So it’s been quite a whirlwind past few days! So much for me worrying about being alone too much and not having enough to do, I’m with the group 24/7 and I haven’t even opened any of the books I brought, except the ones we’re assigned to read that I’m a million years behind on.
Side note: I just opened my Itunes and I have duplicates of every song and only 1020 songs, which means I only have 510 songs of like the 3000 I’m supposed to have. CRUEL WORLD I JUST CLEANED ALL MY CLOTHES BY HAND WITH A 4 YEAR OLD SCREAMING AT ME THE WHOLE TIME, WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME? So now I’m listening to Airplanes. Cool.
Anyway, back to Friday. Friday morning we had Twi class as usual, which, in case you were wondering, is the fucking hardest language ever. For instance, mmrinbmmaa means I have one sister. Really? No, not really, because I have no idea how to say I have one sister because all I hear is the letter m in a congealed sentence. Also, instead of tenses – I went, I’m going, I will go, there is just one word that you have to either say in a high voice, normal pitched voice, or low voice depending on how you mean it. But it’s not the word, it’s multiple letters with in the word, so you can have the high and low in the same word and basically just sound like a teenage boy whose voice is cracking instead of a good Twi student. Does that make sense? Probably not, because I definitely don’t understand it either. Also, the way we are learning Twi is to learn individual phrases instead of sentence structure, which our teachers say will help us learn better…but I have my doubts. It’s pretty confusing when you don’t know which part of Wo Ho Te Sen means How and Are and You and Yaa enja is the answer to EVERYTHING. (But it doesn’t mean yes. That would be too easy.) Also, our teachers have decided that spelling isn’t important so they just teach us how to say it and we write it down however we hear it. This has turned into a great game of cheering whenever we see one of them write something on the board for another purpose and we got it correct.
So Twi was Twi. Even though it’s madness it’s pretty fun, and our teacher, Magdalene, is a baller. We split into 4 or 5 groups for it and she is easily the best, except that we never get let out until the very end and have to forlornly watch other groups leave a half hour early for lunch. Good thing we’ll be so much better at Twi..not. I could stay all day but I will still be a total failure. Sometimes it seems like I’m learning a little bit of Twi, and then I get in public and someone says something to me and the only thing I can respond with is Me daasi which means Thank you or Akwaba which means welcome (which we really have no reason to say since we don’t live here. We are always being welcomed and never really need to say welcome.)
Anyway, then we have lunch. We can either go to the Busch Canteen (all of these spellings are straight up made up btw) or the University Cafeteria. I originally preferred the cafeteria because you can get a variety of things on one plate instead of just a GIGANTIC bowl of something that you will never finish and the ladies just laugh when you say only a little bit. But I’m getting sick of the cafeteria because everything is behind a sheet of class with no air space, so on top of me not being able to understand ANY PERSON EVER in the first place, let alone someone speaking Twi, there is just glass there, so you pretty much have to point at things without really knowing what they are. It’s all pretty good, but then on Friday I got pushed ahead in line so couldn’t point back to the plantains or good red sauce things, so I ended up with two chunks of fried rice, a tiny bit of red sauce, an egg, and this really questionable thing that may have been chicken but I couldn’t tell since I could only get a tiny chunk of meat off it and the rest was definitely bone. So that was cool. This put me in a perturbed mood sine I get moody when I’m hungry, so I tried to get ice cream from the cooler across the path, but oh wait….THEY HAD LOST THE KEY. Okay, you’re out of ice cream, the freezer stopped working, whatever, all legitimate reasons. You lost the key?! What kind of establishment are you running here snack bar at University of Legon?
Luckily my mood went back to jolly after lunch because this was the first afternoon that we were going off to do art instead of have a lecture that was, well, a lecture. I had never fallen asleep in a lecture (thanks to Adderall) but I’d been pretty close and a LOT of people had. Who puts college students in lectures right after lunch?! We get sleepy! Anyway, Friday instead of a lecture we split up to do batik or ‘sculpture.’ I was in the ‘sculpture’ group and on Monday I’ll be doing batik. So we set off in our two groups to the separate locations, getting excited for ‘sculpture.’
