surprise! your stomach is ruined. love, ghana

I noticed a few days ago that I have pretty much been sick since I left Ghana. I got sick my last week there, coughing sneezing cold type (YOU CAN GET A COLD IN AFRICA?!  #shutupillkillyou) and didn’t realize until a few days ago that the sickness I still have has basically been going on for four weeks or five.  I thought at home it was mostly dust/allergy related, but considering that I’m still coughing up phlegm…who knows.  Also, on a related but probably not the same illness note, I still have digestive problems.  I was good for a few days and thus was amazed and got cocky about it, and then the gods were like haha you suck so you are still going to shit a lot.  I hate you all.  I even got a test done and they said nothing was wrong.  Well, I can tell you, after eating nothing but soup for breakfast and then having to run to the bathroom…yes, something is still wrong.

I bet that you all (my readership, aka my mom) have really missed hearing me complaining about poop.  NOT.  Good thing nobody reads this so I can be as gross as I want.

More thoughts on being back from Ghana.  Well, sometimes I think about it, but most of the time I think about other things.  1. Watching Television 2. Procuring food 3.  Looking forward to school 4.  Being scared that school will not be as fun as I remember 5.  Sleeping.  Yep, that is pretty much it.  I suppose I will share the only exciting discoveries of my winter break.

There is a silver lining to my cloud of digestive horror, my pants fit again!  I think I have lost a little bit of extra banku weight from all the shitting.  I would still like to become a more acceptable size for my small build but since my pants fit I will take what I can get.

I went skiing last week with Lauren and Katie Gab at Devil’s Head to interrupt my winter break of seeing no one and doing nothing.  That was so much fun!  It reminded me of how great it is to have friends that make everything funny, aka all my friends because I only surround myself with entertaining people.   Anyway, we had lots of great jokes about it being doomsday and bridesmaids quotes (also prepare for that people, I have a document, it’s 8 pages long, it’ll be memorized by next week) and falling over at unnecessary moments.  It’s too bad somewhere cough lost such a golden generation of individuals.

I also rekindled my love for winter sports which was easy when it was like 40 degrees outside.  I will probably be wanting to ski in California once in a while when I’m not bogged down by required classes (cough) or my inability to wake up in the morning.  Oh another update, my ability to wake up early that I had for a brief while in Ghana has already disappeared.  Oh well, nothing can be done.

I have been reading a fair amount on break, I suppose The Hunger Games was pretty good but I think that people need to stop hyping up books because they are never as good as people tell me they are.  Except if you are reading this and considering reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, I DO NOT EXAGGERATE.  YOU WILL LOVE IT.  TRENT WHO IS A BOY LOVED IT.  Anyway I liked that but it was kind of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo syndrome where you’re like I mean yeah I obviously like this book but come on for how hard you made it out to be for district 12 to win everyone else seemed to die PREEETTTY fast.  And what if I wrote a book called The Girl with the Georgia O’Keefe Tattoo that is NOT a vagina?  I mean…

Well, all in all I’m very excited to go back to Redlands.  I have missed it so and it is weird that now it is almost here.  I waited so long.  And some people would probably say that went by fast, but you know what?  It didn’t.  It did NOT go by fast at all.  Teaching riding lessons in 100 degree heat, dealing with the worst children ever, seven weeks of doing nothing but looking at different models of rolling duffel bags and mosquito nets, and then three and a half months of banku, boring lectures, long bus rides, not my cell phone, never being up later than 11 or maybe midnight at the very latest, that did not go by fast.  I mean lots of great things happened in those seven months too, but I’d say the only period of time that went by fast is when I was staying in my own cute room with its balcony at the hotel in Cape Coast.  Of all the things in the world that are known for passing quickly, spending 3 hours per day on tro tros is just not one of them.

But now I sound all negative.  And I am not.  I miss Ghana a lot sometimes.  I try not to think about it because of that reason, but it’s true.  I mostly am just sad about the people that I may never see again.  Here I am living the cushiest of lives but everything there is just the same.  It’s hard to believe that it was a real thing.  And it’s still hot there which I can’t really wrap my head around.  But soon I will be back at my village, the village of Johnston, and then it will all be great.

I am also thinking of starting a blog, potentially called All of the Plights (play on words of my favorite song, obvs) so tell me your thoughts if you are a person and you actually read this blog.  Which is doubtful.

“Wild baboons just roam the street there!” “Ye-NO -what – NO THEY DO NOT!”

I left Ghana one week ago today.  It’s strange to think that a week ago, I was waking up in the East Legon apartment, sick, just as I am now, heading out to the Tetteh Quarshie art market in the morning to say goodbye to the woodcarvers, then over to Madina Estate to give the clothes and books I didn’t want to Papa Attah, then to the other obronis apartment to chill with them, doing nothing (what a common pastime) until it was time to go back to my apartment to shower, finish packing, and leave.  I haven’t thought about it much.  It’s easier that way.  I know that I should be thinking about it, analyzing it, considering all the ways I’ve changed.  But even now, it makes me too sad.  I never really got that emotional in Ghana.  I cried the first two times I talked to my parents, I cried once in the village when I was bored, I cried reading the Prince of Tides, I cried when I got the letter from Haz and remembered how much my sisters care about me, I cried every time I finished  The Time Traveler’s Wife.  But look at those, they aren’t emotions about Ghana.  They’re emotions about books and home and being overwhelmed.  Now, when I remember trying to go visit the Time Hotel where the manager always gave me rides down that super busy road where I couldn’t find taxis and he wasn’t there because he was sleeping, I get sad, because he wanted me to visit and now I never can because I’m in America. I never visited my Kumasi host family either, and my host brother would call so many times to ask about it.  I get sad when I think about Wiz, and Papa Attah, and Kwame.  I get sad thinking about 37 and all the people who switch tro tros there every day of their lives while I thought I was a regular after one month.  I get sad thinking about all the people who would talk to me on the street.  I even get sad when I think about how I refused to say goodbye to Kofi and made Kwame hand in my ISP after he yelled at me and made me cry during ISP presentations.  (I don’t think I told that story, haha.  Maybe I will now.)

 

Too many things make me sad when I think about it and I just want to be happy.  So I haven’t thought about it much, instead I choose to be happy and be present and enjoy America which is what I’ve been looking forward to for so long.  And man do I love America!  It’s becoming a problem how much I have been eating out.  But get this guys, I haven’t had McDonald’s yet.  I know I said I was going to get it in the Amsterdam airport, but that was a European McDonald’s and it was weird.  So I still haven’t had McDonald’s, what strange things happen!  But I have had a lot of Mexican food, sushi, Panera twice, and Olive Garden.  Strangely sushi is the only thing that reignited my ahem, digestive problems of Ghana.  Everything else sat fine with me, even when I went with my dad and sister to Pedros and had a tamale half an appetizer plate and a ton of nachos. 

 

People ask me about Ghana of course, but I don’t get sad when I tell them about it, because nobody (with the possible exception of my parents) really wants to know that deeply about it.  Which is convenient, because I don’t want to talk that deeply about it – even though I may seem like I love to be the entertaining center of attention, it’s hard now to formulate long winded stories or explanations about Ghana.  I’m sure it’ll come in time, but for now it’s easier to make jokes, to share tidbits, to use that self-deprecating complaining voice but at the end say “It was all worth it in the end, of course.”  “I just got such a great new perspective on life.”  “I just realized how truly lucky I am to live in America!”  “I feel so much affection for Ghana now.  I definitely want to go back.”  What can I tell people that is a really deep explanation of the whole experience when I don’t even understand it myself yet, and anytime my brain attempts to make me think about it I just start to feel sad? So it will come in time, and for now I will stick to being happy because that is just what I want to do.

I know everyone says “it is really weird getting back from abroad, America will seem so crazy,”  but I never believed that would happen to me and, well, I was right.  It hasn’t.  This is my explanation, and I had this explanation even before I left. Listen up kids, I lived in America for 20 years. Then I went to Ghana.  I didn’t think Ghana was crazy when I got there, I just accepted it.  I was like huh, this is new, but not entirely surprising.   I just went with the flow, didn’t freak out, not too much culture shock, I knew it would be different, so I was like yes, this is different, and I accept it.  Therefore I knew that going back to America I wouldn’t freak out either, because, um, I lived here for 20 years and if I didn’t freak out getting to a completely different country, why would I freak out going back to the place that I know really well?  And I was right, no freakoutage here.   Once I missed the street I was supposed to turn on because I forgot, sometimes I’m like WHY DO THE PEDESTRIANS THINK THEY CAN CROSS THE STREET ALL THE TIME (because I’m used to fearing for my life whilst crossing the street) and I have been a lot more direct with salespeople, but other than that I’m just like oh hey America, good to see you, I love your tap water.  I also predicted this because for the first few times I came back from college I was like OMG MIDDLETON IS GOING TO SEEM SOOOO WEIRD BECAUSE I HAVEN’T BEEN HERE.  But nope, it’s always the same.  It’s never weird. 

 

Let’s see, what else.  Um, I can’t really think of anything.  I suppose I should tell  a few tidbits about my last week or so in Ghana because I was lazy and didn’t update then.

 

  1. I got sick.  I am still sick.  This means I have been sick for over a week.  Unpleasant.  Probably not malaria, so you can put down your phone and stop the phone call to the CDC.  Just some kind of cold variety with sore throat and coughing and runny nose. 
  2. I got into a fight with my advisor (whose name I will begin to withhold in case the African art authorities come after me, but hint, it rhymes with Schmofi) (and fight is a pretty liberal word here…more like he told me mean things and I tried to disagree and then went off and cried) but anyway he said A. that I didn’t do the project I told him I would, which is funny, because my title was exactly what we had talked about and I answered exactly that question, B. that I disrespected his informants, which is funny, because he gave me no informants because he’s a lazy asswipe, C. that I should have been paying him $700 an hour for how important he is (go fuck yourself) and D. that I shouldn’t have done woodcarving with street artists which is funny because he told me to work with street artists.  Then I cried and started drinking at 10 am during presentations.  Fun times at Ridgemont High!
  3. On the other hand Wiz was the nicest man and told me lots of nice things and we love him. 
  4. I had some great times with the obroni crew and I miss them greatly.
  5. I don’t remember anything.
  6. I cried leaving at the airport because Papa Attah and Kwame and everyone were there and I cried a lot saying goodbye to those two and thinking about how we’d been there three months ago and now it is three months later and we’re leaving and blah blah blah.’
  7. I love KLM.  Greatest airline ever.  I love the Dutch.  The food they serve is divine.
  8. Papa Attah is the greatest man alive.  We had a heart to heart on the last night, during which he was stroking my hair.  IS THERE A CUTER THING YOU CAN THINK OF IN THE WORLD THAN PAPA ATTAH STROKING MY HAIR?!?!!
  9. My ISP presentation was the shit.  I played music and had a slideshow and made everyone paint during it and it was just fantastic. 
  10. This is after Ghana, but I am fat.  That stupid banku and fufu and groundnut soup and light soup and the damn rice made me go up like 34345 pants sizes.  Or at least two.  I’m very angry.  Apparently you cannot see it in my face but my friends might just be being nice.  I’m hoping that going back to a diet of fast food and microwaveable snacks will help me go back to my normal size.  YEAH RIGHT.  But that does bring me to the paradox:

 

THE PARADOX:

 

At home:  I eat fast food, processed food, junk food.  I eat a lot of it.  I don’t exercise.  Yet I stayed at the same weight.

 

In Ghana:  I eat no processed food, walked for probably at least 2 hours most days during my ISP, was out and about all the time, and snacks were not constantly available.  AND YET, gained a billion pounds  FUCK MY LIFE. 

 

Um well there that is, whatever.  Now that I’m home I am doing lots of shopping and eating and also getting my hair dyed and shit like that, and I am also starting to exercise to hopefully eventually fix this little problem.

