Saturday, June 20, 2009

Quick Note

I have to pay to get on the internet so I do not have much time to write. I will be typing a lot and very fast in a short amount of time so do not expect my english and sentence structure to be great. There will be no proof reading. Scroll down or click on June 2, 2009 (day 1) to read in order. I will be getting a phone very soon. I will post my phone number when I get it. It is free for me if you call me but I don’t know how much will cost you. If you call using skype it will cost you pretty much nothing. There will be much more to come

Vision Quest Part II

Today we woke up and went to Krofodia, the eastern region capital, and met a couple of Marcus’ friends (other PC volunteers in the area). Before we left for krofodia we went to the Acca Falls which is a beautiful waterfall. You have to hike back a mile to get to the waterfall but the hike is just as beautiful as the waterfall. In Krofodia we eat lunch, go to the largest bead market in Ghana, and go to an internet cafĂ©. We meet up with Travis and head off to his place and his place is stunning compared to Marcus’ place. Travis has 4 large rooms and 2 large balconies.
The next day Travis takes us to the school in his town and I sit in on a math class. Class is just like an american classroom but without all the technology. After class we hangout with a couple of the teachers, most of them are recent college graduates. They are very easy going and I had a fun time talking to them.
This is my last full day of vision quest. Travis took us to his farm and then we came back and played cards and relaxed. The next day we left his place around 1 to get to our new training site. Overall, the vision quest gave me a decent view of what it is like to be out on your own. Although, I hear each person’s experience is different and unique. At our new site, in kukarantume, I have my own room. Somehow I managed to get the suite at the hotel. I have a king size bed, fridge, tv, my own bathroom, and air conditioning. I will be here for 5 days and I also found out 2 more people left the Peace Corps from my group. We are now down to 64

Vision Quest Part I

Today everyone one woke up extremely early, 4:30 am, to get ready for our vision quest. Though, since I had one of the shorter rides I did not leave till around 11:00 so I spent a lot time doing nothing. It took me 3 tros to get to my destination and it was fairly simple. Obawale is a small community and everyone is very nice who lives there. Marcus is a great guy from CA and his living quarters would be a walk in closet in America. We didn’t do much today because it was almost dark when I got there. I took my first bucket shower today, I took a bath using a bucket.
Today I woke up to roosters, sheep, and lambs making their animal sounds and someone sweeping outside. You maybe thinkning that it is late in the morning but it is not. It is only 5 in the morning. Later in the morning Marcus take me hiking, it is a 40 min hike up the mountain to a village. The hike is great because the weather isn’t that hot and the scenery is beautiful. We arrive at the village which is called tsebi and we have mangos. We hike back down and later on a local took us to go see how palm wine is made. They uproot a palm treet and drill a hole in the bottom and let the liquid come out. Then they have a whole system to speed up the process to making it an alcohilc beverage. At night we have palm wine with our dinner and it taste very sweet.

June 8, 2009 (Day 5)

Nothing happened during the day so let me shoot straight to the evening. Party at the US Ambassador’s house! We pull up to his gated house and guards let us in. Once we get inside we head to a giant veranda where the party is. He has a large house ¸big yard, and a pool. After everyone got under the veranda the band started to play. It was a ghanian band and their music was great. A few of us head to the bar to get a drink and we are now waiting for the ambassador to make his appearance. As we wait for the ambassador there is finger food being brought out left and right and it all taste wonderful. Eventually, the ambassador makes his way out and is immediately hounded by people so I wait for the crowd to die down.
I notice the crowd had dwindled down so I make my way over to meet him. I introduce myslef and enjoy a nice little conversation with him and other people come up to talk to him. His name is Ambassador Titelbaum and he is a very social person. I talked to his wife later on and she is very nice too. Halfway through the party Ambassador Titlebaum gives a speech to us. We ended up being there for a couple hours and every aspect of the party was wonderful. He treated us very well. The way back to our hotel was crazy. The driver was out of control, I thought for sure we were going to wreck but we didn’t.

June 7, 2009 ( Day 4)

Today not a lot happened. I decided I would do my laundry but in Ghana we do not have washing and drying machines so I have to do it by hand. A Ghanian lady demonstratesd how to do laundry. It is now my turn and so I attempt to wash my clothes. I do my first shirt and I guess I took too long or I did it wrong, because the Ghanian lady took the rest of my clothes and did them for me. So I didn’t get much practice in.
Later in the day I learned where I am going for Vision Quest. VQ is where the incoming volunteers visit a current volunteer in their village to see what it is like being on your own. I have been selected to visit Marcus who lives in the eastern region in Obawale. Marcus is in the same sector as me (SED) and works in tourism. Today someone decided the PC was not for them and left. There are now 66 of us.

