Published: July 21st 2010July 21st 2010
So much has happened in the last couple of weeks. In case you’re curious…
Work, work, work. I went to a forum for women’s rights at the Institute for Economic Affairs last week. While it lasted a few too many hours, I could tell how important it was to a lot of women, so I really did enjoy it.
One thing I have noticed is people’s inability to turn off their cell phones during public events. Every few minutes the women’s forum was rocking out to someone else’s ringtone. And it happened, again, and again, and again… You would think we could learn.
About a week ago I also attended an event at the business school on the University of Ghana campus. For Pete’s sake, don’t write 8 am on the invitation if you really mean 9:45 am. I’m realizing I just don’t have the patience for that. I simply don’t see how it’s possible to move forward as a country when no one can be on time. It gets to me. Actually, it’s enough to drive me completely mad. It shouldn’t be, because I know that if one were to put 9:45 am on an invitation, then everyone would show up at 11, but I get so bored when I’m the only one in an empty room for the better part of an hour. I think I need to learn how to sleep in.
Yesterday I went to a press conference at the Institute for Professional Studies. 9 am prompt meant 10:15 am prompt… maybe it’s me that needs to learn.
The conference was crazy. First of all, everyone (about 100 people) in the room were wearing red cloth tied around their arms. This is to honor someone who has passed away. I never figured out who had died, but I like the concept a lot. It’s definitely not something you would see in the US.
During the conference (it was an outcry to the government about student fee increases) everyone was chanting and hollering like a bunch of junior high kids who’d eaten one too many caffeine pills. I could barely hear what the speaker was saying, but it was pretty crazy thing to watch. There was also a sing along at the beginning of the conference… Now that’s something I KNOW you wouldn’t find at home. :)
Other than work, my friend Hoda and I went to Kokrobite beach last weekend to find some peace outside of Accra. We had a wonderful time eating, sleeping and laying in the sun. There was a live band on Saturday night and we found ourselves surrounded by a completely different crowd than we frequently spend time with in Accra. It was a very nice change of scenery.
Once we returned to Accra on Sunday, we went to Venus (my favorite Lebanese restaurant in the city) and ate amazing food while we watched Spain win the World Cup. :) Couldn’t ask for a better Sunday evening.
Last week I learned a nice lesson when I accidently left the key to my room in someone else’s room. We went out, and when I came home they stayed the night at a friend’s house. My key remained in their room. Turns out (surprise, surprise) that the porters didn’t have a spare key to my room. I was given a spare room and a blanket (thank goodness. I wasn’t too keen on sleeping on the ground outside). I got up at 6:30, but by 11 am, my key was still MIA, so I rounded up the carpenter and a crow bar, and dang it, I got into my room. By that time, I was already hours late for work, so I decided to move to a new room, take a shower, lock the room and leave. As soon as I moved all my stuff, my key turned up. Go figure.
Anyway, it was a long night, morning and afternoon, but, I like my new room better because it’s on the back side of the hostel and I no longer have an alarm clock of slamming car doors and yelling people every morning. You win some, you lose some.
My editor still picks me up every day for work and on Thursday he had to drop something off at his sister’s house, so he took me along for the ride. It was the first time I had been to Nungua or Spintex Road, and I quite enjoyed the detour from our usual route. Spintex Road is the main industrial area of Accra and I’m glad I finally saw it.
During this stay in Ghana I have become a part of a community completed unattached to the university (last time, my life here revolved around the university). I’ve made some friends who work in Accra and we got together for a girls night last Thursday. There were so many different nationalities, I loved it. There were 12 of us, including girls from Uganda, Ghana, England, Germany, Holland, US, Palestine, Spain and Italy. It was a really nice night, and I’m looking forward to it again tomorrow :)
I visited the primary school again the other day and this time I took along three men from an organization called 1Village Africa. They did an assessment of the school and found the best facility for our non-profit project to fund the construction of a computer lab. They met with the headmistress and we all took many photos. I also took some videos of children expressing reasons why they need a computer lab at their school to put on our website: http://www.vafrica.org/actionghana.html
Progressss! When I asked the headmistress if she had an email address so I could send her a copy of the report done from the field assessment, she laughed like it was the funniest thing she had heard all day. I guess that explains why we are determined to put a lab in that school.
This last weekend, we enjoyed a great night out on Friday and then Hoda and I went to La Palm Royal Beach Resort on Sunday. Wow. It was paradise, and we spent the day relaxing and wondering where this place had been hiding for so long.
Since I will be in Ghana for longer than 60 days from the date I got here, I have to get my visa renewed. Sounds simple? Well, I won’t go into too much detail, but what I will say is that it was NOT simple. There was more than enough yelling, insulting and crying to last me quite some time. I refused to give anyone a bribe. Sometimes I have to wonder if anything can be done properly in this country. I hope to have my passport back by Friday. We’ll see.
Well, well, well. I am going to KENYA! I bought my ticket, with a bit of trouble, and I will be leaving on the 2nd of August. I’ll be there for one week, which I already know is not enough time, but I couldn’t be happier to get the chance to see what it’s like. My friend has an aunt that is getting married in Mombasa and she nonchalantly invited me to go one afternoon. I took her seriously, and with an amazing gift from my father, I will be on my way in 2 weeks :)
Once I return on the 9th of August, I’ll have 4 days to say goodbye to Accra and be on my way back to the US.
I have to admit, at first the thought of tearing myself away from my dwindling time left in Ghana was hard, but now that I have my ticket in my hand I am so, so excited. I have been craving a big adventure since I got here. I love this place, and I’m sure I’ll love Kenya just as much. Wish me luck!
Meanwhile, I’m missing you all.
P.S. If anyone wants me to bring them anything back from Ghana, just let me know what you want :)