Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I suppose it's about time I update this. I was sent home because the malaria medicine made me sick. I couldn't keep the meds down, so I didn't have any in my system, which meant I could catch malaria. If I did catch malaria, they weren't sure if I'd be able to stomach the treatment, since I couldn't stomach the other stuff. So the only option was to send me home. They did offer to send me to another country, but for a few reasons I decided not to. Even though I'm safe and healthy, I'm sad I couldn't finish my two years. Now it's back to reality and unfortunately looking for a job, which isn't easy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Real life goes undefined"

A.F.I. 'Summer Shudder'

6.17.2008 8.13pm
It will be interesting to see how everyone's vision quest went.

We stayed at Caroline's last night so this morning me and Ernest made eggs and toast and Caroline made us coffee, mmm. Tristen, Roxanne, and I all got to observe Carry's SS class today. For SS the kids have to take an exam to get in and pay money for tuition. It was a lot more exciting than the JSS class. The kids willingly participated, asked questions, moved through the material fairly quickly, and in general were pretty well behaved.

Carry was teaching the same thing for her 3 classes so we went back to her house and relaxed. I read, wrote, and listened to some music (for the first time since I left Ohio), while the other two took a nap. It was also the first time I actually got to sit back and think for a minute. We've been running around so much that we haven't had a lot of free time, and virtually no time to ourselves. Once I get my site I'll probably have way more free time than I know what to do with. Tomorrow it's off to Kukurantumi for training and site assignments. I'm a little nervous...

"Running the race like a mouse in a cage getting nowhere"

A Fine Frenzy 'Whisper'

6.16.2008 8.59pm
That's what it seems like Caroline's JSS class was doing...

Ernest sent me out on my own this morning to go observe Caroline's JSS class. JSS is the 7th/8th grade level and the last of free education in Ghana. I tried to get breakfast once I got there because I had to take my malaria medicine, but nobody spoke English so I ended up just buying some bread.

I got to sit in on Caroline's class and I was really surprised at how slow things moved. They were learning how to find the area of shapes and they only partially covered one new shape the whole class. I can see how it would be extremely frustrating when your class won't answer questions when the answers and questions are written out on the board and you're pointing to them. Chickens and lizards also come and go as they please in the classrooms. Caning is common at schools but Caroline asked them not to cane in front of us because we were so new.

The lunch we had was pretty good, beans and fried sweet potatoes. Again it was way too much food for me to finish. After school we tried the post office and even though it was open the workers were nowhere to be found. The rest of the day we read, talked, and waited for Ernest to come so we could go get dinner. We ate some fried rice at a chop bar (what they call places to sit and eat) and Ernest brought some coconut from Accra. Tomorrow I'm going to sit in on an SS class; hopefully it goes a little better.

"I had that dream again where I was lost for good in outerspace"

Jack's Mannequin 'Kill the Messenger'

6.15.2008 6.26am
I think the side effects of mefloquine are setting in...strange dreams
It's fathers day but I don't have any way of getting a hold of my dad. So Happy Fathers Day!
Last night was my first real night of PC sleep, where we stayed before wasn't realistic for what I should expect. Last night everything felt a little damp because it's rainy season and it had been storming. Four or five times throughout the night, what seemed like every dog in town, started barking and howling. At about 5 the rooster started up and 530 I could hear the courtyard being swept. Overall though it was a pretty good night's sleep, I woke up a lot but I fell right back asleep every time. I'm excited to get my own place and settle in. I'm going to try to get my phone unlocked on Wednesday but I don't know if it will work. I have to pee but the roaches in the toilet are scary.

Today for breakfast Ernest tried to make me try some stuff he hated, but I ended up liking it. It's a fermented corn porridge type thing with a lot of ginger, so it's kind of spicy and it's served hot and sweetened. It's called something cocoa, so the name is a little misleading. We ate it with some tea bread, which is just plain white bread. I wouldn't want it every morning but it was pretty good.

We went to see another PCV and his vision quester, Travis and Brian. Travis's place is a lot bigger than Ernest's; 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a big balcony, and the whole roof. The only bad part is it's the 3 floor and he doesn't have running water, so in order to get water he has to carry it upstairs or pay someone to do it. Nine of us chartered a tro to go see the waterfalls. One of the PCVs used her fierce bartering skills and managed to get the driver to agree to wait for us. All the Ghanaians laughed at the white girl arguing with the driver.

The falls were pretty nice, kinda small but still worth going to see. We ran into a couple of tourists (you could tell by the short shorts and spaghetti strap tanks). We let them hitch a ride on our tro on the way back. For lunch we stopped in Ernest's town and got some waakye (wa-chee), which is rice and beans I think. We rode with another PCV and vision quester, Caroline and Roxanne, to Caroline's place. She has a really nice place, running water and electricity. She made us real coffee which is a treat here because they only have instant.

Back at Ernest's site we had fufu for dinner and it was a lot better than what I had before. I'm still learning how to eat soup with my hand and not make a complete mess. There was a wedding going on outside so there was loud music and lots of dancing Ghanaians.

"Tell me the story of how you ended up here"

Cold War Kids 'Hospital Beds'

6.14.2008 9.34pm
Vision Quest started today, 10 of us were going to the Eastern Region so we all piled into a PC van and got dropped of in Medina. From there we took a tro to Koforidua; the ride was gorgeous. I couldn't believe the other trainees were sleeping and missing the views. We went up through the mountains and saw some mud villages. At Kofo we stopped to meet up with the other PCVs that the trainees were vision questing with. I got to try fufu for the first time, cassava pounded into a doughy ball and served with soup. It was ok, but it was a lot of food and I couldn't finish it. I bought my first 2 yard (2 yards of cloth) and I'm using it as a towel since they are much lighter and dry quicker.

