Hello planet earth,
Sorry it’s been such a long time since my last post. Actually, I’m not really sorry. But I guess I can pretend to be.
Ghana continues to be wonderful. Even though I’ve found myself settled into somewhat of a routine, I’m still managing to spice it up a little here and there to ensure that I still get to do stuff that’s cool enough to write home about (and that’s enjoyable to read).
I love how friendly everyone is here. Ghanaian friends have texted me asking if I was coming to class (I was only running late). Everyone seems very willing to help. Though, I’m not sure if it’s simply because I’m an Obruni (I hope not). I’ve now taken a few by myself and I’m getting kind of good at it. Even if I have no idea where I am or where I am going, I can confidently ask a random stranger and, so far, they are glad to help me get to the right place and get on the right tro-tro. In two cases, while exploring the city of Accra, I’ve met or ran into a Ghanaian that goes to the university and spent several hours with them. One day we were at the art market (which is sweet), and we ran into a Ghanaian that lived in our hostel. He ended up showing us around, helping us bargain our prices down, and then leading us around Accra. While walking the streets of Jamestown (known as one of the poorer or maybe even poorest areas in Accrea) we saw children pulling around wagons of beer, some ritual that consisted of people dancing and blowing smoke and cheering, and a pick up soccer/futball match in a stadium like spot that looked like it could have been on NBA STREET for Nintendo 64. I tried CLAY! It was pretty gross. I guess pregnant women eat it for their stomachs…..so I’m not sure why our Ghanaian afternoon tour guide told us we should try it. I also ate these mini crabs that are sold for about 60 cents for 7 of them. It’s almost as if the crabs were captured, thrown into boiling water, and then put on the street to be sold. But, they were delicious!
After walking around Jamestown and standing out like LeBron James at an all girls albino elementary school, we went to an amazing fish restaurant for dinner. This place was incredible. They only open at night, as they spend all day catching the fish, and then serve them. We ate the ENTIRE fresh with our bare hands. It was delicious. Even the BRAINS were good!!
I played pick up basketball one night with a few fellow Obruni’s and despite our size and athleticism, we were able to take down the “All-Star” team. Games are played to 7, and we beat one team 7-0 and the crowd erupted when I hit a 3 pointer to end the game. We played against a lot of the players on the UG team that I’ve been coaching, so it was good to compete with them. It felt good to beat them, too. Our last game got extremely intense, but after we lost 8-6 we realized our team, on average, was at an 8 inches in height, 40 pounds, and 10 inches in vertical jump disadvantage.
On Wednesday and Fridays they have inter-hall games. It’s just like intramurals, except everyone plays for the hall/hostel they live in. My team, ISH, is by far the worst team out there. We lost by about 40 against one of the best hall teams that had 5 or 6 players from the Varsity team. None of them are on scholarship, so why wouldn’t they be able to play intramurals? I hit a bunch of threes, which was tight (no one can shoot so a 3 pointer is a huge deal), but my team needs some talent. I put up some fliers so hopefully we’ll pick up players with experience playing basketball. Some dude from Togo who spoke French and zero English played with us, and I think it was his first time playing basketball with a referee. During a free throw, he didn’t even know where to stand. He would straight up tackle players on the other team. It was fun yelling at him in French, though.
A few Saturdays ago the University Bball team had a “game”. We met at 7 am, but I thought I could take advantage of being a coach and not a player by going out drinking the night before. I foolishly assumed we’d be taking a bus there, and I planned to sleep on our team bus. I was Wrong. We took public transportation, which consisted of a lot of walking before an luxurious tro-tro ride where I found myself squished between two huge Africans, in a vehicle that surprisingly didn’t break down before we got there, while riding on what seemed to be roads made of potholes. I was not able to nap, and the game didn’t even start until after 9. The team played alright and they won by about 8 or 9. The scoreboard was a , and it was ran by a little kid who took orders from the coaches of when to change the score. Throughout the game, trash would blow on to the courts and the referee had to pick it up. During time outs, the coach would talk to them for a little then say, “Ok. Jamie, you talk to them!” and then he would just walk away and talk to other people. I filmed part of the game on my Flip Video and gave it to the Coach to view. One of the players saw and wanted to buy a copy just to watch himself play. In no time, we’ll be having film sessions! I wish the game wasn’t so sloppy, I’d proudly post some videos, but they’re nothing special to watch.
Thus far, on top of my class schedules, I’ve got Basketball “Training” (as they call it) , or practice Monday evenings, games Saturday mornings, then Inter-hall games Wednesday and Friday evenings. I also discovered that the handball team practices during the week and I joined them today even though I have no idea how to play and I’m not familiar to the rules at all. The coach put me in and I think I did okay, but I have no idea. It’s an interesting game. Seems like it’s some sort of combination of basketball, rugby, soccer, and baseball. After practice one of the coaches told me to come to their game next Tuesday…..at 6:30 AM! For some reason I told him that’d I’d maybe show up. I’d say there’s a better chance I find a bathroom in my hostel that has toilet paper, soap, AND paper towels. AT THE SAME TIME.
Here are some random funny things that have happened recently:
I was out to eat with my female friend, and a merchant asked me if it was my wife. I said she was not my wife, and then he smiled in excitement and asked if he could take her from me and marry her. I tried bartering her for some free groundnuts and fake lacoste pants, but she wasn’t okay with that. Oh Chalé!
A Ghanaian called me to tell me that she saw me walking and was happy that I grew my beard back. That was flattering!
We met a merchant who knew the capital of EVERY country in the world! He had heard of Rochester, Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and other random cities in Minnesota. Some Asians walked by and he asked where they were from. They said they were from China, but had no interest in talking to him or buying his things. Then, he started blurting out random cities in China to try to get them to come back. It didn’t work. But he said that strategy usually gets them to turn around.
I got a ride from some random Ghanaians on campus (they were old ladies, don’t worry it was safe), and they asked me where I was from. “Of course I’ve heard of Minnesota!” One of them yelled. “Kim Kardashian’s Kris is from Minnesota!” She was very excited when I said that I went to the same high school as him. She probably didn’t even believe me.
I was on the treadmill, and it lost power 3 or 4 times because I was going too fast. Seriously. I’m no Olympic sprinter, but apparently you can’t go faster than 6.0 MPH, or it has a high chance of blowing the fuse. They told me I could run as fast as I wanted to on the track near by. I told them (in my head, of course) to let me know the next time it wasn’t 90 and humid, and I’d be there.
The people at the gym are great, though. They recognize me easily cause I’m the only one who wears a headband when I work out. I’m also probably the only Obruni who tries to dance the Azonto with everyone else in the middle of his or her work out (I’m Ghana bring that back to America….dancing in the middle of the weight room!). You know a song is popular when it’s played in every club, bar, taxi, restaurant, gym, and then you even hear it as a ringtone on the cell phones of adults. The entire country knows the Azonto dance. Imagine Souja Boy’s “Crank that Souja Boi YOU” dance times 100. It’s like the Maccaréna meets the Cotton Eyed Joe, on Ghanaian steroids. Everyone knows it and everyone can dance it.
Aright folks. I gotta go shower. I’ve already said I needed to shower twice today, but decided not to since I figured I’d get super sweaty later on in the day (I was right). But, this time I’m just going to bed later, where I’ll probably sweat more in my sheets. Hit me up if you wanna cuddle J
There’s plenty of room under my mosquito net (actually there’s not).
I still got a lot to write up about.
Next Blog will include: surviving the Ghanaian hospital, getting robbed on the beach, traveling 10 hours to a beautiful resort, eating Chinese food, and getting a free sermon during a 3 hour bus ride.