Monkeys, Waterfalls, and turning 21

(Continuation of the weekend)

 

So, Sunday morning we departed NewSeed, said our goodbyes, and went on our way along with our friend, Godwin. Our first stop was at a monkey sanctuary. We took motor taxis there, which was pretty cool and reminded me of Togo/Benin. Our drivers’ let us drive the motorcycles on the way back! It was about a 7 km drive. I tried to bargain the price down and explained that he didn’t have to do as much work, but it didn’t work. We walked into a forest, bananas in hand, and our guide made some atypical noises with his mouth to call for the monkeys. Two different families of monkeys became our new and shared our with us. They jumped on our and ate the bananas right out of our hands! They have the smallest and cutest little hands. They’re a very adorable animal. If I don’t go back to the USA with a Ghanaian princess, I’m definitely bringing a pet monkey as a consolation!

 

After that, Godwin searched his village for the Voodoo magic man, but he wasn’t around. I drove my taxi driver back in a motorcycle, and then we spent about 20-25 minutes arguing about the agreed fare. I read somewhere that the average person will spend 2 weeks of his/her life kissing. I’d say the average Ghanaian probably spends 4 weeks of his life arguing. And, if you are a taxi driver, maybe a few months.

 

Then, we were off to go to the waterfall. We had to take a tro-tro about 40 minutes away, and when we got there it started to rain. We ate a local dish called, Akpele, something that isn’t served in Accra. Lots of people were watching us it, since we were probably the only Obrunis in the past month to sit down and eat there. My friend was eating with his left hand (the hand used for wiping your butt), and he definitely got some weird looks. I ate with my right hand, which, actually, is also the hand I use for wiping. So, I guess I had all the Ghanaians fooled!

 

We took a taxi to the waterfall, and by the time we arrived it was POURING. We weren’t sure what to do, as it was later than we had planned, wetter than we had expected, and we were all very tired. After the rain calmed down, we decided we had to go. We had to run there since it was getting dark soon, especially since it was raining. Our tour guide led the way, telling us about the landscape around us as he ran in flip fops! Then, he’d stop every few minutes and tell us to take a . Then, we’d get back on our way. After about a twenty-minute run, we arrived at our destination and met a beautiful . Even though the rain made it a bit chilly outside, we were sweaty enough that going in the cold water felt . It was nice being the only ones there. I’ve never been to a waterfall like this. It was .

 

We couldn’t swim in the fall for long, as we had to get back out of the rainforest before it got dark. On our way back, the guide was telling me about all the different animals that live there, and the ones that come out at night and can be dangerous to humans. That was exciting to hear…. We saw a crab in the rainforest. At the time, it seemed normal, but when’s the last time you’ve pictured a crab next to a banana tree? If it was recently then you’ve either been to Ghana, or you’re doing some intense drugs.

 

I really hope to go back there. There’s an upper falls that requires a 2-hour hike up the mountain that you can do. There are also caves there. Our guide also carved wood that he finds in the forest, and my friends decided to buy one of his pieces as an early birthday present. , right?

 

Then, our guide led us to his voodoo/joojoo man from his village. We really wanted to experience this traditional magic. There was a village drum that they only take our to call out the spirits. Unfortunately, they needed us to pay 150 Ghana Cedi for them to take it out. We were about 120 Cedi short. Bummer! They explained that they needed the money to go buy a goat and another animal to sacrifice plus some potion drink (that apparently makes you projectile from both ends at the same time) to call for the spirits. They said we could take pictures of the drum for 10 Cedi, but we weren’t interested. Maybe next time…

 

The ride back to Accra was probably worse than the original ride to Newseed on Saturday morning. I think I fell asleep over 25 times, all for less than 5 minutes. At one point I couldn’t hear the music playing from my own headphones because the music in the Trotro was so loud. I started cracking up when I heard the song, “What is LOVE?!” being BLASTED. Then, the radio lost connection and the speakers blasted static for the next 30 minutes. The driver was even changing it from station to station, hoping one could actually play music. But, they were all loud and obnoxious crunches. Apparently turning the volume down decreased the chances of the radio having a strong connection. I don’t know.

 

At one point, we stopped at some random house and the driver just left. A few men got out to urinate, and I followed since I didn’t know the next time we’d be stopping. Next thing you know, there’s about 8 guys in a tinkling line going on some random person’s lawn. Oops!

I finally got back to my room at around 11:30 at night, and I fell asleep for good! A few hours later I woke up feeling a little different. I had turned 21! Then, I rolled over and went back to sleep…

I ended up having a great birthday, though. My cousin Jamie works with someone who came to Ghana and offered to bring me some treats. When I met him at the airport, he offered to drive me back to campus. As we’re chatting, he learns that it’s my birthday, and next thing you know, we’re at a restaurant pounding beers, speaking in Twi, and celebrating my birthday. What a great guy! Thanks a lot Jamie!

 

After 5-6 beers on an empty stomach, I was feeling pretty drunk, full, and excited, though I didn’t know what to do. So, on impulse, I decided to join my friend and go on a run. That was fun. I’ve never burped beer while exercising before. I probably won’t do it ever again, either.

 

That night, I invited some friends out to a local outdoor bar just to have a few drinks and celebrate my 21st in an American fashion. Binge drinking! It was Monday night, but I was very pleased with the amount of people that came. It was a good mix of my Ghanaian friends and Obrunis. We tried to teach the Ghanaians how to play flip cup, but then ran out of cups and the restaurant wouldn’t give us extra plastic cups, even though we already bought tons of drinks from them. That’s Ghana for ya.

