two truths and a lie: i killed a chicken, i risked river blindness, and i met leonardo dicaprio

I have been in the village (my village is called Ampento, approx. 800 people) for about five days now.  As you may notice, today is 29 SEP 2011, but TODAY, as in the day I am posting this, is 7 OCT 2011 (or maybe 8 or 9 OCT who knows.)  This is because the village and internet, even with PLM (pricey little modem) are not friends.  Last Saturday I said goodbye to the internet, facebook, news on life, friends abroad lives, knowing who the new Beta girls are in a timely manner (SAD ABOUT THIS) and said hello to village life.  Village life is like camping.  Because it’s INTENSE.  LIKE…IN –TENTS.  Village life is intense and camping is intents!  Haha.  But really it is kind of like camping.  We don’t live in tents (or huts…don’t worry, this is exactly what we thought too) we live in compound houses.  The rooms are varied, but basically they are all just the good old African cement rooms.  Mine isn’t actually that different from my room in Kumasi…except for the spider the size of my hand, the cockroaches, the bed bugs, the…okay it’s kind of different. But it LOOKS relatively similar.  Electricity is on and off but after the weekend it has been mostly on, so that is good news.  Every day we have been DOING things instead of going to class which I love but then we also have more time to relax which I also love so basically village life is just way better than school life in Accra and Kumasi was.  I was definitely getting frustrated with the whole ‘SIT organizes nothing for us to do’ schtick in Accra and Kumasi, but the hikes and palm wine making and shit we do here is definitely making up for it.

We are split into three groups for this here village time, and each group has seven people.  My group is very chill and I like everyone in it so life is good.  Our leaders don’t ever seem to know exactly what is going on which can at times be frustrating since both of the other villages have super ‘on it’ leaders, and we pretty much know (because they told us) that our academic people didn’t really do the village groups in any special way – like it was completely random.  That’s fine for the student groups, but it seems like it shouldn’t be random for the staff.  It’s not really fair to have one group with two really capable experienced leaders and then give us one guy who literally has no idea what’s going on and then a girl who leaves half the time to go to Kumasi.  We’re still pretty much doing all the same stuff but it’s hard seeing as we can’t as students who speak very little Twi just go off and do our own thing, like we NEED the leaders to help us out.

We are each doing a mini-isp here in the village.  This has caused some funniness in my mind because the academics here are REALLY relaxed but some people still feel the need to get really intense about every little aspect of each project, i.e. asking our leader who knows nothing TONS of questions that really get lost in translation and all I want to do is yell WAIT FOR PAPA ATTAH TO GET HERE TOMORROW SEFA HAS LITERALLY NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON..but I can’t do that so I just laugh.  But anyway, I decided to do my mini ISP on animal husbandry as I call it, i.e. the animals role in the community and the care of animals and how that goes into meat and/or other animal products.  I really like my topic but I hope that I can do more hands on stuff with taking care of animals or preparing meat and stuff.  So far I have only done interviews (we’re all like this though so it’s not just my topic.) It’s just hard because a big part of the reason I chose this over other topics was because I wanted to do something hands on instead of just research, because I just like DOING things, but so far it has not been that.  I’m going to talk to them again today and impart that knowledge again (Yes people I know of the world, I know you like to tell me things like ‘when you have problems like that just say something,’ and I will say again, I DO AND HAVE MANY  TIME AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO.) The one hands on thing I HAVE done so far was very knowledging and interesting and I am going to tell everyone about it, BUT, first I must have a disclaimer.


On Monday I killed a chicken!  With my bare hands!  I mean no I killed it with a knife.  Kwame, who is leading another village but always comes over to say hi, was trying to convince Nathaniel (the only guy in our group, typical) to agree to kill it, but he was not down so I was like KWAME I’LL DO IT.   You may ask why.  My reasons are threefold: 1. I want to do things.  Like I just like doing shit that I can look back on later and be like ‘I know how to kill a chicken.  I did that.  Yeah!’ 2. I just follow the circle of life and I think that it is good to participate in a way of using this methodology that is actually real and hands on versus eating chicken that has been killed far far away and processed 17 times over before I eat it.  I love local shit and how much more local can you get than killing your own chicken?  3. I like eating meat and I have heard probably every argument for vegetarianism that there is and after the vegetarian period of 12-14 that I had I am just never going to do that again.  But because of this I feel like I should be responsible for eating meat.  If I’m going to eat it, I should be able to be responsible for and acknowledge that I can kill it too.  Like so many of us eat meat but then are really squeamish about animals actually being killed.  If I’m going to eat meat then I am going to have the guts to kill the chicken myself!

Yay for long winded explanations.  So Papa Attah and Sefa and I took the chicken out back.  It had been sitting in our SIT headquarters compound all day (and of course Nathaniel NAMED it, jerk) but the rest of us had acknowledged it as the chicken that I would later kill.  You have to pick up the chicken by the wings and then carry it as such. First Sefa made me dig a hole in the ground with a knife so that the blood could flow into it (this proved to be 100% useless.) Then Papa taught me how to stand on it so you can effectively kill it – you stand on its legs with one foot and wings with the other.  Then you pull its head back so it stops yammering at you and proceed to prepare to cut its neck.  This was obviously quite confusing for me – I’m really not squeamish and I wasn’t getting nerves but I am just REALLY BAD at following directions. Like directions just don’t make sense to me.  Not just about killing chickens but in life.  You have to saw at its neck versus one quick chop which was GREAT in my opinion because if it had been a swift chop I would have cut my own hand off. Like that is what would have occurred.  But nope you just saw a bit.  It goes a lot quicker than you expect, and then bam chicken has no head and the body is still acting up.  The phase ‘running around like a chicken with its head cut off’ is actually pretty accurate because although this chicken didn’t run because I was holding it, it was squirming around in my hands and the legs were moving.  I carried it like this back inside where we put it in a bit of water and started defeathering it.  Hopefully I can do the next part, the cutting the chicken apart and cooking it etc, sometime so that I can be fully prepared for the time in life when I am the only person in a group of people who knows how to kill and cook a chicken and impress everyone.  This will obviously never happen but who knows, maybe Lost will happen with me on an island with chickens.  This means I would have to learn to take the guts out which does kind of gross me out…but clearly I am prepared.


Yesterday we went on this amazing hike to the largest lake in Ghana.  When I say amazing hike I mean WORST HIKE EVER but the lake was amazing.  The hike on the way there was actually fine, because it was all downhill seeing as the lake is in a basin.  The views were beautiful, the hike down was relatively relaxing if slippery.  Oh also, it rains a lot here.  Apparently the rainy season is usually June and July..but oh joy not this year!  This year it rains every freaking day!  Yahoooooo.  We got down to the lake and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!  I took some pictures but they really don’t do it justice.  (Victoria Beckley.)  We all decided to go swimming even though many of us didn’t have swimsuits so we just swam in shorts and bras or boxers or whatever.  We made a lot of half joking half serious jokes about worrying about getting river blindness, which is a parasite in some places in Africa where you swim in infected places and then like three years later you go blind.  But it’s never been reported in this region so we threw caution to the wind slash if we all go blind we’ll all go blind together.


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