8 July 2011 – Essay Contest

Two weekends ago I decided to start an essay contest for Form 1 and Form 2 (Grades 7 and 8). We had been doing the same old things in class – ICT (Information and Communications Technology) theory and then practical application of that theory in the lab. I was bored and perhaps the students were bored as well. I felt the need to spice things up for my last month teaching in Ghana.

 

The other reason I wanted do a contest is that I still wanted to take some kids to the Vodafone Internet Cafe. My original plan was to take all of Form 2 in groups of 10. So many of you generously donated for that cause but between collecting the money and implementation of the plan things changed. In late June I learned that SBIG was going to donate an internet router to BASCO. Through discussions with them, the staff and my donors it was decided that the money I collected would be used to finance 6 months of internet access. This way students from BS 1 (grade 1) through Form 3 (grade 9) can all benefit from internet access. I was a bit disappointed because I thought it would be a blast to take the kids to an internet cafe for the first time, so I came up with this smaller and more manageable plan.

 

In the first class about the contest I gave the rules.

 

1) All work must be original

2) Topic: ICT tools are making the world smaller

3) You must submit

Brainstorming paper

Outline

First draft

Final paper

4) Write 5 or more paragraphs.

 

The prize would be an all expenses paid trip to the Vodafone Internet Cafe in Koforidua for four students – the top two girls and the top two boys.  They would have two hours on the internet where they would sign up for an email.

 

The rest of the class was devoted to brainstorming. I gave them the topic “ICT tools are making the world smaller.” I explained brainstorming to them then we brainstormed on the topic together in class.  I removed the rule that you must raise your hand before talking. First one or two answers were given. I wrote them on the board, and then the free for all started. Ideas were flying around the room and I could not catch them all to put them on the board.

 

Then we evaluated the ideas from the brainstorming session and made a list of ideas they could include in their essays. They wrote them down and handed them in for me to correct spelling. I know many of you will laugh at me correcting spelling but I had a dictionary!

 

Form 1 decided to attack the theme by talking about three ICT tools and some in Form 2 decided on a different approach. They picked three ways communication happened in a village and would show how ICT tools made the whole world able to communicate as if it were just a small village.

 

The next class I discussed writing a outline to help organize their thoughts. This concept was hard for them to grasp. I think some of it could have been my unfamiliarity with teaching English. I am sure a JHS English teacher would have a whole arsenal of weapons attack the subject with but alas I only had my one thought that an outline will help you get organize your ideas. As I learned after the next class, for many of the students the outline played no role in their first draft essays.

 

Last I collected their first drafts and edited them. The next class I handed back the edited essays and the students rewrote them during class period. We both liked this method. I think the kids liked the individual attention I gave them when they came to have my notes explained and I liked the idea that they would finish the essay in class, thus assuring they would do the final paper!

 

Werner, one of my German friends, helped me select the winners.  And I announced them after lunch in Form 1. Form 2 is still in the process of writing.

 

In the next post you can read about Form 1’s visit to the Vodafone Internet Cafe on Thursday 7 July.

 

-vc

 

Nightmare on 14th Street – 23 June 2011

After feeling nauseous for two hours on the tro tro,  traveling over the mountains between Koforidua and Accra, I was ready for all the luxuries of a hotel – hot running water,  a flush toilet, satellite tv, and no screaming or fighting children. I did my research. Looked in the Bradt guide for a reasonable hotel in the OSU section of Accra. It was close to the supermarket and not far from the Peace Corps Office. So I called and booked a room for two nights. It cost 60 Cedis ($40)  a night. Sixty cedis is very expensive on my Peace Corps budget, usually I pay 20 or 30 cedis a night for a hotel. I expected star treatment and excellent service. Oh boy was I wrong.

I was hot, tired and still feeling a bit nauseous when I arrived at the hotel.  I began to worry right from the moment when the receptionist sped off empty handed to take me my room, leaving me to carry my bags up two flights of stairs.

