Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Emancipation Beach. A volunteer said it feels like you're on the edge of the world there. I told him "it's round, dumbass"
I can go home now. I’ve had my biggest successes in Ghana and know that it will be tough to top. Desmond slapped my hand.
Since the day that I came to Kpetoe Desmond would run away screaming anytime he saw me. Once I passed he would start yelling “For Daniel” until I waved at him. His house is between mine and the road so I go by him a few times a day. Each time same story, his mom tells me to touch him and he screams and does a run/waddle away. White people are scary. Sometimes I would chase him; it is the neighborhood joke. So much that Michael was talking to me one night:
Dan: You will be very happy when I go home, I’ll leave you my baseball glove.
Michael: No, I will cry when you leave (Michael is the toughest 11 year old I know), just For Desmond will be happy when you leave.
Tuesday, when I walked by Desmond after my run he comes up to me and I reached out like I do to scare him and instead he slaps it. He looks at his hand to see if it’s alright then gets this look on his face of great accomplishment; it was the most joy I’ve ever seen in a child’s eyes, then he runs away. A day that starts like that can’t be a bad one.
There have been some frustrations with my projects lately. My basketball court proposal has been sitting at the Accra PC office for over a month now, and as we speak all the quotes on it are changing due to inflation and exchange rates. It still has to go through Washington too. After taking the constitution all over the country to get signatures the Ghana Tourist Board in Ho has had it for 3 weeks, they’re the last Herbie Hancock we need and we said we wouldn’t have another meeting until it was all finalized. We worked hard on a proposal to NCRC for rubbish bins throughout town and hadn’t heard from them for over a month but I think they’ll be installed July 16th. Basically lately the only work I’ve been able to do is work with the District Assembly, host tourists and my computer lessons. Luckily number of tourists continues to be on the rise and I have my weaving so I haven’t gone crazy.
After Desmond slapped my hand I realized that meant more to me than if I got them a theme park built here in Kpetoe (be sweet though wouldn’t it!?). PC is more about the relationships and exchange of cultures then the actual aid work. I look at how my feelings have changed from being all alone in some African village 5,660.15 miles and 771 days from home (273 days down but who’s counting) to being part of Kpetoe and I’m very happy with all the little successes I’ve had here so far.
If that was too cheesy for ya we did have 18 art students from western Canada (apparently they do exist) stop by last Sunday, hilarious. How do I explain to Bright and Joshua why people pierce their tongues and lips or why they are taking a picture of the ground? “No Bright, her lips aren’t naturally black.” When they left they were wearing kente in ways I’ve never seen before. One of my best friends is an art student and I used to tease her about how weird they were, little did I know, they weren’t that bad.

I hate snakes, like run and scream like a little girl, hate snakes. On the rowing team if there was a snake by the river they’d always manage to scare the crap outta me with it, real mature guys. I’m getting better here due to seeing so many, mostly dead, on my runs. Well yesterday there was the thickest one I’ve ever seen that had been run over by a car. Today I run by and pray it’s been moved and most of it had, I was relieved. Then I saw a guy on the other side of the road starting a fire, I won’t go into details but I think you can figure out what he was grilling, disgusting. Probably shouldn’t have shared that but it grossed me out and that takes a lot now.

Adam Luck (remember the name, he’s gonna be famous), my best friend in PC, just starred in a Ghanaian movie as “white man who brings education to village.” Ghanaian movies may be the worst acting in the history of mankind and all of Adam’s lines were improv, sounds like a sure hit to me. Can’t wait to see it.

The only way that Spain won’t score 5 goals on America is if they put 11 men on the goal line. –BBC World Sports Update June 24
US won 2-0 the next day and almost beat Brazil in the final yesterday. AWESOME.

Desmond's reaction for me until Tuesday

Desmond giving me five for like the 5th time

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lisa sent me some Boston temporary tattoos, entertainment for like 2 days.

Don't Mess with Kpetoe

A Day in the Life of….