 

I’m running out of things to say but I will end with this:  people ask really dumb questions and make really dumb statements about Ghana/Africa.  I.e. Dental Hygienist:  “Wild baboons just run around the street there.”  NO THEY DO NOT!  IF YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT A COUNTRY DON’T JUST MAKE THINGS UP!  And Michael Schlatzberg (or whatever his last name was, my Africa professor at Madison,)  was so right when he said that the first thing anyone asks you is about wild animals.  Which is fine because I did see some elephants.  But they were not just like chilling by the side of the road as the dentist seemed to think.  They were in a National Park Preserve like most normal people would imagine. 

 

So to end, I will probably write more blog entries once I am willing to actually think about and analyze my time in Ghana versus considering it and then deciding to buy makeup/read a book/paint my nails/make a scrambled egg/write Christmas cards/watch How I Met Your Mother instead.  And if that makes me sound like a stereotypical girl?  Damn right, I’m going to be as stereotypical as they come because I deserve some fucking eyeliner, teen novels, and eggs with salsa and cream cheese mixed in. 

on the 8th day before I go home Ghana gave to me, 8 fights with taxi drivers…

I have been the worst at posting lately.  But also sometimes I write things and then get distracted.  Not that I can post any of those things because A.) I forgot my converter so I’m on a lab computer and B.) even if I had my converter my netbook won’t connect to the network.  #ghanaproblems.  But I’m over all the problems because I go home in 8 days!  Yipee!  Well not all the problems, because my favorite little child the ISproblem is still not done.  It’s close.  It’s a million pages.  And by that I mean about 70, but the minimum is thirty so that’s basically a million.  Why do I do this to myself?!  I just have to add in some more research and make it suck less and finish it, but still.  I was so much better at working on it last weekend when I stayed in my room and had no internet.  Now I’ve been here for almost three hours and done very few things.  Oh well, story of my life.  But I got to talk to Natasha and Kalehua and Victoria and lots of other folks who luckily were on facebook chat so it is okay.

So let’s see.  What has happened since I last posted, or what has happened while here ever that I never posted about.  Mostly I mean during the ISP because I was really good before then.

Oh I have exciting news!  I am no longer stressed about money because I found 200 American dollars that I never changed into cedi!  So that will be like more than 250 cedi, at least, and I am saved!  I can continue to buy presents for my goblins and such and not be paranoid about taxis!  Well I guess I still shouldn’t take so many taxis, in my glory yesterday after finding the money I took a cab to Wiz’s house from Legon instead of partly tro tros and spent 10 cedi on it, and then same on the way back.  Oops.  But it was fine because on the way back the guy tried to charge me 15 cedi and I was just like no.  I got here for 10.  He tried to argue, and then I replied, “WHAT,  YOU THINK I JUST GOT OFF THE PLANE?  I KNOW YOU’RE RIPPING ME OFF!” (I mean 10 is also a rip off but its rounder and closer to not a rip off) and then he took the 10.  That was actually the first time I got to say that phrase (you think I just got off the plane) so it was exciting and I’m glad I got to say it before leaving.

I guess something that has happened since I last posted is Thanksgiving.  You’d think Thanksgiving in Ghana would be sad, but it was so much fun!  The girls that I am living with and I had everyone over to the place we are living in East Legon and had a Thanksgiving potluck!  We were worried that nobody would bring food, but then everyone brought a lot of food and it was just like Thanksgiving in America because I had a huge plate of food and couldn’t even finish it!  I made pasta with this yummy sauce and meatballs.  We also got chicken from Shoprite and Godwina made MacNCheese and Iman made mashed potatos and Cam made nachos and other people brought things too but those were the best.  They all tasted good and I am going to learn to cook nice appetizers on winter break I’ve decided because cooking is fun ish and I like food, appetizers the most.  It was just fun to have all the obronis together since we’ve been all spread out, and we just drank wine and cooked all day and made fake mimosas (no champagne in Ghana, nobody knows why, so we used sparkling wine and orange juice) and had a nice early dinner.  I sang the Thankfulness Song a la Hoofbeat, we all said what we are thankful for, we ate and were happy and it was merry.  Afterwards, full and happy, the non East Legon livers departed (people who do not live in East Legon.  not livers like the organ.  what is this.) and we just chilled …by which you probably think I mean I sat around talking about happiness and Ghana and Thankfulness with my roommates, but no, what I mean is I continued a Thanksgiving tradition that I developed with Kalehua last year in Hawaii and watched The Family Stone.  I don’t care what you say, that movie is brilliant.  I want to marry into that family.  But I would so be Claire Danes and not Sarah Jessica Parker, let’s be honest.  Actually I would probably be Rachel McAdams but she is already in the family so who knows.

I hate writing papers.  They always seem like they are going to be so good in my head but then I just have to write them and have to push it out and it is not as good.  And I mean good writing would be easier if everyone weren’t talking so much in this computer lab.  But no that is mostly a separate annoyance, it is not anyone else’s fault that I cannot distinguish noises so I can’t concentrate when there is noise.

I realized something the other day.  I am really going to miss these ‘bronis!  I had a hard time adjusting to the group in the beginning, but honestly, I love this group so much now and I’m going to be sad to see us all split apart.  We’ve been through so much over the past few months and there are some things that nobody but us will ever understand.  I guess that is so with any study abroad group, but there are a few things that are pretty unique to us.  When I say this I am mostly referring to the fact that we can talk about every kind of bodily function with each other and not be at all phased.  I don’t know too much about digestive problems in other countries, but I feel like that one is pretty unique to us fools who chose to come to Africa.  (Is that also a problem in Asia?  or South America?  I don’t really know) Apart from that though I just feel like we’re a good group and I’ve gotten close with a lot of people that I probably never would have met otherwise.  Also, we always have fun together.  You know how at school if you think you’re going to go out but then just end up in someone’s room, people get moody?  Here we always just go to a bar or something with just each other, and we never expect more, and we ALWAYS have fun.  I’ve never had a bad night when we do this ‘going out’ thing.  We play fun games, such as the GREATEST GAME EVER, which I’m going to call ‘A Really Nice Colored Car.’

In this game, one person thinks of another person we all know.  Then everyone else asks them questions like “If this person were a Ghanaian dish, what would they be?”  “If this person were a US city, what would they be?”  “If this person were a holiday mascot, what would they be?”

wait have I already described this game?

WHATEVER IT’S SO MUCH FUN.

Anyway, I’m gonna miss these obronis.  Our group in the end has just become cohesive and we can all hang out and we aren’t cliquey.  So nice!

Okay this has been open for a long time.  I am going to try to remember and write more later.  I love everyone who reads my blog!  Eight days till America!

 

ISProblems

The Monday before last Monday is the day I met with Papa Attah and cried.  I shall explain my tears.  A bunch of us had to go in and talk to him on Monday about our lives and frustrations and I basically told him that my advisor does nothing for me, I accomplish things but I never know what I’m doing in advance and am annoyed that I literally do everything for myself when other students have advisors who organize all of their interviews and work for them.  Not me, whatever, story of my life.  Then I cried about money and maybe something else.  He made me feel better but didn’t give me any real help.  Textbook Ghana.  Then I went on the internet (or something I don’t remember) and did other things and went someplace.  What?

Oh this is the day I met my woodcarving friends.  Now I remember.  I went to this art market because I was like literally Papa Attah I’ve exhausted the sparse Ghanaian internet on art and my advisor won’t help me, WHERE SHOULD I GO TODAY.  His suggestion was this art market.  Actually his suggestion was to go to a garden in Krobo Dumase and I was like…no.   I somehow made my way to the art market (it isn’t far from campus but everything is a struggle) and talked to one guy who is a good useless interview but then I met my woodcarving friends. I forgot how we organized this but basically they are now teaching me how to woodcarve.  One of the good things about Ghana is how things like this can happen.

Well I wrote all that three days ago and now it is the NEXT Tuesday night and I don’t’ know how any of this happened.  Except that I am bad at writing now because Africa has ruined my intelligent mind slash I’m out all day so when I get back I’m too tired and scatterbrained to type.  I have been doing good work for my ISP.   I shall share a bit about this.

Tuesday and Friday mornings I go to a place called Dzorwulu (try to pronounce that.  Really.  Try. I always end up having to spell it.) where the artist Wiz Kudoror lives, and then I paint in his studio.   It’s probably my favorite part of the ISP thus far.  Except for riding on tro tros 3 hours every day…oh wait, that’s not my favorite, I hate that.  Wiz just gives me canvases and paint – only like four colors, he must be in between shopping trips, but I’m not going to complain, and I go for it.  It’s only been twice so far.  (wouldn’t it be nice if SIT had told me about him at the beginning instead of saying three weeks later Wiz is better than Kofi?  Hmmm..) But I’m working on two different paintings and I like both of them.  It’s good for me to be painting again, obviously, but also really good for me to be doing more abstract work because thus far I’ve mostly done still lifes and portraits.  I mean obviously those things are good for me too but the range is helpful.  Wiz also plays really fun music and feeds me Guava juice.  I mean he pours it in a cup and gives it to me, that sounded weird.  His studio is just chock full of paintings, like all over the walls, stacked on the floor, and I want to be him when I grow up.  His studio is behind is house but the studio itself is like a mini house, it has a bathroom and a kitchen and an upstairs that I haven’t been to but I suspect it houses a mini bedroom because he came out of it in a different set of clothes today.  We talk a little bit but mostly I paint and he conducts some type of business on the computer which is nice because I’m sick of talking all day which means I’ve stopped doing interviews but whatever I have enough now.

I’ve been settling into far more consistent activities now which I think is better for me and better for my project at this point than all my running around finding new places.  Actually anything goes with my project really but it is definitely better for my sanity.  I’ve been spending a lot of time at the wood carving place, we listen to the radio- sometimes creepy Ghanaian reggae about someone not wanting their family members to touch them in appropriately (really, I’m all for abuse awareness, but I feel like there are much better mediums than reggae music that can then get stuck in my head) and sometimes a nice interlude of American hip hop.  I even heard a new Rihanna song!  I haven’t heard new music in ages!  Also the other day I went out for lunch with one of the wood carver guys and I was like ‘well, taking a Ghanaian to lunch, I can check that off my list now.’ Not that I have a list but some of these things seem necessary.

Speaking of lunch I’ve been eating a significant amount of banku and fufu lately, mostly because I just really have developed a love for groundnut soup.  I mean both B and F I can give or take but I eat them for the soup.  I wonder if you can make groundnut soup in the US?  I mean we have both nuts and copious amounts of oil so it can’t be that far off.  The funny thing is sometimes I legitimately can’t find a place serving banku or fufu when I’m looking for lunch and I have to laugh, because like, who ever thought that I would be LOOKING for these things in GHANA and wouldn’t be able to find them?  In the funniest turn of events, today I searched on the way back from Wiz’s to the tro tro stop and then on the way from the Achimota Overpass to the Dei Center and couldn’t find anything so I had to settle (my use of this word will become comical momentarily) for a cheeseburger.  WHAT?!  When did a cheeseburger become settling when I’m looking for Ghanaian food?  And it’s not like cheeseburgers are common either, this is maybe the 5th place I’ve seen one in Ghana, but it just happens to be right by the Dei Center.  It’s called Papaye and is some kind of weird fast food but that also has chicken and rice and fish and other staples.  But the burgers are cheaper than the chicken and rice..it’s really weird.  But I like that place – except every time I get a coke it’s impossible to open so I have to wait 20 minutes for the semi waitress ladies to come back so I can pathetically be like um will you open this for me?  I’m an embarrassment.

Anyway the Dei Center which I have been mentioning.  It is another art gallery, the gallery is really nice but what I have been going back for is the art library.  Don’t get too excited, it’s literally a room with two walls of very spread out books, but it’s been good for me to get some print resources and I did two interviews with people who work there by accident. When I say by accident I mean I wanted to go there for the library and to avoid talking to anyone but then did interviews anyway.  But they were nice, I like the library for the three or so references it gave me.  Today when I ran out of useful books I started reading this book of essays by Black Americans about AIDS in America which needless to say enthralled me far more than the exhibition books I was searching through.  What can I say, I have equally strong loves for reading about AIDS and for nonfiction writing.