After I hauled my tired butt up the stairs, the receptionist was already in the room turning on the lights and the fridge. I tersely thanked him and encourage him to leave by not chit chatting with him. He left and without a tip from me.  I tried to turn on the TV so I could watch it while I unpacked.  After 10 minutes the TV had still not turned on so I went down to the reception desk to ask for assistance.

My friend came up and poked and prodded and finally the TV came on. “How did you do that?” I asked so I could repeat the magic when I came back from the Supermarket with cheese and multi grain bread. He mumbled something then said “I’ll get you the remote.”

I then asked if the only MNET channel they had was the action movies. I am not a fan of the action movies they show in Ghana. I wanted MNET series. He said he would change the settings. Off he went. In about two minutes my TV was scrolling through channels and came to rest on MNET movies. Not exactly series but good enough since I would have to walk down  the two flights of stairs again if I wanted it fixed.

I unpacked. Then wanted to take a shower so I turned on the hot water heater. I also decided to wait until he came back with the remote before I got in the shower.  A movie was just starting,  “Leap Year” with Amy what’s her name from “Enchanted” was starring. Just what I needed a mindless romantic comedy.  I would watch it while I waited for him to return with the remote control and the water to heat up.

Well the movie was finished and still no remote control. I decided to take a shower and tough luck if he came back while I was in it. He could come back again later.

I am already for my shower. Soap and shampoos on the edge of the tub, bath mat on the floor, hot water light indicated I had hot water in the tank, and me in my birthday suit. I turned on the faucet my whole being excited at the thought of hot running water and the idea that the soap would actually be rinsed off me and out of my hair. A hot shower is such a luxury to someone who usually takes a bath with a cold bucket of water.

No water came out of the faucet.

I turned some knobs on the wall by the hot water heater, sometimes that brings water.

Still no water came out of the faucets.

I tried the sink.

Again no water came out of the faucets.

I tried to flush the toilet.

No bloody water was in the tank.

I threw my dress on. In out right contrariness I didn’t put on undergarments. I then walked back down the two flights of stairs.  No  one was at the reception desk but I saw a woman who looked like she worked there. She did. When I asked her, she called the receptionist. I told him that there was no water in my room. “Oh I’ll go turn on the water for you ma’am.” he says with attitude – like I am making an outrageous request to have water in my 60 cedi a night room!

When I return to my room the water is working. I use the toilet only to find there is no T-roll! There isn’t even a place to put the T-roll! Luckily I have Kleenex.

I decided to ask for some when I went shopping which I decide to do before my shower because soon it will be nightfall and I want to go before it gets dark. The joys of Koala Supermarket. I got brie, multi grain rolls, two pats of butter and two small berry jelly packets, Lays salt and vinegar potato chips, Dr. Pepper and pickles! I was going to feast tonight!

Back at the hotel I asked for T-roll at the desk. Because of the slow service or no service on the remote control I opted to wait while the receptionist gets me a roll.

In my room I spread my feast out on the bed and turn on another movie. About 10 minutes later the door to the room next to me slammed so hard that I jumped. I look out in the hall to see what’s up and see that the key to that room is on the outside of the door. Confused, I close the door and settle down again to my movie when the TV in that room went  on so loud that I could mute my TV and I could still hear the dialog.

I took a deep breath and calmed myself down and finished my food because at least they are watching the same movie I am! I hope they will turn it down. Thirty minutes later their TV is still so loud I don’t need the volume on mine. So I walk down the two flights of stairs, the sounds of their TV following me ½  way down; I tell the receptionist about the loud TV.  Before I reach the top of the stairs the sound is lowered. No employee has come up before me. I wonder what happened. But peace and quiet at last!

Now I can take a shower. I do and it’s wonderful. Squeaky clean hair and fresh clean skin are wonderful things. I lay down and read. In the next room there is a bang and some yelling. Then its quiet again for a chapter or two. Next door at least three children’s voices raised in the common sounds of kids fighting. Sounded like an argument over what to watch on TV. I got up and opened my door and saw the woman who found the unhelpful receptionist for me unlocking the door and entering the room. She shut the door and I heard her scolding the children. I escaped BASCO to get away from unsupervised children only to be put in a room next to one that a hotel employee had commandeered to entertain her kids during her shift!

