Until next time…
Until next time…
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!
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??
"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.
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!
After over a week of intense bloging writers' block I finally have a lot I want to say. Today I experienced the biggest culture shock I've had since I arrived over a month ago. It slapped me in the face harder than the realization that there is no 911 here, scary.
This cataclysmic crash into reality happened in my social work class, entitled "Working with People Living with HIV/AIDS." Although I have already had this class multiple times, before today there was only slight foreshadowing of the extreme narrow mindedness shared by both the students and the teachers in this class. Aside from making multiple statements that prolong false myths and fears related to HIV contraction, the professor gave us a startling lecture about gender and sexuality, my minor, and a subject I feel very passionately about. Aside from her false definitions of sex and gender, she also told the class that people needing counseling due to sexual deviance were homosexuals, lesbians (as if they don't also fall into the category of homosexuality), "masturbaters," and those engaging in bestiality. I don't know if I have ever felt such an extreme array of emotions at once. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, and I even wanted to laugh. It all was just too much for me to handle. I knew that Ghanaians frowned on homosexuality (enough so that sodomy is illegal), but I never thought a professor for a course that deals specifically with a sexually transmitted disease would share such discriminatory views.
The horrifically false statements only continued with hypothetical situations of people contracting HIV from sharing toothbrushes and unclean manicure instruments. When I joined this class I was excited to be at the forefront of West African HIV education and prevention techniques, joining the most progressive Ghanaians in a quest to de-stigmatize a disease that not only ends people's physical lives, but due to stigma, ends their personal and social lives as well. However, I was greatly disappointed by what I found. As someone who is usually very outspoken about my own sexuality, I am scared to openly speak to my classmates and peers for fear of being ostracized.
Rough day, but at least my Theater for Development class is incredible. We're making a puppet show to educate people about climate change... I won't even get started on all of the misconceptions related to the environment, but at least we're working towards a good goal, which is more than I can say for our HIV class.
A sigh of relief exits my lips as I see this much anticipated greeting plastered above my head at the Kotoko International Airport in Accra.
I have now been here for two days, but I swear it feels like weeks! Ghana is like no country I've ever seen before. All of the buildings here are very spread out, making tro tros a much more appealing option than walking. Tro tros are the public transit here, but they aren't like any train or bus in the States. A tro tro is a large van that crams around 22 people inside, give or take a goat or two. I've only been on a tro tro once so far but I really enjoyed it! People are really good drivers here, or at least better than Israel and India. However, there are no pedestrian laws so if you're gonna cross the street you better be ready to run!
In terms of what Accra actually looks like, I dont know if I can put it into words. Colors look different here. I'm convinced it's all the dust in the air. Everything is softer on the eyes, except the browns, there are a million shades of brown! I find myself enthralled by the ground below me, unable to look away from the rich indian clay colored dust. But I may also be focusing on the ground because of the open sewer system that runs down the sides of every street. I think I'm more endanger of falling into a gaping hole here than getting malaria! Walking down the street last night was like playing Russian Roulette, between the lack of street lights and the need to watch traffic, the odds of falling in a pit was pretty high - not a pretty thought. But I made it home ok and slept safely in my bright blue mosquito net until 6 am this morning when I was promptly awoken by mother nature's personal alarm clock... roosters. Just one more thing that I'm sure I won't even notice soon enough.