Monday, June 13, 2011

Ghana--June 11-12


Happy Sunday! It is a rainy, lazy day here in Accra. My plans fell
through for today so I didn't set my alarm to wake up at any specific
time. My body must have really needed sleep because I didn't wake up
until after noon! That's when I realized that the steady rain showers
must have helped to give me such solid sleep. My alternative plans for
today have also fallen through because of the rain. It's okay. My
belly is full and I have plenty I can do between the internet and my
Kindle. However, just at this moment the internet modem has chosen not
to work. I'm once again writing offline in hopes of uploading later today.

It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn about the culture during
each trip to this wonderful country. You'd think after 10 trips I would
feel like I understand the culture. Not so. After 10 trips all I know
is that I have much more to learn!

Food Tip: If you are the guest at somebody's table, don't eat all of
the food on your plate. If you eat all of the food on your plate, your
hostess will think she has not honored you with enough food. It will
hurt her feelings. This is also why you will see such HUGE portions
given here in Ghana! My American mind says, "Oh goodness, I've got to
try to eat all of this so that none goes to waste!" but my Ghanaian
friends are thinking, "Oh, I hope she can't eat that much food because I
want to honor her with more than she can eat!" Now that I know this
little tidbit I can look back and see that it's true. During one of my
trips my breakfast came with egg and 2 pieces of toast. I ate it all.
The next day, egg and 3 pieces of toast. I ate it all. Next day, egg
and 4 pieces of toast! They thought they must not be giving me enough
food so they added to it each day! LOL! From now on I will at least
leave a bite or two of food on the plate!

NIBSO Hotel Update: I really like that this place allows me my
privacy. Nobody is coming up to my door to ask if I need this or that.
However, when I do need something, they are very quick to get it for
me. I went down to order food a bit ago. I wasn't necessarily in the
mood for chicken and rice so I asked what all they had. Chicken and
Rice or Fufu with Light Soup. Chicken and Rice it is! [As much as I
wish I liked it, I cannot stomach the various starch balls they eat
here, especially knowing I'm not to chew, but just swallow it.] I was
reprimanded by my friend J yesterday because I kept the A/C on even
while I wasn't here. I think it's pure heaven to come in from the hot
into a very cool room. However, the hotels think it's a total waste of
resources to keep it on when nobody is in the room. This might be a
cultural expectation that I have to ignore. =-)

Yesterday was a really nice day. First, J and I headed to Nyame Dua to
say hi to P and the kids and to see progress on the boys' dorm. It is
really coming along! They were able to modify the design to make more
rooms than were originally planned for. In the end, they will have a
second bedroom for the small children, a different kitchen location, an
add-on to the one small children' bedroom they have right now, the big
boys' sleeping room and sitting room, and an "American bathroom." Right
now, they all use a pretty traditional outhouse for bathing and going to
the restroom. P has decided to make the American-ized bathroom for all
of the obrunis that visit. He said, "You know, some Obruni cannot make
their body wee-wee in our bathrooms, so they need this one. The can
come and visit, and wee-wee and poo-poo here, and feel more
comfortable." LOL!

After a short visit at Nyame Dua J and I went shopping. First we headed
to Global Mamas. The prices have definitely gone up there. It was
"light out" when we went, so the place was stifling hot. [It was built
with A/C in mind so ventilation is very poor.] It was dark and hot and
a bit over-priced for me. I ended up buying a sweet dress for Kendi
though, and a few headbands. Next we headed to the Art and Culture
Center. I have such a love/hate relationship with this place! I love
all of the goodies that are for sale, but the high pressure of the
salesman tires me after about an hour or so. After so many trips to the
place, it was good to see that what I wanted to pay was right on with
what J said things were worth! They will really give you the obruni
price there if you aren't careful. One guy tried to sell me a soccer
jersey for 40 cedis! He came down to 20, but I wasn't going to pay more
than 15. Seriously, if you can't get it from one vendor, there's always
another! Eventually the guy gave it to me for 15, but was none too
pleased! I got most of my shopping done--just a few other items here
and there to pick up for some friends.