If it wasn’t 8:30 pm I would have left the hotel. Instead I put my ear plugs in. Got lost in my book. There was no more noise from the room next door. Thankfully, the nightmare had ended before I fell asleep.

-vc

4 June 2011 – I love traveling in Ghana!

Today I traveled north, small small. I went to Kpong and Odumase in the northern part of my region, the Eastern Region to buy beads and visit Cedi Bead Industries. My next post will be what I learned there, how to make glass beads, but first I want to share my enthusiasm about traveling in Ghana.

Yes, I have often wondered if the rusty jalopy with the spiderweb of cracks in the windshield and the rocking seats would make it down the 3km road to my site. OK, the roads are often worse than a Maine back road full of frost heaves. And sure sometimes I have had to wait in the hot sun, more than an hour for a tro tro to fill but the people are what makes it wonderful. The following three things happened to me today when I was traveling.

I was getting off the tro tro in Kpong. My bag was big and heavy and I was struggling in the cramped quarters of the tro tro. The Ghanaian women, about my age, who was sitting in front of me, chastised the tro mate in Twi. He came right in took my bag and then helped me down the high step off the tro. I don’t know what she said but I did recognize the tone!

Later I was standing by the side of the road, waiting for transportation to take me to Dan’s bead, just outside of Kpong. A man asked me where I was going. When I told him he said I should go to the station because I would get a car faster. As I was crossing the street he shouted at me to come back. He had a share taxi that was going in that direction.

After I visited Dan’s beads I was again waiting by the side of the road for transport. There were also 4 men and a small child. Tro after tro went by us and didn’t stop because they were full. At last an empty taxi stopped. I hung back because the men were there first but they all piled in the back seat of this subcompact vehicle and urged me to sit in front. I made “I can’t possibly let you all sit in the back seat noises’ and shook my head but they insisted. They were so scrunched that when I looked back to thank them again I couldn’t tell what arms went with what person.

I am gonna miss Ghana!

 

-vc

Some Photos from Elmina, Central Region, Ghana

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Here are a few photos from Elmina.

-vc

St. George Castle Photos

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Hope you enjoy these pics of the slave castle in Elmina.

-vc

1 April 2011 – Posuban Shrines

I went to Elmina to face the cruelness of my ancestors but I didn’t see the evidence. For some reason my guide at St. George Castle in Elmina didn’t talk about the horrors perpetuated at that castle by three European conquerors. He didn’t show us the  door of no return  nor the scratch marks on the stone walls. Neither I didn’t hear how they lined the slaves up on the bottom of the slave vessel like sardines for the transatlantic crossing nor the terrible statistics of death in that crossing: 60,000,000 loaded  12,000,000 landed.   Instead I found the joy of Ghanaian creativity.

The Posuban Shrines of the Fante Asafo companies. They are whimsical, eclectic concrete shrines created by Asafo companies. The Fante people live along the coast of Ghana west of Accra. These companies were traditionally militia who helped to keep the peace and fight wars. They kept their weapons and regalia in the shrine buildings.  These shrines now serve as cultural and ceremonial centers of the town.

Late in the afternoon I took out my Bradt guide and tried to memorize the small map of Elmina with the location of the shrines. I didn’t want to carry a guide book in the streets. The guidebook is a magnet for every Kofi, Kau and Kwame to come and ask the rich tourist for money.

The road that lead to two of the shrines was just outside my hotel. A right at the end of that road would take me to two more shrines. It seemed easy enough to keep that info in my head. With camera in hand I set out.

I took the road to the first two shrines. I walked by Fort St. Jago. I looked up the steep road to the top of the hill. It was paved. It was 4:00 pm and cooling off. Did I want to climb up the hill to see another military installation? Nah it wasn’t worth it.

