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.

no time to think of a title because i hate internet cafes BUT I LOVE CAPE COAST

Well I accidentally did that thing where I forgot to blog since last like what, Wednesday? Tuesday? So now I have a lot of things to say but I forget. You may think this is not a problem since it is only Monday, but luckily we are now doing a lot of shit unlike in another place I know (aka the village) so I do have a lot of things to say. I may even split this into two blog entries to preserve everyone’s sanity. Reading a large block of text is just tough for everyone! Well I will start with last week when we went to Mole National Park because I think this is where I left off. We left Tamale at about 11 on Wednesday to go to Mole. I don’t remember if we did anything that day before departing. I think that may have been the day I presented my mini isp. These presentations could be boring but luckily my group gets me so they were introduced to the greatness of me presenting things. My topic was actually kind of boring (really, does anyone care how many goats each farmer has?) but as usual I managed to make it interesting with a combination of A. a picture slideshow B. saying things in a concise and funny way and C. having Take Me Home Tonight and We R who we R play along with my slideshow. Do these songs have anything to do with animal husbandry? No, obviously not. Were they funny? Yes, clearly. So that was fun. Anyway we left for Mole on the famous awful road. They really psyched us out for it, and I would say that it wasn’t that bad…but it really did suck. I mean we weren’t like flying in the air as if the trotro was the plane from Lost crashing down to the island, but there were definitely moments when the trotro was tilted at close to a 45 degree angle. Also just the worst not real road ever for four hours makes your ass hurt really bad. So it was unpleasant but we survived. That night at Mole was mostly just chill time because we weren’t going on the Safari until the morning. We were staying at the park, they have accommodations that Papa Atta either described as ‘chalets,’ ‘chariots,’ or ‘Charlottes.’ I’m going to assume chalets was what he meant but we had several lengthy discussions about this. Obviously it wasn’t really a chalet…but it was swanky by Africa standards. We had seven rooms in a block that all shared a mutual porch. Again, swanky by Africa standards means our room could have been a midrate motel room if the ceiling were less exposed and the floors were less made of stone and if there had been running water. But it was big and comfortable and had a fan and I liked it. I should take more pictures of these things. And then got to go in the POOL. This was excellent. We had dinner at the Mole restaurant so we got to pick from things like semi American foods and foreign foods that weren’t Ghanaian which is always one of our favorite activities. I had a delicious chicken curry. That night we all just relaxed, observed the warthogs that had taken up residency outside our ‘chalet’ and liked to either charge at people or lie in their doorways. There was a nice lookout spot and a bar so those things are always helpful. We also met some other travelers who are with a church in INDIANA (look at that) doing some kind of NGO work. Yay for the only tourist places in Ghana being obroni hot spots. Then the morning came and the SAFARI! We had to get up very early as you would imagine but I was not that tired so good for my body learning to adjust. We split into two groups and set off with armed guides. I hope I got a picture of our armed guide because he looked like a real badass with a rifle. I want to be an armed guide at Mole National Park. The safari was beautiful and we saw some gazelles, more warthogs, lots of monkeys chilling really close to us with babies, and oh wait…something else..something big…what could it be…OH YEAH WE WERE LIKE TEN FEET AWAY FROM ELEPHANTS. Obviously that was fake forgetting if anyone didn’t get that. I mean real elephants in Africa? I call that an obroni’s dream. Mole National Park is cool because it’s straight up just where the animals live, like animals weren’t gathered to come there or anything, and you can go on safari and not even see anything because the animals are just going about their daily life and the park doesn’t do anything to control their movements. But we were lucky and got to be super close to them and take pictures and love it! So amazing! Nothing like having an armed guard tell you that you have to back up because the elephants are walking too close to you. We were only in Tamale for one week but we still fit in a lot of stuff. On Friday we had the option to visit a mosque and I chose to do so. We’d had a lecture on Islam earlier in the week and it was very interesting (well you know how I feel about lectures but it was as good as it could be) so I was excited to be able to actually be involved in it. I haven’t gone to church here since the first day in Kumasi but I was glad to get a different perspective on religion. The mosque was really an amazing experience. We participated in the prayer at the mosque at a girls school just outside of Tamale where our lecturer works. The students first instructed us on how to I think its called ‘perform abolition’ by cleansing ourselves before going into the mosque. The first thing they had us do was go into this cement semi bathroom stall outside thing and wash our ‘private parts’ as they said which was a weird way to begin it but hey there you go. Then it got normal when we washed our hands three times and our noses three times and our teeth three times and our faces and ears. And then legs and arms. Then we were clean so they helped us make our scarves into things that actually cover our whole heads. Then we went into the mosque and participated in the prayer. I was just really glad that they were so welcoming to us and let us do something with them that is so spiritual and personal. Afterwards the girls at the school asked us a lot of questions and none of them got angry at them when I said I didn’t grow up in a religious family so yay points. I am continually amazed by how kind and interested in us the Ghanaians are. They then gave us Islam names and wanted 100 pictures with us (fine by me I love 100 pictures) and we headed back to Tamale. That afternoon a few of the girls from my program and I also visited the cultural center AKA a place with a bunch of little shops selling things for me to buy. Normally I would not bother writing about this because it isn’t that interesting to hear about, but two really funny things happened and I got an awesome shirt. My shirt says ‘Make fufu not war’ on the front with an illustration of someone pounding fufu and the back says ‘sharing is caring, you’re invited’ which is great because ‘you are invited’ is a big phrase here in terms of sharing food (or anything really) that we are all stealing and bringing back to America. I don’t know if everyone will get how supremely