What else have I been doing?  Well a few times I have gone to see this lady named who is a half Ghanaian, half British lady who grew up at bording schools in London then went to Legon (here) for college, THEN went to USC for graduate school where she was the first class in the Annenberg school for something, where she was the same year as Steven Spielberg, then they created Sesame Street, then she had a boyfriend who got some really weird disease and went to live on a Buddhist compound and then she got famous in New York with Wiz and then was a journalist and then her daughter got burned by boiling water when she was a year old so she came back to Ghana and decided to start the Montessori school system in Ghana and then opened an Art Studio and now 25 years later she is retired and is writing a book and talks to me about art – WHAT?!  Yeah, and she has like34646 other crazy stories too.  Seriously she will just talk for hours and I won’t even get bored and will just be amazed by all the crazy stuff she tells me.  The first time we met was when I did my formal interview and then ate with her at this awesome semi obronish semi similar to Panera but not really type of place where she ran into some lady she knew at Legon who had a HOT son.  All I have to say is, WHY do all the random Ghanaian men ask for my phone number and then pester me for days, but the ONE super hot nice normal guy I meet doesn’t?  Where is the justice?

The third time I met with this lady it was mostly so my friend Kelly could interview her for education because of the whole Montessori school thing.  But I came along because I like her and because we were going to the Golden Tulip (of ‘This is not the Golden Tulip’ fame) which I wanted to explore.  The Golden Tulip is the nicest hotel in Accra (I think) so everyone always jokes ‘Well it’s not the Golden Tulip’ when we’re staying in shitty places.  Anyway the GT was swanky swank swankerson but nobody really cares about a nice hotel, we can see those every day.  (I love America.)  I will describe though my reaction to the sliding glass doors: I freaked out.  I forgot about sliding doors.

This was a good and entertaining meeting too, but it then kind of sucked because the lady spent like an HOUR being saying things along the lines of: well you see how men are looking at us?  They are clearly looking at your friend.  She’s just clearly the most attractive one out of the three of us.  I mean like you and me are fine but she is obviously the most attractive by far.  She’s just pretty.  She’s just the most attractive.  ON AND ON AND ON AND ON.  And like, there are only three of us, and one of them is you, who is three times our age.  So you are basically just saying that of two girls one is uglier for SO MANY MINUTES.  And honestly, really?  Is that necessary?  Okay, I get it, Kelly’s skinnier than me, she doesn’t have two tone hair, she doesn’t look like the rabid dog named Africa just chewed her up and spit her out.  She is pretty!  I acknowledge it!  You doing so once would have been fine too, but don’t do it in comparison!  Just say Kelly you’re pretty and move on!  Don’t insult me in the process!  Sorry I don’t wear makeup in Africa, but leave me alone!  I feel like I’m not a person who is particularly sensitive about their body  – I mean there are things about it I don’t like but I feel like I’ve come to terms with them and accepted that I am not ever going to be super thin and don’t really think about it that much.  But ANYONE would get pissy after being told for half an hour how much LESS attractive they are than their friend.  Ugh.  Also, don’t pretend to be a feminist and have a long conversation with me about women’s rights and then go onto compare how attractive two women are which is buying PRECISELY into what men do to objectify women thus KEEPING us at our second class status because IF WE CAN’T FIGHT FOR OURSELVES THEN WHO WILL!?!?!

Okay now we’re just getting into a different topic entirely but that’s because we have a lot of talks about feminism here.  Which is nice, I like talking about women’s rights for a lot of reasons but especially because being here has made me realize more than ever how women fall under men in the power structure and so many men (not all, I love my friends) view women solely or at least first as sex objects and lots of other fucked up shit about the world and the patriarchy.  Even in my project, I’ve talked to one woman who used to own a studio (that one from above) and one female gallery assistant, and tried to get an interview with a female artist but it didn’t work out mostly because the people who need to call me back never do and the people who shouldn’t call me constantly do, but anyway, men rule the art world just like in the US and it’s bad!

One of the interesting things though is that as a white woman here yeah, men talk to me a lot, they are obnoxious, they try to get my phone number, but I’ve almost never felt threatened by them.  They’ve never been predators in the way that I would have imagined before I came here.  They are eager beavers, they will call your phone a million times, but it’s like they’re idolizing you rather than trying to do anything creepy.  Like say you met a celebrity that you really wanted to talk to.  You wouldn’t be like YO LEO GET THE FUCK OVER HERE AND GIVE ME YOUR AUTOGRAPH OR I’LL PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE.  You’d be like Um hi I really love Titanic, omg I can’t believe it’s you, you are so amazing, uh, um sorry, can I please uh, get your autograph, or um, just like – you know, flustered, because you feel like this person is so much cooler than you.  It’s closer to the second one because in the same way that we are brought up in this culture of idolizing celebrities in the media, a lot of people here are brought up to idolize Americans.  And it’s not good!  I mean yeah I think I tell funny stories and  paint okay and can make a mean um – actually I can’t cook, so a mean batch of popcorn, and I guess I have nice hair when it is properly dyed, but I’M REALLY NOT THAT COOL.  It makes me sad that people just want to be nice to me and talk to me because I’m American but really, no, I’m not that cool, I just got lucky and have a special affinity for quoting Friends.  I guess the other reason a lot of people talk to me is that they think I will either be their wife or take them to America. I will do no such thing obviously, but even so, THIS IS NOT A REALISTIC ASSUMPTION.  How could I EVER maneuver getting someone a free pass to America?  I don’t even know how ANYONE would go about getting to America if they weren’t born there, let alone how to speed up the process.  Slash also do you really think I’m just going to marry some random guy I meet who tells me he wants me to be his wife?  Why would anyone ever do that?  Also my fake wedding ring is a giant green amber stone on my RIGHT hand.   Least convincing thing.  I do tell a mean story about my husband (or boyfriend, which I use when the men are less creepy and I’m more into storytelling) James Greene when they ask.  I actually had a really fun time making up a whole load of crap about my romantic history (which in actuality is practically nonexistent) when I was talking to one of my artist contacts last Saturday.

I was supposed to be interviewing this guy who owns a shop at the cultural center, or so I thought.  He thought we were just hanging out so I was like oh well I got enough information out of you I’ll just chat.  Chatting with Ghanaians is hard for me because most of the time we don’t really have much in common to talk about.  But then I realized something awesome.  They like me.  They won’t tell me I’m being boring.  I can literally blather on about my friends, movies I like, America in general, for so long and they will not ever tell me to stop.  This was an awesome discovery because then I went on to tell this guy about Titanic, about Father of the Bride parts 1 and 2, about Redlands, about a bunch of made up ex boyfriends (this was just funny), about James my husband studying in South Africa, about my 16 best friends (8 Johnston 8 Beta obviously) and just in general about America.  It was awesome!

I suppose the main other thing that has happened to me is me getting lost.  All the fucking time.  I havea  lot that I could say about this but mostly it just annoys me.  I hate taxis!  And no, Yemi, YOU CAN’T ALWAYS TAKE A TRO TRO.  They don’t go everywhere, and even if they did, THERE IS NO MAP AND NO SCHEDULE SO HOW THE HELL WOULD I EVER FIGURE THAT OUT?  I spend so much damn money on transport I just wanna cry every day.  I literally fight with a  taxi driver at least twice a day.  And SIT won’t give me more money!  HOW is it fair that people living in a village don’t have to spend any money on taxis while I have to haul my ass around Greater Accra 5 days a week and don’t get any help with it?  Oh, it might be easier if my advisor would take me places or even get me appointments or show me routes, but OH NO, HE DOESN’T DO THAT. Also I have to somehow figure out a way to pay the wood carver something or a gift and do something for Wiz, but I’m already out of the SIT money and I really don’t want to spend MORE OF my own money on something that is clearly for my project.  I think I’ll ask Papa Attah (if I can ever get a hold of him, because of course, I cannot) if they can split the advisor money between Kofi and the wood carver and Wiz, because Kofi does LITERALLY NOTHING but piss me off and try to make me turn in early drafts of my ISP.  He does not deserve 160 cedi.

Well I think a lot of other stuff has happened but I will adjourn, that was long.  Home so soon!  Thanksgiving is 2 days away and I’m sad to not be home but we’re having a little obroni thanksgiving at the apartment which I’m excited for.  No turkey or anything, but we’ll get some good stuff.  I’m making spaghetti with meatballs – but no sauce because the meatballs were already 11 cedi and I’m already poor.  Boo.  I hate this money crap.

this was last week, i am so behind. no more witty titles sorry!

Remember what it was like to have a simple life?  I do, and I am so excited to get back to it.  I mean this is good too, but tiring.  You shall see. I already have planned my simple plans for winter break: watch Modern Family, 30 Rock, House, and whatever other shows I can get my hands on.  Sit on couch.  Eat copious amounts of Taco Bell. Also McDonalds.  Culvers.  So much ICE CREAM.  And some nice restaurants.  Maybe walk a little bit to keep the habit up.  Lie on floor staring at Sasha and have her punch me.  Hang out with parents and sister.  CHRISTMASSSLKGJSLKJGSLKG that is how much I love Christmas.  Cannot wait.  Go shopping.  It will be awesome, it will be my life.

Anyway, now not for the future and for things that are going on here.  It’s hard for me to remember since it’s been a while since I posted!  Well I have either been really crazily doing a lot of stuff for my ISP, or doing none at all, or riding on a ton of tro tros and walking around a lot.  Mostly the tro tros and walking.  I’ve been careening between doing a lot and doing nothing because as you may know, nobody ever helps me no matter what I say and I organize everything on my own.  It’s fine, I’m getting better at it, whatever, but still man it gets tiring!  And I may or may not have cried to Papa Attah on Monday.  Not that that accomplished anything, but whatever it’s good to cry in front of an educational person once a semester.  Actually I can’t remember the last time I did this but I’m sure it’s happened.

Maybe. Wait.  Break in me talking about Africa and try to remember if I’ve cried in front of a teacher.  This seems like such a natural thing that I feel like I must have but I can’t actually remember.  I have made teachers cry (no not because I’m a bad student because I write really emotional essays obviously) and I have cried during math tests (but just on the paper not to a teacher’s face) but yeah I really don’t know if I have cried to a teacher before!  This is so weird!

Anyway…my ISP is going fine but I wish I had more help and I ask for help and no one gives it to me, welcome to Africa.  But anyway the past week or so.

LAST Wednesday and Thursday were both fairly productive.  Friday Cam came down from Krobo Dumase again so we hung out and I went on the internet at school and we went to a bar (the usual.) In the late afternoon I attempted to go back to the Artists Alliance Gallery to look at stuff more and to see if they had any contacts.  Instead, I took a two hour tro tro ride to the area, got in a taxi, rode up and down the street for half an hour because he didn’t know where it was and well clearly I know nothing and couldn’t find it, so then I got out threw money at him and leaned on some cement type of thing while crying on the phone to my mom that A.) I spend a kajillion dollars on transportation and SIT doesn’t support it even though it’s for my project or, you know, give a shit B.) I didn’t even check in with SIT that day so no one would even know if I died C.) my advisor is not helping me get any contacts or really do anything so I end up on wild goose chases around Greater Accra trying unsuccessfully to find things and D.) TAXI DRIVERS DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY ARE GOING!  Okay guys I really try to be culturally sensitive and not get pissed about things but I feel like knowing some basic locations is in the taxi driver job description.  It’s not like I ever ask them to take me to hole in the wall restaurant or the SIT house or a random artists house without calling him.  I ask for big landmarks.  (And yes, considering that there are three art galleries in Accra and we were ON THE STREET THAT IT IS ON, I would say this is a landmark) I ask for interchanges.  And still, half the time the taxi driver tries to get me to direct AND THEN overcharges me.  Shiashie is a TRO TRO STOP.  HOWW can you call yourself a person who takes people places and not know even the tro tro stops?  UGH.  Anyway, taxi rant done.

