Thursday, July 29, 2010

Men's Cloth DONE!

Grand Valley State University Colors
It's HUGE. Taller than me (6'3") and twice as long.
Joshua, Bright, and I. The best master weavers ever and soon to be perhaps the only Caucasian kente master weaver in the world.

Tuesday at 11:11 I finished my men’s cloth! 19 double strips (38 regular) make this massive cloth up. It took me about 5 months but with lots of travel in there too (Bright could do it in less than 1.5). When I started I was doing 3 squares a day and on my 2nd to last day I did 27 (779 in entire cloth). I’m still slow but the weavers were even more excited about it being done than I was. They all tried it on and we took lots of pictures. Goodbye entire group shot is planned for early next week.

The guys have had even more to be happy about as we are having the best month any of them can remember. As of yesterday we have sold GH 1,456 from 117 guests…117!! Both are easily new records. I couldn’t have asked for a better showing on my last full month here. With the guidebooks, brochures, signboards, website, and such more people are giving us a try. The guys weave so well, are laid back and the prices are low so once people come they tell their friends. You would think with all the visitors I’d be getting my social skills back but they are still far from where they need to be for home.

Now I’m weaving a pattern that uses 4 shuttles (5 really) so I’m slow again. My men’s cloth was 2 shuttles (really 3). I still might try to weave a women’s cloth which is ¼ the size of a men’s cloth.

This morning I gave my neighbor girl Wonder some Jello. She kept in in her mouth for like 10 minutes and still isn't sure about it.

Oldest weaver in the shed goofing around.
Foster and Lawrence with me. Lawrence does all my orders for the German embassy (my commission is 2 Guinness) and is the happiest guy in the shed. Many Ghanaians like to look serious in the pictures and we made fun of him for it and I promised I'd post it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Squeezing in what i can

The walls of my house are now empty; less than 20 days left in it. I’ve been staying so busy that all I do there now is sleep. This week after giving a presentation for the new group 2 of them came to do a “Job Shadow” of me. The basketball, weaving, chess, darts, walking to Togo, palm wine, cloths shopping at market, and good eats might not have added up to a good job shadow but we definitely had a great time. It’s interesting how coming just 2 years later will completely change their PC experience.

I have a PO Box because when we got here internet was 45 minutes to open Yahoo. Now if I wasn’t leaving in less than 2 months I’d get a wireless modem. Roads are paved, power seems to stay on longer though water still goes out a lot. PC will also be doubling its number of volunteers within 2 years. Of the 70+ in the new group 28 are coming to my region, Volta. We have 6 in my group here. For a long time Julie was the only PCV within 3 hours of me. The increased net will allow for even more cultural exchange and that along all the other improvements and closer neighbors will make for happier volunteers. Happy volunteers do better work. I love how PC adjusts to progress rather than try to stay the same. Being a PCV is hard enough; they deserve every added comfort available. I’m excited to hear how these guys do.

1.5 strips left of my men’s cloth since I’ve been hosting and coaching a lot lately. We had a big meeting at the visitors’ centre with all the weavers and the paramount chief and talked about the future of it. The guys know I’m leaving and have been incredibly nice. They decided I get made a master weaver on August 30 at the opening ceremony of the Kente Festival! I have to have my cloth finished to become one so they’ve been helping any way they can. Bright takes my weight back and Lawrence will pick each string to make sure there are no knots in the warp whenever I’m gone. Both processes take me 30 minutes. I love these guys.

During basketball warm-ups Monday I was the proudest I’ve been here. We looked just plain sharp doing layups. Smooth, agile, and having fun. I should have taken before and after video. The guys still aren’t great but they’re getting good. I love that my starting 5 is Courage, Wisdom, Fiesta, James, and David with Wizzy as 6th man.

The new nets mom sent me even outlasted the rims as I had to take them down and weld them yet again. One completely snapped; they get used a lot. This time we added some extra support and so far so good. Wednesday was probably my last practice with all the guys there so to end it we did 2 on 2 with me and the 3 best. I showed my age in the end, spraining my ankle and having to stop. I’ve been limping to my loom and back since.

The huge guidebook to Ghana, Bradt, who is easily the most important aspect to any tourism sight, emailed me and said that Julie and I will be getting free copies of the newest edition for our help. That along with all the praise from the new group and my village has me pretty proud of what we’ve done here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Marcus and I got September 16th as our official Close of Service date. We have to be out of our houses by August 12th for our replacements so we get just over a month of homelessness to finish up our service which should be kinda fun. That gives us like a month left living in our villages. That's like no time at all and it's really hitting me how close I am to leaving.

My replacement Chrissa coming is when it really hit me how much I've put into this project. Like people always say give it everything you got; well for 2 years we have and we've made lots of progress. It's weird to be showing someone else around and I'm very protective of it. Luckily, I really think Chrissa will do great things and will be a great change of pace for the guys. Working with a woman will be such a good thing for them. When she told some of my weavers she would be replacing me asked "Are you sure...?" She seems really excited about the project, ready to get to work, and has lots of good ideas.

Other great news is that there will be 2 PCVs in my village this next group. Brian is an environment volunteer but more importantly to me used to play basketball and can't wait to take over coaching. He'll also be able to maintain the court which was a huge worry to me. It looks like I'll be leaving things in good hands.

4.5 strips left of my men's cloth!
This might look incredibly slow, and for a master weaver it is but for a kid from Michigan it's pretty good. Each zig zag section takes me like 25 minutes now; when I started it took almost an hour so I may be slow but I'm improving.
These sections only take me a few minutes now

Monday, July 5, 2010

Blackstars Out

Friday night the Blackstars played against Uruguay in the World Cup Quarter Finals. If they won they would have been the most successful African team ever. They should have but ended up losing in a shootout after missing a penalty kick in overtime. A group of us headed down to Accra for the match. It was INSANE. BBC said it was like a carnival atmosphere. Big screens all over, everyone sporting Blackstars apparel and businesses closed down or made it possible to watch the match. It was easily the best vibe I’ve ever felt for a sporting event. I’ve never wanted a team to win as badly as I wanted them to. After the loss, everyone was just quiet and semi depressed. The next day Accra was still pretty empty. Some of us are still recovering from the lose.
Other than that lots of weaving and guests. I’m down to 6 strips left of my men’s cloth but only have a little over a month left in my house so it’ll be tight. My replacement, Chrissa, comes for site visit on Wednesday so that’s exciting. Marcus and I are getting our plans for our trip home together which is exciting. It’s bittersweet though because right now we have a lot of fun. We’re comfortable here, have great friends, and lots of freedom. This weekend a group of us went to a great beach appropriately called “the Hideout.” It took almost a day to get there but so beautiful and worth it.
Video after we qualified for the next round..after a loss.
Trevius Jones, the TCU o-lineman and me
Weaving, it's what I do
The Hideout
Awesome bridge you have to cross
USA vs Ghana party in the weaving centre
My new turbo fan and my old one in the background (without the duct tape and 2 spoons it had that used to hold it up)