Thursday, 20 March 2008

Monika in Ghana #1 (2007 Year Out Volunteer)

Hey all, from Ghana!

So I arrived here on the 9th in the evening where me and a few others were picked up from the airport and taken to this Hostel we're staying at. We were all pretty tired so we went straight to bed. The next day we went and met our In-Country_agent who calls herself our big black Mumma and she just gave us a bit of a run down on what we'd be doing this week. Then we spent the rest of the day at the beach. I wasn't sure if Accra (the capital city) had beaches that you could swim in but the waves were massive, but still not as good as Sydney beaches. As soon as we got to the beach swarms of locals came up to us trying to sell their goods. They each have their own stories about how they need to go to school tomorrow so we should just purchase one necklace or painting, or how the money is not an issue for them, and what they really want is for our mother to have a necklace as a gift. It's all lighthearted though, the Ghanaian people are so friendly and even if you don't buy anything they give you a special handshake and call you their sister and tell you that despite colour we're all one. It's really nice to be a part of! We ate lunch on the beach as well, I wasn't game to try traditional Ghanaian food straight away so I had a pizza but the food takes about an hour to be served here so by the time it had arrived I'd already eaten other people's food, besides the chicken on the pizza seemed a little suss. So with half a pizza on my plate a local man asked if he could have a piece, I said he could have as much as he wanted so he did, and then a kid cme up and would keep returning to take the remaining scraps off my plate....for some reason it made me really happy. Obviously I didn't care and it was like a real life scenario of when people in Australia don't finish their meals and someone says 'but there are starving kids in Africa' and yes there are and they will take whatever they can get.

After the beach we came back to the hostel and I waited a while for Jani to arrive. I went downstairs at about 10 and she was standing in the lobby, was so happy to see her! We had an early night again and then the next day we had a lesson with Tina (the in country agent) and she taught us all about the families we'll be staying with and what to expect etc then we went into town for a while to get money and look around. I made a friend in town who the previous day had come up to the window of the bus and started talking to me. He told me his name was Ali Baba but his real name was Stefan. He sells necklaces for a living but he didn't try sell to me, he just wanted to chat which was nice, and he told me that already we are borther and sister. So back to where I was before, looking around in town I went and found him and talked to him and he gave me a bit of a lesson on Ghanaian culture etc. Later that day (Tuesday) we went back to the organisation house headquarters place where we learned traditional Ghanaian dance and how to play the drums. The dancing was so much fun but yes we looked pretty stupid doing it! Then yesterday (Wednesday) we had a tour of Accra, we went to see the Presidents memorial and learned about Ghana gaining independence etc, it was interesting but there was so much walking around so it was pretty hot and tiring. The next stop was the Ghanaian markets. They were food markets, don't think I've ever smelled anything worse. There were giant snails, raw pigs feet just cut straight off, dead bats and bush rats, they had just been killed and were still in the position of running away, with their mouths open and teeth showing, a cows head, layers of dried fish, live crabs walking over tables and cow skins. There was much more but they were the worst. It was so interesting though, and all the people there would yell out at us "oberuni" which means white person and 'welcome welcome' everyone seems so happy to see you. And the little babies strapped in materials to their mothers back are so so cute. They could sleep through anything! Later that day we went to the other markets that sell clothes and jewelry. I bought a couple of pairs of 'happy pants' (Ing you've started a trend!) Later went back into town to meet Ali Baba as he had to go into hospital to get his eye treated. Anyway I promised I'd buy some necklaces off him at some stage but he gave me an anklet for free and told me it came from his heart (gag hahaha) nah he's really cool, and Jani bought some painting from his friend. I described a paining I'd seen and asked if he could paint one for me so I'll be picking it up on Saturday.

Anyway then last night we went to a beach party. WOW have never been to somethong more awesome ever! It was all reggae music and the locals dancing reggae style. They had some Nigerian dancers there performing, they were actually amazing. They were doing all sorts of acrobatics, one of them standing with one foot on the other one's head. So so good, have never wished I'd brought my camera somewhere so badly than I did last night. Then there was some token white guy who was definitely on something who kept walking in on the performance which was on the sand around a bonfire and trying to breakdance, looking so out of it......made us want our cameras even more, it was so so funny! Anyway Jani's painting man was there so him and a few of his mates tried to teach us how to dance Reggae style......was a lot harder than it looked! The place was covered with Rastafarians all so friendly and explaining to us that it's ok to smoke dope and that they're people who are accepting of every culture etc....was pretty funny to listen to......all of them high off their nuts! One man told me that he seriosuly seriously loves me and if I marry him I will be his everything and it will all be ok because I'll be able to get him a job in Australia and set him up for he pretty much had me convinced!!!

Woke up this morning and we headed back to the organisation office to learn more from Mumma Tina about where the good places to travel are, what prices are acceptable and then we had a language lesson. After that was done we went into town again to see our painting man and to see if Ali Baba was back from the hospital....which he wasn't. We bought lunch, a few more pairs of happy pants and met a kid who made some arm bands for us, which then lead to us buying some bangles and other assortments. But the kid escorted us around town and helped us bargain and told us reasonable prices and even taught us some more Twi (the language they speak).

May go out tonight although we're feeling pretty tired. So far have been having the most amazing time though. The food will still take some getting used to but absolutely no complaints. Can't wait to go to our families on Saturday.....itching to meet them!

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