 

Then, I got ! Ponding is a Ghanaian tradition where you soak the birthday boy/girl with any liquid. At first I got a few bottles of water on me…which actually felt . Then, a few mix drinks…that was sticky. Next, a full bottle of coke.  Then, as I was straining out my wet shirt into the gutters, I started talking to a group of guys. I explained that it was my “bornday” and I got ponded but I’m glad to get the full experience. Then, this stranger dumped his full beer all over my head. Went back to the bar, bought another one, then sat down. I’m not sure how fast alcohol is absorbed through your scalp and skin…but I was having a pretty time regardless!

 

At one point, a Ghanaian friend of mine showed up with three of my female Ghanaian friends. Supposedly, at a traditionally Ghanaian birthday party, the host pays for everyone’s drinks. Funny, because I feel like in the states, if it’s your birthday, everyone ELSE buys YOU drinks. Which is usually great…. until you throw up…

When they showed up, he came up to me and told me that I should go buy them drinks and serve the girls who just sat down. I was like, “Nah man…I’m not Ghanaian!” He responded, “but you are IN GHANA!” I refused to buy them drinks, so I just found random cups that looked like they were filled recently and served them. It seemed to suffice.

 

Then, my friend and I went across the street and tried to bargain for fresh tilapia since it was late and they were about to close. After we realized we weren’t going to get the food for cheap, my friend started yelling “Chalé I go blast on his head!” Which, in Pidgin means “Yo, I took a shit on his head!” Remember I’m soaked in every liquid imaginable. Their reactions were hilarious. Overall it was a great night and a great birthday. I got to speak on the phone with my brother, sister, mother, and father all in a 48 hour span. Plus my grandma, and two cousins! What a blessing! I guess that should buy me a few weeks of no phone calls and just directing everyone to my blog, right?

 

Alright, time to leave the air conditioned computer lab and go break a sweat within three steps. See you soon!!

Stay classy San Diego!

Jeremy

Boxing and a Visit to NewSeed International

Howdy!!!

Last Thursday as a part of “Hall Week” celebration for a dorm on campus there was an event called Boxing Night. It was CRAZY. I wish I brought a camera (SORRY)! In the middle of the handball court, they brought in a full-sized ring for anyone to sign up and then just go at it with gloves and a helmet while everyone watched and cheered. Two people had microphones and were giving the play by play, sort of like the guy from AND-1 basketball who hypes up all the plays. Most of it wasn’t even boxing, they were just beating the shit out of each other! The ref was practically of no use, as he seemed to barely split up the fights about 10 seconds before an ambulance would be needed. At least 10 random Ghanaians tried to convince me to go up and box/fight. If I knew how to fight, I would have. But I told them my face was too beautiful to ruin. “Charlie (Chalé) I de booze too much! I no go box!” In pidgin, that means, “Yo I’m too drunk I’m not going to box!” The boxing ended as the current hall president went up against the former hall president.

After it was over, I met up with some friends from the basketball team and watched the Wisconsin Syracuse game. Close game…I would’ve been very excited if Wisconsin pulled it off…but Syracuse is good. The TV was surprisingly clear. It became static-y at times, though. They showed the same 4 commercials for 2.5 hours straight….I practically had them memorized. Friday I had a terrible headache all day and took a test with a throbbing migraine. I could barely keep my head up. I hope I didn’t fail :-X If you plan on attending college, I would not recommend taking the SATs with a migraine. Unless your Brandon Jennings!

I thought I had malaria…but apparently I didn’t because….. I’m still alive. Good news! I’m better now, though! Saturday morning we went to the Volta Region to visit International, an orphanage that I do fundraising for on campus at UW-Madison. I’m actually president (oh yeah…!) of the student org on campus even though we’re not that big. NewSeed is part of the reason I chose Ghana, so it was good to finally go there. The ride took about 5.5 hours (I was told it was a 3.5 hour trip). It was an extremely uncomfortable tro-tro ride. Imagine those Chevrolet, “LIKE A ROCK”, commercials over those huge bumps in the road, except with 12 people packed into the trunk sitting cross legged with a bag on their lap. In the scorching heat. That’s how I felt. Oh….and I had been up since 5:45 am! Trying to nap was like convincing a Bhuddist monk to strike a baby. Not happening.

Finally around 12 we arrived and ate a delicious meal and then went to play with the ! We spent the day , dancing, teaching them dances, playing soccer, taking pictures, and just hanging out. They definitely enjoyed our . It was so great to make em smile. They’re SO ! They were enamored by my iPhone, and drained the entire battery clicking every button imaginable. A few of them watched a movie that they definitely could not understand. Some of them had nap time….and I decided to them!

That night we told the kids stories. My friend read the 3 little piggies story off her blackberry. I considered that cheating. Our Ghanaian friend, Godwin, told a story about how Monkeys and Wales use to be best friends and the tale of how their friendship fell through. came up and sang and read poems and told stories, too. It was nice.