Samuel Agba (Mr. Agba)
Age: 67
Occupation: Owns best Kente store in Kpetoe, retired weaver, farmer, Chairman of the Agotime Tourism Governance Board & Staff
Has been to textile exhibitions in Denmark, US, and France
Dropped out of Secondary School at age 11 to support his family by weaving in 1953
Father of 16
One of my favorite people to just chill with ever.

4:30-Wake up, bathe and eat rice
5:30-Open store
6:00-Take tea
6:30-Check on weavers he buys from all over town collecting strips and paying for them
8:00-Take strips back to store and organize
9:30-Guinness (“refreshment”) with Daniel
10:00-Send strips to tailor to get them made into ties, bags, and clothes. Also inspects and pays for finished products.
11:00-Go to farm on outskirts of town
5:00-Come home from farm and bathe so “I can go out again”
6:00-Dinner of yams, rice, plantain, or fufu
7:00-Close the shop, see what was sold
As with most summers, the last few weeks have flown by. Why is it that summers are still so much fun even here where the weather doesn’t change all that much? I will admit it’s been the coolest temperatures since we got to country lately, but still hot.
Between all the summer volunteers, the new group of PCTs, and even PCV’s from other countries visiting Ghana I’ve been meeting people from all over. Having Jake stay with me last week reinforced my opinion that I have a pretty amazing job. The best part about it is that I get to meet all these people but they only come to my village for a few hours so I still get to live most of my life with Ghanaians. It’s a very rare mix even in PC to be able to see many volunteers yet still live Ghanaian style.
Jake was a trouper and tried everything that I did including going on a run with me, eating Fufu, washing cloths, and even cooked breakfast for us twice. Mom sent bacon bits so we had fresh eggs, tomato, onion, and BACON sandwiches, amazing. We also met up with other PC people on the beach in Afloa (border town that you can see Togo’s capital from) where we played basketball on the court from White Man Can’t Jump and proved the movie true losing horribly. While standing in the water there I decided my US friends should be there too so I used all the credit on my phone calling them, well worth it.
My neighbor Matthew and I spent a morning cutting my grass with cutlasses. When we were about 10 minutes from being done he hit the plastic pipe that brings my water (yes I usually have running water) and it started spraying everywhere. While he ran to fetch the “plumber” I figured out how to turn off the water. The guy came as fast as he could, meaning he borrowed a bike, and brought with him a piece of pipe and a blade. We told him I did it because obviously an American would hit the pipe, not a Ghanaian. He asked for some matches and I watched as he started a fire, heated the plastic, molded it to the right size and after 2 tries had it all fixed, it took a while but I was impressed.
I also had power issues. I figured it was just lights out for the day but when I noticed my neighbor’s power on I went and checked into it. Bills are put on your house but there is no where in town to pay them. Guys come around to tell you to pay the bill but you can’t pay them, so I had given money to Mukaila to pay mine. Mukaila forgot to pay it so they cut my power. I rode all over town asking around and finally found the guy turning off power. I paid my bill and he agreed to come turn the power back on if he got to ride my bike to do it and if I bought him a Guinness. Cost me a beer but now I’m back to having power about 60% of the time.
I also started my 2nd kente pattern. The guys at the store didn’t think I’d be able to handle it but Bright said I could. After a few inches I decided the first strip would be practice. It was a good call as that strip leaves to be desired but the next 2 have come out really well. There aren’t many better ways to spend a warm afternoon then weaving kente in an African village with buds like Bright and Joshua.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Adam and I with our matching cowboy hats, I wove the kente on them!

Kumasi, 2nd biggest city in Ghana. I don't like big cities.

OH my gosh!! Jesus has a brother!

