Monday, April 5, 2010

An Early Farewell

After weeks of procrastination and avoidance I’ve decided to bring this lovely blog to a close. Although I have greatly enjoyed writing entries and keeping my family and friends updated on my life “in Africa;” this public journal has unfortunately become just one of the many things added to my to-do list… and seeing as I only have 6 weeks left in Ghana, there are many things that take priority over updating my blog (such as learning how to balance things on my head and carry babies on my back). But not to worry, there will be many more blogs to come… as soon as I figure out which country to go to next!

Until next time…


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Finding My Fellow Anarchists!

I recently realized that although I've painted an accurate picture of the very conservative values shared by most Ghanaian, I have yet to portray any of the more progressive ideas that some people posses here. To do so I'll share with all of you some interesting photos I've taken... enjoy!This was a feminist section in the only book store I've found here. When I saw it I got so excited I jumped and down, I scared the cashier a little, but I just couldn't contain myself!
This might be my favorite... totally inappropriate here, but hilarious!
A homeopathic medicine stand at the Trades Fair... this ones not progressive, just very strange and inappropriate.
Finally! Someone who has some clarity!!!!
Yes... she is sitting on the crapper. This one's not particularly liberal either... but it is improper!
Seeing as the word "vegetarian" doesn't exist here (in English or Twi) this poster took me by surprise... then again I was at the only vegetarian restaurant in Accra.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks Ghana’s 53rd year of independence from British rule, and my two-month anniversary of being here. In honor of Ghana’s liberation the National stadium hosted a celebratory Reggae concert last night, which I of course had to attend. Not surprisingly, this place was filled to the brim with Rastas. I’ve never seen so much weed in my life! The arena was literally filled with smoke. There was absolutely no security and everyone was free to smoke their ganja out in the open; which is crazy because technically weed is not only illegal here, but according to the rule books you get a ten year sentence in prison if caught in possession… clearly this law is not enforced.

My favorite part of the night was meeting my new friend “Shepherd.” We met because I couldn’t stop staring at his large plate of weed balanced precariously on his lap as he rolled some joints and bounced along to the beat. We hit it off instantly, better than my new friend “Bush Doctor,” and yes that is his name. “Bush Doctor” is an herbalist, and a self proclaimed Nazir, that I managed to thoroughly scare. After a brief conversation about my own proclivity to homeopathic, holistic, and herbal medicine, I somehow mentioned my interest in voodoo and palmistry, and a million other things that are seen as very dangerous by devout Christians like “Bush Doctor.” As if I hadn’t already scared him enough, we started discussing the biblical story of Samson (the most famous Nazir), and the feminist that I am, I defended Delilah, the character in the story that like many other biblical tales is portrayed as a wicked being that uses her sexuality to seduce Samson into breaking his pact with God. Needless to say, he steered clear of me the rest of the night.

I’m hoping to celebrate the holiday tonight at one of the many raves happening around Accra. I’ve never actually been to a rave before, but it could be pretty hilarious here, especially considering the fact that ecstasy and techno (the two key ingredients for a rave) are basically nonexistent here from what I can tell, so this should be interesting!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Purim in Ghana!

As someone who wanted to be a costume designer almost her entire life, I take Purim very seriously. My costume must incorporate 3 out of the major 5 elements of a good costume. It must be witty, fear-invoking, somehow involving body paint, made from recycled (non-fabric) materials, or relevant to the occasion it is worn to.

It was clear that I had to be a Juju man. For those of you that don’t know, Juju men are voodoo witch doctors found throughout West Africa. This was the perfect costume for me for many reasons. 1. I love all things magical and mysterious, especially voodoo, considering its’ strong link to New Orleans 2. I wish I was a Juju man and I’m currently desperately trying to find out how I become one 3. I get to wear lipstick on my face and tell everyone it’s blood (that would be the fear-invoking aspect) 5. Juju man sounds strangely close to jewjew man, which is just very ironic considering voodoo falls into the category of hedonistic idol worship, a big no-no in Judaism 6. I got to run around with my mini tambourine gragger on a drum-stick shaking it like Rafiki in the Lion King! In case you were wondering, Rafiki was the baboon version of a Juju man, one more reason why he was my favorite character (not to mention the blue butt)!

Clearly my Purim was a huge success. Aside from an awesome costume, I got to celebrate with all my Ghanaian dorm-mates at our lovely Purim party hosted by the always wonderful "jew-unit," (three amazing girls who help me not disappoint my grandparents)… we even made Hamantashen and reenacted the Purim story… I was Vashti of course. Who knew being Jewish in Ghana could be so fun??

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Inevitable Plunge into Uncharted Territory

"And the earth swallowed her up," a line I'm sure was uttered last night after I not so soberly fell into an open sewer. Between the biblical undertones and the accurate depiction of the events that ensued that description would be very fitting in this country. To be completely honest, "fall" might be giving me too much credit. It makes it sound as though I tripped or lost balance and collapsed into the sewer, which is very possible, but not the case. On the contrary, I actually walked right into it. Completely oblivious of the gaping threshold before me, I continued to walk as though I could walk on air, but apparently I don't have that ability. I always hoped that in a time of need my fairy wings would magically sprout from my shoulder blades and bring me to safety, but maybe this just wasn’t the right moment, I know they’ll come someday.