After leaving the Art and Culture center we came back to Nyame Dua,
where a group of volunteers was helping women learn how to sew. It was
fun to meet Emily G. (a previous AAI mom) and her crew! I've wanted to
hug her neck for a long time! By this time the sun was behind the
horizon and we were experiencing the best time of day in Ghana. After
the heat of the noonday sun it feels simply glorious in the late
afternoon/early evening. The breeze comes in and cools you after a long
hot day.

Before it got dark we all headed to Auntie Comfort's for dinner. Goat
Kebabs, Goat in sauce, and fried rice. It was a regular party at Auntie
C's last night! There was the group of 5 volunteers, me, and another
adoptive mom, plus many family members. The atmosphere was lovely. I
got to hold a gorgeous baby from Fern House for quite a while.
Seriously scrumptious! I also got to hold Auntie C's newest
grandchild--5 week old Gabriel. He is a solid CHUNK of a baby--weighing
much more at 5 weeks than the other baby weighed at 5 months! LOL!
After some socializing, dinner was served. The Kebabs were very
good--just a little spicy for me. The goat in sauce was...interesting.
I've had goat several times, but never this preparation. There was NO
dainty way to eat it! You just had to pick up a big saucy hunk of it
and gnaw it off the bone. My front teeth couldn't do it so I went all
Wilma Flintstone on it, trying to break it away from the bone with my
back teeth! In the end I had to give up on it and just enjoy the rice.
I actually have goat stuck between two of my back teeth that I CANNOT
get out with floss or a pick or any other method. My tooth is aching
from goat! Hopefully the darned stuff will come out at some point!
Don't get me wrong, it tasted really good and I felt very honored to be
offered this special meat for dinner.

I am treated with such honor here. More honor than I at all deserve.
I'm not allowed to life a finger! It's very humbling. A few
examples....I got up to put my plate away when I was finished with my
food. Before I could even stand up fully someone was there to take it
for me. At one point there was a need for more chairs so I got up and
started unstacking more. That HORRIFIED Auntie and her daughters. I
was NOT allowed to do that. When my plate of food was first served to
me, Auntie Comfort took one look at it and chastised her daughter. She
went over and added an extra portion of goat to my plate. Ack. I'm
crying now. I don't deserve any of this. I wish they knew how honored
I am just to have their friendship! I try to tell them that in America
I am just a mother/wife/daughter, just like them. I cook food for my
children. I do my own laundry. Nobody is waiting on me! This is a
hilarious thought to my friends here. They just can't imagine that I am
on their same level. It's sad and sweet at the same time.

After a lovely evening Auntie Comfort's grandson walked me back to my
hotel and I checked in for the night. The day was a perfect 2nd day in

Anita Gillispie
mom to Taevy (9, Cambodia), Samren (8, Vietnam), Bright (4, Ghana) and Kendi (2, Ghana)


Christy 2:15 PM  

Thanks for the insight, Anita! Having been to Rwanda, I would have assumed similar cultural mores, but apparently not. In Rwanda, if you do not "clean your plate" they fear they have offended you by serving you food you don't like! I had to choke down some interesting things so as not to offend them! I look forward to knowing that I don't have to finish every bite while in Ghana! :)

Mama D.'s Dozen 3:15 PM  

Sounds like a wonderful evening, except for the goat stuck in the teeth.

:) :) :)

mommajeane 8:13 PM  

Thank you again for sharing...I love hearing all about your trip. I so agree about the ppreports and pictures. When we were there my camera was one of the favorites for the children...I took a pic and they would review it. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is for those back in Ghana to hear how the children are...Hope springs eternal for those who see how well their precious children are doing with us. Continuing to pray for you.

whenpigsfly 9:46 AM  

I am loving your trip posts Anita!!!!! Who is the lovely young girl on your post? Some day I WILL go to Ghana!!