Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I finally made it to the huge game reserve, Mole National Park. After planning to go with Cynthia twice, I traveled with Teri, an American who works at the Orphanage Africa Well Woman Center in Accra. I was nervous for the trip because I had heard tales of armed robbers, faulty buses, high prices and long, cramped tro-tro rides. In light of this, I certainly wasn’t keen to go by myself and was excited and greatful to join Teri.

Ghana is about the size of Oregon and has a thorough transportation system. It is very, very easy to get around if you are willing to deal with long queues, uncomfortable/overcrowded vehicles, late departures and bumpy traffic filled roads. Tro-tros run from all the major cites and they also drop in all small towns. They don’t have a schedule or rigid route with planned stops. They leave when there is one too many bodies crammed in and stop wherever you tell them or when someone from the road signals them. The State Transport System, which connects major cities (STC), has movies, schedules and air conditioning. They are less frequent, more expensive, depart late and make me carsick. I prefer tro-tros and, call me crazy, but I am going to miss the tro-tros and my triumph every time I commute successfully. Not only that, I going to miss the comradeship of my fellow riders and getting a face full of their butt or vice versa while maneuvering on and off.

The STC bus to Tamale from Accra leaves around 4:00pm (really 6:30) and alights around 9:00am the next morning. There are three stops and the total distance is around 250 miles. While waiting, some flirting firemen gave Teri and I a ride in their fire engine. I didn’t sleep much on the bus but it was so cold at the 2:00 am stop that I had to put on pants! As the sun came up I noticed the striking difference between the north and south. The hamartan has been severe in the north and it was brown, leafless and hot. The villages are much more remote and untouched by westernization. We passed mud hut and after mud hut with naked, open-mouthed children loitering on the roadside. The huts were situated in a circle and connected by thickly thatched grass fences and the roofs were made with similar thatching. There were no comm. centers, convenience shops, salons or tailors to clog the roadside.

In Tamale, Teri and I visited the Cultural Center and browsed through sheds full of local art and I learned how to play scrabble at an adorable “small chop” bar, the likes of which cram the streets and tro-tro stations. These chop bars consist of a central table with pyramids of Milo, Ideal milk, tea boxes and loaves of bread. There are low benches on three sides for customers and the vendor prepares eggs, omelets and tea over an open fire on the fourth side. In the early morning light, it was hauntingly eerie to see so many chop bars illuminated by blue or green florescent light. The bus from Tamale to Mole National Park left around 2:00pm and we arrived five bumpy hours and fifty miles later.

Our arrival in Mole reminded me of Jurassic Park. As we entered the park we passed through a gate, nothing like that of Jurassic park but I was imagining the huge solid doors slowly swinging open with torches lighting the way. There were bush fires all around and the air was dust-filled and dry. In the twilight, the land was foreboding and harsh. I would think “well, we’re back in the car again” every time we boarded a bus or tro-tro.

Teri and I were quickly drawn into a boisterous group of Kiwis and Aussies who were drinking next to the pool. There were around 25 of them traveling in a huge overland truck from Spain to Cape Town, South Africa in seven months. No one in the group has ever done the trip before, not even the driver. They had tents set up and a cooking fire going. They let me roast a plantain that I had found on the bus and forced beef curry down my throat. They have been on the road for three months. I don’t think I could or would enjoy participating in such a tour especially since I would never be in single country for long. The crowd was very crass and every other word was a swear word. My ears have become very sensitive in this highly conservative, god-fearing country.

We went on a walking tour at 7:00 am. Our guard led us through the bush with a rifle carelessly slung over his shoulder or on his back. The first thing we saw was a water buck (similar to a deer or antelope). Over the course of the three hours, we, or rather the guide spotted wild boars, bright blue birds, guinea fowl, egrets, crocodiles, monkeys and a very close elephant. The elephant was small and old and the last thing we saw. I had been taking pictures of massive elephant tracks in the mud thinking that would be my closest encounter. He was about 15 yards away and grazing on brown leaves with his trunk. The first thing that I noticed was his enormous penis. Of course it was proportionally correct but we couldn’t help but snigger over its length and width or cracking jokes about inferiority complexes. It’s a good thing that elephants lives in warm climates because hanging it out to pee in a snowstorm would be pretty dangerous. Then I started thinking of the poor female elephant and how large her vagina must be to accommodate that massive penis. Yikes! If elephants used condoms or tampons it would cause a “huge” depletion of rubber and cotton resources.

