Happy Halloween!

Trick or treat everyone!

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Good Day 29 Sep 08

Today was a good day. No specific reason it just was.

I woke up – Always a good start to a day.

There was a breeze coming in the windows and I could turn off the fan.

It was cloudy when I looked out. (Could the rain be coming!?)

It started to rain before I could make breakfast and rained all morning.

I drank cocoa and read in bed for about an hour.

I had fruit salad for breakfast – pineapple, banana and orange with some orange juice squeezed in. Did you know a fork is a great juicer? If you cut a citrus fruit in half and stick a fork in the flesh, turn the fork with one hand and squeeze with the other shazam juice.

I did puzzles and drank tea.

I made peanut soup.

I hardly sweat at all.

It was cool outside after the rain.

Robert, Perpetua’s husband, told me about corn farming and harvesting.

Perpetua made me fried yams. I shared my katsup with her.

Safiya called.

Dizzy and I took some flower photos.

Then I had a photo session with some of the local kids. Even Madua got involved.

Doris, Matilda and Monica came in to play cards. Matilda’s brother Thomas who always crys at me smiled and laughed with me today and called me mamd vixhy or something equally as cute.

We danced to radio Builsa.

Doris and _________ played hairdresser with my hair.

Perpetua cut some leaves for me that taste almost like spinach. She will give me seeds to plant some next year. I put them in the groundnut soup but I plan to have some with margarine and vinegar in the near future.

I ate groundnut soup with rice balls. There’s more for tomorrow.

I just had my bath.

Good Day!

Good Night!

-vc

Market Day 27 Sep 2008

Sandema has market day every three days. The whole concept of market day was so hard for me to grasp. There are Yab-Jeura’s (Traders) who travel to three towns, Sandema, Navrongo and Chuchiliga. In each town there is a large area set aside for the market.

My first market day was around 27 August.

First day I went to the market I dressed in my baggie Khaki long shorts and an everyday shirt. I walked the mile to the junction to pick the bus and meet Simona. She would be my guide for the day. When I saw Simona she was dressed in her best. We waited for the bus. We waited for the bus. We waited for the bus. Luckily there is a nice big tree at the bus stop and we could wait in the shade. And we waited for the bus some more.

It’s three miles into town and neither of us wanted to walk. Some women did put their bowls and baskets on their heads and start the walk into town. Others waited. Many were also dressed in their best clothes. I thought market day must be like a football game in the south. A time to get all dressed up.

While we are waiting for the bus I will tell you the many ways I have gotten into town. Took the bus of course. One day Abigail and I were waiting for the bus and Abass came down the road from the school with his car. He took Abigail, I and another person. Once we hitched a ride on the back of a pickup. When you are waiting for the bus and another vehicle comes someone will go to the side of the road and beg a ride. To beg a ride you put one hand out palm up and pat the palm with the back of your other hand. One day I had to turn down a ride on the back of one of the other teacher’s motos. Boy was I bummed. I have hitched a ride with Perpetua’s bread lorrie and the school’s bus.

So the bus finally came and we all piled on and paid our 20 pesowas (about 20 cents), The bus is old and worn. People pack the bus wiht bodies, bundles and beasts. Actually beasts was for illiteration really I have only seen chickens in buses but I have seen goats tied to the top of a bus. What is weird is that they just calmly ride up there. Ghanaian goats are so laid back! The aisles will have at least one bag of grain, some baskets and once a sewing machine. People will sit on their bundles in the aisles.

Along the way I did see many people walking to town. The sides of the road are lined with women carrying bundles or baskets on their heads and babies wraped in 2 yards onto their mother’s backs. Kids and adults are riding bikes into town and the ever popular moto is also on the road going to town. I even saw a donkey cart.

At last we arrive in town. But where is the market? Looks like the same Sandema town I have seen the other two times I was taken into town. I ask Simona she say’s it’s behind the bank. So we walk down a small alley and there before me are tens maybe even 100 yab-Jeura’s (traders)  and their stalls. Most of the stalls are made of four branches at the corners and a thatched roof. some stalls have a back wall or use the back wall of the stores on the main street for their back wall; some are open on all sides. The stalls are owned by the Yab-jeura and stay in Sandema town. They traders also have stalls in the other two towns.

