Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Long time no blog. Good news. I am alive!

Hey sorry I have not blogged in forever. I am not lying when I say I am BUSY! Wait you can be busy in PC? Apparently yes.Let me try and catch you up!
Attending  Shea conference in Abidjan finding a turtle capable of eating more mango's than a PCV
(sadly we spent 95% of the time working/attending speakers/networking/in traffic) I must go back someday!

Attending other important conferences.... Just Kidding!

Working on my thesis.

building hot season forts.

Gardening. Gardening. Farming. Gardening.


So everything was going swell and busy. Then I had some pain and lumpiness on my lower back and next thing I know I am having surgery on an abscess. I spent three days in a nice Accra hospital PC flew me down (which was hard because I couldn't sit) I AM FINE NOW....well except for the hole basically on my butt. I am doing everything I can to get better ASAP. I cannot wait to get back up North. It should heal in 1-4 weeks. I am aiming for one. This really screws with my media IST, research, spending as much time as possible in my village time.

(I know you wanted to see it )

So I am being taken care of very well hopefully I will have news soon on my health as well as extension with Star Shea. Until then I feel fine  but just have to take tons of antibiotics and sleep on my stomach. My sitting skills are improving in case your were wondering. FYI there are many ways to sit without actually sitting on your tailbone. I have become an expert.

But I cannot lie I am getting a lot of work done especially with our new PCV media toys lots of new videos to come!

Yeah much easier to do work here than in the village for my thesis.

NEWS for those of you I do not talk to on a regular basis

- I want to stay in Africa for a third year with Star Shea and Peace Corps working on amazing projects out of Tamale while defending and finishing my thesis in lovely house ( water! Electricity!) This means I will not have to say goodbye completely to Tigla considering Star Shea works there. So I can go visit often. I am not ready to leave them. SORRY if I do not come home. Staying is the perfect situation school, work, and happiness wise. I will miss everyone as usual....blah...blah...( seriously you know how much I love you if you are one of the chosen). Nothing is final yet.

- On July 23rd I fly to Turkey for 2 weeks where I get to see Mr. Logan Brosky then either back to Ghana or the USA

-My Counterpart Razak had his baby. Burkisu give birth while I was away at the Shea IST. Introducing baby Hamsatu.

-Sorry no video

So here is part of my quarterly report and thesis so you can see what I am doing. Also I had to type up a list of projects I have done for my supervisor so you can just have that then we will call it a blog.

The first part of the report is informal and an update on my life, same as my project list for my supervisor. All the thesis stuff you can skip over unless you are interested in my work.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. So here is the part that is boring.

*******DISCLAIMER the following is all DRAFTS!!!!******** I hope that keeps me out of trouble.

Lets stop there.

Emily Adams, Tigla Peace Corps Volunteer Project Update

Summary of Shea nut roaster and New Mill grant. 

We received funding for a new mill and three roasters. The mill was purchased 
from GRATIS and the community is building a new structure to house the mill and 
GRASTIS will assist with installation and a 6-month warranty.

This grant will provide the women’s shea group of Tigla with shea nut roasters to
improve shea butter processing and quality while reducing the labor required by the 
women to process the butter. In Tigla Shea nuts and butter are the most valued cash 
crop. Women begin gathering and processing shea nuts in April until the end of the 
season in August. Unlike other local crop such as maize and groundnuts women store 
shea nuts and continue to process butter throughout the entire year. Shea butter 
plays a large role in food security as well as women and family income. The shea 
butter is the main source of cooking oil for families as well as an income-generating 
crop. To process shea butter large amounts of fire wood and labor are required. Shea 
nut roasters reduce the amount of firewood and time required to roast the nuts. The 
roaster also prevents nuts from burning and increases the oil extraction from the nut 
helping the women to produce higher quality butter as well as increasing their yield 
form the nuts collected. The roasters can also be used for the other main crop in 
Tigla; groundnuts. In the farming community of Tigla in the Northern Region of 

Ghana the main source of income is from the agricultural production on groundnuts, 
shea, maize, and millet. The community mill was used to grind shea for butter 
production, maize for teezet, millet for poridge, and groundnuts for paste. Processing 
these crops plays an important role in the food security of Tigla. Many times this year 
the mill in Tigla failed. The local operator named Dawoda fixed it each time. But 
while the mill was out of commission the woman ( and three other villages) walked 10-12km to a neighboring village to mill their crops for either consumption or to sell. To ensure sustainability when a community members pays to use the mill  the majority of the funds will go into a 3 lock box. This lock box (like that used for  (VSLA) will have locks for the chief, the Wulana (male elder), and the Magashea (women’s leader). When the mill requires new parts or maintenance funds can be removed from the box to keep the mill running. This would let Dawoda keep his job, the community to have access to a mill year round, and the village will build up funds to ensure sustainability.