The second thing I noticed were his ears. He would flop them about periodically or twitch one and then the other. Someone said that African elephants have ears shaped like Africa and that Asian elephants have ears shaped like India. Let’s all think about that one for awhile…though an interesting thought, Africa and India have a very similar shape and for practical animal viewing purposes this theory is useless. Besides, if you’re in Africa, it’s and African elephant, right? The elephants name was On-E-Pieue, friend of man. He is usually by himself and the guide thinks he is an outcast and retarded. I could have watched him forage with his dexterous trunk and flap his ears all day.

When I was leaving our room to go for a swim, I was delighted and very startled to see a monkey pawing through the trash can directly outside our door. I swore (thanks to the overland truck’s influence) and dove back into our room. Teri, on the other hand rushed out, armed with her camera. I composed myself and did the same, forgetting to close the door behind me. The monkey, being no fool, looped around and strolled right into our room. It jumped up on the table, pawed around, jumped down and rifled through the clothes on my bed. Teri and I helplessly watched. However, he left as abruptly as he entered, leaving only paw prints in the dust on the table. We rushed out after it and found the entire compound over-ridden with red monkeys and olive baboons (or bamboos, as the locals say). They were hopping on cars, peering into garbage cans, drinking from the pool, sitting on walls and trees and pilfering salt shakers and ketchup bottles from the restaurant. One baboon climbed onto a truck, pooped on it, climbed inside and stole a loaf of bread which was promptly stolen by another baboon. It sat and chewed and watched all the people watching it. It was regarding us with such understanding yet perplexed eyes that I wondered which species was more fascinated with the other.

About the time the monkeys were retreating into the trees below, a crown of elephants meandered into the watering hole in direct view from the complex. They plunged into the water and bobbed up and down. They formed a circle, butts inward and floated there. Eventually, someone pointed out several sticklike forms in the water and we realized that the elephants were assuming a defensive position because they were feeling threatened by crocs. Over the course of our stay, the elephants came often, two or three times a day. One morning there were twelve elephants splashing, playing, trumpeting, sparing and even mating at the water hole. I will never forget the sound of distant displaced water or forcefully exhaled air from their trunks. Friend of Man showed up right next to the complex one evening. Apparently the elephants have been known to drink from the pool, though rarely. Three mother warthogs and eight babies foraged through the campsite. Though I as delighted to see the warthogs up close, they weren’t nearly as exciting as the monkeys and elephants. They just pawed through the grass and slowly grazed away.

We stayed three nights in Mole, swimming playing scrabble, viewing wildlife and talking with the other tourists. In addition to the rowdy overland crew and the Dutch couple driving from Holland to Cape Town, there were three kiwi boys creating a doco/film to gain funding for a school project, Darren, a brit who has traveled the world over and Erin, a volunteer with the same NGO as me. Luckily, she chose to go to the Liberian refugee camp and not some wild tree planting scheme. Being a tourist was a completely different ballgame and I have to admit that I really enjoyed being with white people and only occasionally chatting with the locals. Teri has been in Ghana for almost two years so I learned a lot from her on how to cope with some of the cultural differences in a more healthy way. For example, when people call me obruni, I ignore them, grimace at them or secretly flip them off. But Teri says, “May paw cho, mem pay ca obruni. Ye fremay Teri.” This means “please, I don’t like obruni. I am called Teri.” It works a lot better than my method and is friendlier. I think the best way to experience Africa, though, is to live with a host family, take the local transportation, eat the local food, and learn the language.

Teri is a piece of work. She mainly talks about herself and past lives. I actually find it all very fascinating. She also cleared up some of Orphanage Africa’s history and told me some of the orphans’ backgrounds. I can’t believe that some of my kids are still able to smile. One was burned by his mother, another abandoned for weeks at a time. A brother and sister were made to choose between school and being beaten or staying at home and doing chores. Another girl was raped at a nearby orphanage.

There is one girl, in particular who I am seriously considering sponsoring or bringing over to the US. She just turned 19 and is in middle school. She wants to go to high school in the USA. Her mother died and she was left with her two brothers and her very sick grandma when she was 12. She stayed at home for four years doing god knows what and then she was taken away by social services. She has been at Orphanage Africa with her two brothers for a year now. Recently, she told me that the girls here age at OA who have completed school are being integrated into independent life. In other words, they will still be supported by OA but they will live in a hostel and be expected to find a job or go to university. She is very worried that she will be sent away too because of her age. I don’t think she will be as she has not yet completed school and that would be very irresponsible and illogical to send her away.