That night, we stayed up talking to Godwin about Voodoo/Zuzu witchcraft. He claimed he has seen people vanish in front of his own eyes. He said he could show us to the Jzoo-Jzoo man in his village the next day. We were eager to see this magic for ourselves. That night I had a rough nights’ sleep. My migraine decided to surprise me around 3 am for a wake up call! I wanted to take a machete to my forehead. But I didn’t. For one, I didn’t bring my machete. Also, it would make updating my blog too difficult, even though my headache probably would have felt better! I was then woken up shortly after around 5 am by a Muslim call to prayer. Although I’m sure they view it as a friendly invitation and a nice gesture, timing is everything. They wouldn’t shut up. The noise did overpower the 175 Hen’s that were 40 feet from my room, though. That was a plus. Kind of.

We woke up early, and I hopped in the shower. After two minutes, the water stopped. A kid walked in shortly after. Awkward. I didn’t have my glasses on so I missed his reaction, too! We ate a delicious pancake breakfast, smiled at how cute the kids looked as they got ready for church, and went off on our way to go to the monkey village, waterfalls, and to find a jzoo-jzoo voodoo man!

(gotta go….I’ll try to post the rest of my weekend soon) Stay tuned!!! THANKS FOR READING! HOPE IT WAS STIMULATING AND PLEASING! Love, Jeremy ‘Kwabi’ G

Another Video!!

Hello!

I had a GREAT time last weekend as I traveled to the Volta region where I stayed at an Orphanage called NewSeed International, saw a bunch of monkeys, and went to a beautiful waterfall in a rainforest. Yesterday, I had a wonderful 21st birthday. I appreciate everyone’s wishes! Thanks!

Details on those experiences to come…..

For now, here’s another video with footage from the Cape Coast Slave Castles, Canopy walks, The Green Turtle Lodge, and more! Enjoy!! Stay tuned for the next post…

xoxo

J-Kwabz

Been in Benin before? Time to go to Togo, too

First, I apologize for me PUNy attempt to continue my pun fun. (I promise to balance out being cheesy by being vulgar, too. I’m trying to appeal to all audiences). I should be PUNished. “Just PUNch yousrself, Jeremy!” Okay. Done. Ouch. Now my belly hurts.

Last weekend some friends and I traveled to two countries most people have probably never even heard of (but they do exist, I promise): Togo (pronounce Tow….Go, rhymes with Tro-Tro/Yolo,/Cocoa/Solo/Go-low,and OH!NO!) and Benin (pronounced like “I’ve REALLY Benin to reading your Blog, Jeremy! You better not disappoint me in your future posts!”).  They are East of Ghana, towards the center of Africa. Both are French speaking, said to be less developed, and notorious for being rather welcoming to young, handsome, and hairy bloggers from America.

 

I decided to shave everything on my face and leave my mustache for the trip so I could look French and creepy. My passport didn’t fool any of the officers at the boarder, though. And, if anything, my French appearance probably just ended up confusing people when they realized my French accent sucked and my vocabulary resembles a 7 year old’s. But, it was fun to look like a rapist! I highly recommend it to those open to trying new things. Just don’t become a rapist.

 

Our trip began early, (left around 5 am), and we didn’t arrive at our hotel in Benin until around 4 pm. It was cool to get to the station so early and see everyone start their day. I can’t say I’ve seen loads of come out of a taxi trunk before.

In our first van from Accra to the Togo border, we were stopped along the way (I think mainly because he saw white passengers) by a police officer. After about 20-30 minutes on conversation, our driver finally reached an agreement (I’m almost positive a bribe) with the officer, and then we continued on our way. My Ghanaian friend previously responded when I asked him why I haven’t seen any police officers that you’ll see them in long drives, as they often pull cars over. If you are pulled over, as a kind gestures, people in their cars give the officers a small sum money….so they can eat. So….at the sign of white people in a van, this officer became hungry and decided to stop us. Understandable; I get hungry whenever I see white people, too…

 

Crossing the border took a while, but once we got to Lomé, Togo, I flipped my French switch on! We got into another taxi and headed for Benin. The drive through Togo was cool. We drove along the for most of the ride, saw lots of , African /jump suits, and informal stations that served oil from recycled bottles. At last, we arrived at our hotel 11.5 hours later, checked in, and started to make plans for the evening.

 

With no idea where we exactly were, no form of transportation (taxis were almost nonexistent), and limited French conversational skills (except Kate), our group went off wandering the streets looking for a restaurant that “seemed” to be close by. After sometime, it became so dark and we were completely lost. Then, we somehow managed to find a man who left his girlfriend, got on in his motorcycle, and returned with two taxi-motorcycles, or “Taxi-moto”, who would us to the area we were looking for. We enjoyed a nice meal on the beach at some Lebanese restaurant, and celebrated St. Patties day with some French-African Win (not sure if that makes sense). The highlight of that meal was definitely Hummus and falafel. I cracked up when my friend ordered, “Homos” (that’s how it was spelled on the menu), as if he was hoping for some flamboyant evening entertainment. We tried some local beers, but they tasted like someone had already drunken them. One of the bottles didn’t even have a label on it. Of course, I still managed to finish them. My motto: No job goes unfinished.

 

After getting back to our hotel, I experienced the one of the worst nights’ sleep of my life. The air conditioner didn’t work, and I felt as if there were a colony of mosquitoes nesting under my pillow. I didn’t put on enough bug spray, and the only thing keeping the mosquitoes away was the dripping sweat that covered my body. The highlight of my sleep was while I was awake at about 2:30 in the morning, unsure what to do because I was so sweaty and itchy, when my friend, Harrison began sleep talking. After a few seconds, I realized he was speaking in Pidgin (a local language of broken English spoken in Ghana that is sort of like Ebonics on steroids). I yelled at him to shut up, and proceeded to think of ways to get revenge on this hotel for giving us a room with broken air conditioning. My options included: urinating on the beds, stealing everything that we could fit in our bags (they had some nice Jesus memorabilia), or refusing to pay (even though we already paid). At one point I seriously contemplated going to the girls’ room to sleep on the concrete floor in the nude.