Considering I’m only 5’2 and the sewer was probably around 2 feet deep, it looked as though I was performing a magic trick. Now you see her now you don’t! It was like a game of peek-a-boo, too bad my only audience was a group of middle aged Ghanaian men that responded to my tumble with the same “Oh!” they use when their favorite futballer goes down hard. I can’t lie, I was a little flattered.

I knew that I’d have to get up close and personal with a sewer sooner or later. At least this one was empty, it could have been a lot worse. And I came out without a scratch, although that saying really doesn’t account for any injuries that don’t fall under the scratch category. But aside from a very large, bruised knee, and a bit of a hobble, I made it out okay.

In the ongoing battle between myself and the open sewer I think I won this time. It must be karma after my almost arrest involving another gaping hole filled with shit. Final score 1:1, who will be victorious next? Only time will tell.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sisterhood of the Traveling Toilet Paper

After a week of good food, mommy-daughter slumber parties, and medical mishaps, I finally had to say bye to my mom on Thursday night. Luckily, I had no time to get homesick because I left promptly at 5:45 am the next morning with five of my girlfriends to Green Turtle Lodge, an eco-lodge about 6 hours away.

From magically finding six seats on a sold out bus, to getting the last two tents available, it seemed as though karma was balancing the scale after a week of somewhat horrible luck. This weekend was exactly what I needed to revamp. I was getting a little overwhelmed by all the smoke and exhaust polluting Accra and a camping trip under the stars, on a beautiful sandy beach at an environmentally friendly lodge was exactly the medicine I needed. Plus they had really good french toast!

We had so many adorable Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants moments this weekend. Between star gazing for shooting stars with our heads in a circle, sleeping on the beach till it rained at 3 am, and playing sober truth or dare, it was basically the best slumber party I've ever been to!

While at Green Turtle we got to go on a canoe ride through the river that runs along the local village. After convincing Emmanuel, our tour guide and the captain of our ship, to sing to us in TWI and asking him many strange questions I somehow found out that he loved to draw. Apparently, he really would like to be an artist but has no formal training whatsoever. When I told him that I also do a lot of art he got really excited and asked me if I could teach him how to mix colors. I gladly obliged, and spent the afternoon teaching him about the color wheel, 3-D vs 2-D, different mediums.... When I go back I'm going to bring my watercolors and oil pastels so he can try something other than drawing!

Talking to him really made me appreciate everything I've been blessed with. Being here has already made me realize how lucky I am to have even the simplest things, like water and power on a consistent basis, but I never really think about how lucky I am to have art supplies and an education system that, even with all of the budget cuts, still provides an artistic outlet to children. I couldn't even imagine my childhood without crayons/markers/finger paint/play-dough/charcoal... and I definitely can't imagine my adult life without art supplies. Being here has really helped me put a lot in perspective. Obviously acrylic paint is not a necessity, but it really does make me happy, as do hot showers, air conditioning and tofu. Being here has taught me that I can live without many things that we in America consider necessity, but that doesn't mean that I have to go back and continue to take bucket showers and not be able to flush the toilet for days, it just means that I have to be more appreciative and realize that the majority of the world can't even comprehend the kind of life Americans lead.

Moreover, my actions make a negative impact on the entire planet, so I should be more cognizant of how much energy I'm using and be aware of my carbon footprint, because everyone is being affected by climate change, but one country (my country) is disproportionately causing much of the problem due to our lavish lifestyle. So now that I know I can live my life with a severely smaller amount of water and energy I should work to cut down my personal expenditure.

And now I'll stop myself before I get too carried away about climate change, although I probably already have!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

You're Never too Old to Want Your Mommy

Surprise! My mom came to visit me all the way in Ghana! Well, it wasn't a surprise for me, but it probably is for everyone reading this. So Yay!!!!! You can all get excited with me!

When my mom got here on Thursday I already thought I was the luckiest girl in the world, first because my mom came all the way to West Africa to see me, and second because by some magical twist of fate she got in to Ghana just hours before a last second dance performance I was in. The timing of her visit couldn't be more perfect, or so I thought until I got a little injured at the rehearsal before the show. Due to the energetic, somewhat violent nature of the choreography, another dancer and I collided and apparently my tooth went through my face. (That sounds grosser than it looks I promise!)

At first I thought that I had just bit my lip pretty badly, but when I saw everyone's scared faces I realized there was blood all over my chin. Thank goodness everyone in Ghana carries a handkerchief with them to wipe the sweat off their brow, because it came in handy when I had to go meet my mom. I didn't exactly want to greet her with blood running down my face, if my mom was gonna cry when she saw me I wanted it to be happy tears, not fearful ones. Luckily, it stopped bleeding enough for me to perform and my mom was there to hold my hand afterwards at the pharmacy (pharmacies are more reliable here than hospitals). I really don't know what I would have done if she wasn't here. Even at 20, in a developing country in West Africa, it still helps to know that my mommy is nearby!

The good news is my face is looking a lot better! It looks like I either got a really strange piercing that went very wrong, or like I got in a fight that didn't end well for me. Between the gash and the cornrows I got for the show, I kind of look like a bad ass if you ask me, or at least more than I ever have before. I think I like it!