Friday, February 15, 2008

Still alive and kickin' in Ghana

Hi all,

Sorry about the extreme lack of posts. I arrived in Ghana last Thursday and we left for the Upper West region very early the next morning. We spent 5 days in the Upper West (visiting Wa, Lawra, Jirapa, and other villages along the way) and arrived back at Eban House late Wednesday night.

I have had a great time trying new foods this trip. My first day here I can't handle anything, but it seems that each day my taste buds get burned off a bit more by the pepper so now I can actually "take" things that Ghanaians would consider not to be spicey but most Americans would consider to be HOT HOT HOT!

Good things to eat (according to Anita)....

Kosi--this is a northern food. They take beans and make it into a flour. They add water to the flour and then deep fry it in lumps to make a sort of fry bread. It was pretty good, with only a bit of pepper and spice.

"Northern Pancakes"--Muna and I can't remember the name of this food, but it was millet flour and water, fried just like American Pancakes except that it was cooked with Shea Butter! They had an interesting flavor that I didn't care for so much. They were served with a dry spice mix of salt and red pepper.

Waache--Mmm good! This is basically just beans and rice (usually black-eyed peas). The beans and rice are served with "stew" (tomato, onion, and pepper are the base ingrediants). I really like it as long as the pepper isn't too much.

Sweet Potato "chips"-- french fries made from sweet potatoes. Not so much!

Things that I was given the chance to try but didn't have the guts for....

Light soup with cow skin--this is easily the most gross consistency I have ever seen. A man sitting next to me ate a large bowl of it. The cow skin curls up into 6 inch "rolls". Then when you bite into it, it is slimy and stretches a good 6-8 inches (think mozerella cheese) before finally seperating the bit from the "roll".

Fish Eye Balls--My co-workers here LOVE the fish eyeballs and playfully fight over who will get them when someone gets a fish to eat. They think it is the best part of the fish.

Bushmeat--Before coming I thought I would be open to trying bushmeat, but after seeing (and smelling) one close up I don't think it's for me. They kill the animal (usually grasscutter, but also porcupine, bats, or small antelope), gut it, and roast it over a spit until it appears like stretched out tough leather (kind of like jerky). The sight I could deal with. But the smell. It didn't smell like roasted meat to me. It smelled like a dead animal. Like road kill. Percy explained that the smell was just because of the maggots in the tail. Oh! Okay--that explains it! ;-)

This trip--thanks to a combined total of 27 hours on the road to and from the Upper West--I am learning much more about the customs and language of Ghana.

When you go to someone's house they are first expected to give you water. After you have taken water the conversation may begin.

When you go for drinks with somebody they will wait until everybody is finished before suggesting that the group leave. So for instance, I had a Fanta that I wasn't planning to finish. Everybody at the table was waiting for me to finish for over an hour without saying anything! Finally, our host asked me if I had "abandoned" the drink. Yikes! So...if you see that everybody is done except you be sure to let them know if you are finished as well.

In Ghana it is the tradition that if someone visits your home you are expected to reimburse their travel expenses. This one is tough for me! So if I came UNANNOUNCED to your house, from the other end of the country, you are somehow expected to reimburse my costs (maybe $50) for food and transportation even though you didn't ask me to come!

In Ghana there is "proper" English and "venacular" English. Some of us would call the "vanacular" English a "pidgeon" english. Here are some sayings in vernacular English....

"My head is paining me." (I have a headache, or I'm troubled with a problem)

"You are sitting on me." (You're pressuring me.)

Oh shoot! I had a whole list but now my mind is drawing a blank. My co-workers here have said they like that I try to speak more "Ghanaian English." It's basically speaking in shorter sentences, with much more emotion, facial expressions, and gestures than American English. "Oh!" can imply several things depending on the gesture, facial feature, and tone of voice.

It's been a great trip, but the old "body rash" has returned once again. EVERY TIME I come here I get a rash over most of my body that doesn't go away for about two weeks. So I'll have it the whole time I'm here this time. I suppose it's a heat rash, but the weather in OK is just as hot and I never get it there. Mysteries... At any rate, I look like a horrible version of my usual self!

The first 5 days in the Upper West the weather was like OK in the summer (rather dry, but over 100 degrees). I didn't sweat that much--the weather suited me much better than the extremely wet air in Accra. But my co-workers HATED the weather there! Their skin became dry and chapped and the sun was "too much" for them. I looked pretty much like my usual self up in Wa. But the first day back in Accra my co-worker commented on how rough I look in Accra! LOL! The oil just pours out of my face and the sweat is constant. The rash doesn't help matters! So if you ever meet me in Accra just remember that I don't look nearly this bad in other parts of the world! LOL!

Guess that's it for tonight.


Sue 8:18 PM  


I too looked pretty rough when I was in Accra. I got dressed today and looked in the mirror and thought "why couldn't I look like this in Ghana?" LOL!


Ericka 6:52 AM  

Hi, SO glad you made it to Ghana ok - I read today that President Bush will be visiting Ghana :)
Do you know of any families that are in the process of adopting from Illinois, especially near the Chicago area or western suburbs??
Also, how many trips to Ghana are required?
We put some info into our church bulletin about adopting from Beacon House and I want to be prepared in case anyone has any questions.
THANK YOU so much - feel free to send me an email reeka @
Hope your rash clears up - I love reading your blog. Your family is absolutely precious :)