It’s bigger than a Super Wal-mart and almost as much variety. The stalls are pretty much grouped by what is being sold. Vegetables, Ghanaians call them ingredients they call leaves vegetables. Spices, oils and seasonings. Cloth. Shoes. Cloths mostly Obruni Wayroo. Toys. Personal care products (haven’t seen deodorant). Grains. Ground nuts (peanuts). Cola nuts.   Fruit now there are just oranges, bananas and coconuts. Flour. Scarves. Purses.  Yams The cow butcher is way in the back of the market but he is in Sandema all the time. Any way you get the idea.

The food is laid out on a table or tables in small piles.The tomatoes at Mercy’s stand are in a pile of four, three on the bottom and one on top. There are usually two sizes. She also has a small basket that sometimes has a cucumber or two in it and very small “American” green peppers. The cabbage are piled at the back of the table. Garlic is in a basket as well. Perpetua thinks I eat a lot of garlic! I can go through two bulbs in a week. The onions are in small clear plastic bags, so are the garden eggs. I am not sure why these are wrapped and the other things are not. At Mercy’s the ginger root is wrapped but I have seen it loose in other stalls.

The food stalls remind me of a farmer’s market.  The yab-jeura’s are not farmers though. They get their produce from the irrigation farms here in the north or from the south during their rainy seasons.

The vegetables or leaves as we would think of them are sold by women sitting on stools. They are surrounded by baskets of leaves. I have seen three varietys of leaves here. I have tried one dark green leaf. Abaigail, Doris and I made it into a soup.

The stall where spices and seasonings are sold have small packs of the spice or seasoning. I have seen the traders making them from large bottles of spices. Saltpeter is very popular here for a soup thickener. This is also where I get salt and sugar.  Salt is sold in a three coursnesses. The first time I did not know this and ended up with very course salt!

The cloth sellers have more elaborate stalls. They are an open wooden frame with two or three pieces of wood between the corner posts. They wood is spaced from top to bottom so they cloth can be hung and displayed. The cloth is not in bolts but in two to five yard pieces. Beth the cloth here is so different. You would go wild. I could get in serious trouble buying cloth. I made a deal with myself only to buy enough to make a dress or two. Then I must get that made before I buy more. an aside. I paid 5.60 Cedi to have a dress and a shirt made and the tailor bought the lining for the dress.

Helen imagine me trying to find my way around. The first time I went by myself it took me three tires to find the vegetable yab-jeura I had visited at least 4 times before that. Luckily Simona was navigating. She introduced me to Mercy. Mercy is my favorite market lady. She always give me a dash of extra tomatoes. And once she saved some big tomtoes for me. I bought my veggies. I got some ground nuts. And a half a bowl of beans. They sell dry beans by the bowl here.

Then we just wandered around. I saw sandels laid out on the ground on a plastic tarp. A large pile of bags on a table. Someone was drying corn on a tarp in front of their stall. There was a very large stall about the size of an american livingroom, with a bazillion pairs of jeans on display all sizes for young and old. This stall was set up like the cloth sellers stall. Stalls with plastic ware the shades of the rainbow. Stalls with pots and pans. I am sure I still have not seen everything in Sandema market.

Next I needed some things like margarine, tea etc that are not in the market but in a supermarket. The supermarket is a building made of cement  in Sandema town. Actually there are two but I like Good Family Supermarket. Don’t get excited this is nothing like a supermarket in the USA. It’s more like a small closed stack library. Good Family is about 40 feet wide and 30 feet deep. All the products are arranged on shelves along the back three walls. There is a counter that runs in front of the three walls. You cannot go to the shelves but must peer through and around other people standing at the counter to see what is there. One time I asked if they had Laughing Cow Cheese and I ended up with some corn chips (not fritos by a long shot), There ae soda cases in the front of the counter and a freezer with frozen treats like Fan Choco or Fan Yogo. I think the freezer is a great marketing ploy just like candy in the checkout aisle. Any way i told the clerk what I wanted  my dish soap, margarine (The only butter i have heard of is imported from France and very expensive so margarine it is.), tea, milo, tuna and powdered milk. I paid and they put it in a black plastic bag called a poly here.

Then Simona introduced me to my second friend in the market, Raf. Raf’s store sells plastic goods and other household items. Raf is a true sales woman. She encourages me to buy the nicer item i really want and always says “Oh I have some new things you might like.” She is Simona’s age and I think it’s her mother who owns the shop and who is the cashier. Like the supermarket this is a store in the town. It’s made of cement but it has a wooden overhang that makes the store twice as large. She also has shelves in front of the overhang. I bought bowls to wash my dishes, towels to dry them, dishes, bowls and silverware. cooking utensils and a dustbin at least.

