Girls Day

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December 30th 2013
Published: January 2nd 2014
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Frank woke me up early and said the mechanic was here. I said, “I’ll hold down the fort,” and rolled back over to go to sleep. Once I got up, Frank and I went to get cash. On the way, we saw a woman dressed differently from the others. He said she is a refugee from Mali. There are several living here in our part of town. They have been here for a while but still have no permanent anything. From my understanding, refugees are allowed to live here, but no one is really helping them with anything.

The mechanics came to the house and fixed the car. It cost about 15 bucks. It turns out the wheel on the spare tire was not the right size, so it was rubbing on the breaks. Even though the old tire was ridiculously worn, the mechanic said, “That’s too bad. It had a few more years on it.” Oh my. They fixed the tire, the clutch, and a few other things, I think. And they washed the car, inside and out. Full service!

Frank took Alex and Jesse to the ministries today to do the paperwork for Alex and Rita. Rita had planned to go, but we decided to have a girl day instead. The ministries were closed because of the holidays, so they went out to lunch instead. KFC! Alex was thrilled. That is a total luxury here.

Rosemary took the day off. In the words of Frank: apparently when you have a white person staying in your house, it’s a holiday, so you can call in. Rosemary, Rita, and I took two taxis downtown to Accra Central to visit Kantamento Market. At home, it would be about a 15 minute drive, I think. It takes 1-2 hours in taxis and trotros because of the terrible traffic. In the trotro, the radio was on and they were saying there was a fatal accident on the road to Kakum- the very road we were on two days ago. Yikes!

Rita is very shy, but she is slowly warming up to me. She barely talks to Rosemary, Alex, and Frank anyway, so I don’t feel so bad. She asked about school in America and whether or not we have uniforms. She can’t imagine not wearing uniforms and even getting to grow her hair out long! On the way to get a taxi, she use a full sentence and asked if this is my real hair! Yes, it is. It just goes crazy in the humidity and sweat.

Girls shopping day in the States is often meandering through the air-conditioned mall, trying on tons of outfits, maybe mani/pedis, and coffee, sweets, or lunch. Not in Ghana. It’s dodging people trying to see things you don’t want or need, stepping over piles of shoes and other merchandise, and trying not to run into people or lose your companions. Oh, and it’s wicked hot. Did I mention the heat and humidity? And you have to hold on to your bags to make sure nothing goes missing. There’s quite a lot going on. And this is an outdoor market, mind you, so there are taxis and trotros everywhere trying to run you down. (Okay, not trying, but it seems like it sometimes.)

Our goal for the day was fabric for me, my sister, and Frank. We were open for other things we might see and want as well. There was certainly a lot to look at! People kept reaching out and touch my arms, probably to see if they felt different or
to say they had touched an obruni. Rosemary helped make sure I got fairish prices on everything.

Rosemary is an excellent tour guide. She taught me a lot, showed me around, bought me foods and drinks to try…

We bought a drink from an old woman selling liquid out of a giant gourd. It’s a type of drink that is made out of corn. I’m not sure how they do that. It is very sweet and is often drunk in the villages the way we drink Coke. It is called asana. The old woman used a cup and scooped it out of the gourd into a plastic bag, then added a little bit of milk and a straw. It’s always interesting drinking things out of a bag while in Africa.

I found a few different cuts of cloth, or entoma, for myself. I am having a seamstress make a dress for me, and I will sew the rest when I get home. Frank is also having some clothes made, so I am hoping we can match. Rita and Rosemary are excited to dress me up like an African woman! Rosemary said, “If you want to catch an African man, you need to dress like we do!”

Frank needed some flip flops, as did Alex. I got some to go with my dress as well. Alex and Frank required the biggest shoes in the store, even though they are not our favorite ones. The shoeseller only has a certain amount of shoes, and they are all different sizes. He either has them or he doesn’t. Both Frank and Alex have very large feet. (Frank is in denial that Alex will be taller than him soon! Their feet are only 1 size apart, despite the 8 years difference in age.)

I told Rita I would love to buy her shoes to replace the ones that broke at Kakum. She almost fainted with excitement! I said it is an auntie’s job to spoil sometimes, so let me know if she wanted anything.

While we were waiting for shoes, Rosemary spotted some sweets for us. She said agblekalo was one of Frank’s favorite treats as a child from the Volta region, where their family is from. They are sort of chewy coconut balls. It’s hard for me to picture Frank as a child, but it’s fun to hear

Frank's favorite treat as a kid!
stories! The agblekalo was fine, but it was sort of dry and not very sweet. I like things to be very sweet. We took some home for him.

After a few hours of crowds and shopping, we headed back to the taxi rank. While waiting, a man asked Rita where I was from, to which she answered America. The man looked at me and said, “Welcome to Ghana, Africa. You look like Obama.” Just like in 09, they love Obama here. I think it’s weird when they say I look like him. If I was from England, would they say I look like the Queen or Prince William?

Once back in our neighborhood, we took the fabric to the seamstress and picked out a pattern. She tried to charge me nearly double, but Rosemary wouldn’t have that. I still got the obruni price, which is more than most people would pay. It costs about $7 for me to have a dress made here. Can you imagine?

Jesse and Alex arrived home in a taxi when we got back to the house. Frank had to go look at land, so he sent them on their way. The boys were very excited to tell us about going to KFC. Alex couldn’t quite pronounce or remember “Kentucky,” so it was fun to hear what he came up with. Isn’t it interesting? A day for the men to bond was centered on food, and a day for the ladies was centered on shopping. Imagine that.

I very much enjoyed spending several hours with Rosemary and Rita. It was fun to get to know them and enjoy ourselves!

On the way home in the taxi, someone Frank knew called my phone and said he’s my, “brother from America.” I didn’t know who he was. Rita, speaking as loudly as I had ever heard, said, “Maybe it’s Potato.” I about lost it! Both Rita and Alex call my brother Potato instead of Tato. And they overpronounce the Ts like Brits do.

Once at home, Rosemary, Rita, and Alex taught me a ton of new words in both Twi and Ewe. (Twi is a type of Akan, which is one of the main languages spoken. Ewe is the language of their region, which is what their mom and grandma spoke to them.) I learned useful phrases for life with Frank such as, “you stink. Go and bathe.” We really enjoyed one another!

We were watching TV, and Rita asked if we could play SkipBo. She really is a card shark! She, Alex, and I chatted about life and school and whatnot in America. Alex told me that he wants to change his name to Frank’s last name. He was so excited about that, and it was incredibly sweet.

Accra uses prepaid electricity, just like phones. Our credit apparently ran out tonight, so there was no power. I sat in my room and waited for Frank to return. It was dark and hot.

Frank was looking at land, but he kept getting waylaid coming home. Every time I heard the gate creak, I would yell, “He’s home!” then Rosemary would say from her room, “Are you sure?” and I’d reply, “No!” We did it about 6 times, and it was pretty funny. I missed not seeing him all day. One time, Alex went outside and opened the gate just so I would thing Frank was home. He’s a punk, just like Tato.

Frank got home very late, after looking at land, getting another flat tire, but took late

I love Rita's face!
to get it fixed, having to find a taxi to bring him home, and getting me dinner. He had a long day!

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