We arrived at this place semi in the middle of nowhere (well that’s a debatable topic. You know in The Phantom Tollbooth where they say you lose your sense of direction? Welcome to Accra. No street names and EVERYTHING looks the same) Anyway, we get out and I see that we are at this place called the ArtHaus, which is carved into this wooden sign. I know immediately that I am going to love this place and obvs I was right. We walked in through the gate (ALL residencies have gates) and see two house like things all in nice arty colors, lots of vines and garden ness, and just in general a place that I would like to hang my hat. This old guy takes us back through a path to another part of the property where we go sit down in what seems to be his studio. We go on to have this awesome talk from this guy all about how this is his artist establishment where artists just come to live and do work and live in the house and do work wherever. I have already fallen in love with this place from all the foliage and looking all great, but now I am just besmitten. He also talked to us about how his whole lifestyle with art is that he isn’t just an artist, art is his life, and everything he does is as an artist, and all this REALLY COOL SHIT. People asked questions and he talked more and told us about all of his philosophies and it was just great. You are probably wondering at this point why I kept saying ‘sculpture’ instead of sculpture, and it is because he basically just talked for an hour and then we painted tiles. But it was so fun! We were supposed to paint our tile with our first impressions on Ghana, so I made this great abstract thingy that I will possibly post at some point. We were painting with bamboo sticks and black paint so that was fun although it reminded me a bit too much of my ink and pen fiascos in book arts (how was that a year ago?!) When we were leaving, Old Man Coolest Guy Ever said he liked my tile and asked if I was an art major and I tried to explain how I don’t have a major but I mostly was just like ‘uhh kind of I study art!’ I kept asking him leading question like ‘so…people live here…’ and ‘soo…can we come back here..’ and ‘so how can we get in contact with you…’ because I really want to look into doing my ISP there. I probably want to do something with art, and if I could live at or even just go to this place every day and study like ‘the artist lifestyle’ like this guy has or ‘artist communities’ my life would be set and I would be happy for a million years.
After that we went to meet the people at Batik, but first we stopped at the taxi ram (yes real places have names like taxi ram and yet people somehow know what you are talking about) so we could meet KWAME And he could take us to them. I say KWAME because I love KWAME. It’s good that I have at least one person to focus my idealizing obsessions on because without that what would I do?! All my friends at school know this type of person, the people who I am by no means in love with in the traditional sense but who I just LOVE LOVE AND WANT THEM AROUND ALL THE TIME BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST COOL AND FUCKING COOL. I have lots of examples but that would be like, semi embarrassing because I’m really good at forgetting that blogs are public things. I mean it wouldn’t be embarrassing because like I said I am not in love with said people in an attraction way I just THINK THEY ARE SO GREAT OKAY. But anyway. Friends feel free to comment with examples. ANYWAY, Kwame came to walk us to the place and I got to chat with him because we are bff now after discussing our mutual friendship with Matthew . Picking the people up at Batik made me really excited to do that on Monday because fabric arts is something I’ve really been looking forward to trying. At this point a bunch of the group went off to find food, but me and my homestay partner went home because our family was having a big birthday party and we wanted to make sure we got home in time.
We were afraid that when we got home we’d be put to work which would have sucked because A.) 8 hours of school is really tiring B.) I am always tired and feel like dying and C.) pretty much anything you are told to do here is 80x more confusing than things at home. Luckily, we got to nap for a while before getting ready for the party. It was a fiftieth birthday party for our host mom’s brother in law, and it was a surprise party that a bunch of his old friends from school that he hadn’t seen in years were going to be at. It ended up being super fun! We hung out with Bet’s (the 4 year old who is at our house a lot) parents at the table, her dad is just the nicest man! He was dancing in his chair during all the music and super helpful to us since we feel awkward 90% of the time. We got lots of free Guinesses from some type of Ghanaian open bar, and waited around for a bit until the birthday man came in. It was SO BEAUTIFUL when he did! He was so surprised and cried when he saw all his old friends! Therefore, I obviously almost cried. I just love how the Ghanaian people are so much more open about displaying their emotions, especially men. I mean the women are too but the men are more of a change from America. Then everyone started dancing to this great band type of thing, which reminds me of another two things that are great here – the music and the dancing! The music is just this AWESOME style that is so happy and fun to listen to. I’ll have to figure out a way to bring some back because I don’t really know how else to describe it. And the DANCING! There is traditional African dance, which we’ve done a few times and is super fun but I am always embarrassed at how bad I am, and then just how EVERYONE DANCES ALL THE TIME! The dancing is so happy and so unlike America. Everyone dances and everyone invites everyone else and is super excited and compliments you instead of making fun of you. It’s just lovely and happy. Then we ate from this super nice buffet which was a good break from the semi monotonous food that we eat every day. The first course/appetizer thing was this awesome goat soup that was so flavorful and good. Then we had the whole rest of the buffet and cake and blue champagne and OH MY GOD I JUST ACCIDENTALLY SPELLED BUFFET BUFFEST AND ALMOST CRIED. No, it’s fine. Okay, we’re good. Anyway, birthday party was awesome and just so great to do a real cultural thing without the whole group. I just feel like a fat chuck of obronis when we do things together, even if they are more cultural, so it was good to do something cool with only me and my homestay partner.
