Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 3 (May 22) - Fatoush and Spaghetti

We returned to finish our painting at the child development center. Today, we were a bit more alive after having a normal night’s sleep. As we were getting close to the center, our driver stopped, got out and started hitting the ground. He had seen a snake and got out to kill it before continuing down the road. Interesting…

Today, I got my first Ghanaian proposal. Ah yes, as I am enjoying myself painting trim, I realize there is a man that is overseeing my work. He directs me where to paint and then watches. He then asks me to marry him. I politely tell him I have a boyfriend. He then goes outside and I hear him laughing with his friends. I am flattered, confused and insulted at the same time.

For lunch we walk to a different stand, but stop to buy fabric first. Ghanaian batik fabric is made by taking a white piece of cotton (looks like a sheet), and stamping designs onto it with wax. The fabric is then dyed and re-dyed. We bought most of her stock – a very good day for her home business. She was kind enough to show us how she made these pieces of batik in her backyard. She showed us additional stamp designs she had and we told her we would be back for more fabric (unfortunately she did not finish them in time!).

We bought sweet bread and Fanta from a closer store and as we sat in the shade and ate, we noticed some children gathering. Several little boys were walking our way with a soccer ball. This started the juggling session between Stacey and the boys. Wow…Stacey didn’t mention that she is an all-star soccer buff as well…I am very impressed. In addition to my bend-it like Beckham professor, the Ghanaian boys were good…they were really good. More children began to gather as they walked home from school to watch the Obruni (white person)playing soccer. The younger children kept their distance from us and some even started to cry. We realized, later, this was because they had never seen a white person before and we scared them.

On the way back to the hotel, a mother with a child was begging for food from us. She kept repeating, “please, for the child.” I just couldn’t take it anymore. I gave her the rest of the loaf of bread I had bought at lunch. She looked so grateful for this tiny piece of bread and it made me feel really good for a moment. It also made me feel infinitely sad.

I was exhausted and sunburned from the long day of painting in the hot air. Our shower had been fixed! I took the best cold shower I have ever had (in Africa). We decided to go to a Lebanese restaurant for dinner. My stomach and body were starting to feel the effects of my unbalanced diet. I was eating mostly Special K bars and Luna bars during the day with the addition of a loaf of bread and a Fanta. This sugar rich diet was helpful for dehydration but my body was not use to it. I craved a salad and anything but the spicy, greasy Ghanaian fare. Dinner was amazing. I ate spaghetti with marinara and fatoush (an amazing salad). I ordered so much that I was able to take most of the spaghetti home to eat the next night. This was such a delicious meal, I craved that fatoush for the rest of the trip. Again we went to bed no later than 8:30, totally exhausted (I was fat and happy too).

Day 2 (May 21) - PAINTING!!!

George picks us up in the blue VW at 8:30 this morning to take us to the Adotamen Child Development Center outside of Accra. The future school is located in a developing community nestled among the tropical forests. The community is surrounded by rolling hills and overlooked by the President’s retreat. Looking at the lush jungle and the President’s sprawling property juxtaposed against the red dirt schoolyard and its concrete buildings, made me slightly angry. We had heard about previous Presidents who had built themselves amazing palaces while their people were living in poverty. This is more than apparently still the case. It is frustrating to see how easily things could be implemented but there is a lack of governmental help.

It is so hot outside…and inside. The thick, humid air sucks every bit of moisture out of your body…and yet you are soaking wet. The concrete walls suck in the paint and the sun dries it mid-stroke. Multi-colored lizards run from shady spot to shady spot, stopping only briefly to feel the scorching sun. Huge spiders are drawn inside the classrooms, attracted to the cool walls. Anything outside in the sun for too long will bake. It feels good to keep moving so the air can move across your skin.

Midday we stop for a break and walk into the small town to find a store. I have amazingly cold peach Fanta and sweet bread for lunch. The shop owners always want their glass bottles back, as they can make money off of them. Everything in this country can be bought or sold.

After completing our painting for the day, we head to the Kwame Nkrumah National Memorial. Kwame Nkrumah, the“LIE founder and first president of the modern Ghanaian state, was not only an African anti-colonial leader but also one with a dream of a united Africa which would not drift into neo-colonialism. He was the first African head of state to espouse Pan-Africanism, an idea he came into contact with during his studies at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (United States), at the time when Marcus Garvey was becoming famous for his "Back to Africa Movement." He merged the dreams of both Marcus Garvey and the celebrated African-American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois into the formation of the modern day Ghana. Ghana's principles of freedom and justice, equity and free education for all, irrespective of ethnic background, religion or creed, borrow from Kwame Nkrumah's implementation of Pan-Africanism.” (Wikipedia.com)

Tonight we got our first taste of Ghanaian beer, Star Beer bought from Strawberry (the beer shop and bar near our hotel). What a nice way to end a long, hot day. We ate dinner at the hotel on the patio. Dinner consisted of steamed vegetables and fried rice. We were exhausted and fell into bed around 8:30 pm.