So that was the beginning of my frustration.  Haha lies but it was the beginning of this current ISProblems frustration.  Saturday was also interesting, and by interesting I mean I tried again to go to this gallery and this time I made it, but this time I also got kicked out of said gallery for taking pictures.  Well technically not kicked out, this attendant just was mean to me until I left.  In my defense, when I was there the first time EVERYONE was taking pictures so they should tell those people instead of yelling at me, and 2. They should have bigger signs!  But anyway, so I went there looked at art but was too scared to ask for a list of the artists they have because all the attendants were talking to important looking people and then when I was loitering innocently in the antique mask room (NOT taking pictures mind you) this guy came in and went on for about 39 years about how I’m being disrespectful and no pictures are allowed (actually I don’t even know if he said disrespectful, he just basically kept repeating that I couldn’t take pictures and I kept saying, over and over I’M SORRY I’LL DELETE THEM I’M SORRY but he just kept shitting on my face and being a jerk) (and don’t say it’s because he didn’t understand me or doesn’t speak English because that is BLATANTLY false) but anyway then I got scared and left.  And was embarrassed and vowed to never set foot in said place again which I will have to devow since everyone wants me to go there to talk to some professor, so obviously I will have to go in disguise.

Anyway then I decided that this was a stressful enough experience that I deserved to go drink on the beach alone and draw.  What a great reward!  Drinking alone and getting harassed!  When I was buying my Sprite and Coke and gin packets at the entrance to the beach is when the harassment started.  Some guy was trying to ‘be my friend’ and get me to buy him alcohol and usually I am respectful but decline in these situations but at this point I was just like NO LEAVE ME ALONE I’M NOT BUYING YOU ANYTHING!  Or something along those lines.  I just get sick of people talking to me every second of every day!  But more on this later.  Much more.

Then I sat on the beach for three hours drinking and drawing.  It was nice.  My drawing of the beach sucks because everything was moving and all of the men in the world continually harassed me, but it was okay.  I only got really annoyed when one of the guys was asking me ‘why I was so reserved’ and he was implying rude and I was like LISTEN.  I’M DRAWING. THIS IS FOR SCHOOL.  I’M NOT TELLING YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE, I’M LETTING YOU TALK TO ME, SO PLEASE DON’T BE A DICK AND INSULT ME.  Obviously I did not say that.  But I did say something along those lines.  One of the guys I talked to was actually really nice and not obnoxious and I got a semi okay informal interview out of him.  But really sometimes you just want to sit and not have anyone talk to you.  Here, there is no such option.

A couple hours later I left to go meet Cam and Emily, as well as Annie, who had arrived earlier that day, in Osu.  They got there a lot later than me so this is what I did in the intervening time:

  1. Wander around the Koala grocery store, being happy.  I love grocery shopping (Laura Young) so even though I wasn’t buying anything I was still happy just to look at it all.  I especially enjoyed the frozen meat section, the microwaveable food section, the juice section, the cheese section, and the produce.  I also took this opportunity to look at some magazines and peruse the DVDs.  Then I left and went on to my next activity.  These may come out of order since this was last Saturday and now it is Thursday.
  2. Wandering up and down the street.  I enjoy doing this in Ghana because I always feel safe; anybody who talks to me is enquiring after my well being (or trying to sell me something) rather than freaking me out.  There are always things to look at and nobody questions me so it is nice.
  3. Next I stopped in a casino bar (only in Osu) called Hemingway’s (cute) where there were about three people and a bar and slot machines and two roulette tables.  (Only in Ghana are there fancy seeming places like this and then you go in and realize that they are populated by three people.) Anyway this guy tried to teach me how to play roulette.  I did not understand even though he explained it at least four times.  I just pressed numbers of things I like (12 mostly, TNT!) and was pleasantly confused.  Then I left and did some more walking.
  4. Really what I wanted was a bar but unfortunately on this one block stretch that I was traversing back and forth there were no only bars, they were also all restaurants.  So further down the street I found…
  5. Another casino.  But this one was just a casino.  It had a doorman and everything and only business casual attire allowed.  Luckily since I am an obroni my Le Sac dress that I’d been wearing for three days straight and my giant backpack counted as business casual attire.  They didn’t mind my confusion and inability to know how much money was acceptable for things.  I played a slot machine and won nine cedi!  Look at me go!  I was really excited about this and the guy next to me laughed.  I decided to take my nine cedi and run with it so then…
  6. I went to one of the stands that was still open and bought some nice wooden souviener GOD DAMMIT sovigner sovegner sovigner HOW DO YOU SPELL THIS WORD souvenir keychains for my friends with my winnings.
  7. At this point I wasn’t sure what to do because I’d walked up and down the street a LOT so I found an alcohol store and found a nice drink called KISSMIX that was a cranberry and vodka (but let’s be honest mostly cranberry) type of thing in a can.  The lady cashier was watching Sex and the City so it felt nice and familiar.
  8. Then I walked up and down the street with my drink until I ran into my friends.

We ate at some random chicken fast food ish place that no one will have heard of.  It was very delicious especially since we discovered some awesome sauce that just tastes good.  I may go back and purchase some.

Then we attempted to go out but mostly got sick (I did not get sick no worries my immune system is still soldiering through) and took a lot of taxi rides.  We also got some free rides but then had to pay more in taxis to come back from a club with no people (Ghana.)  It was a good adventure though and we had fun.

On Sunday I was absolutely unproductive.  But it was awesome.  Cam and Annie and I went to this awesome expensive obroni restaurant and I had 178 (no not 178, 18) dollar pasta (its hard to press the number keys sometimes) and to everyone that said money can’t buy happiness, they clearly have never had expensive pasta in Ghana.  Then we came back to the apartment and watched a few episodes of Modern Family (my new obsession) and then maybe did other things but I don’t really remember.  But lazy Sundays are happy days because I don’t have to feel bad about doing nothing.

I shall end this now for all of you who do not like to read long things and continue with this week in my next entry.

THE DAY BECCA WENT BANKRUPT

okay.  this was yesterday.  today was awesome too but there is no time.

THE DAY BECCA WENT BANKRUPT

Another full day of work on the ISP for me.  But you will be laughing when you see some of the things that I am constituting as research on my ISP, and laugh even more when you realize how legitimate those things are as research.

I got up in the morning with the intent to quickly go to the university with Emily to print one of my really late assignments, turn in something else, and then head to my 10 am appointment with the artist Kofi Nduro at his studio.  As it happens in Ghana, this did not go as planned.  We got to the university at about 8:15, with seemingly ample time for me to accomplish all said things.  Then, the computer lab wasn’t open until 9.  Okay, I figured, I can still make this – I’ll go check in at the SIT office now, tell them I’ll be back with my paper, print it quick, and leave.  But oh does life always have other plans for me.

First I realize upon getting to the SIT office that I really have to go to the bathroom.  The bathroom is open so I head right on in, but when I’m ready to leave said bathroom, the door is locked.  Not like my stall door, like the door to the entire bathroom.  This is a problem.  I was surprised when the door was open in the first place because we always had to get a key to unlock it, and apparently someone was doing that and then locked it again.  So I am now locked in a bathroom.  I try various ways of poking at the door but it is clear that none of them are going to work.  Windows are barred, I am stuck.  So I call Papa Atta who should be in the office and breathlessly explain my paradox.  I hear not much and then the line goes dead.  I begin to worry.  But luckily within a few minutes Nana Ama who is apparently the SIT staff member manning the office today comes to my rescue.  We go back to the office and have a short awkward check in moment and then I go back to the lab to try and print my paper.

It only takes me AN HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES TO PRINT IT.  Are you wondering why this is?  SO AM I.  I set myself down at a computer, open my email, go back to where I emailed myself my paper…open it, this takes a while, so I log onto facebook and check the rest of my email.  Loads in about ten minutes, love ya Ghana, and I’m about ready to print it.  I do so.  I go check the printer.  No dice.  People are fumbling with the printer so I decide to check back later.  This is not an interesting account so I’ll shorten it down

Check

Harass computer helper man who is a Ghanaian version of Owen

Ghanaian Owen tells me to harass computer ladies

They give me blank shrugs

I attempt to print again

First seven pages print

I attempt to print last 16 pages

No dice

I attempt again

7 more pages print

I harass more people

Ghanaian Owen helps me, kind of

No dice

More lack of dice

Computer ladies claim no documents have been sent

I print again

Finally everything is printed, and I pay 4.60 (beginning of bankruptcy)

Now it is an hour and fifteen minutes later and I’m not only late for my first appointment but am also probably like an hour away from it.  Typical Ghana.  So I leave and head to the taxi area, get on a tro tro bound for 37 (my new best friend) and am glad that Ghanaians don’t seem to care when I’m hours late.  This is where I mention, if I have not already, that I spend at least a third if not more of my day getting transported places.  Luckily I have gotten used to having an extreme amount of time to think so this is okay.  I switch tro tros at 37, the usual, eat a springroll, accidentally on purpose throw my empty water sachet out the window and cause a commotion, am embarrassed, get off at Cantomments.  Here I get in a taxi and put the driver on the phone with Kofi Nduro, the artist I’m meeting.  This is pretty much my only way to get anywhere because I can navigate to general areas (i.e. Teshie Nungua, Osu, Cantomments,) by myself, but then I can’t really find my way to the specific place because I don’t know where I am.  In a funny moment this taxi driver drives all around the area, asking pedestrians for help, going the same way multiple times…and it turns out that this guy’s studio is less than two blocks from where we started.  I tell him this when he tries to make me pay 4 cedi for that wild goose chase and I end up paying him 2.50.  New Kofi is waiting for me outside his studio and I go in and quickly realize that I am not just in love with Ebenezer Borlabie, I will probably fall in love with at least half if not more of the Ghanaian artists that I meet.  I’m starting to think that instead of meeting new artists the whole time I will interview a bunch this week and beginning of next and then for the rest of the time just stalk the ones I’ve already met and make them love me.

Oh, this is the appropriate time to share a funny quote said by yours truly on Halloween.  I was talking to Trent about Kofi and I said the phrase “You have no idea how good I am at making middle aged men love me.”  Now I have a few things to say about this.  1. It’s true.  2.  Not in a creepy way!  3. For evidence you can look at how the majority of my teachers since like 9th grade have been obsessed with me.  I don’t know how I do it, but in the words of the one Naomi Morrison-Cohen, “I think your sense of humor just really appeals to middle aged men.”  Maybe this is true.  We have yet to see if it will work on Ghanaian men but (well actually it has already worked all too well on creepy Ghanaian men, but I think that is just my diminutives white girl ness) but I have faith that if I can keep talking to Ebenezer Borlabie and Kofi Nduro (do not mistake he is different from Kofi Setordji, my advisor.   Kofi Nduro is New Kofi, Kofi Setordji is Difficult Kofi) they will fall under my spell and we will be in love.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, my interview with New Kofi.  He also has beautiful paintings and a studio filled with paint and we sit down and he is personable and we have a great interview which I record ON MY LAPTOP BY HAND NOT WITH THE IDIOT MECHANISM and it is lovely.  I get lots of useful information for my ISP and we make plans to talk again and I take pictures and life is so great.  I’ve just been getting such great insights from some of these artists so far, I am just loving my project.  Because it’s like my project is just what it is it’s not even just about the life of the contemporary artist…its just like whatever I want it to be and that is about art and life and Ghana and it is awesome.