The food security tasks force provides seed grants to volunteers with school gardens. I applied for seeds and received money to purchase them in Accra. I gave them to Ibrahim and look forward to working in the garden and with the feeding program next term. When I am not at training or a conference I usually bike to Diapale to visit the garden one or two times a week.


To sell shea nuts or butter to a global market you have to produce a large quantities of quality product. We organized womens groups in Tigla, Dinga, Adayilli, and Kpanga. They have been attending meetings in Tigla and also meetings with Star Shea (a buyer and training facilitator). The first training was April 25th and all the women will be meeting in Tigla. The next hands on training for quality and processing will be in May. If all goes well this year they will receive pre financing so they have means to store thier nuts and sell them on the international market and receive the highest fair trade price for their nuts and butter.

IST (In Service Training)

As training coordinator of the shea committee and President of PCV Media I am in Charge of planning two IST’s.

Shea IST May 19-20th at the GILBT center in Tamale
I will be bringing two community members from Tigla to attend.
This year we will focus on processing quality. As peace corps volunteers in the northern regions we have the opportunity to empowers women shea nut collectors by promoting best practices in collection and processing each year. Star Shea performs trainings in villages to demonstrate the best practices of shea nut collecting. Our goal for this IST it to give volunteers and their counterparts the opportunity to learn extensive quality
training, carried out in the field by trainers armed with industry reviewed best practices, this will lead to obtaining better nut quality, including methods of collection, processing, and storage. This IST will help PCVs and counterparts learn how to  benefit women collectors through improving the value of their shea nuts for sale and increasing their access to international markets. We will also incorporate Sonia's new toolkit and other existing peace corps shea toolkit resources for volunteers and counterparts who have not
received shea training.

PCV media IST June 16-22nd at the GILBT center in Tamale

I am working on new training videos for admin at the moment as well as a large HIV/AIDS documentary. I spent a week in Accra before All vol working on pre production. We shot multiple educational videos and podcasts at the All Volunteer conference. In the past few months I have finished a video on operation smile, grassroots soccer, and helped with the Kayayei documentary among many other projects.

BLOG COMPLETE! Now it is back to work thesis-ing and video editing!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday, December 23, 2013

Biela Biela Blog (small small)

Made a quick video of some of the events in my life the past few weeks. Hope everyone has a great holiday. So far the only signs of christmas here I have seen are xmas radio music, and abstract tacky holiday trees outside of the melcoms store in Tamale with the branches all put together wrong. I will probably go to farm and read a book on Christmas and the Dagomba's have their own calendar with a different new year so it will be interesting to see if anything happens in the village. It is Harmattan right now so it's cool (60-90's)! But very dry and extremely dusty. So I constantly have an orange dirt spray tan and cannot hear no matter how many Qtips I use.  Hot season is coming up…dunnn dunnn duuuuunnnn. then Shea season!  Ni ti Yuumpalli!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Amaraba Akwaaba Welcome

I have written a few blog posts that I have never posted.

I wonder if it is because after I write them I realize that nobody probably cares about anything I have written at all. (A feeling I get often on facebook and am  motivated to use free internet at our offices to de friend them) I also am myself benefiting from organizing my thoughts and “venting” so it is probably better if I keep my lack of writing skills to myself. Plus who knows who will be reading this.

I wonder if maybe I do not post them because I am worried what people will think of me. (This however has been disproved by how comfortable I feel in floral hammer pants and a geometric print top  sweating profusely waltzing through town completely aware of a giant hole in the lower portion of my hammer pants pretending not to notice because I am not ready to finish my walk and go back to the office)

this is a problem I can fix tomorrow when I have spare pants. And these pants are so comfy it is worth days with large holes.

