I have been here in Ghana for 5 months and 19 days. 171 days, almost half a year. I have had good days, bad days, terrible awful days, fantastic days, and just plain ole normal days. In 171 days I have discovered new foods, new rituals, new ways to bathe, and a lot about myself. I have met some amazing people, some idiots, some drunks, and some workaholics that rival me. I have stood at the base of a waterfall, got lost in the middle of nowhere, visited tiny villages hours into the bush, and sat on top of a crocodile.
As partially a summary of my first 6 months in country, I am going to list some of the things I love and hate about my life in Ghana so far.
1. The people. You can find a bad egg in every country, but Ghana is teeming with good eggs, golden eggs, and big fat goose eggs. Don’t ask me what that means, I don’t know. The people here continue to amaze me with their resilience, resolve, hard work, positive attitude, and friendliness. If I look even the least bit sick my entire compound is barging into my room trying to fix me up. I feel like Ghana is a stop sign at an Oklahoma intersection.
2. The food. Well most of it. The food is so simple, yet so tasty. I never in a million years thought I would enjoy eating a ball of dough with peanut soup so much. I can’t get enough of it though. And rice! Jollof rice is divine. Don’t get me started on street meat. Why can’t they figure that out in the States?!
3. Chiefs. I actually really like the chief structure. I think it is an interesting way of dealing with disputes. Plus all the chiefs I have met have been very lovely.
4. Being able to walk places. I can walk to get found. I can walk to go grab a few things I need. I don’t have to get in my car and drive down the street to go get something I forgot. It is good exercise and as much as it is a pain when it is sweltering, I really like it.
5. Peace Corps brethren. I have met some incredible people in this country. People who never cease to amaze me. People who are intelligent, witty, fashionable, and down-to-earth. My fellow Peace Corps volunteers make my life easier.
6. My shower. I love you shower. I love you so much. (But please can you fix yourself and stop having the water come up the drain and not down?)
7. My fan, Larry. Larry is by far my best friend in this country. He keeps me sane.
8. My housing. I love where I live – the neighborhood is quiet, the people are nice. My house is a great size. I love living with people. Living in a compound is almost like a college residence hall. I should plan programs! It really does feel communal though, we share resources.
9. Fabric shopping and going to the tailor. My goal is to get a dress/skirt/shirt made every month. I love the colors and designs of the fabric. I fully plan on bringing my Ghanaian wardrobe back home and wearing my new clothes in the States.
10. Going to bed early. The sun sets at the same time everyday here – 6:30. So by 8pm, I am zonked out and dead asleep. Granted some nights I do stay up later, but I love sleeping! I wake up around 5:30am though.
11. My town – most days. I am extremely lucky to be living in a bigger town. One might even call it a city, but let’s not go too far. I enjoy walking through town and seeing the different neighborhoods. I love the Muslim neighborhood, the people are so nice. The people in that neighborhood (all probably 10,000+ of them) are incredibly friendly to me. They never hassle me, they treat me with respect, and the men even shake my hand and joke with me.
12. My main project. I get to work with a giant German software company. I get to work with over 1000 farmers. I get to work on a project that is going to make a real difference. I am so lucky.
13. Cold water. No really cold water is one of the greatest things in this country. When it is 100 degrees, sweat is dripping down every awful part of you, and you feel like nothing will ever remove the feeling of ick – you take a sip of cold water. And suddenly, everything is better. EVERYTHING.
14. Random things you find at the market. Like my new British Airways bag. Or the fetish priest section of the market that just boggles your mind.
15. Two yards. Who knew that 2 yards of fabric could be so incredibly useful. Blanket, robe, towel, pillow, dust rag, makeshift door, makeshift curtains, halter dress, baby carrier, the list goes on.
16. The cost of living. I can eat like a king for 3cd a day. I can eat pretty well for 50p.
17. Peace Corps medical care. I was sick, they fixed me. Peace Corps really took care of me and did everything to make sure I would get better. They ran lots of tests and went above and beyond what a normal doctor would do. No kidding is Peace Corps the best healthcare you will ever have.
18. Chocodelight. Move over Nutella, there is a new chocolate spread in town.
19. The Cashew Initiative. Being able to work with a group of people on a common goal makes me feel like I am doing so much more. I feel like this is actually sustainable development. I honestly don’t think I could have asked for a better project/group to work with – in the entire world.
20. Being able to stay connected to family and friends back home. Some days I honestly forget I am in Africa. Getting to facebook chat, video chat, and call home is wonderful. I never thought I would be able to keep in such good contact. When I was in Germany I was homesick all the time. Here, I still feel like home is with me.
2. The hot season
3. Getting sick
6. Unfair expectations
7. Being cheated out of money and time
8. Not knowing how to cook
9. Getting yelled at for not greeting someone
11. Being called obroni by adults
12. Being called small girl by adults
13. Power outages
14. Water outages
15. Shower drain
16. Babies crying
17. Goats. All of them.
18. Speed bumps. . .
20. My feet being dirty
There are many many things that I love and hate about life here, but luckily the loves outweigh the hates. Although some days, when it is super hot, I am dehydrated, I haven’t eaten, and I have to get on a tro, the hates take over and outweigh the loves. I have some cushy comforts, but life in Peace Corps isn’t easy-o. Some days the politics I have to deal with are enough to rival this upcoming election.
Peace Corps is a constant juggling act. Each day you start off with a certain number of balls, throughout the day more balls are thrown at you. By the end of the day, it is up to you to determine which balls you continue to juggle. Sometimes it is hard to keep the love balls up in the air, the hate balls are so much easier to hold onto. It all comes down to you. Which balls will you juggle? (That’s what she said, to all of the above. I couldn’t resist.)