Saved: October 13th 2010July 21st 2010
Greetings from Nsuta (or Akwaaba Nsuta!). I arrived at my placement here in the little village of Nsuta on Wednesday of last week. A girl from the village, Esther, who is kind of my go-to person for any and all questions about Ghana/Nsuta while I'm in the village, traveled to Accra on Tuesday to come back with me on Wed. It took a mere 8.5hrs to travel what turns out to be about 300km. The roads here are...interesting. We took what is called a "VIP" bus from Accra to the second largest city in Ghana, Kumasi, and then a tro-tro from Kumasi to Nsuta. The VIP bus is essentially like a greyhound bus but actually WAY nicer. The seats are huge and recline. There was also air conditioning, which was amazing! Any food you might want you just watch for it on the street, or see a woman walking along the road with whatever you want on her head and you yell for the 'mate' of the bus and they stop and buy it for you, or they just buy it through the window. It's pretty much fantastic. They have these things called 'FanChoco' here that are exactly like fudgscicles and cost about 30cents. They carry them around in a cardboard box on their head and somehow they stay frozen all day! Tro-tros are probably the scariest form of transportation I hope to ever take in my life. Picture one of those volkswagon hippy vans, one that has been left out to rust for the past 50 years, add a few holes in the floor, a religious saying on the outside (it should be one that makes no sense), take out the seat belts and cram about 20 people in to one and you have a tro! They don't leave until they're full so you often have to wait for a while before you leave. They're super cheap though and often the only way to get around!
The roads are incredibly bumpy here and most are dirt so they are covered in pot holes. I think it's actually a sport for the drivers to see how many pot holes they can avoid...this involves swerving all over the road, and really, driving on the correct side of the road here is only a suggestion to begin with. I was thankful for being in the back of the bus so I could only see the cars/vans/buses/animals we almost hit after we had miraculously missed them! Our bus broke down once on the trip to Kumasi (this is pretty much expected and it's somewhat unusual if you go on a trip and NOT have a break down of some sort). After about a 45min delay we were back on the road, watching some truly horrible (to me, all the ghanaians loved them!) and completely entertaining Ghanaian movies, followed by a Nigerian film. It was all in English so I really tried to follow along, but the story line made absolutely no sense. Not the worst TV I've watched in Ghana though! We arrived in Kumasi and then walked to the tro-tro station for the 1.5hrs to Nsuta.
My apartment is actually pretty nice for Ghana. I have my own room with double bed and wardrobe. I also have a bathroom, but there is no running water in Nsuta so I've been taking bucket showers (fun!). I'm on the roof of the building and there are 2 other apartments up there. I've met both of the people and they are really nice, the woman, Helene, brought over a huge thing of bananas for me yesterday! The other person is Ben, he's a teacher at a local high school. For a country where you have to pay to attend anything higher than junior high, he is a bit of an anomaly. He has a Master's degree in nuclear medicine and will be going back to do his PhD in a few years (I have met some of the most interesting and random people on this trip!). The children in the village have already figured out where the Obruni lives so every day I get mobbed by kids after I'm done work. This is fun and annoying at the same time. They love to touch absolutely everything you own and apparently think I'm their personal, free, store of water sachets. I've been fleeced of all my water sachets twice now! It costs about 70 cents for what amounts to about 15L of water so really not a big deal. Hygiene is really not a concern here though...they often use their left hand as toilet paper, so I've been wiping down all my stuff at night. Most of the kids are pretty cute though. I have lots of pictures of them and will post them one day when I have more time.
My placement at the polyclinic has been pretty great so far. On my first day I saw a baby born and helped wash him and the second day I got to watch a circumcision (I think I was almost as traumatized as the baby- no anesthetic here!). I'm running out of time right now so I will do a separate post about my placement and Nsuta in general soon. All is well here though. I'm hoping to do some traveling around the area this weekend. Hope all is well back in Canada, I'm missing everyone!