Friday, August 28, 2009

It's a good day to be in Ghana

My week has been spent exercising early in the mornings with the older girls, preparing lessons for school’s approaching start, chasing lizards around my house, playing soccer barefoot in the sand by my house, determining students in need of tutoring, learning how to cook with my limited resources, and worshipping and playing alongside the children.

I prepared fufu, a traditional Ghanaian dish, with a mother and her girls the other day. It involved peeling and chopping cassava root and plantains. Plantains look like green bananas but have a different taste and texture, and left my fingers sticky for hours. Ma Millicent laughed at me as I tried to chop and peel with the learned ease that they do, as I was clumsy and awkward. Fufu is a mixture of cassava and plantains cooked and mashed into the consistency of a thick bread dough. It is then served in a bowl of soup and eaten without utensils. I was invited to supper that evening with the Prestoncrest Girls House as I had helped prepare the meal (what little help I was). They brought me a bowl of water to wash fingers as I ate, as there are no napkins. Who knew you could eat soup without a spoon? Despite my judgemental taste buds, I actually enjoyed the fufu in groundnut (peanut) stew. However, I couldn’t finish more than a third of my bowl as it was incredibly dense and filling. No wonder there is no such things as a midnight snack here!
I have found two lizards in my house this week. I generally pride myself on not being skittish. I can kill spiders and other household insects without drama. Lizards however, do me in. Now, a word about lizards. They are everywhere here, and don’t bother me as they run around in the grass beside me. But, the minute they walk into my house the story changes. I found one, small- yet disturbing, in my room Saturday. I tried to catch it so I could take it outside, but was not fast enough. It disappeared. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I dreaded crawling in bed that night afraid it would come creeping on me as I slept. I made a through sweep of the room before I crawled in for the night, no sign of the little pest. Just as I was about to fall asleep I felt something on my neck. I jumped out of bed and grabbed a flashlight and my glasses. I checked everywhere, only to realize it was just my hair brushing against my neck. Ha ha! Then yesterday a lizard was running around on the dining room wall. Angie, the girl sharing my house for the month, and I both grabbed Tupperware containers to try and trap it. I wish you could have witnessed the scene. I was swinging a golf club around trying to direct it toward us. But as soon as I would succeed and it would run toward us, we would both freak out and jump away. We were scrambling around, moving trunks and dressers trying to keep up with the lizard, and yet also trying to run from it. We finally ran it into the window and locked it inside, hoping it would then crawl out the hole in the screen we think it entered through in the first place.

It’s a good day to be in Ghana. That is what my Ghana cell phone said as I turned it on today. It caught me by surprise, but then I absorbed its simple truth. It is a good day to be in Ghana. Despite the cultural barriers and challenges, I am starting to develop a sense of my purpose and place here. I chase lizards, I read books, I plan lessons, I find little hands always sliding into mine as I walk, I struggle to memorize two hundred names all at once, I eat the same thing days in a row, I am sticky at all times of the day, I am learning a few words in Fante, I tuck children in bed at night…It’s a good day to be in Ghana.

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