“Will you marry me?”

I am happy to report that I am now down to fifteen minutes from gathering my things to putting up my toothbrush when bath time comes around. Using buckets to shower takes some getting used to for the person who is used to emptying the hot water tank with each shower. I have just completed my cleaning ritual and am now contemplating dinner. Now all I need to get used to is going to bed at 9 and waking up by 6 every morning.

Today was less dramatic than yesterday. It was Mr. Tasiame, Evan’s father’s, birthday. After wishing him a happy birthday we toured the small town of Alapla. It is the hub of Kome and was by far the largest village I saw. Fridays and Saturdays are the days for funerals in Ghana. Consequently, there was one happening in the center of town during our visit. It was quite strange because the singing and dancing could be heard throughout, although most residents were going about their day as usual. A woman was weaving a sleeping mat, the liquor store (probably the most populated store in the community) was booming, and goats and chickens were sleepily roaming. The only oddity was a white tent set up with a dead body sitting, literally sitting, on top of it. I wasn’t sure how to respond to the sight, so I pretended as though this was commonplace for me. I refrained from taking a picture, although the urge to was very strong. I also met most of the town, who stared at me and talked and pointed openly. It is very strange to be considered “white” here, but I am. People assume that I am full of money and want me to buy things from them. I have yet to purchase anything yet because I am afraid of getting jipped. I have learned the general prices of foods by watching Evans exchange money, so I will try to do it on my own sometime soon. I also was proposed to. When I politely said no, he asked me if I would marry his brother.

After this we sat for a few minutes with a man named Michael and discussed soccer. Ghana lost to Nigeria which was quite upsetting. The Ghanaian team flew a player from England down on a charter jet with two doctors in the hopes that he would help the team succeed, but they wasted their money. After our chat I realized that I get along much better with Ghanaian men. I am not sure if it is that they are more comfortable speaking English or if I just have more to relate to them about. In any case, we came back to Tema in the early afternoon to heat and chaos… and indoor plumbing.

At the moment I am torn between relief about my alternate placement and guilt for leaving the people of Kodzi. I would not have been completely unhappy being in Kodzi, but I am not sure if I would have been very effective living in the community. On the journey back to town I thought about how I will develop a women’s empowerment program and was at a loss. I then considered how Ghanaians view their economic and social situation. After conversations with the men of Kome and Accra I have come to realize that there is much want for change. Villages are teaching children computer literacy in the hopes that they will bring Ghana into the 21st century, but not teaching them English which is arguably pivotal for success in a global community. Ghanaians also believe that they need to expand locally to become successful; I disagree. I believe that they should look broader. For example, in Kodzi there was much talk of tilapia farming and debate about how successful the market would be in Ghana. While I have learned about the trouble that tilapia causes on the ecosystem and disagree with a dependence on that resource I feel that they should be thinking about how the market is internationally. In the U.S., tilapia is an extremely popular fish. It may prove to be a great export opportunity for Ghana.

My thoughts have been to consider the internet and how it could help Kome. I am sure there are obstacles, like supply and demand and literacy issues, but this could be worked out. The people of Kome learn to weave mats by junior high school. They also have a computer at the school. Why not attempt to sell them to other countries? If there is the potential for internet in the community (which there should be since the town of Keta, a few miles away, has it) then they could list their products and wait for patrons. With fixed prices they would not be taken advantage of and they could make a lot of money. Consider that the electric bill for what could be considered a mansion in the town was about 12 Cedis ($9 USD) for the month. If a mat can be sold for $10 USD (very cheap by American standards; African crafts, what?) they could make extremely good money. I would say one mat would feed a family for week. Any other products they make could also be marketed. This is just a thought, of course- I will need to discuss it with Senam and Evans to determine how feasible it actually is.

Practical Ghanaian Travel Tip #9: Take note of what the locals do. When purchasing items, try to observe how much people are paying for items. For example, if the bus driver charges everyone before you 5 Cedis and then tells you 6, argue with him, refuse to pay, and give him 5 Cedis. Although he may be a bit upset, he will not trouble you. On the other hand, generally even if someone tries to take advantage of you it will still cost much less than in the U.S. Since many people are barely earning enough to survive, consider sparing the extra money if you are not on a tight budget.

Practical Ghanaian Travel Tip #10: Mosquitoes are a different breed around here. I brought 30% Deet stuff, the kind that rugged hunters use, and I am still quite itchy from their bites. To go along with that, flies are of the biting variety.

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2 Responses to ““Will you marry me?””

  1. Dad Says:

    Se all those soccer games I took you to were worth it.

    I think the player was Michael Essien.

    And cricket rocks.

    Luv ya

  2. Chelsey Says:

    On the internet thing, I know even less then you, but I think it sounds like a great idea. Whoever sets it up would just have to be cautious of being taken advantage of. Just like they will try to charge more to you for items, us in the US would try and get them to do things for less. But, there are also people who would gladly pay more than 10$ for “African crafts”.

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