As I walked down the road I greeted those who called out a friendly Obruni (white man) and ignored the rest.  Some days walking alone in a new Ghanaian town here in the south can be an emotional obstacle course. Locals shout Obruni. Children hold out open palms for money or put their fingers together and point to open mouths in the universal plea for food. Strange men propose marriage and a trip the America. Everyone wants to be the white lady’s friend. On good days I remind myself that it is much better to be liked for the color of your skin. Luckily today was a good day so I greeted everyone and chatted small small with two or three market ladies.

Thus I made my way to the first junction where the first shrine was supposed to be. I was looking for something like a large totem pole. I imagined a 3 ft square foot print towering 2 or 3 stories with people. animals and machines sculpted into it. There was nothing at the corner where I thought one was located.  I took a left onto the dirt road and walked down the road looking on either side of me for the second shrine. I walked around the block back to the main road. No shrines.

For someone who likes to travel alone I am certainly directionally challenged! When I got to the main road I could not recall the map from the guide book so I had no idea where to go for the next two shrines. I decided to head back to the hotel. I knew where that was. I would now try to put my practical knowledge of the lay of the land together with the guide book map. It was getting dark so I would try again in the morning. I considered taking the walking tour offered by the castle but it was two hours long and I wanted to leave in the early morning. It was also 10 Cedis.

The next morning was cool with a nice sea breeze. I headed out before breakfast at 7:00 am. During the evening I had reviewed the map and saw that I could also take a right out of the door of the hotel and then the first left. Eight hundred meters down that road would be two of the shrines and another left should take me to the shrines I was looking for the night before.

I was going to find those shrines by myself. I passed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This one’s for you Jack!

There were two white rectangular cement buildings with names on them. I bet the walking tour would have told me about them. Then I saw this orange church.

When I took my first left I realized that the taxi had taken me on this road. When we drove down the road I had seen a porch with statues of men and animals on it. DAH! That was the shrine. I picked up my pace. There is no real reason I had imagined the shrines as a sort of totem pole but its not the first time my expectations had gotten in the way of reality.

There it was!

There were two statues of white people sporting leaves over their genitals who stood among seven statues of Ghanaians. I assumed the whites must be Adam and Eve. Two black four legged animals with white spots adorned the rails on either side of the porch.

I greeted two people standing around the shrine and continued to take photos. A graying Ghanaian gentleman came across the street and asked me if I liked the shrine. When I said yes he continued “Do you know the story?”  “No” I said “Shall I tell you?” he asked. He must have had lots of experience with whites who are in a hurry because when I said I did want to hear the story he replied “Now do you have the time? It’s a long story. There are two more shrines down the road. IF you have the time I will tell you and ask for a Fanta in return. “

I wanted to hug him for his up front approach to payment. I agreed to the terms of the tour.

Asafo #4 Co.

Joseph, my guide, told me that the white people were indeed Adam and Eve. The company chose Adam and Eve as their symbol because they were the first company in Elmina. When I looked confused he said that the #4 refers to the order in which the companies were asked to entertain at the castle. I was still slightly confused but didn’t push the matter.

From my reading I learned that the date on the shrines was the day the shrine was outdoored  or presented to the town. This one was outdoored on 31 December 1966. The companies go back to precolonial times and the locations of the shrines themselves go back to colonial or pre-colonial times. My reading indicated that the shrines were renovated and updated every few decades but the ones in Elmina haven’t been updated in over 50 years according to their outdoor dates.

Joseph explained the different figures to me. The two men in matching red and black uniforms are the chiefs guards.

The woman to the right of Adam and Eve was carrying libations.

The chief was to the left of Adam and Eve wearing a red and white smock and carrying a machete.

The god of the company stands in the back between Adam and Eve with his hands outspread.

Asafo #2 Co

At this shrine the chief was standing on a pedestal, towering over all objects in the courtyard of the militia building. He was wearing a sky blue cloth slung over one shoulder, like a toga. This company added airplanes to their shrine because the chief was an educated who had flown on airplanes to the outside.

Asafo#5 Company

The highlight of Obese No 5 Co was the European ship on the roof with two sailors on either side.The ship awed me so that I forgot to take a photo of the whole shrine. Sorry-O!