After this I was LE TIRED so we went back to the house and I went straight to bed. I haven’t been sleeping that badly here, but I do sleep weirdly. Basically it takes me kind of a while, not forever, but like a whileish to fall asleep, but not a bad while just like regular. Wow. Anyway, then I have a dream, then I wake up, acknowledge that dream, and eventually fall back asleep. I usually have 3-5 dreams per night which means that I’m waking up 3-4 times in the middle of the night. I wish I could sleep through the night, it would probably make me less tired during the day. It’s not that I’m anxious, I don’t like sit up worrying, it just takes me a while to fall asleep and then I wake up at the end of every dream. The dreams have been pretty normal for me but still weird to the regular person, really detailed storylines and the like. I hadn’t noticed, but until last night I hadn’t dreamed at all about The Thing that I Don’t Think About but Still Manage to Dream About and Fuck You Get Out of my Dreams and Go Back to Where You Came From Ya Big Jerk which was well what it was, I think I have a thing about dreaming about reconciliations. It used to happen to me with Hoofbeat all the time so I guess that makes sense. I think I actually had a dream about Hoofbeat last night too but I don’t remember. I remember the other one better but still not well, just a lot of confronting and attitude, the usual.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, Saturday. On Friday our teachers were saying things we could do with our free time on the weekend and when he suggested the beach most of us jumped on that idea. I would have been a wee bit happier if a smaller group had wanted to go because I still feel kind of out of place in the big group, but it was fine. We all met up by school and after walking back and forth 37 times from our class area to the tro tro stop (hence my annoyance with the large group. It’s not even THIS large group, it’s in ANY large group, you just don’t get shit done! Anyway) and took a tro-tro to the beach. We had to switch once at which point some people had to go to the bathroom (why they thought they would find a bathroom in a tro tro parking lot next to a busy street and a bunch of shacks I’ll never know) but the tro tro we had all gotten on wanted to leave while they were still gone so some people were like yo you gotta get off and wait for them and what I wanted to say was ‘why don’t get off if you’re so worried I take care of myself!’ but instead I was a good group member and got off to wait for them. The constant struggle to be a good group member instead of giving face and whining about how long everything takes is a bit taxing, but I’m sure it’s good for me. Things taking a long time in Ghana doesn’t bother me, it just bothers me when we stand out in front of the university for a good 20 minutes before going anywhere. ANYWAY, we eventually made it to the beach. YAY!
I was SO HAPPY to get to the beach. I LOVE the ocean and it reminded me so much of California. I was already really happy to get there, and then things got even better because while we were wading in the ocean these guys on horses came up to us and were like Yes get on! So I got to ride a horse on the beach! Just like Jack talks about in Titanic! It was so good to ride, I’d always wondered about horses in Ghana, and even though these horses were definitely used to being led and not ridden by someone who actually rides horses and the stirrups were just a joke and I was in a bathing suit and a skirt, IT WAS JUST SO MUCH FUN! I actually feel like more of a badass now that I’ve ridden helmetlessly in Chacos and legs unprotected against the saddle, shh no one tell anyone at Every Time every Ride. We even got to gallop down the beach which obviously I was fine with but I never really understand how the companies think this is okay for people who have never ridden before, since if you fell off it would be like lawsuit in a handbasket, but everyone was fine. It was 15 cedi (which is like 10-12 dollars)but I just didn’t even care and did it again later because it was just so much fun! AHH! SO MUCH FUN! Even though we’re not supposed to give our phone numbers to men in Ghana because they will call incessantly I gave mine to the horse guy anyway because I have these beautiful dreams of coming back there during the month of my ISP and convincing them to let me ride around on my own and seeing the barn and such. I’m sure it’s not the best of conditions, but fuck it I bet horses would rather be chilling on the beach in Ghana than having their necks and hooves forced up to oblivion as Saddlebreds or being raced to death or um…living in places where they get…JK not going to go there. Plus, the tack was all really chill and not the hurtful kinds, and the handlers were all really nice to the horses. So I didn’t even have to feel guilty!
The rest of the day on the beach was for the most part great as well. I got to go in the ocean a ton, you can’t go as far out as you can in the Pacific because Ghana actually has lifeguards (who knew Ghana would care more than California) who blow their whistle at you if you get out to like feet not touching the ground level because the waves are HUGE and I assume the riptides are too. A lot of people in my group were grossed out by all the trash in the ocean (it was pretty gross) so they didn’t want to go in that much but I still went in a lot. I just don’t care about trash that much, if you don’t think about it it just feels like seaweed haha. We laid out, bought lots of shit from the vendors, ate lunch. Of course my food still wasn’t there when everyone was moving to the other side of the beach and the other people who were waiting went off to take shots so I had a nice half of my lunch alone but then they came back and we moved with the rest of the group so I was no longer the Lonliest Obroni. The place we moved to on the beach was actually really nice because we could all sit around one table and it was right by a bar so people could drink if they wanted to. We just chilled out here for a while, dancing with the ladies who worked at the bar and talking and such. We headed home around five, and for the Things That Sucked But Which I Won’t Write about Because People in my Group could Potentially Read This Though I Don’t Know Why They Would Because They Are Here edition of this part of the story please email me, I’d be happy to oblige.