Market day is a day to dress up. Most of the women shopping were wearing their best clothes. I saw many people talking and visiting, When I go to market even if I don’t have anything to buy from Raf I will stop in and say hello.  And I dress up too. When in Rome. But I still wear flip flops cause everyone does!

Raf let us leave our bags there while we went to the cold store to buy fish. I had hoped for chicken but the chicken was finished. I bought three fish for 1 ghana cedi. It was a deal until I found out that they had not been gutted!

Then we headed back to Raf’s and picked up our packages. We went to pick the bus. Again we waited a looooooooooooong time for the bus. We waited under a tree and visited with some of Simona’s friends.

The bus finally came. We road home and Simona helped me bring my things home.

-vc

21 Sept 2008 Rice Jolloff for 200+ people

The Kampusi’s had a wedding in the family and Madam prepared rice jolloff for the meal after the Thanksgiving service at the church today. The process started on Friday night. Madam had a caterer helping her. They went to the mill at the school to grind tomatoes. They must have had at least half a bushell.Then they brought them to a boil so they would keep over night. The pot they had them in was about 1 ½ feet in diameter and 1 ½ feet deep. Cooking: Most Ghanaians cook outside. It is a practice I plan to emulate when I have my house. I have probably said before how much cooler it is to cook outside. To cook the food for today Perpetua used very large pots. She placed them on three large rocks so she would have room for the pieces of wood under the pots. When I wrote about the students cooking I think I mentioned that they used branches and did not cut them up. The same with the cooking this weekend. Perpetua and the caterer put some coals under the pots then lay the ends of long branches on the coal. Madua fanned the coals like crazy and the branches caught fire. Someone fanned off and on during the cooking process to keep the fire going. In the cold part of the US people who chop their own firewood say that it warms you twice once in the chopping and then again in the stove. I think the Ghanaians feel the same way and say NO THANK you to the first warming! Saturday after the wedding they started cooking the meat. They were cooking “the cow” or beef.The Ghanaians waste very little of the animal so there were parts of the cow in there that I was not familiar with. The meat was cooked in a pot about 3 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep. When the meat was first starting to cook the caterer used her hands to stir the mean. When it was getting hot then she used a large wooden laddle to stir the meat and when she stirred Madua and Madam Perpetua held the pot in place. When I came by they were unwarpping shrimp and beef maggie (boullion) cubes then crushing them into ground ginger and garlic. I helped. Perpetua said that they had put in about 40 cubes. When the meat was browned the caterer added the ginger and garlic mixture to the meat. She also added salt and BLACK PEPPER! (I can get black pepper in the next town.) They sat back down and the caterer dumped some white rice, a tomato sauce and one piece of chicken into abowl. Perpetua said “Vicky come ya da ya da” at first I thought she had watched Sienfeld but then she saw my confusion and said “ya da ya da is eat”. I washed my hands and joined the common bowl. It was good. The tomato sauce had pieces of carrots, onion, cabbage in it. It was mildly spicey. I remembered to always eat with my right hand. I watched the others for the correct things to do. They pretty much didn’t lick their fingers when the put the food in their mouths and everyone stayed in one part of the bowl. When Dizzy tried to eat from my part her mom reprimanded her. After we ate we just hung out waiting for the meat to cook. I went inside and to bed long before they did. Today, Sunday, I lazed around in the morning listening to BBC radio and I missed the cooking of the rice. They pretty much cooked the rice then added the ground tomatoes to it. The tomatoes had some spices making the rice taste pretty much like Spanish rice. When I finally came out at the late hour of 8:00 am they were cutting cabbage, onions, carrots and green peppers. This was then cooked in a large sauce pan about 4 feet in diameter and 6 -8 inches deep. No handle. It looked like an upside down dome. The vegetables were cooked in red palm nut oil with peppe added. They also added black pepper, white pepper, and some other type of chicken boullion. The veggies were cooked just until they began to get tender. They were put in tub and macaroni was added to them. I never saw the macaroni cooking but it had a light coating of red palm nut oil and it was spicy. While Perpetua and the caterer were cooking Madua and the other help were wrapping plastic spoons in paper napkins. Everything was ready. Three tubs were brought into the shade, the meat, the rice and the vegetables. At this point Madam gave Dizzy and I a bowl of rice, with veggies and some meat. We ate and watched the rest of them pack the rice jolloff into rectangular styrofoam take out boxes. There was plenty rice, as the Ghanaians say, a laddle full of vegetables on top of the rice and one piece of meat in each container. Then the spoon and napkin were attached to the container with an elastic. The last time I counted there were over 210 containers. Rice Jolloff is a Ghanaian fast food. It’s actually not fast to make but the rice, vegetables and meat are kept hot in sparate pots in the food stall and you can get it quickly. When you order you say I want two thousand rice or 4 thousand rice and what kind of protein, chicken, goat, egg, sometimes bushmeat and how many pieces. You don’t get to order how much vegetables. Now that I know how to make it I will be making it for myself with plenty veggies!