This shrine included a lot of symbolism. The many carrying palm nuts on his head showed the local abundance of produce. There was a crab that showed their connection to the sea.

The company had chosen the elephant as their symbol because it was strong. The elephants trunk was wrapped around the tree to pull it out.

The European ship was chosen because this Asafo company was the first to see the foreign ships come to harbor.

Joseph gave me his address so I can send him his photo and I gave him enough for a few Fantas. He was very informative and he didn’t ask me to marry him once.

If this small small post about the shrines sparks your interest here are two more sources of information on them. Thank you Lucy Robbins Welles Library for your online databases.

Bradt Guide Ghana, Philip Briggs 4th edition Pages 144-145.

Ross, Doran H. African Arts, Autumn 2007, Vol 40, Issue 3, P12-35. (You can find the full text of this article on Masterfile.)

This is not the last you will hear of these interesting art forms. There are more shrines along the coast and I hope to visit a few in the time I have left.

-vc

31 March 2011 – New Life Orphanage

Last week I visited another SBIG (the NGO that brought the computers to my school), orphanage for the Peace Corps. Rob, the Peace Corps Training Office and Mary, the assistant director in charge of Computers, asked me to go the the other SBIG orphanages and talk to them about the benefits of having a Peace Corps volunteer and to check out the site for them. Lucky for me this school was in Cape Coast. First the ocean is beautiful there and second I could stay with Nancy the PCV(Peace Corps Volunteer) art teacher at Cape Coast School for the Deaf.

On Friday morning I called Derrick, the ICT teacher at New Life, and told him I was in Cape Coast. He said he was in a meeting and would come in 30 minutes. I grabbed my book. Went to Nancy’s living room and joked with her that I now had 1 ½ hours to read because a Ghanaian had said he would be here in 30 minutes.

Surprise! Thirty five minutes later Derrick called me and said he was in the main driveway at the Cape Coast School for the Deaf administration building.

The school was small and well maintained. There was housing for about 40 children. The classroom block contained three classrooms for grades 1-6. There was also an administration building. For me the most interesting part of the story is how the orphanage was founded.

Derrick’s mother, Ruby, started it about 14 years ago. As we drove back to Cape Coast Derrick told me the story.

He said he mother was a nurse and she worked for the government. In her job she saw so many orphans. I guess their situation moved her heart. One day she came home from work and announced to the family that she was quitting her job and starting an orphanage.

Imagine the uproar from her 3 daughters and her son Derrick. Like an American family they all chimed in with why this was a very bad idea. “We all thought she was crazy” Derrick confided. “ You know we all had our own things, our work, our families.”

But she did it anyway. She had land and started small. One building was all she had at first. It remains on campus as the administration building today. Small small she got all her children interested in her project. Derrick said she would come to us because she needed things or help at the orphanage and pretty soon we were all as committed as she was.

In 2005 Mama Ruby had a  stroke. Derrick, her son, and Richard, her grandson, took over the daily work at the orphanage. Derrick says he will bring his digital camera to school about once week and take photos and videos. Then he brings them to Mama Ruby and puts a smile on her face.

They have added the classroom block and the dorm since 2005 and last year they were picked from a handful of orphanages by SBIG to receive computers. Not only are they using the lab to teach their own students but two nearby schools come and use the lab each week as well. They charge a small maintenance fee – 10 pesewa – for each child who comes from the  other schools.

To me Mama Ruby epitomizes the spirit of my blog – One person doing something to make a change in the world.

-vc

 

19 March 2011 – A Day

 

Got up early this morning and started marking the Form 3 MOCK BECE (Basic Education Certificate Examination). The BECE will be given April 11 – 18. The results of this exam will pretty much determine if and where a student will go to High School.

Our students took the 5th set of mock exams this week. They will take tests in 8 subjects. Let me try to name them all – Integrated Science, Maths, English, Twi, Social Studies, Religion and Moral Education, ICT, Technical Arts and Agriculture. Oh that’s 9.