 

When the sun finally rose and I felt like I was living straight out of the movie, “Fight Club”, (without the fighting) I opted not to seek revenge on the hotel. My darling friend, Kate(also the winner of French-conversationalist of the weekend) told them in French that I was sad about the air condition not working. “Je ne suis pas triste…je suis furious!!” I buzzed. I tried to express my anger in French, but ended up failing to do so, which lead to me taking a picture with the receptionist in his outfit. He gave me his e-mail and wants me to send him the picture. Why not!?

 

Then, we ate a complementary French breakfast (coffee and bread….or café et du pain), but decided we were nowhere near satisfied and walked the streets to try to find omelets. I ended up making a friend who claimed he was a musician, and next thing you know we are rapping in French as he is escorting us to an omelet stand. They were delicious! (Baguette #2 on the day). He ended up spending the entire the with us, answering our questions, showing us where to go, making sure our money was hidden, and keeping our group together in return for us buying him just an omelet and some pineapple (which was under a dollar). He didn’t speak any English, but I could understand most of what he said.

 

Next, our friend helped us get motor taxi’s to the grand market where he helped us explore. At one point he held my hand while crossing the street (which was like crossing a 5 lane highway). What a nice fella! Holding hands isn’t a sign of intimacy in West Africa (at least from what I’ve observed). Though, pinching each others nose is…..I think. At least for me. (Hmmm).

 

We were the only white people there, and the market seemed to be more of a maze than a market, but we eventually made our way to the “Fetish Market” where we saw stands full of animal , animal , and other strange, crazy, yet remarkable objects. I saw a few live rats. Some guy tried to sell me a live fish! Another demanded that we pay ($4-$5) to take pictures, but as I spoke in French to some seller, I was able to take photos of his “” with out him noticing. Then, I pretended to be on my iPhone and took as many shots as I could. That seemed to be the go to move for the weekend, since they didn’t recognize it as a camera.

 

Some guys showed us some voodoo pieces and figures that, when done properly, cured AIDs, and could also find you a handsome husband. I tried to explain that at this point in my life, neither of those outcomes were desirable. He asked what I wanted, and I said “Je veux être hereux pour tous le temps”, which is (probably an incorrect form of saying), ‘I want to be happy forever’. The next thing I knew, I was bargaining for some voodoo magic piece that could apparently make me happy forever. And they say money can’t buy happiness! Well, apparently it can, although the man didn’t understand how his price was too high. He laughed when I told him that I did not want to pay anything over $5 for “eternal happiness”. I was hungry at the time and thought my money could have been better spent on more delicious baguettes.

 

We made it back to our hotel, and wandered the streets for some street food with our Beninoin (?) friend. We ate a delicious sandwich (baguette #3) that included spaghetti, avocadoes, potatoes, some fishy sauce, salad, and some sort of salsa, and it was delicious. We all agreed that we’re bringing back spaghetti sandwiches to the US. Still hungry, we ordered avocado filled baguettes (#4) for desert. Delicious!

 

After a 50 minute walk from the hotel (they told us it was 15-20 minutes) we spent about 20 minutes bargaining for a taxi (in French), said goodbye to our unofficial tour guide who asked for 50 cents so he could get a taxi home, and took off for Lomé, Togo. We got a very cheap price….only to realize it was because we’d be cramming in 7 people into a compact taxi for a 3 hour ride. That was fun!

 

After losing power at the boarder, getting like 5 stamps, and saying ten merci’s, we survived the Togo/Benin border, met up with another taxi driver, and made it to our hotel. Then, we celebrated St. Patties day again. This hotel had tap beer (the first time I’ve seen it in West Africa). It did not taste pleasant, but the sight of a keg truly made me feel like I was back in Madison at a house party before a football game. Maybe not exactly….But the inebriation levels were comparable.

 

I ordered some scrumptious frog legs for dinner, accompanied by complimentary bread (baguette #5 and $6). The streets were dark, we didn’t know how we could get a motor taxi, and we had no idea where to go and what to do, so we just stayed in and went to bed early. Our room didn’t even have a toilet. That was awkward.

 

The next day we went to La Grand Marché, did some shopping (I truly enjoyed bargaining in French….at any given time I could just say “je ne comprend pas”), took some “” the be on phone, ate a few more baguettes (#7,#8, and #9) road some motortaxis, and then headed back to Ghana. At the boarded, almost got pick pocketed. It was quite scary. I got excited when I saw NBA playing on the TV. “Which team do you like?” I asked the officer.

“I don’t like basketball”.

“oh….kay, then!”

 

In our ride back to Accra, we were stopped in the Volta region, and demanded to show our passports to the officers. Racial profiling on ze white people! Hooray!  They ended up searching our entire van, and we learned that we were stopped simply because we were white. I thought I was going to get in trouble when I opted to urinate in the bushes instead of the restrooms (they tried to charge me 10 pesuwas….why would I pay to stand in urine and go pee-pee in the corner when I can stand on grass and go on a tree for free!?), and one of the officers asked where I was and saw that I wasn’t using their facilities. Luckily my friend Ryan talked him out of it, “I’m sorry, I’m sure he didn’t know. But, I’ll make sure to tell him for next time!”

