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!

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.

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.

Bokrum Estate is Narnia and Analoga Junction is the doorway that never exists when you need it

Wow it’s been quite a last few days!  Quite a few adventures getting lost (I live in an imaginary place in Kumasi, I swear) excellent street food, and weird things that are now normal.  I will begin with Wednesday.  The girl on my program whose homestay is close to mine, Kelly, went to the hospital with malaria on Tuesday night (life is excellent everywhere) and thus it was my first time going to school alone.  I waited at the taxi spot for like fifteen minutes, but all the taxis were full plus there were like 80 people waiting and no one was getting taxis.  So I started walking, and this guy in a car with some logos painted on it pulled over and offered me a ride.  According to our teachers this is an acceptable form of transportation so I said yes.  It turns out that this guy owns a hotel, ‘Time Hotel’ (things have funny names here) right next to my intersection.  He was quite a jolly fellow and gave me a ride to what they call Airport roundabout.  This is where I hit trouble.  He/comrades told me to walk this certain direction and I would hit a taxi spot thing.  This did not happen.  I walked for a while, then I walked some more, then I just kept walking.  At this point I had no idea where I was and didn’t recognize anything but advertisments for ‘Glo’ (still don’t know what this is) and MTN and Elite 1 Admission etc.  So I called Kwame, the guy who is basically just paid to hang out with us and not teach anything, and said I was lost.  He said where are you.  I said I don’t know that’s why I’m lost.  Then it got really bad service and I recognized a gas station so I hung up and turned there.  A random guy told me that I was going in the right direction (Semi false) but I called Kwame back anyway.  I still didn’t know where I was enough to tell him anything (‘a gas station’ doesn’t really help here) so he told me to ‘give the phone to a Ghanaian’ to help me.  I gave the phone to a random guy selling plantains or phone credit or something and him and Kwame talked in really fast Twi that I obviously did not understand, but the conversation ended with him getting me a taxi and asking for my phone number.  Typical of Ghana life.  I made it to school then, yay!

That day we went to a priestess in the morning.  It was hours away.  Like at least one and a half.  But it was a pretty cool experience.  We asked her questions about her priestessdom a lot of which were lost in translation but it was still interesting.  At this point nobody was forcing it down my throat like I actually had to believe it so it was interesting to see the traditional religion perspective.  Then they tried to sell us a bunch of stuff (welcome to our lives, being sold shit at a religious shrine) and I resisted.  I’m getting great at not buying stuff because I just can’t face the thought of carrying it all around for the next three months.  I’ll buy souveigners sovineers soveigners WHAT THE HELL IS THAT WORD in November before I go home but now I just cry about moving around.  Anyway then we did this dance session which is always fun.  She hugged us all it was very sweet.  This was when one of our group members ‘was chosen by the spirits’ and some really ridiculous story that I am not going to tell on public forum because the amount of skepticism I have would start to verge on sarcasm and that is just a slippery slope that I am not interested in slipping.  But if you want the full story, skeptic and all, shoot me an email and I’ll be sure to divulge.  After this part we had personal consultations with the priestess if we wanted.  All of us but three did, it was only 2 cedi and it was an interesting thing to do.  I went first, we were supposed to go in with a question but she usually just ended up talking and then maybe answering the question or not.  I went in and she said before I said anything that I should ‘hold my pen tightly in school,’ that ‘if I work hard in school I will be very smart and successful’ that ‘one day people will worship me,’ and then the big humdinger…that a water spirit follows me in my hometown.  Yes, lakes Mendota and Monona DO have a strange fascination with me, how did you know?!  (see the sarcasm can’t help itself) Now I have no problem with these ‘predictions’ obviously, but I’m pretty sure that everyone would like to hear that people will worship them one day.  Apparently she said some ‘really creepily accurate’ things to some people but I don’t have much detail.  It was a cool experience though.  My question for her was about how I should deal with anxiety (I actually know very well how to deal with anxiety but I couldn’t think of any specific life problems because someone outside probably would have heard me if I said how do I make my fellow students stop being rude) and I don’t think she (or either of the translators, for that matter) really got the concept because they all just seemed to not know what I meant by ‘worrying about things in the future.’  She then told me to tell Yemi (my program director) my problems and that I should come back with white powder if I wanted more consultation.  Some people are going back later and I might go with a specific problem in mind to see what they say, because it is very interesting if not something I believe in.

