Today we welcomed to the group Leena and Beth! They got in very late last night from London (they had an interesting stop in Liberia) so we all had breakfast together and went over the plans for the next few days. After the small omelet, nescafe coffee (the cook just naturally brings Janaan and I two cups worth at this point - we pay), and the softest, thickest bread ever, we all figured out some important things. First things first: breaking down our large bills. It has been a form of torture to get our 50 GHC bills into singles, its not like you can walk up and exchange here, no one has enough to break you down. This has been the biggest difficulty. It would be similar to asking a stranger on the street to break 1000 USD for you... good luck. Our Ghanaian friend Kennedy stopped by and took those most in need to a bank (which can be a 4 hour ordeal) to handle this issue. Thankfully, I have been paying close attention to this problem and have enough small bills to get me through our trip up north to Damango and Tamale (dah-mahn-goh and tah-meh-leh). Most things only cost 1 or 2 GHC (Ghanaian currency, called Ghanaian cedi's), so this is important. Our second issue was packing - everyone should try and disperse weight because we are changed .30 GHC (called peswas when it is less than 1 GHC, like cents in USD) for every pound over our allotted 44. I think I am all set, but you never know.
After breakfast and the trips people had made to the bank or local ATM's, most of us set out for the "market." Which actually means that we set out for the vendors. They are actually called "hawkers" here, I don't know if that translates as some sort of predator, but it definitely feels like that. In any case, I am much more as ease with them now and have no qualms telling them I am not interested in buying anything, but I would like to talk to them a little bit. Everyone is so nice! This, in the USA, may seem naive to talk to strangers, but this is just how Ghanaian culture is here. Its actually very fun to hear where they are from and how they are enjoying the futbol games and such. They always ask who is teaching me the phrases, its funny. They love that I know what Obrunie means (white person). I only bought a few small things today, nothing big (because I don't want to add any more weight to my bag then necessary, but also because I can't afford it). I did walk to get the most delicious frozen juice they have here, its a better version of Tang, its called Tampico. Amazing! I also bought some bananas to eat in the morning because we heading to the airport at 4am, no time for a big great breakfast.
After a nice slow day yesterday, I am feeling caught up to speed with the culture and the language barriers. I am actually picking up a lot of small phrases very quickly now and should be able to hold a brief conversation in a few weeks! Its very exciting because I was learning so slow at first. I am also looking forward to heading up north to see the orphanage that Abraham is running. After seeing how loving the children are, how trusting, I can't wait to get one-on-one time with them. Occasionally, they will just run up and hold my hand and kiss me and touch my hair. I love them! I just want to love them and hold them. While up north, we are also going to the Mole (moh-ley) National Park to see the elephants and monkeys, this should be fun. So, in a sense, we are mixing both business and pleasure - even though to me, the business is pleasure.
I still haven't had any meat yet! This may change soon - we are very limited to whatever the cooks have up north, and I definitely do not want to offend anyone. We will see how this turns out... I am also hoping to have some traditional dresses made for me up north so I can start dressing a little more Ghanaian! I have already begun to wrap my hair... I love it. Things are going really well and I know they are just going to get better once we are out of the high-paced city. Anyway, off to go shower up and get as much sleep as I can before another busy travel day. I'll blog if I can, otherwise you will hear from me in 10 days!
Majo (mah-joe, good evening),
p.s. Don't forget to cheer on the Ghanaian Black Stars this Friday, you can count on me watching the game! I don't think one single Ghanain will be missing it!