The Dirt


Dirt is everywhere and in everything. I have been doing laundry for the past three days (having water and sunshine is less reliable than you’d think) and I have been thinking a lot about dirt. When I wash my clothes, the first three washes involve black water. At first I thought it was the dyes running, but then I washed a bucket of all whites and realized that it was dirt. Dirt is in the food, when I eat I usually have at least one mouthful that involves a distinctive dirt crunch. Dirt is in my eyes, I frequently remove dirt rocks out of the corners. Dirt is in my nose and my ears, in my bellybutton, in my lungs, along the sides of my neck scar, covering my shoes, on every chair. Dirt is everywhere and in everything. One thing I won’t miss is the dirt.

Today Justine and I visited the newest group of Amasaman microfinance women and then headed to Fise. In Fise we calculated the total profits each week of the women who had completed payments and did their bookkeeping properly. This amounted to two women. Dorcas seemed irritated today, and yesterday for that matter, but I ignored this since I was sure she wouldn’t actually say what the problem was. I think it may be that she thinks Justine and I don’t like her or something. In truth, she is okay but I often get frustrated with her. Anyhow, we ended at Cynthia’s shop, as usual, and Justine and I sat for a while sipping on a Coke (Cynthia always gives us one and it makes my Friday everytime). Dorcas left to look at a house for her friend who is in the market, and when she left Cynthia asked us who we liked better. We were diplomatic in our answers. I spent the rest of our time there trying to butter up to Cynthia. Last Friday she was very upset with me because I did not stay for a fufu lunch, and even though I explained several times that there was a lot I needed to do before leaving for the weekend (I had to write profiles, catch up on the blog, shower, do laundry and pack in two hours) she still was upset. I hope things are good now because she is one of my favorite recipients.

When we got home I watched V for Vendetta (still so good even though I’ve seen it dozens of times) and made a lunch of pasta and tuna salad that my mom sent me. So good. I was going to complete a second bucket of laundry for the day when the air suddenly got cold. A storm blew in in the next few minutes, leaving my bucket of clothes still soaking until tomorrow (maybe, we also now have no water again). Later in the evening Justine made more pasta, this time with tomato sauce, since Lizzie the housekeeper didn’t make dinner for some reason.

I have sort of cleaned my room in preparation for the next volunteer to arrive. It has come to my attention that I didn’t mention that Dawn left, which she did on Tuesday, so it’s been just the two of us for a few days. Right now a man named Brian from Britain is here consulting with Hayford on an 8 million pound project. I met him briefly yesterday and he smells much like a thirty something British man. Apart from that I couldn’t tell you anything about him. He isn’t a volunteer though. The next volunteer arrives tomorrow. Her name is Laralynn (I know, very Midwestern and scary) and she hails from San Fransisco. Based on my brief Facebook stalking of her she seems interesting. She has blue streaks in her hair in the picture, and I know from Hayford that she teaches chemistry. Apart from that I don’t know. She will come to work in the Microfinance office (how three volunteers will divide no responsibility I am not sure) for three weeks, and I assume we will travel together again.

As for this weekend, tomorrow is Independence Day here, but I am not sure what activities will occur. There is to be a children’s parade in Accra at 8:30AM (I’d have to leave home at 6 for a chance at seeing it) which I probably won’t see, but I think I will meander down later in the morning and check out how people celebrate here. I assume there will be a lot of drinking, but I am not sure what else. I am supposed to meet up with Justine and Willan either for a parade or to hang out tomorrow so that should be fun. Independence Day falling on a weekend means that Monday is a national holiday here so I think I will travel on Sunday and/or Monday. I will consult the new volunteer, but I think I will go to Aburi, a nearby mountain village (the home of Rita Marley). It is supposed to be a Rasta colony and is known for good crafts. Perhaps on Monday I will go to the beach, although I really need a swimsuit before I do that.

I am getting stir crazy in Ghana now. I am not necessarily homesick today, or frustrated or even in a bad mood. I think I feel this way because I can taste the end and I am excited to move on to new experiences in Botswana. With roughly three weeks to go it is hard to be culturally sensitive. I find myself keeping quiet most days and each day that passes now makes shouts of ‘obruni’ more and more unbearable. Today after our routine passing of children who shout at us on our way to work she told me that her boyfriend explained this phenomenon. He says that it started during days of colonialism when natives were expected to greet the white men every time they saw them. This has just stuck in their subconscious and hence we get ‘Obruni!’ every day. I would believe this, but it is mostly children that yell at us. If it was an act of submission before, why would they 1. continue to teach children to do this, and 2. grow out of it in adulthood? It just seems strange.

Also, in my two months here I have witnessed economic inflation. It is amazing. First, the toll on the motorway from Accra to Tema raised its price from five pesewas to fifty. This means that a person who commutes to work each day went from paying two Cedis to twenty a month. The other thing that I have seen is that water sachets went from five pesewas to ten each. This lasted for only a few days after companies raised the wholesale prices, but after a plea from the government the prices went back down… for now. Unfortunately because the 1 pesewa coin isn’t used except for at Accra Mall (seriously, only there. I am stuck with eight of them), if the water price is raised it will have to be to ten pesewas. And the president says the strength of the Ghanaian Cedi is going up… right.

Random Ghanaian Fact #64: There are Mennonite churches here… except they are nothing like the Mennonites we know and love.

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