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.

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!

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.

we like silence. YOU LIKE PLANTAINS?!!

Things I love:  SHOWERS.  WATER.  BEDS.  SHOWERS.  THE INTERNET.  THE INTERNET.  THE IIIIINTERNET!!

Anyway, just got back from the village today.  It was a really great experience and I was sad to leave the kids and all the people behind.  It was definitely challenging to not really be able to have conversations beyond the surface level with very many people since so few people spoke English we speak such (SUCH) marginal Twi, but it was cool to be able to bond with people anyways and see how kind they were to us and how excited they were to see us every day.

A big part of the village (obviously if you’ve read anything else I wrote on it) was getting used to not having organized activities.  I had some trouble with the insane amount of free time but at the same time I really liked not being pressured to do anything.  Sometimes you just really need to relax and do your own thing..  I’m becoming a firm believer in that people should just do what they need to do in order to get through the day and it was nice to have time to do the things that keep me calm like reading or watching old episodes of House.  I feel very well rested now and have gotten on a much better sleep schedule!  I even can get up really early in the morning now without crying about it.

I’m trying to remember some specific things I did the last week in the village.  Did more work on my animal ISP, so I observed a goat slaughter and helped cut up the pieces for our meat.  That was um gross.  Like really gross.  Guts everywhere.  I accidentally sliced the intestine and gross shit came out.  Sorry world.  Clearly being a farmer is not in my future.  I learned a lot of interesting things about the animal farming here in Ghana.  It’s based so much more off subsistence than in America, and everything is on a much smaller scale which is just healthier and better in many ways.  Obviously it has its drawbacks but it was great to see everything progressing instead of like factory life.  Sorry these sentences don’t really make sense.  We went to the school a few mornings and observed classes.  It’s interesting to see how the education compares to America.  Obviously things aren’t as fancy but the teachers work so hard and really try to do well at their jobs.  The teachers at the school in our village haven’t been paid even though they’ve been working for A YEAR, but they still stay there and do it.  The community gives them places to live and feeds them.  The teachers pay is the governments responsibility but nothing really goes as planned.  It’s so amazing to me that they keep working even though they have no idea when they will get money.

I’m having big trouble remembering ANYTHING specific I did in the village right now.  I think it’s a combination of dehydration and exhaustion.  I know I said I was well rested…but that’s like relatively speaking.  I’m also always tired.  I really need some water but I don’t know where any water is.  Welcome to Africa struggles haha.  Hmmm I have no idea what happened on Monday.  On Tuesday in the morning I went on a walk in the bush with two of the girls on my program and we ended up getting taken on this orange farming expedition with this super nice farmer who showed us all his land and then climbed a tree and gave us TONS of oranges.  He also showed us the best way to peel/eat an orange which is to cut off the outer skin but then leave the white layer and bite it from the top which has been cut off and suck out all the juice.  IDK I’ll post pictures.  I THIIIINK that Monday we carried cement to help on a village project (if by help you mean did work slower than anyone who is doing it and almost spilling cement) and then went and observed at the school.  We also did a question and answer session during the ‘morality’ class but I just watched because I can’t do the American bestowing knowledge on the African children thing.   I just feel weird, I mean it’s probably unnecessary feeling weird but if other people like doing it they should do it because they probably don’t feel weird about it.  or something.  Slash even though some of the questions the kids asked WERE funny I still feel weird laughing about it afterwards.  Plus they were talking about atheism since this is not a concept in Africa and they were trying to explain differences (or something…I was busy copying animal notes out of a Junior High science book to pay too much attention) and even though I obviously would have been an authority on this topic I was just like man I can’t do this without being myself.  Like I believe in my views but I don’t want to say anything that would express my inherent skepticism in religion.  Like I just feel like I can’t really be objective.  Or something.  So I just observed and took my cow breed notes.

Wednesday we went to the market.  This was quite an adventure.  Wanna know what nobody ever thinks it does in Africa?  Rains.  Wanna know what it does ALL THE TIME in Africa?  RAINS.  It poured like almost every day in the village and market day was no exception.  So we got to help the people selling things cover their wares and then hide under an awning.  Markets are always overwhelming but very interesting here.  On the way home we saw PROBABLY the weirdest thing in the world.  We were riding a tro tro and at this one stop the door opened and a baby got off.  We thought the lady whose lap it was sitting on would follow it.  but no. just the baby, got off the tro tro, with its little bag of goods, and walked off.  A baby.  Couldn’t have been more than three years old.  ALONE.  We have been unable to figure this out.  We talk about it ALL THE TIME.  The look on our faces when A BABY just WALKED ITSELF OFF THE TRO TRO FROM A HUGE ASS MARKET..nobody knows.  We asked one of our leaders about it and her response was “well…she was probably sent to the market to pick up a few things” THE BABY WAS LEGIT THREE YEARS OLD.  I asked our other leader and he said “Sometimes they look like babies but they are older.”  NO, IT WAS THREE.  Nobody knows.

I don’t know other stuff happened in the village but who can remember.  Even though the kids were obnoxious and the worst when we just wanted to be alone or eat meals, I am going to miss them.  My FAAAAVORITE, Foster, or ‘Faustaa’ as you say it, especially.  Just the greatest child.  In general it was just a very relaxing friendly setting and there wasn’t too much to worry about. I’ll miss the bar, the people, the wandering animals.  My one regret is that I didn’t have more one on one conversations with the people, but it is just really hard when most of the people don’t speak English and you don’t really know who the ones that do are.  We had this lecture from our AD on one of the last days on how we had been complaining that our leaders would tell us we were going to have interviews but then just not show up and he said that ‘we should have been going off and finding people and getting our own interviews’ and I was just like hmm well Yemi YOU NEVER TOLD US HOW TO DO THAT.  We never were told a. that that was socially acceptable, since 90% of the time you tell us that everything is NOT socially acceptable, B. we odn’t know who speaks English, C. you don’t just GO into someone’s house…okay nevermind no rant.  But really it’s either ‘OH YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING THAT’S NOT CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE’ or they’re like DO MORE!! GO ASK THE CHIEF TO BE YOUR TRANSLATOR!  Whatever whatever happened happened.

Now I have finally been on the internet.  I have missed it so.  We go to Tamale tomorrow (HAHAHAHAHA) which is nerve wracking because it is going to be really hot because it is the north but also we have to dress conservatively because it is mostly Muslim.  So I will be dying of heatstroke.  They claim that we will be doing art workshops there.  I hope this is the truth.  I miss doing art. There was no art to be spoken of in the village which was sad but understandable.  I’m sure I have more things I could say but I am sleepy.  And I just really want water.

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.