I leave there and just grab a random tro tro.  This is my life now.  I don’t really know what I am going to do now but I figure it will work itself out.  In fact it does, because the random tro tro I am on stops in front of this mini tro tro stop and across the street is…Koala! The store that EB told me to buy a map at yesterday!  So I awkwardly push myself out of the tro tro and have another awkward moment of trying to pay the driver while having no change while the tro tro is moving away and it all works out after I drop a bunch of coins on the ground.   I head over to Koala and lo and behold it is ANOTHER nice grocery store, but this time I am not here to buy groceries just map.  I just revel in it for a sec, it smells like America and goodness, and then I see a hot white guy with an Amish looking girl (he was also presumably Amish but his wear was just saying ‘hot’ and not ‘all covered up’) and look at an article in the OH THIS DESERVES ITS OWN PARAGRAPH

I grab the map and am casually perusing the magazines when I see that Time magazine has an article on the science of favoritism that parents have for children.  I start reading the article, it says all parents have secret favorites (I’m watching you mom and dad) but that’s not the point, the point is, IT QUOTES A PROFESSOR FROM THE DEAR OLD U OF R!! UNIVERSITY OF REDLANDS!! IN TIME MAGAZINE!! I AM SO HAPPY THAT I ALMOST CRY.

I sadly return the magazine to its stand, wishing I could buy it but not wanting to spend the six cedi.  I clearly have no idea of the moneyspending that is in store for me.  I start wandering around again trying to find the art store that EB told me was near this place, as you can see wandering is my main pastime.  I walk one way, a guy who washes cars wants to be my friend but also tells me the correct direction of the store, I thank him and promise to come back and visit again (I might, that Koala was pretty enticing.) I am walking down the street where he said my place will be located….and I see it.

I say loudly, OH MY GOD.

Someone asks if I am lost.

I kind of say no but my no is lost in my running, not to the art store, but to…

KFC!!!!!!!!!!!! KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN.

I HAD HEARD OF THIS BUT HAD FORGOTTEN AND NOW I AM IN FRONT OF IT AND IT IS HUGE AND I AM RUNNING AND THE HAPPIEST GIRL.

I walk into KFC in awe.  I am so happy.  It is KFC.  I order a piece of spicy chicken and a coke.  I am loving every second of it.  I do not think it can get any better.  Then I go to the second floor eating place (THIS PLACE HAS THREE FLOORS) and set down at a table, and I hear a familiar tune coming on the stereo…….

Guess what song is the best song I could possibly hear right now.

THE REGGAE VERSION OF MY HEART WILL GO ON.

I call my dad to share this excellent moment.  I can’t really hear but it still happens. Life could not be better.  I eat my chicken to the bone and drink my coke and love my life.  I go to the bathroom just because.  In Ghana, you learn that you take nice bathrooms with soap and toilet paper when you can get them.

So then this random street artist maybe or just jewelry selling guy attaches himself to me and says he will help me find the art store.  That’s cool, you go for it.  We find it relatively quickly but I realize that I have no money so I need to go to an ATM before I buy all the shit I need.  This is my downfall.

I get money.  I buy a necklace from helper guy because he has been so nice.  Then his friend is making a bracelet that says Rebecca.  Then first guy is showing me wallets. Then second guy is saying he’s going to make bracelets for my friends. Then a third guy comes along.  He has paintings.  He is showing me them.  This displeases first guy who also has paintings. They are suddenly spread out as well.  Second guy is making bracelets for my friends while throwing a kente cloth around me saying I need to have it as a gift for Obama.   Now there is a guy in a wheelchair with bracelets.  Another guy comes over with kente cloth flip flops.  They know I have money despite my protests to the contrary and I’m bargaining ridiculously low with the hope that they will go away, but instead they start stepping down to my prices and at this point I realize that this is a great research opportunity on street art so while they are throwing cloth around me and making bracelets with my friends names and showing me paintings I start to say things like WHEN DID YOU BECOME AN ARTIST.  HOW DID YOU LEARN TO DO ALL THIS.  DO YOU MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO LIVE OFF SELLING?  DO YOU MAKE THIS BRACELET OR DO YOU JUST SELL IT? There is a cacophony of sound as I’m still trying to refuse to buy things (but am buying things anyway) one of the guys is asking if because of my hair wrap I am a rasta (yes, art on the street man, in America we call rastas camp counselors.) another is offering to give me dreadlocks, which I accepted (HAHA JUST KIDDING I CAN’T EVEN JOKE ABOUT THAT FOR MORE THAN ONE SECOND BECAUSE I’M OBSESSED WITH MY HAIR) and so then I spent about five minutes explaining to him how I love my hair but can’t take good care of it here, and then in my interviewing spree I ask him if he considers doing hair an art (I’m really milking this one for all it’s worth here) and meanwhile I’m trying to get as many names and phone numbers as possible so I can call these informal interviews and have more bulk to my references page.  The upshot of all this is, I buy a RIDICULOUS amount of the things they are selling (I’ve bargained it all down a lot, but at the end of the day a lot of souvineers is still a lot of souviners, I will never spell that word right) and I now have to go BACK to the atm to get enough money to buy the art supplies I need.  My life is a joke, but at least I’m accumulating enough gifts for the huge number of people that I love in America.  (seriously get excited guys it’s gonna be the best Christmas ever in Wisconsin and the best Christmas part 2 ever in California.)

Now first guy is taking me back to the art store and I am exhausted and the kente cloth for Obama is wrapped around my neck (loser.)  I get back to the art store and tell Calabash (yes that is his name) that I will try to make it to his reggae night at the beach tomorrow night (I will try, I didn’t say that I would be successful.)  I am now about to spend a lot MORE money because there is every painting supply I could ever need in this story.  Remember when Kofi 1 told me that art stores don’t exist in Ghana?  WELL, HE LIED.  Here is a bona fide art material store and I am in heaven. I buy oil paint and a sketchpad and a palatte and some canvasses and paint brushes and my quick drying medium and mineral spirits (nobody can say that Ben didn’t create a responsible oil painter) and a palette knife (YAY!!!) and call it a day.  Well in some ways, there is still more money to be spent.  I am loving life as usual and then decide to head over to check out the Global Mamas store up by the Koala.

Global Mamas is an organization that does fair trade for women artists in I think more than one country but they have a big chapter in Ghana and I thought it was only in Cape Coast but it turns out that they are in Accra as well.  These things are more pricey because well they are fair trade so I buy a few and ask the ladies if I can get in contact with someone to interview about the organization and they give me a card and then I decide that it is time to head home because I have spent almost as much money as I make in a week at Hoofbeat, you do the math, and if you don’t know how much I make a week at Hoofbeat, don’t try to figure it out because it will be simultaneously embarrassing how little I make and how much I spent.  I know that seems like two opposite things but trust me it is possible for both those to be true.

Anyway I get on a random tro tro headed home, and then it is not actually heading home because my tro tro logic is to just get on the nearest tro tro, take it to whatever station it is going to , and then go home.  This always works well it just takes a long time.  Case in point I get to Accra-Accra-Tema and find the place where I have to wait for an America House tro tro relatively quickly, but then it is a long line and I don’t make it on the first one and then I am confused because I am at the front of the line but there are three lines and I don’t’ know that anyone from these lines can just get on any tro tro that comes up and it will make it to America house eventually.  So I’m waiting for a very long time and then finally push my way onto a tro tro. Literally push, people in lines in the late afternoon get in fights over these things.  If I hadn’t been at the front I probably never would have gotten on one.  People are yelling and I am just huddling in a corner with my art supplies like the obroni that I am.

Me getting past people onto tro tros always reminds me of the episode of How I Met Your Mother where they are arguing about what makes you a true New Yorker and one of the things is stealing a cab from someone who needs it way more than you.  This resonates with me because, well, pretty much everyone deserves that tro tro spot more than me, no matter where I am.  But what can you do, take cabs everywhere?  Nope, not happening, I don’t hate myself THAT much for spending a mil dollars on random Ghanaian handicrafts, but I do loathe myself when I pay over 10 cedi for a taxi ride.  It just feels pointless when I have no good tastes in my mouth or merchandise in my hands to spend that money!

Yah so I make it home after another years long tro tro ride, walk back to my place of residence, and then collapse from tiredness.  I have more appointments to make but I feel awkward doing it at night so I will try tomorrow morning when I will be waiting a 18 years to meet with Kofi (this is inevitable.)

During my many (many) (many many) (many) hours of travel today I know I thought of other things that I wanted to talk about on this here blog.  I will try to remember anything I can

  1. Accra is really really big.  This isn’t really something I need to extrapolate on…it’s just really large!  And so many people!  And so big!  And so wide!  And so far!  And so so so many cars!  I made my dad text me how big it is today and apparently people wise it is between the size of Houston and Philadelphia, the fourth and fifth largest cities in the US, respectively.  I can’t shake myself from imagining it being the same size as LA, but maybe that is just because LA is also spread out/because I have no conception of sizes of cities that are not cities I live in.  But also then, LA IS REALLY FUCKING HUGE!  I need to look this up area wise too.  I wonder how people live in LA without tro-tros?!?!
  2. Sometimes I look around when I’m the only white person in an area (which is a lot, but less frequent now that I spend so much time in Osu stalking artists) and think about how weird it is on the one hand, cool that I’m here on the other hand, but on the biggest hand (if I had three hands? Gaelan?) I think of how it’s kind of stupid that I am the one who gets to live in America.  (and we can do the whole but is it REALLY better to live in America argument later, all these issue are far too complex, for this point for all intents and purposes we’re going to say yes) And I ask myself, why me?  Why was I the one out of all these souls who was born into this powerful country with lots of money and McDonalds’s and stop signs and varieties of food and universities and etc etc etc?  I mean nothing about me is inherently better than any of these people, probably a lot of them are smarter and nicer than me.  I guess that’s just how the world is, luck of the draw.  It’s just weird to think though that in any given atmosphere so few people have been to America.  And that’s where I live, that’s my home.  Oh life.
  3. Speaking of America, actually speaking of Ghana, I had a moment today when entering Accra-Accra-Tema station where I realized, I wouldn’t mind spending more than three months in Ghana.  It’s probably because on the isp I get to do what I want and meet fun people and go around all day and have fun things happen and also am living in a place where I can get groceries and internet and travel around easily.  But still, this is a big thing for me, since a month or two ago if someone had said ‘hey you have to say in Ghana you can’t go home’ I would have said something along the lines of ‘I’d sooner die.’  No longer, no longer!  I like my living pattern here now and even though I would still be pissed if someone told me I couldn’t go home (parents, Rachel, extended family, Victoria, Steph, Amber, Naomi, Kalehua, Jenny,  Kelli, Ariel, Natasha, Stessy, Lisa, James, Alex, Phil, Joe, Jake, Eli, Caroline, Jess, Cristin, all other friends at Redlands, all Redlands alumni, Hoofbeat, all camp friends, Taco Bell) I would probably be able to hack it and be happy for a while.  Even better if someone told me I could go home on schedule but that I would have to make several more trips to Ghana in my lifetime I would be quite pleased about it and excited for these future sojourns.
  4. I don’t know I am sleepy perhaps now I will eat a small snack and then read or draw (yay! I can do that now!) and eventually go to sleep. Yay life!

SUCK IT TREBEK, I CAN INTERVIEW ARTISTS ALL BY MYSELF (in other news, technology can go die)

I had an AWESOME day being super productive and awesome ALL ON MY OWN while only spending 12 cedi (this is a very small number considering how much transporting I had to do) and making new friends and just generally rocking Ghana without any help from anyone named Kofi.  The only horrible thing in the day has to do with technology hating me and losing all my favorite things, but it is fine, I still am great.

So I set up some interviews last night with a couple of artists and galleries, but only one was today.  It was in an area called Teshie Nungua which I gathered was somewhat near Osu and the beach (as everything is) and even though it wasn’t till 1 I decided just to set off at 9:30 and maybe find some other shit to look at in the area or something, especially because I never know how far away anything is.  I did my usual walk to America House (this takes about 20 min I calculated today, I decided I wanted to know in the overall calculation of how much I walk in one day, which is, in case you were wondering, A LOT.  I took my usual tro tro to 37, and they let me off at the random spot again, but THIS TIME I found my way to where all the tro tros were and now I know and can always find my way there!  As usual (I keep saying it because I’m still amazed that I have as usuals in GHANA.  You all know how much I love routine and that places I am used to bring me more joy that new places) I asked around until I found a tro tro, and one was going straight to Teshie Nungua, excellent!  I love it when tro tros are going straight places so I can spend less money!  Tro tros generally cost between 40 and 70 pesewas, depending on where you are going, (and sometimes none if you are lucky, but we’ll get to that later) so it is always preferable to take a tro tro than a taxi.  Shared taxis can be relatively cheap but chartering a taxi is NEVER EFFICIENT.  Sometimes however I must do it anyway.

