Gone to Ghana: My African Adventures

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November 10th 2014
Published: November 10th 2014
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November 10, 2014

Back from Larabanga. The traffic was terrible when I took Laura to the airport. It’s nice to have a cool taxi driver as a neighbor. Phil took me to the bus on my way up north, and he gave me a good price going to and from the airport. It was so great to see the children at the orphanage, especially to see how excited they were to see me again. Ema of course was glued to me, and I was so happy to hold my baby boy again. Erica was all smiles. Hiswell read a book, which he did very well, and after I told him I missed my Mr. Dimples he looked at me and said he missed Mrs. Dimples. Children kept climbing all over me, and Grandma and Andrews were both happy to see me as well.

The house has changed some. There are some cool new people, including a girl from Togo. Nicole is here for 8 months and the good chance of me going to Togo has been raised even more. Jamal joked that I should spend more time up north since I lost quite a bit of weight. Africa has been good to me. I don’t know how much weight I’ve lost in the 5 months that I’ve been here, but it’s been a lot. The combination of walking every day to projects, constantly sweating, and not having access to Ben & Jerry’s has worked wonders.

Today is a day to remember Betty Jean Thornburgh. She would’ve turned 91 today. A wonderful woman who was a brave fighter against breast cancer. My granny, my hero.

Here's part 2 of my Larabanga adventures:

October 14, 2014

I took out my braids this afternoon. My head feels so light and free; those braids weighed a ton! It took a couple of hours, but I had many little and bigger hands helping unbraid. The cool thing is that Baillahu asked me if she could keep the hair, so she could wash it and use it for herself. The pile of hair was huge, and I had to take a picture of it.

I’m finally figuring out how to teach my class. I’ve had several hard days, and I may have expected too much of them at first. It’s hard to teach children who aren’t motivated to learn. For many of the children here it’s similar to the fishing village where their parents don’t understand the value of education, and sadly that can affect their children’s attitude towards school. I’m not saying that that’s the case for all of the children because there are some very bright and motivated children in my class. As with classes in the fishing village I have to gear the class towards those students, and prepare extra work for them to do. I’m trying to keep things fun. Today I started a Social Studies lesson on the national symbols of Ghana, primarily the flag and what each color represented. Afterwards I had them start designing a flag of their own with things that represent important things or values. Some of them are still struggling with the concept of objects representing something, but they are having fun with it. Some of them are getting very creative.

October 15, 2014

Too many creepy crawly things! Last night Nerea had to help me get a cricket out of my room, and this afternoon it took a few minutes to finally shoo a gecko back outside. The worst one was this morning as I was walking up to the school. Agnes and I were walking together and all of a sudden we heard a bunch of kids screaming and saw them jumping out of my classroom. They said a snake was in there. Let me tell you, there is absolutely no way I’m going to try to teach a snake or teach with a snake in my classroom. Somebody killed it and removed it, but it took about 15 minutes before my students, more specifically the girls, to settle down. I’ve also had a huge black beetle in my room, and Laura had a millipede in hers.

October 19, 2014

Just got back from an adventure to Tamale with Nerea, Laura, and Agnes. Tamale, which is pronounced like the Mexican dish, is the closest city to Larabanga. It took about a two hour bus ride to get there. Inusah, Hussein’s 21 year old cousin, has a room there and he let us stay with him. Well, he and another friend from Larabanga gave us room to sleep. It was a short, but fun trip. We went to the Cultural Center aka their tourist art market. We all bought some things. I still need to buy one of the t-shirts that say “Make fufu, Not War.” One thing that’s different about the northern part of Ghana, which was very evident in Tamale, is that there are more cows roaming around. I’ve gotten used to goats and chickens being anywhere and everywhere, including the bus. However, more people seem to have cows up here. Maybe it’s because there’s more space up here for them to graze. Anyway I got a couple of good photos of cows in the streets of Tamale. We got pizza for lunch which was so nice after always eating the same thing every day. Nerea and Laura even ordered octopus, which was so good. In the evening Inusah and his friends took us to a rooftop bar and then a nightclub. The only thing I’ll say about the evening is that I found that guys are more aggressive in Tamale than they are in Accra, at least the ones that I experienced were. Other than that, well what happens in Ghana stays in Ghana.

October 23, 2014

Ibi and his Simba. There are so many animals around here. Most of them are chickens. They have one goat and a sweet cat named Simba. Simba always comes around the table when we’re eating and mews for us to feed him. He’s such a sweet and beautiful cat. Ibi loves Simba! He’s still learning how to hold him. Ibi is often too aggressive and Simba tries to run away. Simba seems to like me and has even slept in my room. There have been a couple times where I’ve heard Ibi call the cat “My Simba.” My family will understand why I thought that was so funny, but out of respect to my cousin Katherine I won’t explain the joke.

Ibi is so cute and funny. However, he is quite spoiled and it will be good for him when the baby is born. He loves to go places and any time anybody starts the car or motorbike he runs over and tries to go too. If he’s not allowed to go he starts crying. He has his own little bike that he loves playing with and is learning how to ride. He wants to be a soldier when he grows up, more specifically a US soldier. When I asked him why not a Ghana soldier he said either Ghana or US, and then he said whichever has the biggest guns. I laughed and told him that that the US military was probably the way to go for that. Whenever he does something wrong we often tell him that soldiers don’t do that. For example, if he starts to cry Hussein often tells him that soldiers don’t cry.

October 25, 2014

Today was a fun and interesting day. Agnes and I went into Damongo (the closest town to Larabanga) to go the market. We enjoyed browsing through all the shops with the colorful fabrics. We both found some that we had to buy. Diamond, a friend of ours who is a local guy, but is staying at the Savanna Lodge in a tent (don’t ask me why, I still don’t understand) went there with us. He has a room there and before we went back to the lodge he had to pick up his pet monkey. Have any of you ridden in a taxi with a monkey before? Well, I have now. Nature (the monkey) was well behaved in the car, and often stuck his head out of the window as dogs do. When we got back to the lodge, just as I expected the kids went crazy. Diamond secured Nature’s rope to a tree, but the kids stayed around that tree for quite a while. I’m just hoping that no accidents will occur between monkey and child.

Then I had another afternoon at the Mole National Park swimming pool. It is so beautiful there! I’ll be going back next Saturday to finally go on the safari. Apparently this isn’t the best time of year to see elephants, so cross your fingers for me. Anyway I went there with Laura, Nerea, and Lukman (a friend who works at the Mole Clinic). The funny thing is that Nerea has been giving Lukman swimming lessons. I’d heard about the lessons, and today was the first time I actually got to witness them. She also started to give another woman lessons as well. Lukman is getting the hang of swimming, however he can’t float. He sinks like a rock! I was trying to help him with that, but nothing seemed to work. Laura also had fun watching her football team Real Madrid beat Barcelona. I didn’t watch because the only sporting event I really was interested in at the time was the World Series, but nobody in this country cares or even knows anything about baseball. However, it was a fun day.

Additional photos below
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10th November 2014

Ghana trip
Wonderful news from you. Oh to be young again. Will send the $25.00 check to your mom for classroom supplies. Elaine

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