Our bus out of Mole left around 4:50 am. It was supposed to go at 5:00 and we almost missed it. We alighted in Tamale and, as planned, we caught the next buss out of town. It happened to be a tro-tro to Kumasi and Darren joined us. The tro-tro was stifling hot because, for some reason, the Africans don’t appreciate the cool breeze from open windows. During the seven hour ride, I did my best to shove myself into the small crack of the window in order to block the complainers from the wind. My neck was wrenched and sore for several days. Along the way, the three of us decided to take the night train to the port town of Takaradi, about 150 miles from Kumasi and 400 miles from Tamale. The train left at 8:30pm and we shared a compartment with Marin, a kiwi volunteer in Kumasi.

I had massively disturbing dreams on the train. I even wrote them down in the bumpy darkness. In one dream, I was visiting my grandma in order to plan a family vacation. Grandma was living in her old KOA trailer court in Missoula and as I walked to her place all of the kids called me Ob-b-beenie (black man) and ran away from me. Completely the opposite of real life. There was a beautiful new silver jeep, displayed with a ribbon like on the Price is Right in the middle of her living room. But despite this new vehicle, she gestured to a rather dumpy red convertible on the patio and raved over it as a gift from my aunt and uncle. I stole the monkey barrels full of snacks and candy from beneath her table, which we were all crouching around. I also smuggled a huge jar of peanut butter from the table. As I was standing to leave, dad came down the steps silently sobbing. He was wearing an olive green army uniform. I ran to him and he cried that my dog, TJ was dead. I clung to him and screamed. I think I must have done it out loud because I woke up then, breathing hard, cheeks wet with tears. I was so turned around and discombobulated by the moving train that it took me several seconds to calm down and convince myself that I was only dreaming. Apparently, I wasn’t though, because when I returned four days later, I learned from and email that my dog had been hit by a car. Has anyone else had weird coincidences like this happen to them? I hope I never dream again and if you have any shocking or tragic news, please wait until I am near sympathetic and loving ears to tell me. My system is on overload.

Oh my, I got sidetracked. The train alighted in Takaradi at 12:30 pm the next day with four obrunis hanging their heads out the window drinking in the refreshingly green foliage and decidedly humid air. Ghana has moved into the hamartan, or the dry season so it is never really humid but the air had more moisture that in the north. During the ride, we found the perfect destination, Ellis’ Hideaway, and we took the necessary transportation to the beach oasis, including a rather sloshy, mildewing canoe propelled by two small boys walking at the front and back in the water. I am honestly surprised that we didn’t capsize. Ellis’ Place, rastapherian paradise… I was instantly adopted by Zion, a blubbering but cute, ganja smoking Rasta man who couldn’t keep his hands off my hair. There is no reasoning with a blubbering Rasta man. If you say don’t touch me, it means you are racist or at least don’t love, respect or even like him. I didn’t really mind him touching my hair because I wanted to touch his. Dread locks are a fascinating thing for me and he helped me find a spirit in the bonfire on the beach while blubbered interestingly enough about his rastapherian tenets. Most of the Rasta men I meet blubber the same thing over and over. They repeat “you understand,” “one love,” “respect,” and “rastaperian” over and over again while doing special hand shakes and hitting their chest with their fist. For most of them, I think, they are playing to the stereo type. They dread their hair, listen to reggae and Bob Marley, wear tie dye, cowry shells and anything red, green and yellow. There is more to being a rastapherian than that though. They have a Christian basis while amending and extend the belief to include an Ethiopian king and the wisdom weed. I actually heard a program about them on BBC’s Network Africa.

The next day, after wading through the inlet and trekking in the pepper and banana plants to a nearby town, I met a root man. I told him he was my first root man which made Marin and Darren burst into laughter. Apparently, the word root has a different sense in New Zealand. Anyway, in Ghana, root is Rasta without the blubbering stereotypes, wisdom weed and repetitiousness. He and his friends latched on to us and took us to see their house where they made palm wine. There were six felled palm trees in their small yard. They bored holes into the trunks and then held a burning stick in the hole while scraping the sides. A five liter jug positioned under the hole collected the dripping palm wine. They strained the clear liquid into a cup and gave us a taste. It reminded me of vinegar Easter egg dye with a hint of coconut. The alcohol content is apparently low but they can distill the wine to create a much stronger drink called apertishi. I was not crazy about the taste but I was very glad to taste the illusive, local drink after searching high and low for it. I realize now that commercial palm wine doesn’t exist and you must search it out on the roadside in ex Frytol or Voltic water plastic bottle.

