First Impressions

I need to get them out there before they become a part of who I am, my day to day life. One day “God Loves You Refrigeration Repairs” and “El Shaddai Beauty Salon” will not be so funny to me. Soon baby goats that run the country will not be so cute, and I’ll kick them right with the Ghanaians. My first impressions are this: Ghana is so alive. He is alive with humor and drum beats and dancing and praying,and endless conversation. In some ways, Ghana doesn’t stop moving, in ways he stands still. And my busy-body American self is forced to stand still along with it. This is a journal entry I wrote about a week ago:

“I am watching a bee slowly die. It wants me to know it’s still alive, so it flickers its legs. Clap once if you’re dead, twice if you’re on your way.”

I know there will be many days of watching insects die ahead of me, but until I am done training, things for the most part have been nonstop. For two weeks, I stayed in a new hotel or home every 2 to 3 days, which needless to say has been tiring. What was great about it is that I have seen the country, I have pretty much traveled from the beach all the way up to practically the border of Burkina Faso. I have now settled in with my host family, who will overfeed me and lecture me on all my cultural insensitivities until December when I am sworn in as a volunteer. I LOVE my family. And they love me, somehow. I call my Ghanaian parents here mommy and daddy, mostly because I can’t really pronounce their names, but also because I have been starving for family. It is customary for guests to eat in their rooms by themselves, but I have refused (against my strong willed father's stern suggestion), and I eat outside with the family. I feel like I am starting to settle in a little bit here, just this week we have started to follow a regular schedule.

Monday was a big day. It was the day our sites were announced. Over a year since I started my application and my site was finally to be revealed. So they drew a big map of Ghana in chalk on the ground, banged on some drums and announced our fates. The drums matched our heart beats, we were a wreck until our names were called. Kimmie (my other half, who I will write about often) and I have decided fate has been good to us and held our breaths for the best. For about a week we all whispered our hopes. And they would always change day to day (hour to hour for me). Julie requested running water, electricity and an Internet café within walking distance. Mike requested a mud hut as far from the city bustle as possible. I had three humble requests, that I spoke of anyway. Electricity (for the love of all that is holy, a mini-fridge and a fan, and I might make it), the northern region (where I got this strange little feeling that I was home, during the short time I was there) and kids, lots of kids.


I pranced to the north, a few villages over from Kimmie and Andy, my closest cats. I rip open my envelope, and learn that I will have 3 rooms in a compound, with electricity and a toilet. Heyooooh.

So fate, you have been good to me again. Sankpala. Look her up. It’s a pretty small village of about 2,000 people. As mentioned in a previous entry, I was really hoping to work with Guinea Worm since it is almost eradicated. I happen to be one of few PCV's  working in Guinea Worm endemic region. My job description is actually Guinea Worm and malaria. I will have two years to get to know the north, but this is what I know: It gets hot. 110 F hot. For about 3 months. Two weeks has felt like 2 months, so I can’t imagine 3 months of that kind of heat. If you don’t hear from me for some time, it is because I have moved into my mini-fridge and refuse to come out. The north is also Muslim, a major reason I requested the north. Waking up to the call to prayer for two years may be worth the heat.

I think of you all often. I wish you could be here for a moment. To dance with me and my brother Kofi. Or to look at the mountains in awe. Or for those few moments I find myself in an air conditioned room (ie, bank) and realize that all is well in the world after all.


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