Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's All About the Food

This is what we were told before we moved in with our host families. In Ghanaian culture it is a sign of a bad host if a guest has to ask for seconds, so on the first few days of homestay I was fed a ridiculous amount. Like 2 egg sandwiches and half a loaf of bread for breakfast kind of ridiculous. Since never having eaten half of what my mom gives me, she has taken the hint and now serves me a normal amount, by American standards, which is still a lot of food. My stratetgy has been to not eat lunch since I'm usually in training, so that when dinner rolls around I'm pretty hungry and I can eat more.

I hate to say it, but I don't really like Ghanaian food. I mean it's not inedible, but I'm not a fan. The entire idea behind Ghanaian food is starch and grease. I rather like white rice, spaghetti noodles, and boiled yams, but they are usually covered with a sauce that is not unlike marinara sauce, but they mix a fair amount of palm oil in it. My body is still getting used to the idea of palm oil. It's like I'm back on the lemon cleanse. With the starch and sauce I am usually given chicken, fish, or goat. Though it's usually fish, with the bones still in it. I am trying to get used to the feeling of the the vertebra popping in my mouth. But, as my mom pointed out, at least I'll be getting some calcium, since dairy products are pretty much non existent here. Except for Laughing Cow cheese.

The pride and joy of Ghanaian cuisine is fufu. Fufu is cassava pounded (think HUGE petistal and motor) with plantains until it is gooey, but solid and dough-like. They serve it in a broth made of peanuts (groundnuts) and palm oil. You are supposed to eat it with you hands, which is incredibly messy, and you are not supposed to chew it. Just swallow it. There inlies the paradox of fufu for me because I don't like the way it tastes, but I am also horrible at swallowing things without chewing. I still struggle with pills from time to time.

The host families have the volunteers eat by themselves, which a lot of people don't like. But because I am a misanthrope and a picky eater I am so relieved that I don't have to choke down my food with an audience. I actually rarely see my host family eat, but they all look healthy, so I'm sure they eat enough. I can't wait until I am at my site and can cook my own food. I am really looking forward to familiar flavors.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I have been taking pictures, but it will probably be awhile until I am able to upload them. Computers and the internet are very slow here and I have to travel to get to them.

Things I love in or about Ghana

-Bucket bathes
-torrential rainstorms, especially the sound of rain on a tin roof
-fanice (frozen yogurt/milk that comes in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry)
-football...I have a growing appreciation for soccer. It's a great game.
-the beer only comes in 24oz bottles
-soda comes in glass bottles
-Ghanaians are, for the most part, incredibly nice and helpful
-little kids love me and always call out my name to say hi or fight over who gets to hold my hand.
-my new name is Sister Ama, because I was born on a Saturday. It's Ghanaian thing.
-amazing sunsets and sunrises
-the stars at night
-sleeping in the pattern of the sun. Going to bed at sunset, waking up when the sunrises
-plantain chips
-the 2-yard. 2 yards of cloth that are used for a dress, blanket, towel, baby bjorn, ect.
-goats and chickens roam about everywhere
-goats like to climb on things like piles of wood and just stand there. The king of their mountain.
-I actually like goat meat, at least the one time I had it
-the avocados are huge and taste just like Haas avocados.

All in the Family

I have been at my homestay in a little town called Anyinasin outside of Kukurantumi for almost a week. I have a mom, Ya, and two little brothers, Prince and Brice, that are adorable and so much fun to play with. It makes me even more excited to be an aunt when I come back to the states. I also have a grandmother and granfather. Mom and grandma both speak Englsih, while grandfather is helping me perfect my greetings in Twi.

The home consists of a two room concrete building, one room for the family and the other room is all for me. I have electricity, but my light bulb is blue as is my walls, so I still wear my head lamp at night to write and read. There is no running water, but I don't mind the latrine and I really love the bucket bath. It's so refreshing to pour a bucket of cold water over your head when it's so hot and humid out. The kitchen is just a small wooden structure with a dirt floor and a small wood fire surrounded by little stools that are used for both sitting and chopping things on. The one time I hung out in the kitchen I watched my mom pluck a chicken. She asumed correctly that in America we have a machine that does it for us, but she was surprised to hear that we buy prepakaged meat that is already cleaned and filleted. It just brings home the fact that just day-to-day living is so much more difficult and time consuming in Ghana.

I have a mosquito net over my bed and I would not be able to sleep without it, not least because of the mosquitos. I could actually care less about mosquitos, but it's the big scary spiders on my walls that I want out of my bed, amongst other creepy things. The other night I came home, flipped on my blue light, and nearly died as I watched a rat run up my wall and into the roof. The net gives me such peice of mind, though when I get to my site I am keeping my bed about a foot from the wall on all sides.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Please Send Me Letters!!!

Or packages whatever you choose....but don't feel obligated to send me anything more than a hand written letter. :) My address is : Peace Corps P.O. Box 5796 Accra-North, Ghana West Africa

Sending boxes is expensive for you as well as me. I have to pay 3 Ghana Cedis to receive a box (during training I make 2 GC a day and when I get to my site I will make 6 GC a day). Not that I wouldn't be happy to pay anything to receive a box from the US, but padded envolopes are probably the best bet all around. If you want to send me a post card (which would be great), please put it in an evelope. As to what to send me...anything you want including books, magazines, Crystal Light, or pictures of cute skirts or dresses which I could have a tailor make me for really cheap. Thank you in advanced and know that you will get a response! It'll just take a month or two. :)

Two Weeks Down!!

So i have been in Ghana now for 2 weeks. So much has happened and yet everyday we have a lot of down time. Fortunately we have a great group of people from all over the US of all different age groups that make passing the hours of waiting a lot of fun. I have already learned new card games and the book exchange amongst us up and running.

We flew into Accra and have since stayed at a women's Adventist College, various hotels in Kukurantumi, and tomorrow we all move to small communities outside of Kukurantumi to really begin our training. We have yet to learn the technical componants of our jobs and have only discussed our health and saftey at ad nasium, but it's good that the Peace Corps takes these issues so seriously. Also I have gotten 3 shots with more to come. And of course I'm taking my malaria pills. I'll be kicked out if I don't. Also, I don't want malaria, I hear it's not very pleasent.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And So It Begins

I didn't sleep at all last night. In fact my alarm clock has yet to go off, I just can't lay in bed anymore. In a little over 2 hours I board a plane for Philadelphia, with a layover in Atlanta, and truly began my Peace Corps adventure. The 15 month application process was just the warm up.

Ok, alarm bell just rang! Time for a shower and a cup of coffee. Maybe I'll get to post in Philly, maybe not. Stay tuned....