Friday, September 28, 2012

First Days in Kumasi (Written on 9.18.12)

I have safely arrived in Kumasi. I am with my host family which actually consists of only one kid not three as my host family info says. Both of my parents work and are rarely home, there is no internet here which is why I have yet to post anything on my blog yet. For the first week here, Jeff, the AFS chaperone who accompanied us to Ghana, stayed with my family. It was very nice to have some company. It must have been take your host children to work week since Jeff and I accompanied my host dad to work everyday. He is the manager of K.A.T.H., the  teaching hospital. Which is a very beautiful location but my first impression wasn't the best due to the first place we visited being the morgue. My host dad asked us if we wanted to see dead bodies and Jeff wanted to so we did...Welcome to Africa! From what I have perceived so far, people pretty much do whatever they want here from the reckless driving such as sticking your whole car into the middle of the street you are trying to cross to pretty much every guy peeing where ever & when ever he wants to.
This week, Jeff and I accompanied my host day around, visiting his village, attending an engagement ceremony, and then a wedding. Which I have stories to tell about all of these events-which are coming I promise! I am sorry I have been so bad about updating this blog, but hopefully I will get better.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Observations on the top of the Iceberg

Ghana is loud. Every hour of every day, the outside world floods your ears with noise. Be it the beautiful call to prayer, the neighbors blasting some azonto, or the church behind our house loudspeakering their service all throughout the night including a two hour long broadcast to the world of the congregation speaking in tongues. This church seems to have a service every night of the week. There seems to be at least one church having a service whose noise cannot seem to be contained in the church. It spreads throughout the town permeating everyone's half asleep ears making sure you too hear the word of God, even if you don't speak Twi and are trying to sleep. Or if the word of God didn't hit you in the evening, maybe the 4:00 wake up call by the evangelist preaching right in front of your house will do the trick.
It isn't only at your house that you are bombarded with noise. The streets here are filled with honking cars, vendors announcing the names of their goods, and the music flowing from random shops. Noise is not the only sense that is ever present in Ghana. Every sense here is bombarded with the new & exciting as well as the not so exciting. The eyes are treated to continually amazing skies which makes one understand why people here are so religious. The sky here holds so much beauty and almost everyday there is at one point or another what I call a "God sky". And it is not just the sky that invites staring. Everywhere I turn, there is something new to observe. The brightly painted houses, the fauna, the wandering  livestock, and best of all the clothing full of every color under the sun. The smells of frying food, burning trash, and exhaust overwhelm you as you meander through this city.
The view from my porch

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Orientation in Ghana

 I have safely arrived here in Ghana. I apologize for the lack of blogposts, but internet is not an easy commodity to come by here.
We flew via London to Accra. On the plane, I sat in between Emily and Sarah. We were all alight with excitement as we landed and headed down the stairs just like in the old version of "Parent Trap" into Ghana. We walked inside and waited in a long line for immigration and then headed to the hostel where we were staying for orientation.
The next morning we were told to grab a little bag for an overnight since we were headed to Cape Coast! It was great to be able to see some of the country. My initial reaction was excitement over everything. Everything was so beautiful and so African. Everyone really does carry everything on their heads, wear wonderfully vibrant colors, and there are villages with traditional huts. There are animals roaming the streets, herds of sheep, flocks of chickens, and stray goats all foraging for food. The sad thing is there is trash everywhere. 

When we got to Cape Coast, we toured Elmina Castle which was beautiful, but gave everyone a shock since there were these people who talked to us briefly before we entered the castle who later on, when we exited the castle, they pounced on us. They handed us these shells with our name on it and demanded that we give them money. I was thoroughly scared and just walked to the bus. Even when I got on the bus, he wouldn't leave me alone. When he finally realized I wasn't going to give him money, then he wanted his shell back which I was more than happy to give to him since the only reason I kept it was because it was in my hand and I didn't know what else to do.

The view from the top of the castle was so breathtaking. Pictures do not do it any justice. The sun enhanced haze made the picturesque village seem so unreal and so alive at the same time.

That night, we ate supper at a resort that was right on the ocean. While we were waiting for our meals to come, we were able to run barefoot through the warm waves together. I was so excited since many a time on cold winter nights, one dreams of the balmy tropical beach with white sands and palm trees. That night we stayed at a very ritzy hotel. Expecting a similar beach to the one we strolled on the night prior, Emily and I woke up early and went for a morning walk. To our dismay, the "beach" was ridiculously trash ridden.

After a delicious breakfast, we traveled to the Kaukum Canopy Walk which was amazing!! I was on cloud nine. I could not believe I was actually up in the air over a jungle in Africa. :)

After we toured Cape Coast Castle, we returned then to Accra and that night I was able to connect to the internet long enough to skype with my family and Arden <3 The day of orientation was what I expected this whole orientation to be: workshops, which it thankfully was not. We went to the US Embassy that morning which was super exciting and the charge d'affairs spoke to us! After that we walked around Accra a little. It was super exilarating to dive into the streets with the constant noise, smells, and sights so completely different from anything I had ever experienced before. After our walk, we went to the AFS office for workshops.

The Kids From Belgium

The AFS Bus that took us to Kumasi

The next morning, we said our goodbyes to the exchange students staying in Accra and Teme and boarded the AFS bus to Kumasi. En route to Kumasi, we dropped of my roommate in Kfuradura and two other girls in Nkrauwkrauw, a beautiful city nestled in the mountains. We then headed the rest of the way to Kumasi, which will be home to 5 exchange students this year. When we arrived in Kumasi, we said goodbye to the two exchange students going to Suyani, which is even further north than Kumasi, and met our host families.