Traditional welcome 06 Sept 08 (an oldie but goodie)

Today was a very good day. B.J. and Jennifer both texted me saying they had a good day too. After breakfast I went for a walk. I stood in the middle of the African savanah looking out over the tall grasses and was overcome with the joy of actually being here in Ghana. It took so long. I went through so much, good and bad that it is finally time to enjoy that I am here. Simona called me later in the morning and said to come and greet her grandmother. Abigail, Evelyn, and Doris went with me. I got a traditional welcome from Simona’s grandmother. She took me inside and then had me make the welcome drink. First Simona had me wash my hands. I put my hands over a bucket and she poured water over them. I rubbed my hands under the water. Then she handed me the calabash with about a quarter of a cup of millet flour in the bottom. She instructed me to remove my sandals and to place the calabash on the floor between my feet. I held the calabash with the sides of my feet. Next she showed me how to mix water with the millet. She poured about a quarter of a cup of water into the millet and with my right hand I mixed it together. When that was mixed she poured more water and I mixed again. The third time she poured about a cup of water in and I mxed the flour into the water creating a milky white liquid specked with brown and black. Now it was time to drink it. I asked was I supposed to share after I drank but she said no. I took a sip. It was bitter and spicy at the same time but somehow refreshing. Then I was given a small spoon and I scooped some of the flour off the bottom of the calabash. The flour was even more bitter and spicy. I drank some more liquid. Simona’s grandmother said I did not have to drink it all because I was not accustomed to it. Now we could visit. I tried some of my buili and Simona translated but we did not talk much in that formal setting. Simona then said she would take me to their traditional house. I asked if anyone lived there and she said only her other grandmother. But even if no one lived there it was the home of their grandparents and those before them so they would not destroy the buildings. On the way to the traditional house three women were working under the shade of a big boabab tree. They were pounding beans and shea nuts to remove the shells. I did speak some buili with them and managed to get some of my points across. then Elizabeth said in English “You want to learn our language!” To which I replied “Ah” and nodded my head. They were using a large pedstle to pound. The beans were in a hollowed out tree trunk. It was just the right height to stand and to pound the pedstle into it.Elizabeth let my pound. After the shells were removed another woman was winnowing to remove the shells. When I see the Ghanaians working I am amazed at the grace and ease with which they do the work. The arms and torso of the woman who was winnowing flowed with the direction of the wind. It would be a lovely move in a Ghanaian ballet. The boabab tree they were under had fruits hanging from a cord. They will be ripe in late Sept or early October. I will report on them. I did not bring my camera. One of the girls mentioned it and the women said I could return. Since I will be here for a long time I want to participate in many of the activities before I become an observer. I am not a tourist coming to snap photos but a community member. As a community member I want my photos to be a reflection of the life I know here. We then walked behind the new home and looked at the traditional home. Although I can’t describe it well enough, I will try. I will take photos another time, The interiro and exterior walls are mud. I do not know what the framework is made of. That will be a future assignment. When I got close to the walls I saw that there was a patterned etched into them. Simona said that they used sticks, stones or even fingers to create the design. Some of the walls also had black geometrical drawings or paintings on them, both the inteirior and exterior. The windows were square or rectangular and entrances were also round. The home consisted of a group of rooms joined together by a wall. Some rooms were for sleeping, others were for cooking. Some of the flat roof tops were used to dry crops and sleep on during the very hot season. The other roof tops are thatched. There were also silo’s for grain storage. With thatch covers that look like tropical hats! Some of the house is in disrepair but about 1/3 is still maintained and Simona’s other grandmother lives in it. We returned and Simona’s grandmother was sitting under a tree. beside the tree was a platform made of large branches with a roof of millet stems. The stems are there to dry to use as kindling and they give shade for people sitting on the platform. I sat on the platform and visited with Simona, her grandmother, her mother and a couple of other women. They were removing leaves from one of green leafy plants they put in stews. At first just Simona’s mother and her grandmother were plucking the leaves but as other women came by to say hello they joined in. It was a good day.

