Monday, July 4, 2011
Sorry this is the first you are hearing from me since my departure. It's been a whirlwind and this is the first chance I've had to get to the Internet. Also, I am doing everything from my iPod touch so bare with me.
Friday I left the US feeling every emotion possible from excitement to anxiety with a little bit of sadness when it came time to say goodbye to Chris. When I was standing in line ready to board I met another girl who like me was headed to Ghana by herself to do volunteer work for 2 months so we chatted before the flight and then again after we deplaned so some of my nerves subsided knowing there was someone else having the same feelings as me.
The flight was not bad at all, I slept for 8 of the 11 hours thanks to Dramamine :) and since it was a night flight I'm not feeling any jet lag. When I got through customs, my head started to spin a bit here's the scenario:
People yelling to keep moving while also selecting people to check luggage and randomly asking for passports, then walking through a maze towards the "way out." Once you are at the way out -hundreds of people are waiting taxi drivers, tour groups and tons of individuals with small paper signs and everyone is yelling around while I try to find my name. I see Charles who shakes my hand, grabs my bag and starts walking. We go to the taxi area where he bargains for the perfect price and we get into a car that doesn't look like it can drive more than 5 miles. The taxi then drops us at the "Tro-Tro" stop where the doors open and people just grab your luggage and put it in the Tro- Tro as fast as they can and tell you to hurry get in to which we then sat there for about an hour waiting for more people.
A Tro-Tro is a 12 passenger van (which they fit 14 into) it also make the AmeriCorps van look like a stretch limo, but it works and they go everywhere it's the main form of transportation in Africa. We drove about 4 hours from Accra to Denu on both paved and dirt roads. What I learned on this Tro -Tro trip:
1. There are barely any road laws in Ghana.
2. You can indeed take speed bumps going 50mph - same thing with dirt roads.
3. Anything and everything is sold at the road side markets from fruit to coffins.
4. If someone buys something from the Tro- Tro and the vendor didn't get the right amount money they will run after the van until it stops (not me by the way)
5. The people of Ghana are extremely warm and friendly - and of course when you say your from America the say "New York City!?!"
Once we were dropped off in Denu we took another quick taxi ride to my new home for the next month (we would have walked but with my bags Charles wanted to take the taxi.) I totally broke the RPM rule of if you pack it, you carry it, Charles carried my camera bag and a boy in the village carried my main bag which I'm pretty sure weighed as much as him even though I told him it was ok he insisted.
Ok I'm rambling, anyway ...
The house that I am staying at very western style - there is a living/dinning room, small kitchen (but anyone renting in NYC would say huge kitchen) 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. My room is bigger than the one at my Jay Street apartment with a king size bed (sorry Chris) I guess usually married couples stay in this room but since there will be no married couples during my stay I was given the room. I don't want you to get the wrong impression it is very simple here - I have to "fetch" water to use the bathroom and there will never be a hot shower but I am grateful that I have indoor plumbing and a nice room to call my own.
The family is very nice my host mother Celestine is very kind and two of her "daughters" are here Bless and Ester. Bless is my guardian I'll talk more about her in the next post. The other two "children" are away at school now but will be back at some point during my stay. There are also many extended family members in the same fenced in housing unit and they are all in and out. Celestine is the family representative so they are always looking for her and again everyone is real nice so I'm looking forward to my time here.