Anyway, I got to the Teshie Nungua stop which, as predicted, was around the beach, at some time, I don’t really know, and started wandering around.  It was still probably around 10:30 or so by this time so I had lots of time to kill.  I just started walking in the general direction away from the beach because I figured that was more likely.  My hunches of where things are are actually generally pretty spot on, I don’t really know how.  So this is where a lot of my walking comes in.  I have come to really love walking which is awesome because usually I’m really bored when I’m alone, but I am managing to just be chilling on these extremely long walks.  After a while of walking I see a place across the street called Jasper’s Painting or something, so I figure I’ll go over there and check it out.  I cross the street a bit up and walk in the gate.  There’s a bunch of paintings around and a guy coming down the stairs, so I do my awkward “Hi I’m an American art student it looks like you are an artist can we talk?” and he was like oh sure.  Ghanaian people are so nice to me!  So first I looked around his area, it was a little yard thing and then a bottom and top floor, both open to the air.  Lots of paint and canvasses all around.  I took a few pictures and then we had an interview.  This one got recorded by my not fancy shitface awful new recorder (you can probably tell where this will go later) and it was excellent.  This artist seemed pretty middle of the road, he does some commissions and some paintings of his own, seemed to make a decent living.  He’s traveled out of Ghana before and even told me about an artist in LA who I should maybe go see next semester!  Look at this!  Me learning things about American artists while in Ghana!  So at the end of the interview I got his card and gave him my ‘card’ (aka..me scribbling my name, SIT, University of Redlands and my Ghana phone number on a piece of paper) and set off again.

Around this time I got lunch at a Nigerian ish seeming place a bit off the main road.  The restauranters were in love with me and talking to me as I ate which is fine because I don’t like to eat alone and it is funny when Ghanaians are in love with me for no reason.  Which was obviously the case here.  Two guys were talking to me and asking me the funniest questions like “is your father in America?  Really?  Are you sure?  What does he do?  And your mother?”   “do you have friends in America?  Are they beautiful?  Do you have sisters?” (at this point I tried to explain Beta to them but I think it went over their heads.)  I got this awesome food that was ridiculously tasty but I have no idea what it was.  It was the same idea as banku and fufu but it was better and it was not kenke and the thing with it was like not soup but not stew and also beef or goat or something and it was all just so good!  I continued to entertain my suitors as I ate (I’m not really that entertaining but they all love me anyway) and assured them that if they came to California I would introduce them to my beautiful friends since I am already married.  No children yet, but maybe soon, I told them.  Everyone buys this which makes sense since one of the guys guessed that I was FORTY.   Ugh.  I guess I would be bad at guessing the age of Ghanaians too but not THAT bad.  Oh well they still love me so I don’t really care.

Then this funny thing happened where I thought I was calling the art gallery guy that I had an appointment with at 1, but the person on the other end of the line was like what is going on we’re closed.  So I was like hmm that’s odd oh well I’ll go to the internet.  So I had half an hour at the internet café and looked up the place I was supposed to be going, (while also managing to post the usual embarrassing things on facebook) and then I called what I thought it was again, then they were like we don’t know what’s going on no one called here yesterday and I was like well clearly I’m doing something wrong.  So I got out my notebook and my phone…first, the number that I stored and therefore called as the place that I think I am going I had zero minute phone calls with last night.  Something is definitely wrong.  I then compare the phone numbers from my notebook, and yes, I’ve been calling the wrong place all day.  Luckily it is only 1:15 so I hop off the tro tro I’ve just gotten on and call the correct number.  I can’t hear the voice of the man who I will soon fall in love with very well but we gather that I am near to where he is, but we can’t figure out how near because I’m dumb and don’t know exactly where I am and can’t find any large landmarks. So I give the phone to a taxi driver (always a useful thing) and this guy figures out where I’m going, so he drives me there.  Tries to charge me 4 cedi which is a joke because I easily could (and later do) walk this route, but I bargain it down to 3 and call it a day since this is my only taxi of the day.  Awesome amazing artist man that I’m in love with comes out (Ebenezer Borlabie in case you were wondering) and takes me back to his gallery studio house place.   He sits me down on some real nice couches while he finishes up talking to this presumably some kind of European couple who are interested in buying a painting.  The wife is real down, she loves it all clearly, but the guy is being a little bitch and being like ‘I just think if we’re getting art from Ghana it should look like it came from Ghana’ and I’m like (no I don’t say anything but I think) well then go to the beach and buy something off a vendor ya dick.  Meanwhile EB brings me a Voltic water bottle (free water is a big thing when it rarely happens) and I am happy.

Then we start our interview and I think I am recording it, (more foreshadowing) and he just talks for so long about his life and about art and how Ghanaians actually look down on art but how he always wanted to do it and his parents tried to get him to be a doctor but then he sketched the Cape Coast Castle and his sketchbook blew in the wind and everyone bought his drawings and I AM IN LOVE.  He is the nicest of men!  And clearly so much more helpful than Kofi!  He tells me about traveling and how most of his art is sold to people outside Ghana because he paints in a style that is not the Ghanaian style (suck it guy from earlier) and he has paintings of horses and I love them and it is beautiful.   He talks about how it is easy for him to succeed at art because even if he wasn’t as successful as he is he loves it so it doesn’t matter.  It is all just great.  He also teaches painting lessons so I might go next week to paint with him! Eee!  He tells me of an art supply store, also tells me I should get a map of Accra (really, I hadn’t thought of that…oh wait, I’ve been looking for one for ten weeks) and we talk about how we are going to talk again and he gives me some really successful artist named Wiz’s number and I AM GOING TO MARRY HIM.  Just kidding he is clearly already married because his child was wandering around being cute and knocking down paintings and he was so chill about it because duh we’re in love.

I leave and am the happiest girl and start to walk in the general direction of the area he said the stores were in.  He said they might not be open today but I decide to look anyway because I have a sneaking suspicion (which will become reality) that I will not be able to find them anyways but it’s only like 2:30 so I have a lot of the day left to wander.  I walk for a while, take a tro tro, call my dad, walk some more, and eventually I find myself in front of this place that is a restaurant seeming place and says its an art gallery.  I go in and this guy shows me that it is his bar and where he houses his art, and voilà I have a third interview!  I don’t even try to record this one (which is good because of later events of me killing everything) and I drink a coke while we chat about how he and his brother paint and then sell it in this place and his English isn’t as good as my first two guys but we still have a great talk and I have another art perspective and I love my life.  This one loves me a lot so he asks if I am married etc and I say yes as usual and then we just chat more.  He asked me all about America so I got to be happy and talk about America for a little while because I love America.  But I also said all the nice things about Ghana that America doesn’t have like friendlier people and lack of crime and such.  All in all it was just swell.

Then I walked for a while more (to break it down for you if you haven’t gathered already, I walked for approximately 3.5 hours today.  You think I am exaggerating, but I am not.  I was out for 9 hours today, was in interviews for approx. 2 hours, at lunch for 45 min to 1 hour, in tro tros for maybe 2, 2.5 hours tops, which actually equals out to me walking for 4 hours but whatever.)  and saw some cool things like Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (I want to go back here it is pretty) and got followed by a gang of children.  Eventually I was like it is time to stop walking and to make way home.  I stopped by a lighthouse by the beach and looked at the water and it was nice, then I got on a random tro tro going to a place that I did not know but I figured that since all the tro tros go to big tro tro interchanges I would be okay.  And lo and behold, it took me to a very near tro tro exchange, so near that the mate didn’t make me pay!  Aces!  I then got on a tro tro STRAIGHT TO AMERICA HOUSE!  It was awesome!  Then I am back here.  Then the bad thing happened.  I put my recorder in the computer….

AND IT DIDN’T RECORD ANY OF MY INTERVIEW WITH THE E.B. THE GREAT AMAZING SECOND ARTIST!! (as if you couldn’t see that one coming from all my anger) I am really angry.  There is just nothing I can do about it though, besides stop using this fucking thing, which records things that don’t matter like me talking to myself during the art opening, but then LOSES THINGS THAT ARE AWESOME.  I HATE MY LIFE.  There’s 28 cedi I’ll never see again.  I recorded everything I could remember about my time with best guy ever, and I definitely am going to go talk to him again asap and tell him the horrible thing that happened which will necessitate us talking again and therefore falling in love.  (why is it that only creepy Ghanaian men want to marry me, not hot artists?)  anyway, I am angry, but there is nothing to be done.  Now I am writing this and before writing this I took a shower (I hope that all my friends who bug me about not showering read this) and here I am.

In short, I am awesome, I got three solid interviews and a nice 3 hours of walking out of a great day, I will impress Kofi with my independence when I see him on Wednesday, I will eventually find an art supply store, and life is good.

nobody freak out about the part where I ride on a motorcycle

I feel slightly better about my progress now because I have called some random art galleries that I found on a phonebook  ish thing on the internet and now have three appointments set up over the next three days.  IN YOUR FACE, KOFI, BAHA!  I have to get over my paralyzing fears of being awkward and feeling like an idiot and the phone in general to do this so I am very proud of myself.  I think I still sound like an idiot and it is REALLY difficult because the phone service is never good and I can never hear anyone.  But whatever, I have three semi productive days ahead of me, life will be good.  I could try to do something outsidedly productive today, but it’s Sunday, and Ghana is dead on Sunday, so that probably wouldn’t even work out anyway.

OMG look now I have a fourth interview!  I’m so productive!  I feel so great about my chances in life!  So anyway now I feel okay about saying more things and telling more funny stories or something because it is Sunday, I have set up 4 interviews, and my project will not be a TOTAL joke.

I will tell the story of the art opening adventure.  So once I decided that this was a thing I should go to or else I would be wasting my life, I called Trent and he agreed and we set out from our separate locations (I don’t really know where he lives but it is far away) to go to this place.  It turns out that the gallery that the show is at is near the beach, so we figure we’ll both find our way to the beach area and then go from there.

I put on one of my outfits that is not 100% sweaty and ugly, aka one of the dresses I got here.   It’s not really that cute and I probably wouldn’t wear it at home if I was trying to look nice but the pattern is pretty and I don’t really have many options.  Lace shirts, I miss you.  I even put on my urban outfitters sandals instead of my chacos in the effort to not look like such a slob.  Then I set out on the adventure.  I walked to America House as usual, then got on a tro tro to 37 because I recognized it earlier in the day from the time we went to the beach early on in the semester.  I got to 37 pretty easily, but then, as usual, they let me off at a random spot on the street instead of anywhere near where all the tro tros are.  A guy told me which direction to go, so I started walking that way but wasn’t really sure where I’d find the tro tros.  While I was waiting on an island in the middle of this intersection, this guy on a motorcycle motioned to me and this is the universal (in Ghana) code for ‘I will give you a ride in my taxi/car/motorcycle.’ I walked over and was like where are you going and he said Accra Accra (which is another big tro tro interchange) and I said oh, I’m going to the beach area.  And he said I’ll take you there for 6 cedi.  I said hmm how about four.  And  he agreed.  Now at this point I was like hmm pros cons…okay I’m just going to do it.  So I get on the back of his motorcycle and he hands me a helmet and we’re off!  This was very exhilarating, flying through traffic at night on busy Ghanaian streets, on someone’s motorcycle!  It is only a little bit scary but mostly just so much fun!  He weaves through the traffic just like motorcycles are not supposed to do and gets me where I am going much faster than any other vehicle because of all the traffic.  Sometimes he tries to say things to me but I mostly can’t hear him so I just nod which doesn’t work on a motorcycle, then I say things like ‘yes,’ ‘ahh,’ and ‘oh good.’