-vc

16 Oct 08 Brushing My Teeth in Public

The most tramatic part of my daily life is brushing my teeth in public. I have always thought that personal dental care was personal! That it should be done in private with no one watching. Even when I was married I would prefer to brush my teeth alone. So where do Ghanaian’s brush their teeth? Outside. With God and everybody around. So there I am with a mouth full of toothpaste foam, a tooth brush and one of my students greets me! At least I am not required to give a verbal response, A nod of the head will do. But I almost feel like I was caught naked!

There really is no where else to do it. In Suhyen I had a real drain in the bathing area so I would brush in there. And no way was I brushing outside in the middle of town where everyone one would see me. But here I only have a hole in the wall in my bathing area. I am afraid that the toothpaste would not drain out very well and be on the floor. There are no sinks so I can’t brush over a sink.  One very rainy day I brushed over a bucket inside but I didn’t like the toothpaste gunk in the house. So the only place to brush is outside.

I just reread this and so I sound neurotic. I have a thing with teeth.

Dizzy and her parents recently went away to a very nice hotel for an awards ceremony. Her dad won a best teacher in Ghana award. The one thing she was most excited about was brushing her teeth inside in a sink, A girl after my own heart!

-vc

07 Oct 08 Library card

Today I joined the regional library in Sandema for one Ghana cedi. As well as giving my name and address I have a card to fill out and on the back someone must vouch for me. I took out my allotted 3 books. Silas Marner by George Eliot on Simona’s recommendation. I think I have read it but it will be fun to read it again and talk to Simona about it. Next of Kin by Roger Fouts about Chimpanzees. Last Outerbridge Reach by Robert Stone, I have no idea about this author but it was a thick book!

The library has two main rooms and two smaller rooms. The smaller rooms have tables in them for study.  The adult room no larger than an American livingroom. There are two tables and a few chairs in the adult room. The adult room has 7 or 8 wooded bookshelves arranged by subject and  one is fiction. The books are all in English. And they are pretty much American books. The fiction is mainly  American and  English classics. Most of the nonfiction looks like booksale leftovers. I asked for some African authors and the librarian said they did not have many. I offered her the few books I had about Africa and she eagerly accepted. Asking when will you bring them. So Friday I will bring the books. I will talk with her more as well and find out how she gets the books for her collection.

The other room is the children’s room. It is ½ the size of the adult room. The books are on 4 or 5 wooden shelves about kid height. There is a table in the kids room. The children’s books ae also in English and may also look like booksale leftovers. Books in English is not bad becuase of the limited space they have for a collection it would be hard for them to collect in all the regional languages and have any depth to the collections. I am not sure how many books are written in the local languages. English is the official language of Ghana.

There were people in the library. Each study room at two or three people working at the table. There were 3 kids studying at a table in the children’s room and 5 or 6 adults in the adult area. Percentage wise 85% of the seating was used.

I am tempted to ask you all to send me books but I would like to create a realtionship with the librarians at the regional library and at the school’s library. That way I will know what they need and a good time for the books to arrive. Then I may come a begging. (But if friends or family want to send me one or two books by African authors I assure you they will end up in one of the libraries.)

The three books added a lot of weight to my market bag so I was very happy to “follow” the school bus home today.

-vc

Ramblings 14 Sept 2008

Ramblings

I can’t believe I haven’t written anything in over a week. The only business I have is self-made. I been reading. This time a story of the Mau Mau period in Kenya set just days before the Uhuru. Uhuru is when Kenya gained independance. The story goes between the present and the Emergeny when Kenya was fighting for independence. It is called “A Grain of Wheat” by Ngugi  Wa Thiong’o. It was first published in 1967, four years after Kenyan independence.

Now I am reading “The Fate of Africa; A History of Fifty Years of Independence” by Martin Meredith. This book was published in 2005 and received good reviews all around. I bought it for an overview of contemporary African history.  I am reading this book knowing that Meredith, an Englishman, has a certain bias towards a continent his countrymen colonized.  With that in mind I am enjoying learning about a continent I had very little knowledge of before. There are echos of the two books of fiction I have read in the parts about Senegal and Kenya. Meredith prefers to focus on the post colonial actrocities instead of those perpetuated by the colonizers that lead up to the movement for African independence.

