Published: October 16th 2007October 16th 2007
It has been over six weeks since I arrived in Ghana. I have spent most of my time in Cape Coast, only leaving for one week to a village and 5 days to the capital Accra. Komenda was too small and Accra was far too big and western. I even ate sushi and watched MTV while there. Cape Coast on the other hand is just right. This place has really become my home. Here are a list of tibbits of life here. Some are true of many places in Africa, some particular to Ghana, some to Cape Coast, and a few are probably only true for me and my group of friends here:
-laughing cow cheese is the only affodable cheese you will find- peanuts are called ground nuts and are way better than in the US- bananas are also much better even when they are small green and brused- youtake baths with buckets, even when you have a running shower, a bucket saves water and feels way better- goil and mobile, two gas stations are the happening drinking spot- but not as happening as Oasis which is where all the white people and rastas hang out- the locals all love fufu and kenkey but you should be sad if you are served this for dinner- on the other hand you should be very happy to be served red red or jollof rice- walls surounding homes and establishments are stratigically covered with broken glass, i refer to this as Ghanaian barbed wire- it would be extremely strange to go a day with out seeing goats- even more strange to go through a night of sleep with out hearing roosters- almost everyone has chickens around even if they dont eat them or their eggs- a trip to the hospital for insurance and malaria treatment costs 17 Ghana cidi- 1 Ghana cidi = 10,000 Ghana cidi which can make life feel really expensive or cheap- Korto Kraba is the center of town and is marked by a huge crab statue- everyman wants to marry you and proclaims his love for you as you walk down the street, and when you say he does not know you he will tell you it only takes a moment to know you and love you- small shops line most streets filled with beautiful tam (cloth) or food stuffs- at least of these shops use their signs as a way to praise God by names such as "God's power electronics" or "In His Name Barber"- you can not escape religion anywhere you go- Christianity is the way of the land even though their is religious tolerance for other religions (other than athiesism)- walking down the street is a canstant gamble between falling in a huge gutter or getting ran over, very dangerous- but not as dangerous as being percieved as homosexual which is illegal- a slave castle is a place to hang out, either in the back where the water hits or in the front where there is shade and friendly people- babies are carried on backs and held in place by a peice of cloth- things big and small are carried on backs (the other day i watched a man carry a huge couch on his head)- there is no such thing as a washer and dryer- sunlight soap is truly magical- almost as magical as Fan Yogo my favorite frozen snack- ATL fabric is cheaper than GTP fabric- most good stories start with "so i was at the egg sandwich stand"- huge/ wonderful sausages have their own stands and can be found anywhere- Akkon seems to be the most played artist here- sorry, nice, serious, fine, im coming, why not?, and take instead of eat or drink are the most common words and phrases used to respond to EVERYTHING- grunts and "oh"s are extremely expressive and should be used often- it seems that peple learn to dance in the womb and do not stop until they are barried- and last and most importantly everyone is called your brother and sister
this last one deserves comment. the ideal of family and community is penetrated into every aspect of this culture. perfect strangers refer to me as their sister. this is not just a matter of speach. it reflects their overall value of community and brotherhood and sisterhood for human kind. people go out of their way to help oneanother constanlty with out looking for anything in return. this is so drastically different from the individualistic culture that I come from. When I step back and examine the two options there is no question in my mind which one is a better way of living.