So after that thing, I ended up just staying home for the night because of things in the other story, but I got to talk to the other host brother who hasn’t really been around and start on some reading. I watched some HIMYM on the computer because I was feeling blah, talked to my parents for similar reasons, then just chilled out for a while and went to bed. The homestay is very different than I expected, better and worse. It definitely isn’t like that fantasy WE’RE ALL IN LOVE AND LIKE A REAL FAMILY homestay that you hear about, but it isn’t crazy awkward either. They give us our space, and we don’t have to feel bad about just chilling in the room because they aren’t out in the living areas that much either. The 4 year old is at times both cute and taxing, she doesn’t seem to have much discipline and just bugs us constantly. It’s also weird being around a kid that you don’t know if you can tell to shut up, you know? I’m glad that there is a kid here, but her grabbing your silverware and trying to come into our room and take our things and constantly touching us gets kind of old. I’m pretty good at tolerating it after Hoofbeat, but I feel bad for my homestay partner because I think she gets pretty annoyed.
Today was for the most part relaxing, after the four hours of church. We got up at 5:45 for that which was….fun. I was glad that most of the service was in Twi, because then I could just be like Yay! Look at how happy everyone is! Instead of being like stop telling me to love God you chotches. Luckily my sense of time here has gone out the window so I didn’t get too bored or antsy, I spent most of the time just chilling contemplating my dreams since at this point they were still very fresh in my mind. The church was cool because everyone was so happy and dancing and into everything, but it was interestin because it was also HUGE and more Westernized than you’d expect. That’s how a lot of things are in Accra though, so it’ll be interesting as we go up North to see the transition to traditional stuff. They do this thing where you walk around dancing with all the people who were born on the same day, like day of the week, as you, but instead of going on our own days we went with our host mom’s day, and apparently this is some kind of running joke because afterwards everyone kept asking us if we were REALLY born on Tuesday and then they would all hit each other. I don’t know about any of it.
Back at home we got to nap for a few hours and then have lunch, which was a bit questionable because it was fufu with fish. I like fufu, but they always serve us a SHITTON and I have this issue with fish. Here’s the thing. Fish tastes fine. But why would anyone want to eat a food that is 50% bone and 30% weird crusty stuff that you put in your mouth and then just feels gross and you can’t swallow and you kind of want to barf and then only 20% meat, but you can’t really tell which parts are edible meat and which parts are weird crusty crap. Basically, I just have big problems with eating fish. And everyone here thinks we are too skinny so they just load on the food and then guilt trip you when you don’t eat all of it, and it was just mreh. It was making my homestay partner feel really sick which just contributed to my inability to eat fish. I’m seriously considering lying and telling everyone I’m allergic from now on. I know I’m being a baby about the bones and sinew but it makes me gag so maybe I really AM allergic. Plus, I’ve been REALLY GOOD on all the other food! I eat everything else, even fish when it is in a nice sauce so I can’t freak out over the weird parts. I really do love the food for the most part, but I can see how it’ll get monotonous.
After lunch we got to do my favorite thing ever yet…not. Washing clothes. I don’t mind washing my own clothes, that’s fine. BUT, first of all, I don’t really give a fuck if they are clean, which leads to second, I don’t really need 29 repeated instructions of exactly how to scrub the clothes because 1. I’m pretty sure that the intricacies of where my hand is placed and how much fabric is where doesn’t really matter, and 2. I DON’T CARE. I could just shower with my clothes on to clean them for all I care. Plus the 4 year old was on our backs for all of this, and I slightly just wanted to push her off the ledge we were sitting on. Just slightly. Overall it was cool one I wasn’t being stopped every two seconds to perfect my scrubbing technique, and I tried to put on the whole ‘when are you going to wash clothes in Africa again?’ mentality (well next week but that’s beside the point) and then we finished pretty quick. I was SO HAPPY to wash my spandex because MAN those things smelled NASTY. If you ever go to Ghana or another country where you are advised to wear spandex under skirts, BRING MORE THAN THREE PAIRS. I thought that three was a good number…I was wrong.
Well then, I came in here and wrote this. What a long blog entry! I’m so proud of myself! I had this whole thing where I was like I’m not going to go on the Internet today because I’m not just going to spend all my time on it now that I have the chip, but A.) it’s Sunday and B.) why would I wait to post this AWESOME blog entry and C.) No matter how much I go on now, I definitely won’t be when I’m chilling in a village or in ‘The North’ as they call it, so I may as well blog it up while I can.
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