 

As I dosed off in my seat, I began dreaming that I was bargaining in French. “Oh, c’est trop chére! c’est dingue!”

 ‘Oh, it’s too expensive. That’s ridiculous!’

We made it back to Ghana safe and sound, and we even murmured the song “I’m coming home”, in our last Tro-Tro ride. My stay here is now about half way done. Though, I do refer to my room here as home.

No more motor taxis, no more baguettes, no more French, and no more mustache!

No more to blog about, either. Sorry(or…hopefully your welcome?) it was so long.

 

Au Revoir!

Salut!

Bon Appétite!

 

Jérémy/Jérôme

 

You Know You’re In Ghana When. . .

1) You are referred to (often) as “Obama’s people”

2) a female gets picked up by a taxi driver who immediately calls her his wife, teaches her how to say I love you in Twi, and proceeds to play romantic slow jams all the way to campus

3) you find a physics major who believes in witchcraft

4) a devout Muslim, praying 5 times a day, describe his (apparently many) sexual escapades as a “smash and dash”

5) hissing at someone an appropriate way to get their attention to: hail a taxi, buy food, tell someone they dropped something, or try to get you to shop at their store

6) you can be asked, “So, how is Obama doing?” and be expected to give a honest response of his current welfare

7) an Asian-American is considered “white”

8) a completely untrained volunteer watch 15 eye surgeries take place on his first day at work

9) You can urinate in public and no one will even notice

10) There’s more dust in your dorm room than oxygen

11) homosexuality is widely considered a sin while men walk around holding hands freely and joyfully

12) you have to worry about your pet cat being hunted down with a slingshot and roasted for dinner

13) you see people wearing American T-shirts from your home town, only to realize when you ask them about it they have no idea what the words on their clothes mean

14) you show up 15 minute late to a lecture and still get there before the professor

15) you find a Jewish community of Ghanaians named “Shalom Shalom”

16) you watch an 8 year old boy climb a 40 foot coconut tree to smack down some coconuts as snacks for arriving guests

17) you may be asked by complete strangers sitting near you if they are invited to eat your food with you

18) complete strangers invite you to eat their food with them, sometimes using your hands and eating out of the same bowl

19) females accept dates with other guys even though they have a serious boyfriend

20) having a boyfriend back in the states meaningless to guys that seem interested

21) a taxi driver accepts a half eaten piece of yam that you offer him, and then says in Twi, “God Bless You!”

22) a friend who can hardly afford to pay his own school fees refuse to allow you to spend a cent on anything while you visit him

23)You see a middle-aged man dodging traffic while crossing a motor-way divider with a full-sized refrigerator balanced on his head

24) An event starts at 6, but you know it’s 100% acceptable to show up at 10….and you may still be early.

25) You call any of your elders “Auntie” or “Uncle”

26) Ah! Oh! Chale! Daabi! Become necessary components of every sentence.

27) 9am is an appropriate time to eat anything.

28) You have to watch where you walk in order to avoid “obruni traps”, which are open gutters

29) your car door in the taxi can only be opened from the outside. Not because it’s on child lock, but because that’s just how it is.

30) Flashing a friend has no sexual connotation to it at all. (It means calling the number and then hanging up after it rings so the other person has your number and can save it)

31) You’re better off taking a tro-tro to (public transportation) the hospital than waiting for an ambulance.

32) Not remembering someone’s name and calling them either Nana, Efya, Kwesi, Kwame, Kofi, Ama, Adwoa will elicit a response 92.67% of the time.

33) You Azonto to any song, any if people see an obruni dancing Azonto (or trying to) they get extremely excited

34) You have an anxiety attack when you realize you left your toilet tissue in your hostel.

35) You know the hand signals for tro-tros.

36) You can buy water, a table, plantain chips, airtime, grapes, fabric, and more out of your car window at one traffic light.

37) Sleeping at your workplace is expected, and sometimes in the contract.

38) Not having a substantial amount of pesewas (cents) ruins your day because exact change is almost always necessary.

39) A meal that costs more than 5GHc ($3 US )is entirely too much money.

40) It’s perfectly normal to answer your cell phone during class/church/meetings.

41) Hearing women yelling “Ice pure wata” during high heat is like the second coming of Christ.

42) You drop everything you’re doing to take advantage of a shower while the water is running.

43) You’ve given up on having clean, dirt-free feet.

44) you sweat more in your sleep than when you exercise

45) You stop exercising because washing your clothes by hand is enough of a workout, and, if you worked out, you would just have more dirty clothes to hand wash yourself. Plus, it’s simply way too hot to exercise.

46) You can’t shower every time you feel dirty because you’d never end up making it out

47) You realize right before you are about to get dressed that your clothes aren’t completely clean, and it’s 100% your fault because you washed them with your hands

48) you put the the clothes on anyways because within 30 minutes you’ll be dirty and sweaty

49) “I’m coming” means: Hold on, one second, give me a minute, wait for me, be right back, be patient, and, of course, I’m coming

50) a store is out of an item that you ask for they will tell you it is finished

51) You can say absolutely nothing, but get too much attention because you’re “Obruni”

52) Describing your issues with bubble guts is normal.

53) Gypsy begging children are the only thing keeping you from shopping at Accra Mall.