I have also been taking photographs. For Jeanette I tried to take some photos of little yellow butterfiles. I have been learning the landscape and how to photograph dark faces. Fill flash! The flowers are out but they are so very small. My macro setting on my Canon rebel does a pretty good job of letting me get close enough. Yesterday I learned women around the world share common traits. I was on the savanah, taking photos of a favorite spot. A women walked along the path with a load of wood on her head. I greeted her and we communicated using my baby buili. Then I pantomimed taking her photos and asked if was all right. AIYA! she said  shaking her head and hand violently. Then she indicated her clothing and said “Kan Nala!” Like many American women she said “I am not dressed up enough for you to take my photo!” Literally she said  “not pretty.” I respected her wishes and hope to one day have enough buili to tell her that I wanted her as she was.

This morning I took photos of the boys dormitory construction project. On man spoke english very well and asked me where I was from and about America. I am not sure that I can educate even the people in this small village that America is not a place where everyone is rich and happy. I did try to explain yes they would get big money for construction work in America but they would also pay big money for everything they needed in America.  They were working very hard. They were using pick axes to dig trenches for the foundation of the new boys dormitory. I hope they were working early in the morning to aviod the heat of the day.

Goats. I can’t explain how happy the goats make me especially the newborns. They…. its…. they BOUNCE! They do and no just forwards but sideways and backwards. They are very spooky and I never mean to spook them but if I do the will jump inches into the air and bounce ff in whatever direction is away from me, regardless of the direction they were headed. And when I try to imitate their bleets and cries they come then look at me so strangley.

A cat has adopted me. She is a small grey tabby. So very affetionate. In the morning when I open my door she comes and cries until I come out. I do feed her some leftovers but she really likes me to sit on the cement and pat her. I have not heard her purr yet. I wonder if she can because when she is rubbing against me or I am patting her she seems very happy.

I am enjoying the last few days before school starts. Students will arrive tommorow. They will clean for a few days to a week then classes will start. Yes I am nervous.

Internet access is sketchy in town, mostly due to transportation issues. The day I had some time to spend checking out the internet cafe my bus came and I felt I had to get on. The buses are unpredictable so I take one when one is there. Lucky for me the internet cafe is right at the bus stop so I can go in and know when a bus is there. Using the internet cafe in town is one of my goals for the next week.

Today Ghanian cuisine met Mexican-Amercan.  At lunch I had Kenkey and salsa. The salsa had tomato paste as the base but I did have lime, onion, garlic and one small tomato, It was pretty tasty. If I add sugar to the tomato paste it’s a good base for sauces and salsa.  Then this evening I made garlic texas toast, refried beans and at most of the rest of the salsa. That was pretty good too.

I eat vegetarian quite often. There is canned tuna and I get a can aweek. it’s expensive 1 ghana cedi and 40 pesewas. Consider I can buy three whole fish for 1 Ghana Cedi and make three meals to the one I make out of the tuna. The tuna is in oil and is not albacore white that’s for sure! But with mayo and salt on some tea bread or sugar bread it feels almost like home!

I have tried another canned fish. Didn’t like it much. You could eat the bones but it just felt weird to me to eat them.

Another reason I eat vegetarian often is that the first time I bought beef they were slaughtering the cow right there in front of me. It was pretty grusome.  But really this cow had a much better life than almost any cow in America, They are truly free range. Usually the children are the herders. They bring the cow to pasture. Sometimes that pasture is right next to the computer lab at my school. The cows graze and then the kids check on them and bring them home.  But none the less I have a hard time thinking of going back to get more of “the beef” as they say here.

Goats on the other hand are tied to a stake in the pasture. They are more likely to wander off and to get lost but they have a long rope and really are not confined. Some goats roam around the house as well. The new borns are not tied at all because they stay right with the mother or near the goat house.

Chicken is another story all together. you buy it whole and either slaughter it and feather it yourself or have the butcher do it. He will also butcher it. Then you can keep it in your fridge or freezer but I don’t have a fridge or freezer yet. The cold store is supposed to have chicken pieces but i have yet to go there when they do. Chickens and guinnie fowl are also truly free range. They wander around the yard, the corn, the peanuts and any other fields they want. They return to the correct coup because the owners do feed them some grain to get them to come back.

I am very close to the food I eat. Barbara Kinsolver and her family should have come here for there year of eating locally.