The wade back across the inlet was terrifying. The sun has completely melted the glue in my tevas and so there is precious little holding the sole to the pad and the current from the sea pulled my shoe into an unwalkable contortion. That, coupled with the frantic shouts of the locals gathered on the shore and the chest-deep water made me so nervous that I called for Darren to come save me or at least my camera. Of course, as soon as he surged into the water, I stepped into the shallow and calm.

The four of us spent two days there, swimming, exploring and walking the beach. Despite the confusion with meals and drink tabs, the place was heaven. I especially liked the nearby fishing towns, complete with wooden boats declaring their faith in god. The villages were, like in the north, completely free of commercialism or westernization. I met the chief’s wife and his daughter, Princess Leia. One particular old woman, setting up crab traps, metal basins in the sand lined with bait, and who spoke very little English sprite fully and joyously danced as I sang her namesake song, Cecilia. Her rotten teeth and leathered skin struck me as beautiful in the moonlight. Cecilia was dancing with genuine joy.

These villages are self-sustainable in that they harvest or raise their own food and make most of what they need. Though these villages are probably the poorest monetarily, I think the people are content and happy. They actively work to provide for themselves by fishing, planting, washing and doing other chores. In the heat of the day, they rest and they are not constrained by schedules and time tables that are necessary in western culture. The atmosphere is decidedly lively and joyous not sleepy and malcontented like in the villages near Accra where semi westernization has created an awkward tension between the slow African nature and the structured west. I think that the bulk of Ghana’s problems are caused by this partial westernization and the idea that everything not African is infinitely better and richer. Africa is not meant to be “western.” It just isn’t and while westernization brought health care and primary education and other things that seemingly improve quality of life, it has also created a rift by leading people to believe that they are lacking something beautiful and amazing that can only be found outside of Africa. I want to snap Africa back to the way it was with no western influence. They wouldn’t know what they are missing. Are they really missing anything at all?

We left Ellis’ by canoe, taxi and tro-tro. At Takaradi, Maren went to Kumasi and Darren, Teri and I went east to the historical town of Elmina. We toured a castle built by the Portuguese for gold trade and then captured by the Dutch who used it as a holding tank for slaves. The disregard for human life during the time of the slave trade appalled me. I was standing on centuries old human waste and bodies. I was horrified to learn that the Africans acted as middle men, enslaving weaker tribes and then selling them to the Dutch and Portuguese for further trade. The eating hall of the castle was within earshot of the moaning and smelly slave holds. Women were regularly lined up and raped while punishment for uprising males was starvation, dehydration and eventual death in solitary confinement. Women were shackled in the blazing sun all day and raped for similar reasons. Our tour guide was knowledgeable but rushed and non-linear. He presented plenty of facts but there was no final cause or order. As a result, I was discombobulated by his tour and the museum did very little to rectify my linear confusion.

Elmina, however, is decidedly the most colorful village I have visited. There are flags, banners, fishing boats and people everywhere. The inlet is lined with fishermen untangling nets and selling fresh fish. There is a cute little bridge packed with people and vendors and a football pitch in the sand lined by palm trees.

Teri and I made our way back to Accra by tro-tro. The ride went quickly, three hours for 80 miles. In Accra, I waited four hours for a tro-tro. The queue was ridiculously long and around 11:30pm the cars started parking for the night. I was really worried that I was going to have to spend the night in the most dangerous station in Accra. However, a fellow queue mate assured me that a car would come. At 1:30 am, I was trying to figure out which tro-tro driver looked likely to let me hole up in his rig for the night when a private van pulled up. It was a distance from the queue but I ran for it as soon as I heard him call Adenta. Just when I thought there was not room for me and the pushing and shoving was becoming animalistic, a man pulled me into the front seat with him. The driver capitalized on the supply and demand theory and charged us 4000c instead of the usual 2000c. There was plenty of yelling and shouting and some people even got out of the van in protest. The trip that normally takes two to three hours in traffic only took thirty min! From Adenta, I walked home, pepper spray in hand. The road was deserted but I was nervous and walked quickly. Presently, a police car crawled by, stopped and four police men with rifles and decked out in green fatigues offered me a ride. So my trip started in a fire engine and ended in a police car.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

What an amazing week I just had! I don't have time to write about my trip to the wild game park and the ocean in detail right now. However, I am alive and well. I want you to know that I really appreciate your support. You have no idea how much your advise and words of wisdom lift me out of my frequent slums.