After this we were the starvingest (that’s actually not funny for me to write on my blog about studying abroad in Ghana…but too late.  My ability to be politically correct is just nonexistent) so I tried to convince Kwame to take us to a restaurant on the way back to school.  This was unsuccessful so it was already 1 PM and we then had the hour and a half drive back to school.  Yay…not.  We went on the LONGEST search for this elusive ‘cheeseburger and indian food’ restaurant in a really crowded region of Kumasi, but luckily we eventually found it.  And this restaurant, was, is, and always will be THE GREATEST THING.  The menu is HUGE and has cheeseburgers, sandwiches, indian food, chinese food, pizza, and like EVERY KIND OF FOOD.  No Mexican food but life is rough.  We ordered 13 cheeseburgers and ‘chips’ aka fries and in addition I got samosas and this weird spicy indian chicken appetizer.  (of course I got more food than everyone else in the group.  This is my life.) The burgers were actually AMAZING and not even by ‘I never get to eat American food standards.’ Well, kind of by those standards.  But it was still amazing.  Also we learned that Sylvia (one of the ladies who helps SIT) has NEVER EATEN CHEESE.  This obviously made me very sad because cheese accounts for much of the happiness in my life.  It’s not that they don’t have cheese in Ghana, they do, but it just isn’t a big thing like it is in America (or in my life.) We had cheese on our cheeseburgers but that’s all I’ve seen of it so far.  Also it isn’t pasteurized so it might be sketchy for us to eat it, but I also don’t give a fuck and if I find some I’m buying it because my stomach is already shot so I may as well add some unpasteurized cheese.  Of course the only other people in the restaurant were other obronis (which is funny that we all find this place because it’s not very obvious and also Kumasi isn’t exactly a tourist spot.) In the week that we’ve been here I have seen a total of 8 white people not related to SIT and four of them were in that restaurant or on the way to the restaurant.  The others – one was a girl crying next to a suitcase at a gas station (perhaps this was an SIT student in disguise), a guy in a safari outfit walking on the street (LOOOOSER!  There’s no elephants in Kumasi!  You have to go to the North, duh.) and two ladies at the zoo today.  I will get to the zoo later.

After the obroni restaurant (our affectionate name for it) we all went home.  I was promptly fed rice with sauce which was unfortunate since I was still full but I ate some anyway.  This happens to me a lot because the homestay pretty much feeds me within the hour of when I get home whenever that is, and I always end up eating really late with the obronis if we are free or getting a snack on the way home of a normal day.

The next day Kelly was still in the hospital (sad puppy paws) so I foraged my way to school alone again.  I had called Kwame to help me figure out my commute the previous night but instead of telling me what to do he just got my host brother on the phone and told him to take me to school.  This isn’t really that helpful because yes I get there but I still don’t really understand the process of how he does it.  This is an odd concept because you’d think that once I did it with someone it would be easy but there is some kind of taxi secret language or something and I just do not know it.  Anyway me and my host brother (also named Kwame…I think this is their day name and not real name…everyone has a name based on the day they were born…its confusing) set off at the normal time and started walking because the usual no taxis.  This is the walk that is 40 minutes if you can’t find a car.  Luckily Mr. Time Hotel Man found us again, this time in a pickup truck.  His comrade in the front seat moved to the bed with my host brother and I got in the front seat.  Obroni chick treatment right there.  He took me to the roundabout again and then Kwame shimmyshammied our way to school.  He also paid for the taxis which made me feel guilty but whatever it happened.  So no lostness but was still late and still know nothing.

Twi classes are going, as one would expect, terribly.  I am the worst at the language and not being able to concentrate obviously doesn’t help.  As an added bonus I get to listen to everyone who doesn’t take Adderall tell me how if they were on Adderall they’d be so good at it and I’m like GUYS IT’S NOT A MAGIC DRUG THAT MAKES YOU LOVE LEARNING TWI.  IT JUST MAKES YOU CONCENTRATE ON THINGS.  SO IF YOU GET BORED LEARNING TWI, YOU’LL STILL GET BORED LEARNING TWI ON ADDERALL BUT YOU WILL BE MUCH BETTER ABLE TO CONCENTRATE ON YOUR DRAWINGS OF TACOS AND WRITTEN HISTORY OF SOME OF THE SILLY THINGS THAT HAPPENED AT SCHOOL IN THE PAST YEAR AND A HALF.  Too many capitals sorry haha.  I just got on a roll.  Luckily we have a break in the morning where I always have to go get a snack.  I eat white bread for breakfast every single day which does not even remotely fill me up so I always need a snack and a coke or a Fanta.  Coke and Fanta are big things here. But they come in glass bottles and then you give the bottles back so they can be reused.  This is a great practice but I have a feeling that it would never work in America because of the germphobia.  But I like it.

We have now started afternoon dance classes – oh wait but we had our last lecture on Thursday.  It was actually probably one of the worst lectures I’ve ever had in my life, if you can even call it a lecture.  I like can’t even explain what happened but it was observation and participation techniques and the guy like said no words but then asked us for examples and we said the most obvious things ever and then wrote them down on these giant pieces of paper and then he talked for like AN HOUR about these weird African metal trinkets and passed around at least fifteen books and all the while we COULD NOT HANDLE OURSELVES.  Usually we’re a pretty calm if sleepy group during lectures but this time we just couldn’t live.  There was laughter and side conversations and just inability to handle our lives and the guy just didn’t even notice a thing.  I don’t know why it was so ridiculous…but it was.