I was happy with the results.Through out the term I have kept an Excel spreadsheet with their results from each mock. I compared the results of each mock with the first one.   There were 5 As(80-100 is an A in Ghana).  At least 10 students increased their marks by 20-36 points and many more gained 10 – 20 points.  Less than 10 students lost points

As happy as I was with the students results I was equally frustrated with the exam itself. The school purchased a set of mock exams created by Ghana Education Service (GES). In the set were 50 question papers, 50 answer sheets that can be corrected by computer and the answers to the test for the teacher.

The answers for three multiple choice questions were wrong wrong wrong! On two more questions I could have argued for two of the answers as correct. On the essay questions students were asked to name three advantages of the Internet. The answer sheet listed uses of the Internet. Last the students were shown an Excel spreadsheet. They were asked to calculate the numbers for the population of Ghana in regions. They were actually told to do the math and not to write the excel formulas to calculate the sums. What made me crazy is that I repeated at least a billion times that I don’t want the answers when we work with Excel but I want the formula. The purpose of Excel is to let the computer do the math for you.

I was not a classroom teacher in the US. I never dealt with standardized test that end so I don’t know if there are errors on standardized tests in the US as well but it sure made me tear my hair out.  The other problem with the wrong answers is that Ghanaians respect authority (too much from my American point of view), and the mark on the test is so important that sometimes my counterpart will want to teach the wrong answers. We argue and I think my brassy American attitude convinced him that the students needed to know the right answers regardless of the test or what the authorities said.

Before I returned the test I wrote a small congratulations note to each student who had improved his/her score by more than 20 points and for the A and B students. This is SOP for me but I had begun to wonder if the students appreciated it until the midterms this year. One boy from Form 2 came to me and said “Madam I had an 85 on my paper and so did Christopher but you wrote “Excellent Work” on his and but not on mine.

All of this took me until 3:00 pm. I had taken a bath in the morning but the day was hot and muggy and I wanted one before I took a nap. Drats no water. So I took 3 500 ml sachets of drinking water and emptied them into my bucket and took a sponge bath in my room. It’s nice to rinse the heat of the afternoon off before laying down. I have been taking a sponge bath in the evenings as well. Then I have the fan so my damp skin feels so cool as the fan blows over it. Who needs an air conditioner!

The day was steamy I used three hankies to wipe my brow etc while I was marking my exams but just as I lay down a small breeze came through the windows. Then the breeze turned into a wind and by 5:30 pm the cloud cover had dampened the heat of the day.

As I write now it is raining. I can hear the rain falling gently on the roof and rustling through the leaves in the forest outside my window.

We have had rain 5 out of 7 days this week. I think the rainy season is back – Hip hip hooray!

To add icing to the cake Werner is back from a two week vacation with his Auntie and Brother. Werner is one of the German volunteers. We have bonded over books and movies.

All is well at BASCO.

Sound sleep.

-vc

27 February 2011 – Dinner

Dinner was set for 5:00 pm. After a shower I snacked on some ground nuts, bread chips and Laughing Cow. Then I dozed and read until 4:30 pm. Then I dressed. Bought a package of chocolate chip cookies and asked the desk to call me a cab.

We soon reached the junction where Gina said she would meet me and I got down. She soon came to meet me. On the walk to the house Gina said that they had prepared Banku, peppe and the fish, because Fufu was too heavy to eat after 5:00 pm. Of course I said that the company was more important than the food we ate. I forgotten how Ghanaians fed visitors.

When we arrived at her house Robert was frying fish. They would fry all the fish today and the fish would be preserved for up to a month.

We visited for about 30 minutes.  Gina called me into the house. A wooden table was set in front of a bed. There were four dishes on the table. In the lower left hand corner was a blue plate with a ball of Banku, wrapped in a plastic bag to keep it warm. The bottom right had a white plate with crushed tomatoes and peppe, onions and 6 fried fish. Above that on the top right was another blue plate with a facecloth and a bar of soap. Last, in the upper left was a blue bowl half filled with water.