I have received mail. I haven't opened all of the packages and letters because I want to savore them.

Sarita: Thank you sooo much for the chai tea and tea ball. How was Mexico? Is there anything in Ghana that you wish you would have brought back. Now's your chance for foofoo one more time;)

Aunt Barb, Uncle Ray and Gramma: Thank you for the school books and provisions. Lord knows I love licorous and goldfish and dried fruit and everything else! The moose is cute. I gave the light up pen to a little girl and she went wild.
Aunt Deb: Oh thank you for the sunscreen. I still have aquired wrinkles :(
Julie: I received a letter from you but I haven't opened it. Next week, I can't wait!
I also recieved a mystery package. I can't tell the sender.

Jaala: Still no letter. I think Eben ate it;)

Mom: Dan's new number is 027 7734 6419. I really would love to see you at the airport. I haven't thought much about what happens upon my immediate return. Not looking forward to finding a job:(
I don't know what the southern cross looks like. I think about looking for it though.

Aunt Deb: I would love to visit with your third graders. I am hoping that their letters will arrive here soon so I can facilitate another letter from the kids here.

Saralita: Thank you for the poem. I wasn't able to open the attachment but I'm sure it's lovely.

Gaeb: Long time, right? I will email you extensively if only you give me your address.

If you told me a year ago, I would be here, I would have laughed my head off. If you would have told me two months ago that I would be sad to leave, I would have falled to the ground with laughter. But here I am telling people I will miss them, their country and might even come back. Life is a funny funny thing.

Friday, January 07, 2005

When I am not Enough

I wanted to tell you I miss you, I need you.
will you assure me that I can do it, am beautiful,
capable and strong? Will you hug me and hold
my hand or swing me high on your shoulders
like when I was small, six years old, responsible
for reading books upside down, eating quartered
tuna-fish And cheese sandwiches and riding
every carved wooden carousel horse, completely
oblivious and ignorant of impossible dreams?

Didn’t I want Seattle University, the Honors program,
to travel the world and to be independent? No matter
my place, I want to be somewhere else, living a life
that doesn’t exist for anyone. Why do I dream of home,
friends, routine And familiar comfort when I will never
swelter in African heat, be lovingly incapacitated by brown
arms encircling my neck, waist and legs, listen to them argue
in Twi, sing or read, sway to reggae with a baby on my hip,
squash yam and plantain between my fingers, be so close
to believing, be spontaneously proposed to, feel the breezy
tro-tro air or follow the squiggling trail of ants and delicate
butterflies caught in the roadside grass again?

I wanted you to tell me I could change The world but I’m
not strong enough. Another dream, empty, misconstrued and failed
falls In the line of them, marching and fading into life’s horizon.

Name: Christopher
Grade: 9
Age: 17
Family: Only child living with mother, abandoned by father.
Interests: Music, volleyball, trumpet, drums, high jump (can clear six feet)
Other: Doesn’t like playing with other school kids. Mama Lisa won’t pay his 20 dollar school fees anymore. He can’t afford school shoes or books and all he wants is a disc man or play boy so that he isn’t so bored at home. He has never been into Accra.

