a break (don't worry, not for long)

tomorrow morning, i leave for our 3-day group trip to Kumase. from there, patrick, corrie, naomi, and i will leave for free travel. i'm not sure if i'll be able to update while i'm gone, so if not, i'll try and post again before i get on the plane!
i won't lie- i've got a lot of tension inside of me. i treated myself to a phone call to my mom yesterday...maybe a bad idea. i want to leave! but i don't want to leave! in light of the fact that i miss my friends dearly and haven't seen my family in 6 months, i want to leave! in light of the fact that Lord only knows when i'll ever be in ghana again, i don't want to leave! gah!
anyways, that's where i'm at. if anyone reading this could pray for our general safety and the blessing of providence, i'd be grateful.
i would have uploaded a pretty picture for your visual pleasure, but the internet's being obstinate (blech).


some jumbled randomness: week before last

we took our twi professor out to lunch at asanka locals (his choice). i swear, this man is such a character. you don't even know... i took fufuo with groundnut soup and fish. and, apparently, i've mastered the art of eating it with my hands and swallowing it (NOT chewing), just like a ghanaian, because my prof told me so. "i like the way you take your fufuo." oh, and fresh (like bottled-this-week fresh) pineapple juice with ginger. ive rediscovered how amazing ginger is- ghanaians put it in all sorts of things!

the clouds were heavy, dark and blue. it rained on us, which was very wonderful

and yes, another picnic! this was like 2 weeks ago, so on the brink of crazy time. these picnics just get better. we had a very blissful time, laying on a blanket together, watching the trees above us and listening to the "across the universe" soundtrack

foliage! patrick!


3 more weeks is long, 3 more weeks is short. i spoke to my mom for maybe 10 minutes last night, first time in a long time because calls are so expensive. i have a feeling i'll be losing my voice after the first day i'm back. today i had many adventures and i'm sunburnt, dehydrated, and tired. it hasn't quite sunk in yet that i'm done with classes. this weekend will be spent vegging- reading, surfing the web (assuming the power doesn't go out), and eating fanchoco.
found an intriguing blog. this guy took a year off after high school to live in accra, and ended up teaching in a free school for streetchildren. its highly entertaining and encouraging to read accounts of accra from another foreigner's voice and be able to exclaim "yes! i thought so also!" or "yes, i totally agree!" he's not with an official program like we are, so he has some more exciting stories to tell. link here.


the sky is blue again

hanging out with richard and some of our new friends, the weekend before exams started

oh man. how do i describe this feeling? i've got one more day of exams left, and despite feeling grumpy, sleep-deprived, sinus-y, with a sore back and sore throat (more than you needed to know, right?), i also feel like i'm finally confortable in this country. yes, you heard me right. not that i wasn't comfortable before...sort of. i can't explain it well with words. but it's like i've spent so long thinking about the phone calls i can't have, the people i can't see, the places i can't go, the food i can't eat and the coffee i can't drink. now that i have the clock ticking down, only 3 more weeks here, i think of all those things and a voice says...i can wait to experience that. i've had so much going on this semester, and have so many reasons to want to go home. and i still miss people dearly, for sure. but i guess what i'm trying to say is i feel as if i've broken through a barrier. maybe the barrier of my dependency on western comforts? on familiar routine, familiar places? so now here the sky is blue again, the palm trees are gorgeous and the earth is red. i can see the benefits of staying here a whole year. in 3 1/2 months, we've barely gone to our "favorite" places more than once. we havent really experiences enough to gauge "favorite" places, actually. i have a comprehensive knowledge of this country, but i could scratch way deeper. i've made some ghanaian friends, but our friendship has only begun to take hold, and i'm still meeting wonderful new people that i just will not have the time to invest in. even within our calvin group, i've made solid friendships, but i believe 5 more months here would cement us irreparably.
so...i'm still excited to come back. yes, most definitely. but i can also say...i could see why someone would want to stay longer. i couln't see that before. so this is my breakthrough for this week, my new perspective. i've got only a few short weeks to cram in as much ghana goodness as i possibly can!


oh, stress

this picture is a submission to the postsecret project, and it perfectly describes how i feel about school much of the time

i'll be honest. all of this semester, i've been fuming, i'm in africa. why am i stuck in a classroom most of the time? why am i not outside, learning from people and experiences. that's what this semester is about, right?
i've been extremely frustrated with the way our classes are structured, besides the fact that theyre darn near pointless. i have learned so. much. more. from being out and about than i ever did in the calvin college classroom in the kwame nkrumah building.
i wanted to let yall know that these next two weeks wil be the climax of my stress. i already feel the weight of it quite physically. we have presentations, papers, projects, and all our exams in the next two weeks. pray for me.
i mention all this to 1. allow you to know my true feelings, 2. allow you to share my burdens, and 3. to try and sort things out in my mind, to give myself the composure to say
i need to take back my joy. this is my experience, my semester, and although i need to keep my scholarships, although i have major issues with the way academics are treated in this program,
this is my experience. this is my last month. and i want to enjoy it.
thank you very much.
im praying God will grant me the peace of mind to do so.