awesome this shirt is or if it’s a thing that only sit Ghana students find excellent. After purchasing this shirt I was describing to Terrin how the shops with lots of leather goods smelled like “tack shops in the United States of America.” This made both of us laugh a lot because who calls America ‘The United States of America’ in casual conversation? Me, apparently. We were still laughing about this when we left the cultural center and then the next funny thing happened. I saw three white girls and since I’m used to three white girls only being people I know, I go HEY GUYS! And waved really big..and then I looked at them and they just weren’t any white girls that I know. So that was hilarious and awkward also. More things happened. Life went on. I have this weird thing where I don’t know how to transition between segments in this because I don’t want to describe every little thing I do but I’m really bad at moving between events where I skip a lot. So apparently my way of transitioning is writing paragraphs about nothing IE this one. OKAY on Sunday aka yesterday we arrived in Cape Coast. I LOVE CAPE COAST. It is the first city here that I really feel an instant love connection with. It is, as you would imagine, right on the coast. We can walk to the beach from our hotel in five our ten minutes! It smells nice and I can see the ocean and there is a breeze and it is pretty and I’m in love. Our hotel made me nervous at first because I have to walk up two very narrow flights of stairs to get to my room but I am in love with it anyway. I am in a single room here, many of us are, so that is awesome. My room is really small but it has a balcony which I am on right now so I am the happiest girl. We have all of our meals on the ROOFTOP of our hotel…I love my life. Slash I mostly feel like SIT is paying us back for the first six weeks of the program with four awesome days in Cape Coast but I’ll take it. Not that the first six weeks were bad, but challenging would be the operative word. Alas, we are only in Cape Coast for four days. I have already decided slash decided the second we got here that Cape Coast will be a Monterey Situation. For those of you who are not me a Monterey Situation is when you have a FUCKING AWESOME EXCELLENT TIME IN A REALLY COOL PLACE but you are only there for a very short time. This is referring to freshman year when I went on the Steinbeck trip to Monterey and was in Monterey for a total of less than 36 hours but it was still just really beautiful and enriching and excellent. Excusing the part where I cried but I mean people travel mishaps are really stressful slash I learned things from my tears so no judging. Speaking of tears I like never cry anymore its weird. I probably got it all out of my system when I cried for three days straight leaving school, ha. When we got here yesterday it was still relatively early in the day so a bunch of us decided to go to the beach. I LOVE THE BEACH. The beach in Cape Coast is AWESOME because A. it is way cleaner than Accra, AKA there are not trash bags curling around your ankles in the water B. it is not busy so we had lots of space to ourselves C. IT IS THE BEACH IN AFRICA WHICH NEVER STOPS BEING COOL D. I love the beach and E. The waves are large and fun. We got thrown around by nice huge waves and it was the best of times. Then we found a beach bar (are we sensing a theme of my time in Ghana?) which had great beef kebabs that had none of that non-meat skin or sinew crap that so many kebabs have and yummy drinks. All in all a fantastic day. Today was a VERY full day both physically and mentally and schedually. In the morning we visited and toured Cape Coast Castle which was a slave castle during the hundreds of years time period that the slave trade was taking place. I am going to do a separate entry on this because I want to get all of my facts right and because it was just a very intense experience that deserves more than one paragraph in my entry. So look for that today or tomorrow. In the afternoon we took the bus to Kakum National Park to go on a CANOPY WALK! If you do not know what a canopy walk is, it is the coolest thing ever where nets with metal bottoms with wood boards on them are strung up hundreds of feet in the air and you walk in it between trees. AKA THE COOLEST THING EVER. As they said when we began, the experience is meant to imitate walking on top of the trees. SO COOL. Just like… I took tons of pictures but they won’t do it justice. Just the feeling of the boards under your feet and the ropes moving on the side of you and being able to see so far and being hundreds of feet in the air with only some ropes and a piece of wood holding you up is INSANE and SO COOL and probably pretty similar to what that tree house stage in Myst would be like if Myst were real and not a computer game. I just love nature. That has been one of my favorite parts of this Ghana experience is the nature things we have done, like the river blindness lake and the safari in Mole and this canopy walk. We were talking today how cool it would be to do your ISP on National Parks and preservation or wildlife conservation or just you know hanging out in the parks all day. Nobody made any comments about how cool this would be compared to any specific National Parks in America. Nobody said that. Speaking of ISP, I am now lost about what to do for mine. I had my plan to study art communities at the ArtHaus but I just found out that the guy doesn’t let people live there anymore so he could still be my advisor and I could still do work there but I would have to find other accommodations which would be fine but then I wouldn’t really want to do the whole project on art communities because it would be more just like me doing art with this guy. So then I’d have to find a new angle because art on its own is just too big of a topic for a small person like me. Now I’m thinking about all the other things I’m interested in like the parks and colonialism and loving Cape Coast and I just don’t know what I want to do. Any advice on this would be much appreciated slash then I’d know if people actually read this blog or if all the views are just me looking at it when I’m bored. BUT NO REALLY I NEED HELP SHOULD I STAY IN ACCRA AND STILL WORK WITH ARTHAUS MAN OR SHOULD I DO HALF THAT AND ALSO BE IN CAPE COAST AND DO ART STUFF HERE OR SHOULD I STAY IN CAPE COAST OR SHOULD I COMPLETELY CHANGE MY TOPIC OR SHOULD I TRY TO MELD ART WITH OTHER THINGS….HELP MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Hokay I think I have more things to say but I will say a lot in my entry on Cape Coast Castle. It is almost dinner time yay, I am always hungry. And then I can drink some of the giant bottles of palm wine I bought at the park today. Palm wine is like slightly alcoholic lemonade slash I love it because it tastes more like lemonade than any lemonade I can find here, (seriously there is none.) Also I’m pretty convinced it is like 1% alcohol TOPS because it tastes so good. So I miss you all I love you and goodbye.