Tell me, how can I possibly spend my money on souvenirs, trips, clothes, anything extra when there are kids like Christopher. How desperate you must be to point blank ask a white person you barely know for her disc man and CDs. I shouldn’t have troubled with coming to Ghana. These people don’t need me, they need money and I haven’t a solution.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Oh my wordly friends and family,
How the time doth meander on...
A blow by blow account of my past week!
28 Dec: The toddlers abuse me and each other. King throws anything he can get his hands on at me, including a huge plastic truck. My head is still sore from the blow. On the same day, the physically disabled kids decided that I would be fun to climb and drool on. They too were paining me and pulling my skirt off. It seems they are learning from you Taylor;) Remember the WM parking lot? An older girl told me a bit of her story. I really don't what to say to her. She was moved from her old orphanage and her twin sister because she was sexually abused by the boys who stayed there. She is very negative and complains alot about everything. I have been trying to get her to tell me one positive thing about her day.
29 Dec: This was the fatefull day I met momma Jeanette and daddy Charles at the post office. I have to say that it felt really good to glare with all my might at someone. I feel bad about how good it made me feel now though. Especially with my renewed commitment to doing the little things that make people happy.
30 Dec: Mamma Phyllis and I took the toddlers to her house and she kerneled dry corn for about two hours. They take the dried kernels to market and grind it. Then they use it to make Banku or Kenke. I have a huge blister on my thumb from the ordeal but there was something so amazing about sitting on the floor with several kids and women in a circle around a giant bowl of kernels. I would race with the women to see who could kernel faster. I won once but I think I just got lucky. I have been chatting more and more with some boys my age from the Orphanage. The girls are really stand offish so I haven't talked with them as much. Joseph, the rasta man, is going to film school. His mother left him when he was five while his father was in jail. He still sees his father everyonce in awhile. He remembers his mother, but he hasn't forgiven her. We hypothised about what he would do if he ever met his mother again. I am giving him my burned CDs of Jesus Christ Superstar, Abby Road, Led Zeppelin 4 and Santana.
31 Dec: I met mom and dad for dinner. They took me out to a very nice restaurant/hotel. I had pineapple juice, roasted peanuts and vegetable curry. I was in heavan. Mom and dad have a lot of great stories about their five years in Ghana. It is amazing what a different experience I am having from them though. They live in a nice house, running water, air conditioning, car, security, maid and driver. They shop at super markets and eat at restaurants that cater to expats. I take tro tros, bargain, walk, bucket, carry water, hand wash my clothes and put up with a lot of shit from Ghanaian men. They loved my story about selling sandwhichs and I loved their story about how they became tro tro drivers for a day with a bunch of wide eyed black people in awe of the white person driving them around. They had the hotel find someone to drive me home and it just happened to be a silver BMW convertable. I was, to say the least, amazed and enjoyed speeding down the road with the wind full in my face. Mom and dad call me their daughter. What an amazing thing it was to meet these people.
1 Jan: The younger boys are in love with me. Honestly, I am in love with them. They just warm my heart and I love to tickle them, wrestle with them and chase them around. They love to climb on me, lay on me, hug me, tickle me, read to me and listen to me read.
2 Jan: I cleaned my room and washed clothes. Dust is everywhere all the time. I don't know why I bother. I stopped wearing deoderant. It's just not worth it. I brought toffees to the kids that had read to me the day before. Doreen, the complainer, is reading quite well, as is Eben. The others, read really easy books that I think are memorized but at least they are thumbing through the pages. The toffee made a lot of kids promise to read to me today and they all stormed into the library to find books. Then they piled on top of me and around me and we read and read and read. I went to a football match between OA and another orphange and met three more obrunis! They invited me to an international church. I will try to go but I'm a bit hairy on the location.
3 Jan: I got a package from Hillary! Thank you. You are the sweetest. Cecilia popped me popcorn and I gave it to some kids on the roadside who almost bowled me over in enthusiasm. In the same spirit, I gave an orange to a couple of girls who passed through my yard. I gave some more popcorn to a really young mate on a tro tro and took a couple older girls to my house and then to an internet cafe to set up email accounts. Fatima and Agnes went through all my pictures and even though they are coming back with me in my suitcase, they are going to confiscate several pictures. They think that Katy is beautiful and that Mum looks very young. They know how to crochet so they were fascinated by my knitting needles and I let them work on my latest project. Then I headed to mom and dads for dinner. They were having company over and had prepared an authentic american picnic complete with hamburgers, fruit jello, pringles, rice crispy treats, baked beans, franks and guacamole. I ate way too much. I think I must have eaten an entire can of pringles. It was really funny to sit around the dinner table with this Ghanaian family because they didn't understand the things that mom and dad and I thought were funny. For example, the tradition of passing fruit cake from family member to family member year after year. They also didn't think the tro tro driving or the sandwich selling was that amusing. It is really nice to have this couple here and in the flesh who understands. They left for South Africa and wont be back until the 22 :(
Jan 4: School resumed but no one showed up. So I'm here in a cafe typing away.

I am very sad that when I get home, no one will truely understand. Some of you will be able to imagine. Julie will a little from her Nepal experience and Hillary may a little from her Mexico trip and Sarita may from her time in Ghana previously but I will forever have something in myself that I won't be able to express no matter how hard I try and that makes me very sad. I really wish that there was someone whe could read my brain by touching my head and receive everything, smells, sounds, the heat, the children, the rollercoaster, the poverty and the generousity. How can people here give me so much? Me, a white person who will always have more then them? How can I bargain and barter and ask for change back when the it's only a difference of pennies? How can I ignore the people who shout at me? They only want recognition from a white person. I don't know what I've become.