54) Watching Chinese and Ghanaian students interact is the highlight of your day

55) A brigade of cars mean there’s a party going on tonight.

56) You can hear the songs Kolom, Agyeei, Over Again, Lapaz Toyota, Sweetio, Sorkode, and Oliver Twist multiple times in one night at the same club/bar, and do the same azonto dance to all of them

57) You’ve rescued a friend from being married on multiple occasions.

58) You order plain rice and stew and are brought jollof rice, shito, indomine, and coleslaw, and you can’t do anything about it

59) Internet peaks at 100 kilobytes per second.

60) you get laughed at when asked to speak in class because Ghanaians don’t understand a word you’re saying when you speak fast

61)Your professor threatens to “kill the student”, or “fire the class”

62) Your taxi driver gets out of the car to ask for directions ten minutes after telling you he knows where you are going and you agree on a price

63) Pidgin is a spoken language of broken English and not a bird

64) You know what day of the week people were born on by their name

65) You let someone know they look nice by saying “you are looking so sweet.” Male or female.

66) You don’t notice the “oh” at the end of most sentences.

67) You can open sachet water with your teeth without spilling a drop

68) Pineapples are white, oranges are green, still they’re the best tasting fruit you’ve ever had.

69) if find toilet paper in the bathrooms, you assume that someone left it there

70) you have to wash your bar of soap by itself because it gets so dirty

71) you take taxis not because you are lazy or to save time, but simply because you don’t want to sweat through all of your clothing

72) your ice cold beverage that you bought is lukewarm after your first two sips

73) your blog posts be delayed sometimes for days not just because the internet is down, but because the electricity is out on the entire campus

74) you cross the street, you have to look both ways, behind you, and the both ways again.

75) You complain about the small things, but genuinely love GHANA!

Mepaachew, Hi!

A little brain dump:

In class last week, the professor was late so a TA took over and gave the lecture for the first 15 minutes or so. When the professor took over, the entire class started clapping. Not sure if they were applauding his efforts, or if they were happy that he would soon finish. I was tired, so the clapping just pissed me off.

One of the professors that teaches TWI has a daughter that’s in Minnetonka right now. HOW CRAZY!?

Telling people my name is always a trip. Jeremy seems to be a hard word to pronounce, so I’ve accepted Jamie, Jerry, and Rejemy. And of course, my Twi day name, Kwabena. The few that recognize my name, Jeremy, respond, “Yeah, like Jeremiah in the bible!” I take that as a complement. I can be a prophet. It’s actually funny though. Recently, every guy recognizes my name and says, “oh, like Jeremy Lin.” When I was playing I heard guys yelling that every time I took a shot. In Ghana, Asians, Americans, and Europeans are all Obrunis. So, I guess it works.

My next-door neighbor makes drums back at his home. They’re only $40, and I’m thinking about buying one. I definitely want to go to where they’re all made. It’s so crazy, I can pick my own design and what not. I just gotta figure out how I could get it back home.

 

All for now folks. Big trip coming up. I’m going to go to Togo (I did that on purpose) and Benin with my friends Rachel, Harrison, Ryan, Meredith, Amma, and Kate.

Stay Classy Planet Earth!

J Kwabz

P.S. Here’s a little poem I wrote while I was bored out of my mind in poetry class. (Hint: It’s about Ghana)

 

“when life seems dull, and a situation is dead

I’m lucky to have a radio that plays in my head

my eyes are drifting, though my mind is tuned in

I’m lost in this lecture but my melodic music will soon win

a new symphony plays, and I’m engaged

time traveling in rhyme to a golden age

my road is paved, across the Atlantic to a distant place

I try not to panic locked in a foreign cage

I’m fortunate enough to be here though I wasn’t born and raised

cramped in a corny maze, where the local staples don’t include corn and maze

but can leave my stomach torn for days

I feel idyll, this is so ideal

living a dream, lucky that mine’s real

humbled into a happy life

more than right or wrong, or black and white

in fact I’m glad to write, cause I feel people have to know

that poor and underdeveloped places can still be magical

I don’t need a middle class life, I’m okay being trapped below

for when the time comes I know I’ll be sad to go”

 

 

 

 

Eeeeeiiiii chaléeeeeeeeees!

Here’s a rough week in review:

March 6th was Ghana’s birthday! I got up early so we could head downtown for the Independance March. After woking up at 5:30,I went outside and saw my friend awake, listening to music, and DOING LAUNDRY! She scared the shit out of me and explained that 5 am was the best time to do laundry. I respectfully disagreed. There is no good time to hand wash your laundry!

 

We went downtown to Accra to go to Independence to watch the independence . Of course, we arrived 3 hours early and just sat around taking picture of vendors with huge loads on top of their . It was fun to go, even though it was very slow and not a lot went on. But, the president of Ghana was there, which was pretty cool. I got to be on some African channel back in the US. I also made a lot of friends walking around Accra afterwards with all my Ghana gear.

 

Afterwards we walked to Makola , a crazy market in Accra, to do some shopping. We weren’t there long, but everywhere we walked all the vendors yell “Obruni! Bra bra!”, which means, “White person, come come!” I bought a roll of tape for about 40 cents! I almost bought 6 large live snails for like $6, but I don’t know how to prepare them. I also don’t know what snails eat. If they can’t be food or pets, I felt I had no use for them.

