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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wait have I already described this game?

WHATEVER IT’S SO MUCH FUN.

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

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

 

ISProblems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE DAY BECCA WENT BANKRUPT

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

THE DAY BECCA WENT BANKRUPT

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

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

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

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

Check

Harass computer helper man who is a Ghanaian version of Owen

Ghanaian Owen tells me to harass computer ladies

They give me blank shrugs

I attempt to print again

First seven pages print

I attempt to print last 16 pages

No dice

I attempt again

7 more pages print

I harass more people

Ghanaian Owen helps me, kind of

No dice

More lack of dice

Computer ladies claim no documents have been sent

I print again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I say loudly, OH MY GOD.

Someone asks if I am lost.

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

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

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

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

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

THE REGGAE VERSION OF MY HEART WILL GO ON.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.