A typical vehicle name in Ghana.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Found this painting in Accra, not exactly the weavers I know but still cool
May ended up being out best month to date for tourists with a whopping 33 and we also sold quite a bit. This is great since progress towards our visitors center has basically been halted as we’re still waiting for an NGO’s contractor to install the rubbish bins.
Last week I went to Alan & Marian’s place before going to Accra. They are our oldest couple and are amazing. Between the 2 of them they have like 30 some years of overseas volunteering so they know how to enjoy it. They actually met volunteering together and got married on some Pacific island. It was great to catch up with them, see their site, and hike to a gorgeous waterfall.
Accra is like the most modern place I can imagine right now. Officially I went to refill my malaria meds and visit my supervisor but a few of us met up there to welcome the 67 new PCT’s as they got off the plane. Traffic was so bad that morning that we actually missed them getting off the plane and could just wave to their buses as they pulled off. We did still get to meet a few of them back at the office. The first one said, “I’ve been reading your blog and it’s really great.” I had no idea what to say to that other than he has no taste in literature. After that I was scared to talk to any of them. Even though we didn’t get to know any of them I can’t be unhappy in Accra. Accra means packages from home, AC, good food, and lots of people from all over the world and I also saw sliced bread for the first time since I got here, it was the greatest thing.
Thursday night 9 of us went to the only sports bar in Ghana. They even had satellite that picked up ESPN. I watched Sportscenter and saw highlights of the Bosox beating the Tigers! The best part was it was quiz night. They do current events, music, and such. The questions were intense but the guys who run it are British so we knew they’d get current events off of BBC and studied, we were right. I don’t know how many countries were represented but it was interesting to see what questions were hard to who. For example we may have been the only group to get the Indian princess from Peter Pan right. (Tigerlilly, and I’m still taking crap for knowing that and the 2 catholic questions) We struggled with some French stuff and got killed on identifying songs and artists and ended up in 5th, only 1 point off winning some prize money.
The Blackstars played Mali in Bamako in a huge World Cup Qualifying match. Our captain, Appiah, isn’t on the team anymore but my favorite player, Agogo, is back on the team! As long as we have Essien in midfield we should be fine in qualifying. The TV hut was packed to capacity for the match but it just would not come in. It looked liked an old school Nintendo would if you loaded the cartilage wrong. Apparently they still managed to win 2-0 without like anyone in Ghana being able to watch. I told my dad about the big match and he asked who’s pitching.
Today I am meeting one of the new PCTs and taking him to live with me for a week, poor kid. I had Karley, who is an amazing cook, host me while this guy gets to put up with me and groundnut paste with jelly. During their first 2 days they already had one faint, one seizure, and one person ET (Early Terminate, or go home). Welcome to Ghana.

A Day in the Life of…..

For Daniel (Brother Daniel)
Age: 23 but I just tell my village I am young, cause I would still be a small boy at 23 here.
Occupation: Peace Corps Volunteer, Small Enterprise Development
5:45-Roaster wakes me up
7:15-Go get rice pourage and greet the women under mango tree. One about 50 years old claims she is my wife. On the way tell Michael what I am doing for the day.
7:30-Read/minesweeper/chess while eating.
8:15-Stop sweating then shower
8:17-Dress and load up backpack for morning
8:30-Take off on bike (hopefully avoiding goats) for town. Usually I check in at the District Assembly with Mukaila, the weaving center with Bright, all stores in town to see what they sold the day before, and if the Paramount Chief is around I might stop by the palace.
9:30-Guiness with Mr. Agba (no joke, probably like 3 times a week)
10:00-Work on whatever projects I have going on.
11:30-Go to stands to pick out lunch of things like noodles, rice, beans, bread, fufu, banku
11:45-Make Lunch
12:30-Work/Play with the kids/Read/Write/Computer lessons
2:30-Weave or chill with the weavers
5:30-Get stuff for dinner
5:45-Make Dinner (same choices as lunch)
7:00-Football match at the TV hut if there’s one on, if not read
9:00-Episode of M*A*S*H or read
10:00-Fall asleep to BBC on my shortwave
Market is every 4 days and I usually go to that. I go to Ho about once a week for internet, mail, and to speak American English with Julie. Sunday is 3 hours of church and phone with Ma and Pops. Hand wash laundry once a week. When tourists come whatever I’m doing stops for them. I lift like every 3 days after it gets dark, it’s the most exciting thing going on in the neighborhood so I always have spectators.