 

On Wednesday, I thought my class was cancelled for the holiday…turns out it wasn’t. Oops. Wednesday night a few of us decided to combine my friend’s birthday party with a Purim celebration as we tried to get drunk enough until we couldn’t tell the different between a Ghanaian and an Obruni. I wasn’t quite there, but I think one of our Ghanaian friends might’ve been.

 

Thursday, I met back up with my Ghanaian buddy, Casino, along with his crew and ended up running into a Ghanaian who lives in Minnesota! He moved there last year, and is back in Ghana on spring break. CRAZY! Thursday night we played pick up basketball at midnight. And I believed in the stereotype that Ghanaians went to bed early and woke up earlier!

 

Saturday morning, one of our U-Pals had his graduation, so we went to check it out. It was packed with people, hotter than hell, and hard to understand what was going on. Wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt was a BIG mistake. It was cool to witness a Ghanaian graduation though, even though I couldn’t hear much and people seemed to be just standing around waiting.

 

Saturday afternoon our entire group did a cooking contest where we had to prepare Ghanaian dishes. We made jolof rice, endomi (ramen noodles), fried plantains, and salad. I spent a lot more time eating than cooking. After that ended, we headed to Korkobité to go there for the night. It was “reggae” night and we ended up running into a bunch of international students we knew from our hostel. My friend Ryan met some guy from Côte D’ivoire on a swing, and next thing you know we’re on the beach in a hut with this guy and his friend in drum circle while his friend played guitar. I kept going bback and fourth between freestyling and explaining in French to this guy that I don’t want to buy anything from him. He showed us pictures from Côte D’ivoire, too. It was very neat experience.

 

Sunday I woke up with some sort of stomach virus and ended up spending most of the laying down in excruciating pain or on the toilet. The highlight of that was when a girl dressed in funeral attire rubbed my bare, harry, belly up and down and said a prayer for me. While sitting painfully the beach, the soccer game (which is played with no out of bounds….ever) came our way and the ball ended up hitting me right in the face which broke my sunglasses, and caused my eye to start bleeding. That was fun! I spent most of the day on the beach in some awkward yoga like position trying to make my stomach hurt the least. My friend walked past and wondered why I was trying to tan my lower back.

 

I made some friends with these little kids from Togo on the beach. They didn’t speak much English, but they just followed me around for a few hours. I stood up; they stood up. I lied down and went to sleep; they lied down and went to sleep. Then, when I went swimming, they all took OFF their shorts and went into the water butt naked! I asked why they got naked and they said it was because their mother would beat them if they came home with a wet bathing suit. I said screw it! I’ll go naked, too!! (I didn’t actually take off my bathing suit…until I was underwater, atleast)

 

I saw more monkeys!

 

Actually my stomachache was very bad, but I’m better now. You know the saying, “in one ear and out the other?” Change “ear” to “hole”, and that’s how I’d describe it. (Sorry if you are eating while reading this.) I took some medicine from this girl that said I’d be constipated for 3 days. Proved here wrong twice within 2 hours! I’ll spare you the details (I actually had more details written in here but decided to take them out last minute), but I felt extremely sorry for the toilet and feel bad that I was too sick to apologize. On the way back, we took a cab and the driver got lost about 5 times and stopped a few times to ask random strangers for directions. Only in Ghana! I wanted to explain to him that the sooner he got us home, the less chance there was that I would defecate all over his floor. Some things are just left better unsaid. Some things are probably left better un-typed in blog posts, too. Oops. Sorry.

Til next time!

 

Jeremy

 

So, last weekend (march 3rd), our group went on a day trip to the Eastern region. Our first stop was to check out a farm. We received a “tour” by a man who worked that and came directly from a funeral (dressed in red and black) to show us around. His first question he asked us was, “So, why have you guys come to see a cocoa farm?” He was serious, and curious to know why we were there. We learned about the entire process, some cocoa beans, forgot everything he told us, and then got back on the bus.

We next stopped at these gardens. There were a lot of beautiful sites to see at this place, including the inside of a tree that up, a long stretch of palm on a road, and a random broken down posed as a playground. On our way back, we stopped at a place that sold amazing for us to do some shopping. Some were so cheap, even though they’d probably sell for over $50 in the states. Some were ,too…

 

That night, I headed to my Ghanaian-Minnesota-Bound pal Bernard, Kwabena, or “Casino” (his nicknames) house for the night. I brought my laundry  to do there since he has a washing machine, except the washing machine was not what I expected and ended up taking much more time than I thought. I felt really bad that it took so long to do my laundry, as it we couldn’t even finish it at night and had to do some in the morning. Casino was very helpful though, and I was greatly appreciative.

 

It was my first time experiencing a Ghanaian household, and it was very positive. I kept getting a little confused as more and more family members seemed to be showing up, but they were all very kind and hospitable. I enjoyed the best vegetable stew I’ve ever eaten, and even though I received enough food for two, I was glad to finish it (I think it is considered rude in Ghanaian culture if you don’t finish what is served to you on your plate…..or I just wanted another excuse to rationalize pigging out). Casino showed me around town a bit and his neighborhood and we ate some kelewele (pronounced Killy Willy) for desert, had a drink, and headed back to his home.