Oh yes the Ghana custom of serving the guest alone. Gina helped me wash my hands by pouring water on them. She then left me to eat. The meal was delicious. I even managed to eat two fish head and all but finally my brain could not get over eating fish brains.

A telenovella was on the TV in the next room. Gina’s daughter was watching and I could see it as well. I reminded me of watching the Japanese horror movies on Creature Double Feature because the mouths were out of sinc with the words.

I stayed for a while longer watching the news with the family in the other room.

It was a good ending to a good day.

-vc

27 February 2011 – Winneba Beach (continued)

[Recap: I walked down to the beach in Winneba. I had only planned to stay 30 minute or so but then decided to stay and watch the fishermen pull in the catch and met a family while watching.]

Robert, Gina’s husband, came with another pocket full of shells. While we waited I decided to ask him how was going to make the beads. He said he would grind the shells into a fine powder for the beads he was making this time. Other times he said he would leave some small pieces of shell in the powder. He showed me the shells and said that since many of them had purple in them that the beads would also be that color.

After he ground up the beads he would mix the powder with glue and then shape the beads. They could be round, square, rectangular or even triangular. He would take one straw from a broom and poke a hole in the center of each bead. Then let them dry in the shade. He said drying in the shade assures that they dry all the way through. If he dried them in the sun the outside might dry first and leave the inside still wet. Then the beads are ready for him to us to make jewelery.

When we turned our attention back to the fishermen the net was in. It was about 5 feet in diameter and lay on the sand bubbling with the flopping fish inside.

I figured that now the owner would sell the fish to the fishmongers and the other customers who were waiting.

But this fisherman knew his customers. The customers would wait. He also knew that once his helpers got their shares they would go home and he still needed them. The ropes needed to be coiled and put into the boat, which they did. Then they set to work organizing the net. The older helpers formed a horseshoe and spread their arms out then the owner  began looping the net over them. He put it around their necks and over their arms one way then turned back the other way so that many layers of the net were draped over their outstretched arms like scarves.

When the owner was finished each man took his part of the net off his neck, bent down and lay the net on the sand.

With the net and the rope organized only the boat was left. It had to be pulled up the small incline above the high tide mark.  One helper got a log out of the boat and put it under the front of the boat. Other men tied ropes to either side of the front and back of the boat. One man stayed behind the boat and four men came to the front and began pulling on the ropes. Another two men were near the front of the boat pushing down on it and the one in back was also pushing. The owner again chanted and worked among the men and together, the seven men moved the boat up over the high tide mark.

Then section by section the net was put into the long boat.

It’s hard to explain with just words and this is why I made the note to myself at the beginning of the first part of this story. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Gina asked me if I liked Fufu. When I replied enthusiastically she then invited me for dinner that evening. We made plans for me to call her when I got back to my room so we could plan a time and she could give directions.

Finally the net was opened. It was filled with small fish bout 5 inches long and less than an inch wide. There were also some larger fish which the owner picked out and set aside. I assumed for himself.

I was disgusted to see that there were many clear plastic bags within the pile of fish. The sorters threw these out. One landed near me and a small child began to pick through it. Then the child picked up a piece of the bag and then I could see it was a leg. We asked and talked it over and I finally decided they were jelly fish. BIG jelly fish. They head was seven inches in diameter and the legs were at least 5 inches long. I touched it and yes it felt like jelly. The fishermen told us they were not edible.

After sorting out the larger fish and the jelly fish the owner took a shallow silver bowl approx 18 inches in diameter and filled it half way. He then made a flat space on the sand with his foot and dumped the fish on that space. He repeated this 15 times.

While I did this we moved to the shade so Gina could feed the baby and I could avoid sunburn (ha ha). I didn’t see him distribute the fish but people were walking away with bowls or bags of fish. I guess that some of the younger people who helped haul the net in were family members of the older people thus there were only 16 shares of fish for the 27 people.

I decided it was time to go. I assure Gina I would call when I got back to the hotel to set up our dinner date. She headed off to help her husband purchase the fish. As she walked towards the shore she said “They will cheat him!”.

-vc

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