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Published: March 14th 2015
Drum lesson in the market
We got a lesson in Arican drumming from David at the Accra Art Market.
(by guest blogger, Kit Rawson)
Kathy and I (a.k.a. Laurel's parents) arrived at the Kotoka Iternational Airport Tuesday noon after nearly 24 hours' travel from our home in Mount Vernon, Washington. As far as travel from the Pacfic Northwest to West Africa goes, this is as good as it gets. So, we had no compaints but were beat nonetheless. Upon stepping out of the customs area into the outdoors we were hit with a huge wave of equatorial heat and humidity and then, less than a minute later, with huge hugs from Laurel who had stepped through the shouting and sign waving crownd to greet us. It was agreat reunion for all of us after 9 months apart.
Laurel had hired a taxi driven by her friend, Phil, who lives in the neighborhood near the Dream Africa Care Foundation Volunteer House, So, we had a car waiting for us in the parking lot and a pleasant drive out to the Teshie-Nungua estates to our hotel and then to the Volunteer House. After we met a few of Laurel's volunteer friends we immediately headed out through back streets on foot (did I mentio that it is hot at sea level
on the equator?) to the orphanage where laurel has been working since her arrival last June. On the way we stopped briefy by Afotey's house and enjoyed meeting him for the first time. At the orphange we met "Grandma" and the other adults who run the place as well as many of the kids who literally cliimed all over us as we walked into the grounds. We played with the kids fo wahile. I think it was supposed to be nap time for some of them, but no napping was happening with the arrival of exotic visitors (and such old ones!).
After a much-needed nap at our hotel we joined Laurel for a nice dinner in the (relative) cool of the evening at a local bar-restaurant near the volunteer house. It was a pretty acive time for our first half day on the African continent.
We are in a suburb of the capital city, Accra. It's up the coast to the east, but not on the water. The main road is a cacophony of little taxis, trotros (known as collectivos in latin America), and trucks of various types. This busy highway is lined with small shops of all
types, but few to no restaurants, although street food is available. People, many with bundles on their heads, walk along the road, dodging the vehicles. Our hotel, and the volunteer house, are on side roads, which are dirt and rutted and potholed. When the hard rains come, which they have a few times at night since we've been here, the ruts and potholes get deeper. Open sewers line all the streets and roads.
Public transportation here consists of drop ( individual) taxis, shred taxis, and trotros. The txais are reasonably priced, so we've been using them, and walking, to get around. If we want to go from our hotel to the volunteer house we walk through the local streets past small houses, people withbundles, school kids in uniforms, dogs, chickens, and goats to the main raod to flag a taxi. Although the people speak their own langage to each other (mainly Ga, I think) English is the common language here, spoken in some manner by nearly everyone. So, it is easy to be sure the taxi driver knows where we want to go and to agree on a price before embarking on the bumpy ride. Of course, we get
the Obrini, or white man, price for taxi rides and most other things, but a few days' experience and the company of long term visitors, like Laurel, or residents, like Afotey, helps us learn how to bring the prices down.
Laurel is an old Ghana hand now. She can flag down taxis with the best of them and send them away if they don't agree to a fair price. She calls people "Boss" and "Charlie" all the time, and knows when to use which. Soon we will be travelling all over the country with her on trotros, and I'm looking forward to it. On our second day Laurel took us to a local tailor shop where Kathy found some cloth she needed to add to some that Laurel had previously and I found some great material for a shirt for me, which will be finished when we ge back from traveling around the country.
Wednesday we accompanied Laurel to the Faith School, where she teaches Class 4 a few days a week. This site, like the orphanage, is about a 30 minute walk through the neighborhods, although faith is in the opposite direction, so we get to see
different places and people. From time to time on these walks a young person will run ut of a shop and say "Hi" to laurel or an older person n a car will greet her. It is cool to see the local people she's come to know during her stay here.
At Faith, Kathy and I helped Laurel with her teaching, mainly reading lessons. We also had the kids write for us, telling us what things we should see in our travels around their country. Now we have a list of sites as well as some good foods to try in our travels aroud Ghana starting Sunday morning. Laurel also set up an opportunity for Kathy and me to each a science clas to the Class 4 and 5 students at the orphanage school on Thursday morning. Kathy had purchased a set of plastic hand lenses, which we passed out to the kids and had them use to study the flowers and leaves of various roadside plants we had picked on our ay there that morning. It was fun, and also interesting to contrast our discovery learning method with the roote memorization the students had been taught previously coverng
some of the same material. I also spent the break working with a boy who had requested to learn some more difficult math. One of the volunteers told me that he had basically mastered all the artithmetic they had to teah him, so i introduced him to algebra. He seemed to ake to it, and I hope that one of the voluteers with some math background will follow through with him.
Friday was art market day. Afotey accompanied us on the long taxi ride into Accra to help with bargaining at the Market and also with negotiating the taxi ride to town. Ghana's Independence Square, commemoratiing independence from the UK on Match 5, 1957, is next to the art market, so we stoppped there first. It is quite an impressive facility, sort of a large area for public ceremonies with a few monuments, right by the sea. In the art market we looked at Ghanian cloth, both owven and printed, really cool masks and bowls, and the drums depicted in the leading photo for this blog. We bought a few things and will buy some ore, either during our travels around the country or hen we come back to
the art maarket on our return to the Accra area.
Today was beach picnic with the orphanage kids day. That was an amazing event, meriting a blog post of its own, which hopefully will appear soon. Meanwhile, Happy Pi Day (3.14). Be sure to scrool down to see all the photos.
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