He lets me off near the beach and gets my phone number (as usual tsk) and I walk in the general direction of where I think I need to go.  I pass this hotel that the website said was next to the gallery, so I’m like okay good.  Then I walk for  a while in between a bunch of trees and then I’m by a construction site and suddenly I realize that that map must have been WAAAY out of proportion.  So I turn around to try and maybe get help or directions from the hotel.  The kind people of Ghana keep shouting out their car windows “you shouldn’t be here at night!”  “be careful, do you need help?”  “go to the hotel!”  and I am happy that I am living in a place where the people inquire as to my safety versus trying to kill me. Back at the nice hotel I ask the men at the gate for directions and they lead me to another guy who is also trying to find this same event.  We leave in his nice car (yay, nice cars, with seatbelts!) and try to find the thing.  As we’re looking for it, and this is taking forever, I look at the brochure which he has a nice handsized copy of. On the back it says an RSVP number, so naturally I commence with amusing myself by thinking of all the things I will tell the people at the door if they say I am not on some RSVP list. This is a fun game, making up stories about how I am scouting art for a possible show for the University of Redlands esteemed professor of art Ben Bridgers and if I cannot get in he will be very upset and will never feature these artists in his spring show.  I love making up fake stories in my head.

About a million hours later after driving really far and turning into a place that is not the place and turning around and passing the correct things and finally finding the place, I get out while nice man parks the car and head in.  There is obviously nobody checking any type of list and this is a totally open event but my made up stories were a fun way to pass the time anyway.  I am overwhelmed by all the classy people here and immediately know that even though I am an obroni within this crowd I am not going to be the special commodity that I am on the streets.  This is a good thing though because then I can just be intimidated and look at the art in peace.  I immediately find the open bar and get wine (AN EVENT.  IN GHANA.  WITH AN OPEN BAR. WHAT IS THIS.) and then I start walking around and am amazed by all the art.  I am just in love.  It’s so fucking cool.  The two main artists on exhibition are taking up all of the second floor and I am just wandering around with my wine staring in awe at how beautiful everything is and how original and how wonderful and how lowly little me is at a real art opening just looking around and no one is telling me to get the fuck away because I am a pedestrian.  I am just the happiest girl.  Then I see Trent who has also found his way to the event somehow.  Neither of us really understand how we made it to this far away place.  We now continue to be amazed by everything but are now amazed together and have someone to discuss our amazement with.  We keep wandering around in awe, looking at things and talking about how great they are and how wonderful it is that we are here and patting each other on the back that we decided to come.  Everything is happy and beautiful and inspired and some guy with food on a tray hands me an appetizer and I am in heaven.  Trent and I wander about, find great paintings, go tell each other how great they are, stare at them, and we are amazed at our good fortune.  Some random guy talks to me for a second and I am happy that the world is giving me friends.  Another guy who claims to have art in the show starts befriending me and he and his friend are entertaining me and we go around and they take pictures with me and if he is a real artist I get his contact information for my project and life is so fun.  Then it is starting to close down so Trent and I head downstairs and we talk to some obronsters who are dressed WAY classier than us and are from NYU and probably hate us, then we set off into the night to make it home.

Also an adventure, just like this whole night, we cross streets and wander about, still talking about the greatness of our night and art and art and life, and then we find a place to wait for a tro tro.  None of these tro tros are going to 37 or Madina, our destinations, so some random guy takes us down this path to a big tro tro stop.  We get on a tro tro bound for both and continue to have great talks.  Me and Trent just have great talks, what can I say.  I get off at 37 but soon realize that I also have to go to Madina before I can go to America house.  Curses.  But then this funny thing happens where I get on a tro tro bound for Madina, and then suddenly it isn’t leaving and something is going on so I take out my ear phones and realize that the EXACT SITUATION FROM OUR SKIT IS HAPPENING, aka people are yelling and fighting over change.  Unlike in our skit, I do not jump up and say “No matter black or white, we’re all people together!” or whatever our narrator said (I was actually the driver in the skit) and I just sit there and am amused and only a little bit annoyed.  We eventually make it to Madina where I try to find a shared taxi to America House but this guy cajoles me into a chartered one and I’m tired so I just don’t care.  He talks to me and I decide that he is nice so it’s okay that he is cajoling me into spending extra dollars.  He drives me all the way to my house and asks for my phone number but my phone is dead so I agree to take his and I will eventually lose it but it’s not like I was going to answer anyway because I never answer my phone here because really what good would ever come of that for any party and now I am back in bed and it has been a great adventure!

technology has foiled me again: the lame blog post that replaced the great one my computer lost

Okay, so, I had a really long blog entry in my word but then my computer froze and I had to shut it down and instead of doing auto recover like word is SUPPOSED to do, it just disappeared.  Even my American electronics don’t work in Africa.  Ugh.  Well it’s been quite a last few days.  Except then I did nothing yesterday and today.  But before that I was keeping myself busy.  I’ll tell all about it.  I’m in the ISP period now.  It is challenging because my AD Yemi told me that working with Kofi, he’d have me doing a ton of stuff and keeping really busy, and well, that was just the biggest lie anyone has ever told me.  I’m basically completely self sufficient i.e. having to find all my own things to do and setting up everything for myself without any help or guidance, which I guess is good for me, but it’s also really stressful.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I had known this was coming, but to go from someone telling you that the person you’re working with will be taking you places and planning your life for you and then reality being that you talk to them, they’re like that looks like a good plan, and then send you off…not exactly the same thing.

But no, I’m actually really happy during the ISP when I tell myself not to be stressed because even if my ISP sucks…it doesn’t really matter, I’ll be back in America in five weeks regardless.  Even if I completely fuck it up, they can’t stop me from coming home!  Wait wouldn’t that be awful?  Okay we’re not even thinking about that.

Anyway so on Sunday I met with Kofi for the first time.  At this point I still thought that he was going to be a helpful person that I would see and he would give me activities.  This meeting actually fostered this notion.  We met at his house (the Arthaus, which I now learn is basically just his house and he works other places…hey remember when my ISP was just supposed to be there?  And that is not a thing?  Oh, Africa, the curve balls you throw me) and we talked for a while and got my project planned out which is basically the life of an artist in Ghana.  Slash studying art in Ghana.  It sounds stupid, I don’t know.  I just want to do shit and see shit and meet people and study and be happy, which has worked out well except for the planning part.  But I’ll work on it today.  He gave me some books that I can go back and look at later which he IS IN (It’s so weird that my advisor is actually someone who is in books.  Like he’s relatively famous.  Wow!)  and suggested some artists for me to talk to, he said he was going to give me their contact information.  In classic form this has not happened.  If anyone is keeping track that was six days ago that he said he would give it to me.  Ah, artists.

That day I went on to take a nap and then did something else.  I don’t really remember, time doesn’t make sense here.

OH BUT SPEAKING OF TIME AND TIME NOT MAKING SENSE I HAVE THE BEST FUCKING NEWS EVER

I was sitting in the SIT office, sitting on a couch.  Across from me, I saw this cabinet with clear glass doors and a bunch of books in it.  I was idly glancing at the books, thinking maybe a book I like will be here, when I saw it.  Literally the one book that I have wished I had brought with me since the very day I got to Ghana.  I jumped up and almost smashed the glass to get to it but instead waited until the door was opened.  I grabbed it and hugged it and stole it and it will be mine until I leave it for the next person because I have my own copy at home, it was, it was, it was

IT WAS THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE.  I NOW HAVE MY FAVORITE BOOK (WELL ONE OF THREE BUT THIS IS MY FAVORITE ONE TO REREAD) WITH ME ALL THE TIME AND I AM READING IT AND IT IS MAKING ME SO HAPPY AND I AM JUST GOING TO KEEP REREADING IT FOR THE NEXT FIVE WEEKS 😀 😀 :D:D:D

I LOVE MY LIFE.  Anyway, that was on Monday that I found my book.  Yipee!  Oh on one of those days I made myself tacos from stuff I bought at the supermarket.  I had a whole narrative of my taco making but it was lost in the Microsoft work fuckup of 2011.  (Along with my second paper, ISP proposal, and work journals.  Fuck everything.) So Monday night we all went out for Terrrin’s birthday also it was Halloween.  I really love Halloween in America, it’s my favorite holiday, so even though this was somewhat of a happy occasion it was also kind of depressing because we are in Africa at a bar with not real costumes instead of roaming between parties at Redlands with all my friends and excellent costumes.  But it actually did end up being really fun.  Cam and I were discussing this today, when we get together here and go out, it’s always fun.  We never have a bad night.  This is because you aren’t expecting anything.  At night you can expect a party to be fun and then it’s lame and you get upset, or you want to see a specific person and they aren’t there and its depressing, but here we know what we’re gonna get and we go to a bar and hang out there all night and it’s just fun.  So on Halloween we all had fun AND

  1. I did the freeze for the first time in Africa
  2. I ate kebabs (when in America will I be able to party and eat kebabs at the same time?  Never.)
  3. It was just fun.

So that was a good night.  The next day was Tuesday, we moved out of the hotel and had our last SIT meeting before the start of ISP.  I moved, I figured some shit out, that was when I found The Time Traveler’s Wife, explored the new area, had lunch at Bush Canteen, went on the free school internet.  Not too much exciting stuff.

Wednesday I met with my advisor in the morning…sort of. This is when Kofi stopped being helpful and started to veer into useless.  Trent and I met up at this hotel before walking to Kofi’s workplace, and this was a damn nice hotel.  Like a fancy schmancy hotel in America, except it was in Ghana.  I was sitting there in all my gross Africa clothes (I don’t even have to specify because ALL MY CLOTHES ARE DISGUSTING) and I was like man, if this were America, I would not be able to sit in gross clothes in the lobby of a super nice hotel in my chacos and not have anyone bother me.  But here, they’re just like she’s chilling she’s an obroni.  I’m not going to complain about it.  Then Trent arrived and we walked down to Kofi’s office (ish, I don’t’ really get it) place which is at the Nubuke Foundation which is basically just like a place for art in Ghana, apparently.  Kofi came out and was like HAND ME YOUR ISP PLANS and we were like what?  We have some notes. And he was like REWRITE IT AND GIVE IT TO ME I’LL BE BACK IN TEN.  So we wrote them down nice for him and waited…and started chatting…I read a little bit…we chatted more…ME AND TRENT LITERALLY TALKED FOR TWO HOURS.  Then Kofi came out, looked over what we had written, told us it was good, and left.  Wait, remember the part where you were supposed to help me execute this?  Apparently not, so now I’m on my own.  Then Trent and I walked to lunch.

The next day was really my only productive day of my ISP so far.  First I tried to go to the Foundation for Contemporary Art Ghana.  Keep in mind the word TRY.  I went to the big tro tro place, America House, by where I am staying now, and then the friendly Ghanaian people helped me get on a tro tro to 37 which would take me in the right direction.  I switched at 37, got on another tro tro,it was all good.  Then I got off by Osu/Cantomments and a guy on the tro tro pointed me in the right direction of the Dubois Center which is where the FCA is located.  Then I walked…and walked…and walked.  Not a thing.  Kept walking.  Nobody even knew what the dubois center was. So finally a taxi stopped me (after I’d been walking aimlessly for half an hour) and asked where I was going, I told him, and I asked if it was in walking distance.  His response?  “Well…technically.”

So he drove me there and let me out and I paid him and then I found my way to the building where the FCA is located.  It is a shack.  With no one in it.  It just says it’s the FCA, but really there were no people there and it was a shack.  So that was cool.  I copied down the phone number and walked down the street to call it.  No answers on either number.  So that was a waste of time.  I decided I’d make my way to the National Museum, but I didn’t know where I was or where the museum was so I had to take a taxi.  I fucking hate taxis.  They are so expensive!  I don’t mind spending money on food or souvieners (never spelling that right) or really anything but taxis just suck because tro tros are so much cheaper but sometimes you legitimately can’t take a tro tro because you aren’t near a tro tro stop or you don’t know where they or you are going etc.  Anyway I took a taxi to the National Museum, and spent an hour or two there doing research.  It didn’t really have much art at all and not any contemporary art, but it was still good research that I’ll be able to use in my ISP.

