I have been incredibly busy the past week. I also am having residual short term memory problems since I had typhoid. So, I could be lying. I probably did nothing last week. It feels like I have been busy, so I must have been busy. That logic works every time.
So here are a few updates:
I decided to write a book! I am going to write a book of short stories from my service. I’m asking some of my friends to contribute as well. I already have a title picked out, which I will keep secret
We had a weeklong training earlier this month covering Cashew Stand Maintenance and Establishment. We learned all about pests, grafting, pruning, cutting trees down and making them new again (no, shit!), and we toured a big cashew processing facility.
Starting this Friday, I will begin my whirlwind training tour. Yahya, my counterpart, and I are going to do trainings on association skills, pruning, and business literacy. We are holding a big conference on June 15 to do the association skills training. This Friday we are meeting with all the leaders to tell them about our planned trainings and hear their ideas. Then we will visit the 40 (FOURTY) groups twice (TWICE) to do the other trainings. Each group will get a pruning training, then at their next meeting they will get a business literacy training. Once September/October rolls around we will start bush fire education and trainings. So, I thought I was going to be bored in the off season. WRONG. So much for secondary projects. All I do is live, breathe, and not eat cashews. Wouldn’t it suck if I were allergic to cashews? Haha. Let’s not even think about that. I am sure everyone gets sick of the cashew crew, all we talk about is cashews. What else is there?
Chase and I put together a business literacy training program for farmers. I am really excited about it and can’t wait to field test it. I am in the process of writing everything up so that it is a true training manual and could be used by anyone, regardless of accounting knowledge. I use the word liquid assets – I hope that’s okay.
I was elected/appointed Secretary of the Cashew Initiative (our internal guiding body who organizes the Cashew In-Service-Trainings). I am in the process of designing/getting batik made for our group. I love batik, so I can’t wait to have more!
Working on a set project, the cashew crew, and having defined goals and objectives is such a wonderful thing. I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky and happy I am to be working on this project. I am very excited to see the impact of our work in the coming years. It makes me want to stay a cashew volunteer here forever and ever. Okay, maybe with some real money though. I love my job and couldn’t ask for a better fit. Of course there are challenges, but almost all of them are external factors. I only have so much control over those factors. It has been a great personal lesson for me, that I can’t control everything.
In other news, I have been craving ranch dressing lately. And cheese (that’s a given). But also almonds. So weird. My food supply from Martha is dwindling fast and I’m trying to hold out as long as I can. What I wouldn’t do for an entire box of sour gummi worms. I should write Trolli…
An idea I had when I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. I know how amazing it is to get care packages. I love love love opening an envelope or package for the first time and digging through it. The feeling of joy and happiness that floods out of the package is overwhelming. Junk food and treats from home truly go a long way to improving quality of life over here. I have eaten the same meals for the past 5 months: bankou and groundnut soup, rice and chicken, bankou and peppe, kenkey and peppe, fried yams and peppe. That’s it. Yes I had 3 tuna salad sandwiches and some pasta salad, but besides the point. When you have some peanut m&ms to come home to at the end of the day, your life is just better. It is really incredible how much food as an impact on your mental health here. SO, that’s why when I return (and have a job), I plan on putting together care packages for current Ghana volunteers. I’ll probably do one a month. Before I leave, I’ll work it out with the mailroom guy to work with me to determine who hasn’t gotten a package in a while. I’ll randomly select a different person each time and send them a box of goodies and a letter or a card. Who doesn’t love getting mail from strangers? I know I do!This is an idea I should pitch to the Friends of Ghana.
Lastly, I bought jeans at the market last week. I didn’t try them on, didn’t really get sizes out of them. The guys that were working the stalls just sorta picked out some for me. They looked like they would fit, so I bought them. I probably could have gotten them for cheaper, but I paid 10cd each for two pairs. That’s 11 bucks. One pair is Esprit and the other is knock-off Chinese brand Levis/Miss Sixty/another brand. Here’s the crazy part: both pair fit me perfect. That’s right PERFECTLY. This well endowed rump shimmied its way into two pairs and they fit. Couldn’t believe it. Magic jeans? I think so.
Alright, so that’s all the recent updates. Now onto the main title story. If you know me, you know that I tend to be a bit of a girly girl. I like my makeup stash. I spend way too much at Sephora. I have (now) over 10 pairs of jeans. I have a fur hat and cape. I spend a lot of time on my hair. My jewelry collection is highly sought after. And I have an affinity for mascara. These things are all still true, but Peace Corps has changed me.
Now I’m all about the Peace Corps Ghana chic. The local fabrics and styles. The wear it till it stinks look. But most importantly, I can and do, go out of my house without mascara on. I hate wearing a bra. On one hand, I do care about how I look, but on the other I realize that it doesn’t really matter. I don’t have to impress anyone, they are already impressed that I’m suffering-o in the heat in Ghana eating soup with my hands. They are impressed that I know smallsmall Twi. They are impressed that I’m a volunteer, making no money, just helping out the cashew farmers. They love when I wear local fabrics and styles. But that’s like a bonus round.
Things that used to gross me out, don’t bother me anymore. Stepping into a pile of mud, sweating bullets, being covered in tro-filth, cockroaches, spiders that aren’t flat, bugs in general, mice, rats, dust (in the house), mold, spoiled food, and my personal favorite – bat shit. (Please note, that since being here, I can’t stand my feet being filthy and will wash them multiple times of day. Also, if I am disgusting and filthy, I just take a shower or bucket bath whenever I have the next opportunity, but I don’t freak out about it. I have accepted it as part of life.)
So yeah, bat shit. The first time I was defecated on by a bat was during site visit in November. It landed on my shirt, so we just washed it. The second time was in February and it was actually a lot of bat pee. The third time was at the KSO while lounging in the hammock. The fourth time was at the Agyiawaa hotel in Techiman, just enjoying a young coconut juice drink. Oh, I’m forgetting about in Accra when I was sick! That’s five times. I am sure there will be many more chances for bats to empty their bowels on my head, arm, hand, shirt, or pants. Oh well, that’s life here in Ghana. You learn that it simply doesn’t matter. There is nothing you can do about it. Shit happens.