THEN we had our first dance lesson.  Well not first we’ve been dancing since we got here but our first with this one teacher in Kumasi.  She’s a character.  Not the nicest lady but she’s funny.  We also have to learn a lot of odd songs with hard to remember tunes that no one can sing and play weird clapping games or just clapping rhythms and it’s all very odd.  The dancing is hard but really fun.  I’m glad we get to do something active, it keeps me occupied way more than class.  The dances will all be cool for me to parade at parties back at school….not.  Most of them involve us doing things in a giant circle and then doing really complicated body movements including one that involves putting your leg up like a bird and doing a hip thrust.  I am not really getting any better at dancing but the freestyle sections of the dances are always good for me!

I know that more things have happened in these past few days but it is hard to remember and that is fine because I can save some stories for real life.  If I can even call them stories.  A lot of the time I feel like I don’t really have stories, just weird things that happen in Africa like selling giant wood fixtures by the side of the road.

I will describe Friday by the sheer amount of food that I consumed.  So the usual breakfast of bread.  Then during break this thing that is basically cake and a lemon Fanta (the best flavor.) then banku for lunch (banku is my shit,) a Fanice for after lunch snack –

HERE I MUST TELL YOU ABOUT FANICE.  IT IS THE BEST THING.  IT IS ICE CREAM….IN A BAG.  YOU CAN BUY IT ANYWHERE ON THE STREET.  THE.  GREATEST.  THING.

Anyway, then after dancing I went with a few of the girls to this bar where we had kebobs (another FANTASTIC DISCOVERY ABOUT GHANA) okay I must devote more than parentheses to kebobs.  Everyone knows about kebobs but these are just so great because they are fresh and probably recently slaughtered chicken or goat (sorry for that) and made right in front of you but the greatest part is they put this AMAAAAAAZING spice on them that is some kind of awesome pepper.  I LOVE KEBABS.  Then I went home quickly to gather my things for our adventure that night (obviously getting another Fanice on the way home) , let my host sister know that I’d be staying away for the night (my host mom like doesn’t exist.  The siblings are basically my parents which is funny because all but one of them are younger than me…but every young person here is super mature and acts like 10 years older than they are) and headed to a taxi.  Here I bought two more kebabs (goat this time) and then at a gas station at one of our stops on the way to the highlife concert I got ANOTHER FANICE and some chocolate and a juice called ‘morning blend.’  I stopped eating at this point but it was just a great snack day.  THREE FANICES IN ONE DAY, LIFE IS SO GREAT.

That night Kwame took us all out to this highlife concert (highlife is a type of music that I still don’t really understand at all or know how to characterize) but it seemed very suspiciously like reggae.  I think that highlife is very different from reggae but clearly I know nothing so who knows.  Anyway this was great fun because we were able to be with the big group but hang out in little groups and we just danced a lot and had a grand old time.  It’s nice to just dance fun and crazy and not like at a frat party.  Watching the group dynamics during this is VERY INTERESTING THOUGH, especially how Kwame and our other semi helper people are involved, and if you want this analysis and funny stories please email me.  PLEASE IT IS HILARIOUS.  After this we went to a club (also Kwame’s doing, what a guy) and that was more fun good times.  A bunch of us got rooms at a hotel that night so we didn’t have to find our way home in the dark and late night ness, esp since one of the junctions on the way to my house just doesn’t exist.  I say the name and no one ever knows what I’m talking about.  All in all it was a very good night full of bonding and fun conversations and me continuing in my quest to figure out who the guys in our group (there are only 4) ‘like’ out of the girls/who they would get with.  Since I have no attraction feelings for any of them it is fun for me to try and analyze this and Trent (the one who I am closest to) seems to think it is funny and not creepy so it gives me entertainment.  I haven’t figured anything out yet for sure but I have my suspicions.

I will interject here with a section about Kwame.  I CAN’T TELL WHAT THE HELL HIS JOB ACTUALLY IS.  He’s always with us but he never teaches anything, doesn’t seem to organize much, sometimes chaperones us, but mostly just talks to us and hangs out with us/ takes us to clubs.  Okay, that last one has only happened once.  I’m pretty sure that he is just paid to hang out with us and be a semi-close-to-our age mentor friend guy.  His interactions with the students are interesting to say the least.  This is another one that is a great story but maybe not for the public eye.  VERY funny though, again I want to tell it.

There is a lizard on my wall.  Oh my life.

