which is much harder to ride than a mountain bike. Back home however there are not the same obstacles. A goat was in my path as I turned around a corner and the side of the bike hit a palm tree when I tried to avoid the goat, over the handle bars I went. Whatever you’re picturing I looked funnier.
I was laughing really hard as I walked my bike back to my house to clean up my cut face and change shirts. The bleeding had stopped by the time the meeting started and it ended up going very well. My supervisor even said she crashed her bike lots when she was a PCV. We made a few changes and we’ll sign it this week hopefully. Then we’re moving onto the next step which is placement of rubbish bins throughout the community and how to empty them to keep the community clean. My nose is a little crooked and I have 4 cuts on my face but we made a lot of progress that day, stupid goats.
My closest neighbor, Julie, and I are hosting around 20 PCV’s for Easter this coming weekend and we’re pretty excited about that. PC wrecked Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years for us, we won’t let them get Easter too. I’ve been saving some off brand Jello (it says “jelly” but I think they meant gelatin) that I found in Accra for the occasion.
Things here have been going awesome. My house is a home (thanks to packages from home mostly), I have some real friends here, and I love my assignment.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fools!

Dan wanted me to make sure you knew yesterday was April Fools Day.

Julie Paa

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We’ve had around 30 tourists in the last 2 weeks, it doesn’t sound like much but it’s a really big deal to us. There is also a British film student from Ghanaian descent that is starting a documentary. She asked Bright, my kente teacher, to do an interview. I thought it was interesting how he didn’t think it was a big deal at all. I asked him why and he said, “They did not buy anything, I will not see the film.” I was going to go into my marketing rave about the merits of exposure but he’s right, a man’s gotta eat.
Pretty much every afternoon I now spend weaving. I’m catching on small small. It’s really great that my current pattern is easy because when tourists come I let them try it, they like that and it makes me feel better about my weaving. I have about 50+ feet done so far. When I make my first cut I’m going to get a smock made and then hopefully a camera case. In about a month I should finish this cloth and move up to level 2, I’ll go from 2 pedals to 4, scary.
Michael, Mathew, Salasas, and I had a good time throwing around the football the Benchys sent me. I was trying to teach them how to throw one and I realized I didn’t really know. Try explaining that you played for 6 years and never touched the ball. Michael can kick it back to me more accurate than throwing and they think long snapping is one of the funniest things ever.
The Grand Valley Rowing banquet was last weekend and I’m sad I couldn’t be there. 4 of my friends called after they closed the bar after it, 6:30 AM here. Jacquelyn was like “Was that a rooster?” Then they all wanted to here a rooster crow which apparently doesn’t occur outside of EVERY house back home. The problem is Michael is such a good kid that when I’m on the phone he scares away most of the animals, so I walked around my neighborhood trying to find roosters. I didn’t have to look far and they all got to hear one.
The main NGO that I’m working with is coming tomorrow because they really like the progress our tourism team has been making lately and want to start talking about the visitors centre! Therefore we had a meeting that took 4 hours today just prepping for it. I don’t want to get the guys’ or my hopes up too much but this is pretty much why I’m here so I’m excited.
Speaking of exciting, Maria. She’s from NYC (never even driven a car) and is really cool. Don’t worry, she’s a Mets fan. We went through training together and have stayed in touch as well as possible in PC. I really wish you guys could meet her, she’s amazing. We’ve talked about it a lot and we’re engaged. Does it get any better than “Ya, we met in the PC?” I couldn’t be happier.

“You are very slow ooo”-Oscar when he saw me weave for the first time.