-vc

Rainy Day 04 September 08

Rainy Day

The funniest thing happened at 6:34 this morning when I woke up. There was no human noise outside. That is very unusual any day here but expecially today because it is market day and Perpetua has to get her bread ready to go to market. So my first thoughts are of disaster or the rapture but then I got up. When I looked out my window it was very overcast and I though ah ha the rain is coming. The people had not been raptured or in some kind of a disaster they were just inside because it was going to rain.

The air was so cool. A small wind was blowing so I opened my doors and windows and let it come through and freshen the house. The sky was layered with grey, black and white clouds. There was no sign of sky or sun. The rain would be welcome after the past few muggy and hot days. (re: sweating entry)

I decided to have breakfast then to take my tea into bed and to finish the book I had been reading. It’s the story of a strike in French Senegal. “In 1947-1948 the workers on the Dakar-Niger railway came out on strike. “ (back cover) God’s bits of wood is written by Sebene Ousmane. He is from Senegal. Read it if you get a chance.

While I was frying my eggs and tomatoes and my texas toast (no garlic this morning) the winds picked up. I had to stand at my screen door and watch. It remindes me of The Wizard of Oz everytime it blows like that. They don’t have tornadoes here as far as I know but it sure feels like I am about to be blown to Oz.

Then the rain came. I was small small disappointed because I figured by the time I had breakfast and cleaned up the dishes the rain would be over. Since I did not want to loose my excuse for lazing in bed, I ate quickly and left the dishes in the dishpan. My tea, my book and I headed to bed. The rain continued for an hour. It was so cool I had to put my two yard over my feet and legs. I finished my book and it was still raining. So I spent another ½ hour or so playing cards in bed and doing some puzzles. (Taunt Fra thanks so much for the puzzle book.)

When I finally hauled butt out of bed the rain had slowed but it was still cool so I decided to attack my kitchen. I put on the same grubby clothes from cleaning the bathing room and started in on the walls of the ktichen. What it really needs is a new coat of paint. I am trying to figure out how temporary this place is and make some kind of deal with the headmaster about painting but for now washing will have to do. Did I mention the ceilings are 10 feet high. Yes so I only washed up as high as my arm could reach. Then I washed the floor as well.  Yes I sweat a little but not like the other day.

While I was waiting for the floor to dry Dizzy came for a visit. She had her umbrella and her rainboots on. She also had a sweatshirt on. I am no longer the person who is the coldest now that I am in Ghana. The Ghanaians have me beat as far as that is concerned.

Abigail also came over and said she could go to market with me. The rain had pretty much stopped. it was still overcast and I thought it would be nice to go into town in the cool. We set the time for Noon. I sent Dizzy off. I told her I had to get ready for town. Going to market means getting dressed somewhat nice. The first time I went I had on some baggy mid calf pants and a shirt. I was certainly underdressed. So today I wanted to where my red skirt and the white top Beth gave me.

I walked into the kitchen to get the water for my bath. My kitchen looked much better until I looked up above where I could reach to clean. Definate line of demarkation between clean wall and dirty wall. Sigh. The clean wall is not perfect in fact some paint is washed off and there are still dark spots and traces of pencil marks on the walls but it looks beautiful compared to the part on top. Is my wall half clean or half dirty?!

Of course when Abigail came it was raining enough for us to take my umbrella. Abigail is a real trooper we headed off in the rain down the mile walk to the junction. The dirt paths and roads were muddy and our sandles got so dirty that cleaning them in a mud puddle was an improvement. We were almost there and Abigail thought she heard the bus. We rushed but luckily it was just a big van. We made it to the junction and stood under the tree waiting for the market bus.

A car came down the road from the school and Abigail said let’s beg a ride. The car looked familiar and it was. It was Abass’s car. So Abigail, I and another girl hopped in and we got a ride to town. Abass likes country music but it’s my kind soft rockish country. It’s pretty cool to be listening to it driving down the road in the Upper East Region of Ghana.

Abass dropped us in front of the bank. We walked behind the bank into the market with umbrella unfurled and short list. I really wanted to see the market more than buy today but the rain had kept many yab-jeura’s (traders) away.  I did my shopping. I visited one market lady I had seen last week and even got the courage to say “Te mu jaara” which means add a little.  On the way out I also stopped at the Rafe’s plastic stand. I was looking for a cutting board but she only had wooden. She said her partner was going to Kumasi and would pick me one that wasn’t plastic.