It took me an extremely long time to get home that day.  First off, I had no idea where I was, secondly I had no idea how far away I was.  Turned out pretty far.  I walked for a while and then realized…walking was not going to get me any closer because I was pretty much on the other side of Accra.  I don’t actually really have a good conception of this because maps of Accra don’t exist, but whatever.  I know.  I got a semi cheap taxi to a tro tro stop and then took a tro tro to 37, but then I endured the horrible: TRO TROS ALWAYS DROP YOU OFF ON RANDOM STREETS NEAR THE STATIONS INSTEAD OF THE ACTUAL STATION.  So I couldn’t really find where all the other tro tros were and just gave up and got a taxi.  I had my period, I was just pissed off.  Back at the ranch I took my second shower of the day (I NEVER do this) and sat around.  Then I decided that it would be really a good idea for Trent and I to go to this art opening that night, so I called him and we were like YES.  EVEN THOUGH THIS PLACE IS SUPER FAR AWAY WE’RE DOING IT.  This is why I like that Trent is my fellow art person because a lot of people on this trip would be like that’s too far, too confusing, blah blah blah, but we were just like WE’RE DOING IT MEET YOU THERE.

Now this is actually a really good excellent funny story that requires its own entry.  It is too fun to put in the middle of another entry. So look forward to that one.

Now then it was Friday.  The beginning of me accomplishing nothing.  I went to the school in the morning, thinking I’d turn in some late work.  Instead I still couldn’t figure out how to print, wrote some of my ACS, and copied down the phone numbers of some art galleries…(that I still haven’t called.)  Then Cam was visiting so we sat at a bar by Bush Canteen all afternoon talking. I mean it wasn’t productive but it was really fun and I need social time right?  Exactly.  That night we went to bed pretty early which was good because I was behind on sleep so I finally got twelve hours of sleep!  Yes!  So we will call that a  social and health day.  Keep in mind that I have been trying to contact Kofi literally every day and nothing has come of it so it’s not like I’m being totes lazy.. . I just don’t really know what to do haha.

Saturday aka Yesterday was another day of fun but also accomplishing nothing.  Cam and I went out to brunch (SUCH AN AMERICAN CONCEPT) at this coffee place by where I’m staying, so we used the free Wifi, had tea and rice, and then played SCRABBLE.  What a nice Westernized day!  Then we found Emily and hung out for a while in the afternoon, then went out to dinner at this poolside place by our hotel and made up SO MANY FUN NEW GAMES. Well some of them we made up and some already existed but listen:

Game #1: everyone tells 4 or so stories about you and a guy.  But without names.  Then later you go on facebook and show your friends the guys and they have to guess which person matches with which story.

Game #2: Show friends the facebook of one person you are really close with and one person you do not like. They then have to guess which is which.

Game #3: Think of someone on your trip (in this case.) The others with you must ask questions such as “If this person were a Ghanaian food what would they be?”  “If this person were a type of car what would they be?”  “If this person were a country what would they be?”  AND THEN YOU GUESS WHO THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.  It was so fun!

So then we were just happy and playing games and being girls and it was so happy because you start to miss things like that when you are away from college.  Now it is Sunday and I am going to try to call some of the art galleries but I am nervous because it is Sunday.  Ah well.  Maybe I’ll keep badgering Kofi and maybe one day he will respond!  Stay tuned for my art opening adventure and in the future more news of my nonexistent ISP.

so it’s us three and the ghost. SOLID.

In case you are wondering what I’m doing right now, I’m sitting cross legged, tangled in my sleep sheet, trying to make my internet work in a tiny hotel room while singing “It’s in His Kiss” (the one that Angela karaoke-d on Boy Meets World,) but the problem is the only lyrics I know are “If you wanna know if he loves you so it’s in his kiss, that’s where it is” so I’m being forced to make up new lyrics such as “Is it his toes? Oh no that ain’t where it is. Is it in his feet? Oh no that’s where you run from? Is it in his ankles? Oh no, that’s where the mosquitos bite me,” and then the small part of the chorus I know and hten repeating with three more body parts. 12 years of summer camp had to go somewhere.
That’s a lie. I’m not doing that anymore. It’s a day later. My ability to write a blog in one sitting has left me. Sorry I haven’t updated in so long. It’s a combination of business, tiredness, and Africa robbing me of the skills of doing things, remembering things, and paying attention to things that are not games of FreeCell or Hearts. Which I am going to go back to for a hot second and then come back here.
Okay the game of FreeCell is hitting a rough patch. Also I just spelled rough rouch. FML. Since the last two (AKA three) blog entries were basically rambling and not me saying anything about what I’ve done ever, I’m going to try to synthesize the last week or so (sense of time also out the window) for the folks at home. But really I do NOT remember anything about the passage of days or time here. I can’t remember dates or even which weekday things happened on. Maybe it’s all the traveling, maybe it’s Africa, NOBODY KNOWS.
So the last concrete event (apart from how much I watch TV and that I went to a summer camp for 12 years) that I talked about was going to the Togo/Ghana border. This was our last full day in the Volta region, I THINK. The world will never know. After this we took another lengthy bus ride to Krobo-Dumase. This may or may not be the correct spelling. The bus we have now is relatively nice, it is small potatoes compared to our superfancylovebeauty bus from Accra to Kumasi that I died of happiness and was reborn in, but it is ONE THOUSAND TIMES BETTER than the shit on wheels we took from Kumasi to Tamale (and this trip was 10 hours…nobody knows why SIT does this to us.) I spent this bus ride…nobody remembers things like what they spent bus rides doing, never mind. I also don’t remember a lot of other things which is disturbing but it seems to be an affliction affecting everyone in my program so we won’t worry about that until later. We arrived at our hotel in Krobo-Dumase which was called the Sas George Hotel. You can’t make this stuff up.
Luckily my dream of living in a room the size of the western tackroom at Hoofbeat with three people on a bed and a mattress that left zero floorspace was fulfilled. Did I say that was lucky and that that was my dream? I meant DREADFUL BECAUSE THAT WAS MY NIGHTMARE. Oh hey SIT, ever thought about getting a hotel that had enough room for everyone on your program instead of forcing three people none of whom are in a relationship (although me and Kelly are close now, that bed was pretty damn small) into a couple sized room when they all have a semesters worth of luggage? Oh but my favorite part was when we were standing in this room (and when I say that I mean standing on the mattress on the floor because there was no room to stand on the floor) the faucet turned on BY ITSELF and started shooting a Jetstream of water out into the bathroom. For the next. Three. Hours. Ghanaian plumbers do not arrive ever, even when Kwame says ‘there’s the plumber,’ he isn’t there for another two hours.
Needless to say, that living situation put me in an AWESOME mood. I’ve never been known to get moody because of external factors. I’ve also never been known to get moody because of spending 24/7 with the same 21 people for 10 weeks…oh wait. Also Redlands folk, the next time you complain about how small Redlands is expect a swift roundhouse kick. I will be lavourishing (that is not even a word) in how great it feels to have 2000 people around me that can be my friends next semester. I could never even meet 2000 people! Life is so great!
Other than living in a box this hotel was nice. The food was spicy which has actually not been happening much here so I was happy. The place we dined also had a bar, in keeping with the Ghana theme of having bars everywhere we go.
Our time in Krobo-Dumase seemed to coincide with some type of king festival chief type of thing that even though we saw parts of it for three days I still do not understand. The first day we sat on a balcony for three hours while this festival thing took place below us. It was cool for the first hour. But being interested in culture be damned, I have ADD like Leo has incredible good looks and I cannot for the life of me pay attention to anything that is over an hour unless I am participating in it. So I stopped watching the people on the street mingle after an hour and started Dubliners (finished The Prince of Tides, LOVED IT) slash also napped. This is when I realized that I am overtired. There were GUNSHOTS going off at this thing. GUN SHOTS. And I still managed to fall asleep for small time intervals. Something is wrong.
Then we ate lunch. The usual, I had rice and stew. I would post my extrapolation on the four Ghanaian dishes now but this nice WIFI of the new hotel I’m in in Accra runs out in 15 so I must be quick and update more tomorrow. After lunch we got to do MORE waiting around (OH MY GOD MY FAVORITE THING I DIDN’T GET MOODY AT ALL, TERRIN DIDN’T TAKE A PICTURE OF ME LOOKING PISSED NEXT TO A SUNGLASSES SELLER WHO WAS SMILING AND GIVING THE THUMBS UP SIGN) before going to a visitation with the king (aka him saying he was great via a translator and then us saying where we were from and maybe someone asking questions that were probably unnecessary) and then a dipo rights (which is like girls shit) presentation. This is something I should extrapolate on because it was interesting. But I’m tired and may do so later, or maybe I will never do that. Who knows. Towards the end I got real pissy because my AD decided that instead of saying anything relevant to the dipo thing he would talk about how he is the only man in all of Ghana writing books on Twi and how language is super important and he is god and we should all worship him (or something like that) we got to leave. THEN, we FINALLY went to the bead making workshop that was scheduled for two hours before that. Oh, Ghana.
The bead workshop was great because I got to see a live working artist showing us things, we saw beads, we saw how BEER BOTTLES are what makes a lot of beads (who knew!) and then we got to make beads! We put the broken glass into molds and then the guy melted them for us. I made mine green and white while singing Beta songs in my head and feeling generally happy about life.
On that note, do not let my generally cranky tone in these last few blog posts make you think I hate my life. Lots of annoying things have happened but I am getting much better at dealing with them and they never make me cry. Also, I never really get MAD, just cranky, because I must not forget that I get to go back to Joyland aka America in less than two months and all the difficult things I encounter (spider in my bathroom as we speak) are all just a part of the life here. And I am just so lucky.
I miss my friends a lot. I get along really well with a few girls and one of the guys here, but it isn’t the same as home. There are also a few people who I don’t jive well with, public blog be damned. Most of the people in my group I feel like I’m just on fairly happy terms with but we probably won’t go off and like be each others bridesmaids or anything. Also, yet again public forum be damned, STOP TALKING IN A GHANAIAN ACCENT AND NOT USING GRAMMAR YOU INGRATES. IT IS INCREDIBLY CONDESCENDING TO TRY TO IMITATE SOMEONE’S ACCENT WHILST DROPPING WORDS AND USING IMPROPOR SPEECH, BECAUSE IT IMPLIES THAT THEY ARE NOT AS INTELLIGENT AS YOU AND YOU NEED TO SAY THINGS LIKE “YOU GIVE ME CHANGE” INSTEAD OF “PLEASE CAN YOU GIVE ME MY CHANGE” FOR THEM TO UNDERSTAND YOU, WHICH IS NOT TRUE. MANY OF THE LECTURERS WE’VE HAD ARE SMARTER THAN YOU WILL EVER BE, AND LSKGJLKJGLGL
Okay rant over. But seriously. Gag me with a spoon. Also, get the chip off your shoulder. That is referring to an entirely different breed of people on this trip that have nothing to do with that last paragraph, but if I say anymore someone may ACTUALLY gag me with a spoon.
Okay so I have like two more days of events to post on PLUS lots of things I have thought to say about life and such, but I think I will write that all down tonight/later and update again tomorrow because for the next three days I have WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFIIIIIIIIIIII YAHOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
BTW this is the first time I have had WIFI.
In the past two months.
ALSO, I MISS EVERYONE AT REDLANDS SO FUCKING MUCH AND AN ENTRY WILL BE DEVOTED TO THAT ASAP. HAVE AN AMAZING HALLOWEEN AND HOMECOMING EVERYONE I LOVE YOU WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING.