3 August 2011 – Tamale to Sandema

This morning I awoke to crashing thunder and harsh winds. It was raining so hard it came through the hotel room’s bathroom ceiling. Check out time was noon so I snuggled under by two yard with my book. I had enough time to wait out the storm.

My mother always said “Rain before seven, shine before eleven.” Although it was not yet shining at eleven it was no longer raining. Since I was eager to get to Sandema to see my friends I decided to take the chance it wouldn’t rain again before I got to the station.

The tro was almost full which is lucky because we would probably leave the station within the half hour but unlucky because I had to sit in the back seat. People and luggage were piled in the seats and aisles. The aisles were hardly wide enough for a child let alone a this broad hipped woman with her two bags. Thank goodness Ghanaians are helpful. The other passengers sent my bags to the back seat while I navigated over the bags, boxes and cases in the aisles. I crammed my backpack on the floor between my feet and held my green L.L. Bean bag on my lap. There was no room under my seat or the seat in front of me to stow my bags.

At first I was excited; I was going to enjoy every minute of my last trip to Sandema. Then after about 45 minutes it was no longer exciting. My back hurt, my butt hurt, my knees were locked into position and my right side was 10 degrees hotter than my left because the person in the seat next to me was squished up against me.

After one hour and fifteen minutes I longed for the cushioned wide seats of the STC bus I had taken from Kumasi. But alas I was bouncing in the back seat of a tro tro. Just as I thought I couldn’t take it any longer we reached the outskirts of Bolga. Thank God it was only a two hour trip this time.

I alighted at the station and zoomed the last 45 minutes to Sandema in the relative comfort of a share taxi and Metro Mass Transit.

Sandema Here I Come!

-vc

1 August 2011 – Kumasi Night Sounds

As dusk turns into night the street outside my window quiets down. The woman selling drinks, snacks and Cd’s turns off her PA system and the music stops.

The leather trader picks up his wares from the clothes laid on the ground. The drum and bead trader packs his wares and pushes his wooden shelves against Vic Baboo’s back wall. The chatter between the tourists and shopkeepers ends.

A preteen girl wearing jeans and a t-shirt is carrying pure water sachets on her head. Her last cries of “Puuuurrrrree waaaataaah” echo down the almost empty street.

The boy pushing the white Fan Milk cart rings his bicycle bell looking for one more sale before he goes home to dinner.

It’s dark now and in my hotel room I am watching the evening news. On the street a couple are arguing in Twi. Even though I don’t understand the words, I understand the tone of people close to each other disagreeing. Later a big truck rattles down the short street outside my window and stops around the corner to make an evening delivery. On the main road, a couple of blocks away, a siren screeches past.

Music drifts from Vic Baboo’s restaurant. The door slams frequently with customers entering and leaving. Happy chatter rises up to my windows.

Just before I fall asleep three or four young men are speaking loudly -fighting or joking. I drift off to sleep thinking if they are fighting, it doesn’t sound serious.

-vc

28 July 2011 – Adjusting

When I get back to the US I will find it hard to:

– Use my left hand to give anything to people.

– Go to bed without shaking out my sheets.

– Put toilet paper in the toilet bowl.

– Eat with a fork and spoon.

– Stay warm.

– Wear closed toed shoes.

– Speak correct English, ooohhh!

– Walk by someone without greeting them.

– Make choices in a grocery store.

– Pay American prices for things.

-vc

14 July 2011 – Turning the Tables

Today I proposed to a Ghanaian man!

Werner, my German friend, and I went to the bead market in Kofftown(Koforidua). We went our separate ways but found each other at the T.K. Beads tables. I love these tables because you can find melted glass beads, powdered glass beads, and painted glass beads in all colors of the rainbow. There must be 15 sq ft of tables filled with beads.

We chatted with the owner and purchased some beads. Then I asked if he knew where I could find the Ashanti brass beads. He took me to three tables across the aisle from his table. I found some nice individual pieces as well as three strings of brass beads. I went over to Werner, at the table next to mine. The owner of T.K. Beads came to check on us. Werner asked about old beads. They were at the table to the right of the Ashanti beads.

I thanked the T.K. Beads owner for his help even going as far as to take us to other trader’s tables. He waved his right arm, collecting all tables on his right and left in a arc and said “These are all my tables.:

Bead lust over came me and it blurted out “Will you marry me!”

Oh my his face was so shocked! Ghanaian men can sure dish it out but they can’t take it. He stuttered once or twice then composed himself, pointing to the woman behind the old beads table he said “But this is my wife!”

I looked at her and we both laughed. Then with a twinkle in her eye she said “Oh but in Ghana we can do it. He can have two wives here.”

I told her that her husband looked like a rich man with all these tables of beads and I needed a rich man. I hugged her and called her my sister wife. Then the negotiations began. I wanted to know who would do the cooking. The junior wife does the cooking and I didn’t want to be cook or junior wife. When she said I had to cook I said the marriage was off! I told her that pounding fufu was too hard for a white lady. The husband joined in and said I would get strong, then the wife said I could make the soups and she would pound fufu.

We haven’t set the date yet but you are all invited!

(Only kidding, Mom, Liz, Becca, Beth. I am coming back to the US for sure and with no husband in tow.)

-vc

August Sometime – Portia and Rofina

In August I traveled up north for my last visit with the Kampusi’s and my other friends up there. After my visit there Portia, Rofina and I traveled south to my site and then on to Cape Coast. Below is a slide show of photos I took of them on this trip. More about the trip to follow.

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-vc

27 August 2011 – BASCO Friends

Eric Mintah and Luise

Werner Beckmann 

 Luise, Johan Martin Kramer and a student practicing for the Christmas play.

 

vc

RPCV

 

26 Aug 2011 – Last day of COS(Close of Service)

It’s with bittersweet memories that I end my service with Peace Corps. I am now officially called an R(eturned)P(eace)C(orps)V(olunteer) but as I am still in my country of service and not returned to the USA I feel like I am in limbo. Georgette says it’s like Peace Corps Purgatory! Now I am an American tourist in Ghana. Weird feeling I must say. Already the prices seem cheaper than when I was a PCV!

I didn’t have much to do today – an exit interview with the Country Director, Mike Koffman, a meeting with Bob Gingrich, the Administrative Officer, and I collected my travel reimbursement for coming here.

During my two interviews I discovered that what I felt was my greatest accomplishment happened in the toughest part of my service.  When asked by both the CD and Mary Norah I felt that working with Eric Mintah and transfering my skills and knowledge to him was my greatest accomplishment. He was my co-teacher at BASCO.

I’ll close this post with a picture of the memorial rock they painted for me at BASCO.

 

RPCV

Vicky Chase

25 August 2011 – Worth a thousand words

The window in the male slaves dungeon at Cape Coast Castle, Ghana, West Africa.

 

View from one of the Governer’s 4-6 bedroom windows at the castle.

-vc

Sometime in August – Kumasi Suboffice

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps and because Ghana was the first country to have volunteers on the ground PC is sprucing up the offices. When I visited the Kumasi Sub-office for the last time this month I saw the great murals that fellow volunteers put on the walls. Here they are!

24 August 2011 – Second Day of COS(Close of Service)

The second day of COS was relatively painless.  At 8:00 am I had my physical. Then ate a yummy breakfast of yogurt, fruit and fibre, hot chai and bread with real butter. Then I met for an hour with Mary Norah, my direct boss in the education sector of PC Ghana.  After that Beryl offered to have a driver take me to the Motorway Extension Branch of Barclay’s so I could close my account. So very nice. Customer service certainly has improved in the Admin department since my group COSed last summer.

As I was close to the Mall I decided to see if I could find Brittany, who had gone earlier. I failed to find her but decided to eat and take in a movie. I had a chicken sandwich, cole slaw and french fries (which they insist on calling chips). Bad Teacher, Horrible Bosses and Rise of the Planet of the Apes were playing. I choose “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. (trailer) I thought a trip to the mall would help acclimate me to American culture!

I am very sorry that I didn’t take my camera with me but on Saturday I am taking a 4 hour guided tour of Accra and will have plenty of pics to share with y’all.

Back in the good ole USA in 8 days!

-vc

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