p.s.- if you don't follow postsecret, or you never read the little prince as a child, you're missing out. take the time to get caught up!


the volta region, part 2

we danced one dance for chel-bell's 22nd birthday

we had amazing kenkey for dinner, off the street in the town of ho, where we stayed for the night.
(kenkey is a sort of fermented corn dough, served in balls. you eat it with onions, sometimes fish, tomato/pepper sauce, and shito, a hot hot sauce. sounds a bit strange, i know, but you'd like it.)

we visited an authentic kente weaving place. they even let us try a hand at the loom.

the market in djemenie (i totally made up that spelling), a fishing village we visited

giant fish mouth!

in djemenie we learned about the fishing culture, and how the livelihood of the people here has been endangered by the changes after the damming of the volta river. many men travle further and further upriver to find good fighing areas, and many of them never return, leaving single moms to raise children. we also saw a government-run health clinic. i cant say i was surprised to find the place quite tiny and sparse. the head nurse said if people are willing to come, she'll take as much help as she can get.


tangent: i've been thinking about midwifery. my friend corrie has a friend who is in "midwife school" right now, and has been telling me all about it. when approached in a holistic manner, it seems like a very noble profession. it's about a relationship, a meaningful, trusting experience...i dont know. its still on my mind. maybe ill just add that onto my large large list of life aspirations. comments?

the volta region, part 1

the volta region is in the eastern part of ghana, named for the river volta. now the river is dammed, and we have lake volta. i immensely enjoyed the rain we had on the drive over. (nature paid us back for that one- it was a scorching day)

the lake through a viewing hole (wait, "viewing hole"? what are those things called?) in the ship on lake volta

beeee-u-di-ful (as patrick would say)

the in-betweens

visiting corrie and patrick at their homestay. peanuts and drinking oranges, all the way.


and uncle john's pet turtle (which is quite unusual- people don't keep pets here)

going out to champ's for (what was probably our last) karaoke night


week before last, some of us did homestays with families in the area. naomi and i stayed in a modest home in west legon, about 2 miles from campus. it took us most of the week to figure out transportation to and from...many days we ended up just walking home. by far the best part of homestays was aunti jemimah's outdoor shower. best. thing. ever. talk about washing your cares away! who wouldnt want to take a refreshing cold shower under the african sunset after accumulating a day's worth of grime and sweat?

auntie had her own rain-catching tank so she would never run out of water, but the power went out a few times during our stay, on campus and at the house. i cannot tell you how frustrating this was- we couldnt do any research (no internet), and with no fans or anything, all we could really do was lay inside, sweating. yuck. lets home that doesnt happen again.

part of our scenery from our daily walk through mempaesem

personally, i can't say i had the most satisfying homestay experience. our family carried on with their lives around us, and did not try to engage us in anything. they mostly ignored us...not what i was expecting. plus, we had no personal space...our bed was in the corner of the living room. which meant waking up on african time (read: extremely early) and no privacy, really. and the commute just added another element to the incredible amount of stress i was already under. maybe it was just bad, bad timing. i am glad to stay that patrick and corrie had a fantastic time in their homestay. i visited them at their house, and it felt much more like family. so i guess i claim a small part of their experience vicariously. needless to say, i was very happy to return to ISH. i could settle down a bit, not live out of a suitcase, be in a room by myself, and cook some vegetables. (in case i hadnt said this, traditional ghanaian food contains very little vegetables. it's more meat and starch). so...yeah. i think that's it. i was very happy to be back on campus.

picnic in the botanical gardens

we wandered through the botanical gardens on campus and found some verdant greenhouses and mystical abandoned structures. adventure time!

reminded me of tomb raider

there were roots grown all down through the roof. it was like we'd stumbled into a different world, like a movie...

gorgeous gorgeous flora

on our picnic we played euker

ate lots of groundnut paste, as usual

and avocado and tomato sandwiches

crunched the leaves, sang songs, and climbed trees.
such a refreshing afternoon...to take time to be together and just appreciate being alive.

mole, part 2

corrie maybe got in trouble for picking the flowers

beautiful views from the ride home (13 hours!)

one last look at mole

we should have stayed in the north longer. being at each place for a day and a half is no time at all...i think everyone will agree with me when we do our evaluations of this trip.
i'm here at the mall early in the morning, and the internet is working surprisingly well, so i'll try and do a few more posts before cracking down on my workload. i have a lot to talk about- we'll see how much of it i get through.
i'm expecting a package sometime this week (finally!) and i'm so, so excited! it will be the first mail item i've received all semester. (ahem. cough cough.)