 

I was especially elated when we went to the bedroom and I felt the air condition. I almost cried tears of happiness, but then got so excited that I started sweating. Just kidding. March is (supposedly…. sometimes I feel like nobody really knows) the hottest month here, and recently I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night 2-3 times so sweaty that I can’t sleep. One night I had a dream that I was a US agent spy set out to assassin a corrupt government official in Ghana. After I shot him and his dog…for some reason (I have great aim in my dreams), I woke up in a pool of his blood. But it was only my sweat. Yummy!

 

After a spoiled nights sleep, I woke up early, took my first lukewarm shower since coming to Ghana, ate a delicious breakfast, and got ready for ! Not only was this my first time ever going to Sunday Church services, but it was my first time going to Church in a country where everyone looked nothing like me. This meant everyone else also knew it was my first time going to church. After ten minutes, a hundred stares, and several smiles, the pastor roared, “White man! On your feet!”.  I looked around, (didn’t see any other white men) looked down at my pale hands, and stood up. “White man! Is this your first time here!?”

“Yes”, I murmured, praying that he didn’t ask me how much I loved Jesus.

“What is your name?!”

“Jeremy”,

“Jamie?!”

I spoke up, “Jeremy,”

“What? Jerry?!?!”

(Why didn’t I just say Kwabena?) I yelled, “Jeremy!”

“Jerry?!”

I gave up…“Yeah!”

“Welcome Jerry! Akwaaba!”

 

Then he spoke to me in Twi, probably told me Jesus loved me equally even though I was white, and eventually let me sit down. I would eventually be called to the front for a special prayer. That was kind of awkward. I got called out a few more times during the service. I was asked to stand up again and he asked what my profession was, I said I was a student studying economics. He said he saw a vision of me in a hard construction hat with an engineering degree and a book in my hand (probably the bible). I told him that his drugs might be wearing off since that my economics degree probably won’t lead to an engineering degree, a construction hat on my head, or a bible in my hand. Just kidding.

 

All in all, the church experience was a great one. I never felt too out of place. They were very welcoming. I might have even felt more out of place when I went to an orthodox service on Shabbat in Jerusalem. Hearing and watching people speak in tongue was quite the experience, too.

 

I got called out again when they went around donating money, as he called out the days of the week and people donated appropriately and competed against each other. When he called out Sunday-Saturday and I never went up.

“Obruni!! You weren’t born on any day?!” I felt bad I forgot to bring money. But, I also felt a little frustrated that they all expected me to donate since I was white. So…what do you do in awkward situations when people are speaking in languages you don’t understand? Smile and count to 50!

 

Then, he said he wanted me to stay after so he could pray for me again. On the way out, I felt extremely welcomed as all the kids kept coming up to me for high fives and all the old women kept telling me they want me to come back again. A few asked if I would take them back to the United States with them. Then, I GOT MY FIRST MARRIAGE PROPOSAL! Her name….I couldn’t understand. But, she asked if I would marry her! Such a romantic gesture on this beautiful occasion! I was put on the spot; I gave her a big smile (which might have given her hope), and wished she were under the age of 60. Then, I awkwardly walked away as she probably stared at my ass.

Then, after church I pigged out on another delicious Ghanaian meal, visited a Ghanaian , SAW A !, then said my goodbyes and thank you’s (thanks so much Yaw/Richard and family!), and headed back to campus along with Casino. It was a great weekend and I am very thankful to have had such an experience with a loving Ghanaian family.

 

Well….that was enough to read for one post, right? Update ya’ll soon. Go Timberwolves!

 

xoxo,

Jeremy G.

http://vimeo.com/38154947

 

ANOTHER VIDEO! 

Sorry I don’t show my face too much ;-)

 

Wasup!?! (the common response here to that is “Good!”

There are some traditions here that I can are quite fun to be apart of. On someone’s birthday, there’s an action called “ponding” that takes place where the birthday boy/girl get water, juice, or any liquid squirted at him or her as if they were on fire. Kinda like poppin’ champagne following a championship except with bags of water, and all directed at one person. SWEET!

I also learned that if someone is caught stealing on campus, he/she must get completely naked and ride around campus for everyone to see him/her so they feel ashamed. I haven’t seen this yet, but I’ve been encouraging all my friends to leave their doors unlocked as much as possible. Me, I haven’t been caught yet, (I guess I’m just a tremendous stealer) but once I take my naked lap I’ll be sure to get some videos. That’ll be some blog material to the max. It’ll also be a good opportunity to see if I ever could’ve prospered as a pole dancer. In Africa that is.

I’m getting better at bargaining for taxis. I can say the TWI equivalent for

“How much is it”, “Oh, please, reduce it”, and “Please I know I am an Obruni, reduce it a little”. Sometimes it’s awkward to get in a cab when we settle on a low price like 4 Cedis when his first offer was 12 cedis. Usually the cab driver seems pissed off that he didn’t get more money from white people. I’ve yet to be in a taxi where the backseat window works. Though, I’m still hopeful!

I’m finally adjusting to the concept of time here. I’m getting use to living on GMT (Ghana maybe time). It’s great being able to stroll to class 15 minutes late, only to see the professor hasn’t shown up yet. I’m learning how to convert vocal time to GMT. “I’m on my way” means “I’m leaving in 15 minutes”. “I’ll call you tonight” means “I’ll call you tonight….if I remember. But, if I don’t remember, it’s nothing personal.”

I’m trying this new thing where I don’t write extremely long blog posts. Sometimes I forget that it takes me longer to get online to post than it does for my readers to make coffee, go to the bathroom, check their mail, then read my blog.

Aloha!

J Kwabz