Archive for March, 2009

The project

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Here’s a writeup from the YCI website on the workshops that we were conducting this month.

Ghana time

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

When I stopped wearing a watch years ago, my life became more relaxed.
No more furtive glances at my wrist as I went about my daily life… for
a little while. I soon realized that my cell phone had a clock and I
simply began checking that instead. And the clock on the bottom right
hand corner of the computer screen.

Since arriving in Ghana, my perception of time has changed. There are
less minutes and more moments; time is paradoxically fast and slow. When
will the food be ready? When it is ready. When will someone be arriving?
When they arrive. Where will I be going for the next two weeks? Wherever
I end up.

Finer details on the past week will have to wait until a future post.
The workshop in Takoradi went well and I just returned from a weekend in
paradise near Axim. Everyone else has flown back home and I’m in Accra
for a few days doing some writing before doing some more exploring. I
realized last night how much I missed everyone’s company upon having my
first meal alone in a month.

Phonepost

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Another audio phonepost!

Accra

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Chewing Sticks

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

While in Accra, I a woman carrying small bundles of sticks and asked her
what they were. "Chewing sticks" was the response. How much? 50 pesowas.
Sure, I’ll give it a try. I pulled out a couple of sticks and handed one
to Nat and stuck one in my mouth. It was pretty bitter. Are you sure
we’re doing this right? You’re supposed to chew on these? They don’t
taste very good. Hrm. I thought they would be like sugarcane or
something, but it’s like chewing on a random piece of wood. I think I
have splinters in my mouth. Maybe chewing sticks is a euphemism for
something else? Are we supposed to be putting these in our mouth?

We asked one of the men at the YMCA what exactly these sticks were and
he confirmed that yes, indeed, they were chewing sticks, used for
cleaning teeth. So it’s sort of like a toothbrush, but in stick form.

Moments to Remember

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Wherever I go, there are a handful of memories that are particularly
powerful. Waking up early at the Wli Falls Lodge will be one of them for
my time in Ghana. We all enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, a gentle breeze
and a beautiful view of the hills in the background.

A Polo Match in Accra

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Among the things I did not expect to see in Accra was a polo match. It
was pretty neat to watch, but it is definitely a sport for the well-heeled.

New Shoes

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

I’ve acquired the nickname "new shoes" during my time here in Ghana
because of my misfortune with footwear. I brought a pair of ratty
sandals to Ghana which disintegrated soon after my arrival and I met the
man above in the streets of Accra. When I asked him for the price of a
pair of flip-flops he told me 100 cedis (100 CAD), which is absolutely
ridiculous. Nat, who was with me, said 2 cedis, and then the man went to
90, then 80, then 70 and when I could do 5 cedis, he accepted without
any hesitation. I realized that I should have taken Nat’s advice and
stuck hard to 2 cedis, because that’s what they were probably worth, as
they broke about a week later when we were in Koforidua.

I picked up another pair of sandals in Cape Coast and I watched Mai work
her haggling skills. She combined my sandals with a couple purchases of
her own and proceeded to slowly work the price down and then walking
away, at which point the shopkeeper accepted her final price. Hopefully
these shoes will last me a while.

For my own future reference:
100 pesowas = 1 cedi = 1 Canadian dollar
Bag of water – 5 pesowas
Beer – 1.50-2 cedis
Flip-flops – 2-3 cedis
Fanta – 50 pesowas
Fan Ice (ice cream) – 30 pesowas

Phonepost

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Another audio phonepost!

Phonepost

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Another audio phonepost!

Phonepost

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Another audio phonepost!

Street vendors en route to Koforidua

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

On the day we went into Kokrobrite from Wli Falls, we had a late lunch
and we spent a while in traffic near Accra. Our stomachs were rumbling
and while there are no drive-thru food places in Ghana (at least, not
that I’m aware of) there are always vendors outside on the streets with
an assortment of goodies like plantain chips, fan ice (ice cream),
donuts, oranges, bananas, bread, pineapple, chocolate, peanuts and
street meat, all of which are 50 pesowas (50 cents) or under.

If you would like something, it’s a really fast transaction. You have to
have your money ready and the vendor runs up to your window, you quickly
state what you want, they grab it and you swap. There were a few
occasions when the tro-tro we were in had to start driving away before
the vendor could pick out what we were looking for. That night, we ate
dinner inside the tro-tro and while they were likely not the most
nutritious things we could have eaten, they were quite possibly the most
delicious given the circumstances.

In the picture above, in addition to food being sold on the streets,
there are an assortment of other things that are available including
sponges, phone cards, super clue, pink rubber boots, hangers, shirts,
pants, shoelaces, jumper cables, the complete works of Shakespeare, and
business suits.

Man by the waterfall

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

This might be posted sideways. If so, just turn your head.

This is one of the other guides that was with another group. At the end
of the long hike up, he just casually walked up to the base of the falls
and sat there taking in the cool mist.

At the top of the falls

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

This is our group at the top of the Wli Falls. (L-R) Mai, Nat, Jamie,
Jeremy (our newfound friend from New Zealand), Me.

A-cha

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

It looks like I may have broken the formatting of the blog a bit with
the picture posts, but I won’t be able to fix it for a while. Ah well.
This is a picture of the a-cha fruit that is incredibly sweet.
Apparently, there is a German company that exports this stuff, but I’ll
have to do a bit of research to figure out where to find it.

Wli Falls

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

I think I’ve figured out how to post pictures from my camera now. Here’s
a picture from Wli Falls. The hike was about 350 metres and took us
about 5 hours there and back. We were all drenched with sweat by the
time we got up to the top and all of us were more than happy to plunge
into the refreshing cool water. As we made our way up, we saw many
coconuts, bananas and pineapples growing on the side of the trail. Our
guide, Emmanuel, also introduced us to delicious fruits that none of us
had ever heard of. One of which was called "monkey fruit" and had a
tangy sour taste to it and another called "a-cha" which was this
incredibly sweet fruit similar in appearance to lychee, but smaller and
a clear jelly surrounds a hard pit. The taste lingers on your tongue for
a good hour and everything tastes slightly sweet. I’m somewhat saddened
that I will likely never taste this fruit again, but man oh man, it
certainly made for a delicious memory.

The view from the top of the falls is breathtaking and apparently it’s
even more amazing during the wet season when even more water is coming
down. Emmanuel mentioned that there were plans to build something that
would take visitors straight to the top (without having to do the 5 hour
hike). It will be interesting to see how tourism affects the local area
in the years ahead.

Phonepost

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Another audio phonepost!

Phonepost

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Another audio phonepost!

First picture from Ghana

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

I keep on forgetting my USB cable back at the YMCA, but here is an
unflattering picture that Nat took with her cellphone. This is me in
Ghana. Enjoy.

Phonepost

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Another audio phonepost!