June 6, 2009 (Day 3)

Today we have our quest to Accra. We woke up early and went straight to breakfest. After breakfest we broke up into groups of 5 ( Elyse – Montana, Jacob -Maryland, Dorothy-?, and Jeff – NC). To get to Accra from the college we had to take a trotro. A trotro is like a taxi but is a large van that can hold around 12 people in it. It took us around 20 mins to wave down a trotro but we finally got one. The trotro system is very hectic but they make it work somehow. There is the driver and the mate. You do not speak to the driver and the mate does the collects the money. The mate asks you where you are going and then you pay him. Money is being exchanged all the time and I don’t know how he keeps track of everyone who has payed. They stuff the vehicle to the max so it is very hot in there especially if you are on the side the sun is shining down on. It also is very ditry inside.
If you thought americans in large cities were very aggressive drivers then you haven’t seen Ghanians drive, especially trotro drivers. I will try my best to desribe the roads and all that is happening around you. First, on the side of the streets there are canals that are for drainage. Second, just off the road there are tents with people selling all kinds of stuff which you can find pretty much anything and everything. Third, not only are people selling stuff on the side of the roads but there are people walking up and down selling stuff in between lanes and vehicles. Then when the vehicle is stopped Ghanians are trying to sell you stuff while you are in the vehicle. Fourth, a majority of the roads aren’t paved so they are dirt which are full of bumps and holes. Some of the holes seem like larg craters when you go over them. Fifth, there are speed limits but I am pretty sure the signs are just there for looks. Drivers are going as fast as they can weaving in and out and passing at every opportunity. If no one is coming from the opposite direction on dirt roads then I think you can move over to the lane and stay there as long as you want. I still can’t figure out how an intersection works when it doesn’t have a light. Drivers are yelling at other drivers and you don’t go a couple seconds without hearing multiple car horns. Also the mate all of sudden when stopped jumps out of the van sometimes and doesn’t return. Then 5 minutes later he pops out of thin air into the trotro, so you can only imagine the time I was having while sitting in the van.
It takes us about an hour to get to our destination in Accra. We arrive at central station but a station here is not even close to what a bus/train statioin is in america. Imagine a large square/rectangle around the size of a football stadium. Next, imagine Time Square in New York City on New Years Eve. Now replace ¾ of the people with taxis, buses, and trotros. Then take the remaining ¼ and place them around the perimeter in tents selling anything and everything. Finally, add another few hundred people walking around and about 50 vehicles trying to move in and out of the station. From here we are suppose to go CTS Station which is the government run bus system.
We step out of the trotro and immediately ask a Ghanian where the station is. Ghanians are very nice people so he tells us he will show us how to get there. We arrive at the CTS Station and start explore. It is very nice since it is owned by the government and they have tvs outside while you are waiting for your bus. One tv had the disney channel playing. We finish exploring this site so we decide that we will go see the neoplan station that a current pc volunteer tells us about.
This station is even crazier than central station so just double what I described earlier. Once we arrive we meet a Ghanian and he shows us where to get lunch. It was our first time eating outside from our housing so I was a little suspicious but my hunger out weighed my suspicion. I also had my first semi-cold drink (coke) which was refreshing. After lunch we decide to head back to campus so the Ghanian shows us where to get a tro. We end up taking side streets that are full of people and vendors. The streets are very dirty so I am covered in dirt and feel nasty. I cannot say all of Accra is like this but the part I saw was. It took 4 tros to get back to the college. Overall it was a great experience and I feel I can walk about anywhere in Accra during the day and feel safe

June 5, 2009 (Day 2)

Today we woke up early and went to breakfest. I had cereal and bread with peanut butter on it. After breakfest we went to Peace Corps Headquarters and had a tour of of the building, walked around the block, and I received a couple shots from the nurse. I also have a habit of biting my finger nails which the nurse noticed. She immediately told me to stop because I can get some worm disease here from doing it . After everyone finished everything we headed back to our rooms and relaxed. I enjoyed a good conversation with some of my fellow volunteers then we went to the college for dinner.
After dinner all the Small Enterprise Development volunteers gathered together for a meeting with current business volunteers. The meeting was very informative and it gave me more of and idea of what to expect. A volunteer told us how they choose the sites and said the sites that have been chosen for us this year are very cool. Either I am adjusting to the heat already or today isn’t as hot as yesterday but it was very humid. The sun rises around 6:00 A.M. and the moon appears around 6:00 P.M..