Ernest's site is really nice, it's more urban and it has an amazing view. His house is kind of small but you don't really need a lot of space as a PCV. He doesn't have running water, so his latrine and bathing place is in a separate building. There were lizards running all over the place, but I don't mind those. The cock roaches in the latrine were kind of scary though. It was storming so we stayed in until we ventured out for dinner. We talked about his PC experience; he's getting ready to finish up his 2 years in August. The power went out so I wrote and read a little by candle light.

For dinner we went down the street and bought some jollof (I'm not sure how to spell a lot of the food here) which is rice and a spicy red sauce. It's served, like everything else, in a plastic bag and it was pretty good. If all else fails I know I'll have rice to fall back on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"To me it is new"

Muse 'Fillip'

6.10.2008 1130pm

I still haven't slept yet, but I promised myself I'd write something every night. After we landed we had to wait around a little while because two people lost a bag and they had to file some papers. Once that was over we all piled into a couple PC buses and the police escorted us to the place we are staying. I didn't really like that we were being treated so well by having a police escort, because it seems like that's exactly what we're not supposed to be doing. But the trainers explained that it's because it would have taken two hours to get back, and with all of our luggage and stuff we would have made a good target for armed robbery. I guess it's ok then.

There were a lot of people walking around in traffic selling anything you can think of from baskets on their heads. We also passed a lot of what seemed like small markets, but it was dark so it was hard to tell. The place we stayed at was pretty nice, we had electricity and running water. They fed us some dinner too, rice and red sauce and fried chicken.

6.11.2008 10.50pm
We went to the ambassadors place for a reception, even though she wasn't there. It was a pretty swanky place. They are really easing us into the Peace Corps experience.

We had a long day, but breakfast started out good. They gave us a brown porridge type thing that tasted like peanuts but didn't have peanuts in it. Plus some hardboiled eggs and bread with homemade peanut butter. I've been feeling a little nauseous but it could be malaria medicine, lack of sleep, or anything.

We toured the office today and did some more medical stuff, nothing too exciting.

6.12.2008 8.05pm
Early night tonight, we need it. I think we're all a little sleep deprived. We had a lot of meetings about safety and health and stuff like that. Most of the stuff they told us about security is the same that would apply to any large city in the states.

I got to try my first Ghanaian food today, banku. It's made from corn and is slightly fermented, making it a little sour, and it's served with soup. It looks like a ball raw dough, but tastes pretty good with the soup. We had to eat with our hands which will take some getting used to. And I'm not allowed to use my left hand to eat with either, so that's also a small challenge.

I got my Vision Quest assignment, which means I go visit a current volunteer for a couple days. I'm going to visit one of the guys that is training me, Ernest. He's in the Eastern region. It should be fun, I'll get to see what the PC is really like.

6.13.2008 10.02pm
We had Accra Quest today, so they gave us some tasks and let us go explore the city. My group, Serena, Brandon, and me, had to take Serena to the Peace Corps office first because her hand was swollen from some kind of bug bite. We got really lost on the way there and got stuck in a major rain storm. By the time we made it to the office we were literally dripping wet, and the trainers laughed at us. The nurse wasn't even in so we left and went to the market.

Every 3 minutes the market women were yelling white girls or obruni, which means white person. We stopped and tried to use what little Twi we knew, and they laughed at us but were very friendly. I bought a mango and some plantain chips, both really really good. I was a little nervous at the beginning of the day but by the end I felt semi comfortable getting around on my own.

The main public transportation, tro tros, consists of thousands of 15 passenger vans that look like they are 20 years old and have never had a tune up. They usually jam 20 to 25 people in each and the 'mate' sticks his head out the window shouting the name of the place they are going. So if they are going to Accra it sounds like 'Accraccraccraccraccra.' And they have all kinds of hand signals to tell which place they are going. Everyone was pretty friendly when we asked for help on the tros too. Tomorrow Vision Quest starts.

'Over the sea and far away'

KT Tunstall 'Other Side of the World'

6.10.2008 5.50pm Ghana time
This is a couple days of journal entries condensed in to one.

Sunday was a long day of staging, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was the Philly pride parade so we got to watch a little of it when we were at lunch. We had dinner at a nice sushi place as our "last meal." It was pretty pricey but it was worth it. Most of us seem to be getting along really well, we have a lot in common with each other. I thought that staging would be a waste of time but it's really nice to get to know some people before setting off for Africa, it makes it a lot less scary. I haven't been nervous of anxious yet, but I'm sure that will come.

I got up early on Monday to get some alone time since I won't be getting much of that any time soon. I went to the starbucks around the corner and had some coffee. I got my yellow fever shot today and my malaria medicine. I'm not sure why we didn't start that sooner, we're going to be in Ghana tomorrow. A few of us ran over the 'the country's oldest candy store' before hopping on the bus to the airport. We stocked up on all kinds of good stuff.

The first flight, the one to Amsterdam, was not very fun. It was a crowded plane and the flight attendants were pretty nasty. Plus it was the over night flight so everyone was tired. I didn't get to sleep much because the sun came up at 2am. But it's better that way because I adjusted to the time difference pretty easily.

The second flight to Accra is really nice, we all have our own tvs with on demand movies and tv shows. The flight attendants are much nicer too. We're about 45 minutes from Accra and it still hasn't set in that we're almost in Africa...