We were walking to the bus station and the rain had finally let up. Oh I forgot to mention the other reason for going to the market. I wanted to figure out the bus to and from.  Not that time schedules really mean too much here but I at least wanted to get an idea if it will work for me. There are no tro tros here just the metro buses that run about 3 or 4 times a day. But no bus ride in and we met Abass on our way to the bus station and he said he would give us a ride home. So again not bus but we got a ride and right to our door.

During the afternoon light rain came and went. The Sandema Girls Card Club met with two new members, Matilda and drats I forgot her name. But the rain started in again and Abigail ran home then Matilda and her sister.

I had dinner of rice and beans with coconut, ginger, garlic and green peppers. Something was missing so I will have to try it again another day. I am also learning how to cook just enough rice and just enough beans for one meal. With no fridge leftovers end up outside for the Vito, the Kampusi’s dog and the cat who has adopted me.

Right now I am on the bed with a two yard on and listening to the rain pour down again. Today has felt like a rainy New England fall day. Just the piece of home I needed.

-vc

Sweating 03 September 08

Sweating

The day started out pretty cool so I decided to go to the borehole and get some water. I knew it would only be one bucket. To get to the  borehole I walk on a path through the savanah. Now during the rainy season the grass is tall and flows nicely in the breeze. But the walk back is not so fun. Carrying a bucket full of water is not easy. It was hard for me to do when  the borehole was right outside my door in Suhyen but now when it’s ¼ of a mile away it really tires me out.

What I was really hoping was that there would be some of my card playing teens there and they would help. Last time they did. But alas I had to carry it back myself. This involves many stops, preferably in some shade and frequent switching of hands. When I got to the Kampusi’s yard Mr. said “You are carrying water! It’s too heavy for you.”

“Yes” I replied. “I am getting just one bucket and hope the kids will come by today to help me.”

“Let us know when you are running out and I can get the workmen to bring the donkey cart.” said Mr. Kampusi.

“OK” I said “It’s really too hard for me.”

When I got to my water barrell I was sweating up a storm for the first time today.

After breakfast I had my next great idea. I decided to clean my bathing room. It’s a long narrow room with one window at the end and a door at the other. There is not too much cross ventilation. Before I even finished the three foot wide wall sweat was just dripping off me. It was running down my face. I could feel my shirt soaked to my back and rivulets of sweat were running down the back of my thighs. At this point I thought “Why am I doing this?’ but realized that I was going to have to do it sometime and I was already in the middle of it. The reward – a bucket bath in a clean bathing room.  So I finished the job all the while chanting my mantra “I am in Africa I will sweat.”

About noon I got my bucket bath in a clean bathing room. Felt good.

Doris, and Evelyn came over a bit later and we played Dash. Dizzy of course came in too. While we were playing Amusah came with the donkey cart and a huge container of water in the back. He filled three barrels and a bucket for me. I was already imagining a very extravagent bucket bath later in the evening. Maybe a whole half a bucket or more!

Abigail came for cards as well and then Jennifer followed. We played a long time. They were talking buili and I understood enough to know they were saying I had something in my dok (room)  I finally asked them to translate one word into English and the word was toffee! Here in Ghana all candy is toffee. Last week I had given Martha and another girl toffees and a pencil for helping me get water. Martha had told them I had toffees. I offered to get some toffee for us all. I had actually been thinking of it as another reward for my cleaning. We each had two Worthers.  I explained how they are special for special occasions.

The girls then did an interesting thing with the wrappers. They rubbed the gold part on their lips and it came off on their lips. They looked exotic.  They each have tribal markings on their faces. It’s usually one small scar on the cheek somewhere. Those scars and the gold on their lips made them look like they came out of some African story 100 years ago.

Finally I ended the meeting of the Sandema Girls Card Club. I decided to make some garlic texas toast. I melt Blue Belt margarine and oil in my frying pan then heap on the garlic. Today I used 4 cloves. When the clove begin to soften and crisp up then I put in slices of bread. Today I have tea bread and it’s about the size of a loaf of French bread so I put in 4 slices of that. Cooking inside in Africa really really stinks.  For the third time today I was sweating. No not as bad as the cleaning episode but more than I wanted to. But the reward for this was crispy garlicky bread with soft and crispy garlic chunks. Yum Yum.

I will get a coal pot to cook outside with. I cannot haul my gas tank and my burner outside. The gas tank weight twice as much as a bucket full of water with out the gas in it! The coal pot is small and portable and good for making one pot meals.

Now I am in my bedroom with the ceiling fan on and catching up on blog entries. No more sweating for me today.

-vc

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