Anyway, my relationship with Kwame is very similar to mine with most of my older male friends where it’s kind of like big brother/sidekick/help me with my life type of thing.  By help me with my life I mean help me get to school, ha.  I can’t say the same for everyone in the group….ominous pause.

Also funny story, Kwame was in the hospital with Kelly when I called him asking to help me figure out how to get to school and she asked him about the morning where I got lost afterwards, like if I was upset or not and apparently he said “No Becca doesn’t get upset she just talks fast.” Or something equal parts funny and true.   A pretty good description of my life right now because when stressful things happen which is always I usually am just like huh, unfortunate, how am I gonna get out of this one.  I think it’s helped by the fact that I feel VERY safe here.  I’ve never felt threatened even though people pay one million times more attention to me than anyone ever would in America.  The Ghanaians are just generally very nice and helpful and malicious intentions aren’t as big of a thing here as they are in other countries, or so I’m told.  Even getting hit on isn’t actually that much of a problem if you know how to handle it.  If you just ignore it or smile/wave instead of getting into conversations with people it isn’t really that stressful.  A few people in the group have had issues with this – not with specific people but with getting used to just giving face and walking away instead of getting engaged in conversation.  I find it startlingly easy, a sentiment shared by most of the girls in the group.

I am starting to bond more with the group I think.  It’s still hard for me when we’re all together doing one thing (versus able to split into smaller groups) BUT I talked to a few other girls about this and we all feel the same way in this and other respects so that was very helpful, good to know I’m not the only one who has been having struggles.  It still really bothers me when people are rude but I figure it will either dissipate when we get to the villages (we split up for that) or people will keep doing it and then I will get so frustrated that I will be unable to avoid calling them out on it.  Either way it’ll work out.

Today we went to the zoo, which was a good day but the zoo was like maximum depressing.  I’m not an ‘I hate zoos’ person at all, I love the zoo!  But this one was just like not good old Henry Vilas Zoo.  I mean obviously.  But okay the zoo.  So the animals were like the saddest things.  There was this horse tied to a tree that I was excited to see…but it actually almost made me cry.  It was BY FAR the most malnourished horse I’ve ever seen in real life (and I’ve seen a lot of skinny skinny horses) and the weird rope-ish-not really rope thing it was tied with was wrapped all around its feet and it probably has horrible thrush, BUT the worst part was it had this GIANT growth/sore thing coming off of one of its lips.   Also really chafed withers which makes me think that this poor thing has probably been used for some type of pony ride which is simultaneously a horrifying and impossible thought since I’m pretty sure if I would have touched it it would have just fallen over and died.  So that was the worst.  The other animals weren’t as depressing.  Some of them actually had very nice open style cages or enclosures with a lot of room, some of them had more room than at American zoos.  They had squirrels in a cage which I obviously thought was funny because I mean it’s a squirrel that’s not exactly an exciting animal to a Midwesterner.  Same with the geese.  There were just bats flying around the sky in some places which was very interesting.  The donkeys were far less depressed than the horse.  There were peacocks just wandering about which was fun.  Monkeys did tricks for bananas, the usual.  It was definitely a good cultural experience even though I now kind of want to do my ISP on ‘saving the poor sad almost dead horse from the Kumasi zoo.’  Also I don’t know why I thought that a zoo in Africa wouldn’t be depressing.  I’m about to say a totally white person travels to Africa thing, but I hope that when we go on our travel trip around the nature and north and stuff that we can see some wild animals in their actual habitat.

Now I am home.  I feel bad when I don’t hang out with my host family but they are always just watching TV so I can do that with them sometimes but I figure its okay for me to have alone time since I’m with other people ALL THE LIVELONG DAY EVERY DAY.  I’m definitely bonding with Andy far more than the rest of the family but I have had chats with all of them at one point or another.  Small talk isn’t a big thing here like it is for Americans though so that is what it is.  Sometimes I practice Twi with them but it’s hard to practice when I know nothing.  It’s a good family though, I’m very happy at this homestay and we all get along well.   I like having the older kids and the freedom to come and go as I please and sit and watch tv with them or just hang out in my room.

I have found that I’m generally very at peace here and am happy in a different way than I am at home.  I’m not really happy based on the things I do but based on just having a general mindset of interest and relaxedness.  It’s quite a skill to be content while doing things like going to the bathroom in the complete darkness or walking through a commercial area so crowded that at times it just STOPS like traffic, but I’m learning.  I just like Africa.  Since getting here I haven’t really disliked it but at first I just wasn’t attached, I was more like observing it all and just taking it in.  Obviously I don’t like some of the things I have to do, but that’s very separate from my likeage of Ghana/Africa/the experience as a whole.  And I just fucking love Fanice so much. I still spend 70% of my free thinking time thinking about food but Fanice helps soften the blow of no Taco Bell.