Note: nobody told me “madam you are having a large hole in your trousers”
Or maybe they were but they were saying it in dagbani so I just replied “I slept well”, “no thank you” or “I go come” because those are the responses to most questions and my dogbani is limited

the problem is I speak enough dogbani that people assume I understand everything but about after 5 sentences I nod/smile/guess. When forming sentences based on vocab and words that have multiple meanings I have accidentally said things VERY wrong. luckily some dogbani speak Twi to avoid the impromptu sign language sessions of mimicking and dog-twi-nglish.

And just to clarify you could only see my lower leg. You know hammer pants. The hole was in the central region but far below any off limits zone because of the hammer style. Another reason I continued my walk. I mean, I don’t want to be a dutch girl waltzing around in shorts inappropriately but I feel my inner knee is not to risqué.

If I appear completely unaware it is not my fault right? They do not know that I know *wink*

plus I have no clean pants so I will do wash tomorrow pinky swear

Or do I not post my blogs because I wonder if what I have written will not convey my real feelings and thoughts properly because I have never been good with words. Almost like I was not doing justice to my experience here by trying to explain it to you with my……(as of right now I am searching 
for the right words to convey my thought, but I cannot seem to find them)

Emily is a bad writer. (third person=tacky=proof of bad writing)You think I would have improved with all the books I have read I mean yesterday I was in a tro tro from 9am to 11:30pm and finished 1.5 books. I forget some of the last part of the book due to dehydration and sleepiness. You cannot drink water when traveling because there is nowhere to pee. Being a girl you are screwed here.  You can ask the driver to stop 4 hours into the bus ride if you need to pee but then you may have to somehow have 15 people packed like sardines to maneuver to let you somehow get off the vehicle that is jammed to capacity. (now this is not how it always is….but let me tell you I have been on some pretty intense rides). Sitting scrunched with my feet off the ground and one women next to me breastfeeding a baby and another child on her lap vomiting while the overweight dude next to me is drooling on my shoulder. Luckily this makes the “normal” tro rides a piece of cake.

The Peace Corps' mission has three simple goals:
1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

So let me help promote a better understanding of these peoples for all you Americans out there.

Now that I have showered and put on some purple hole-less hammer pants and have a stomach full of lettuce, yes lettuce. Perks of Tamale….internet, lettuce, yogurt….I am getting side tracked. Let me back up.

VIEW OF TIGLA my home is on the lower right with the pin

Drying shea nuts in Tigla

When my counterpart found out I had no food he brought me yam and tomato paste (4 yams is expensive to a farmer with little to no income)....i didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't have a stove to cook with.

Fulani a few miles outside Tigla

Micro flush toilet built by Dave Peterson 

The white volta river

I am just a few hours north west of Tamale

I was living in the Eastern region just a bit north west of Accra
but now I am in the Northern region. I just moved into a new house. I am busy starting new projects learning dogbani because they do not speak Twi up here .

Aiysha boiling shea nuts

I live in a compound with a few other teachers so I have a room and we share a bathroom. We are building a garden together and we all get along well. Unless when they are speaking dogbani and I do not understand they could be saying other things like how bad I smell (which is true).  But I think they like me. If I do smell so does everyone else because it is so hot. I am getting used to it though and thankfully it cooled down with rains so I went from sweating 24 hours a day and not being able to sleep to just sweating 23 hours a day and sleeping. I got an extra mosquito net so soon I will be sleeping outside on my yoga mat under a net because it is much cooler outside than in a room.

Not so exciting facts but in case you want to know:

I am now in the Water/Sanitation sector
I am partnered with ITFC an organic mango out grower
I work with a primary school feeding program and am working to improve nutrition
I am also still working on my thesis for USF
My community has 16 compounds I am guessing less than 400 people
I live down by a river (the white volta)
My village has no chop
There is one mosque no churches (or speakers!!!!)
No toilets (other than one for the teachers and at school)
No electricity
My new name is Pumaya
It means free and outgoing
Then I was told it means cool/relaxed
Then I was told it means expecting child
Then I got upset and they said it means respectful child
Then when people say pumaya they rub there bellies and smile….so maybe they did mean expecting child?
Then I was told they are not calling me fat because they mean expecting child in a different way

What way?
I have a wedding ring on
I do not have fufu belly
I do not plan on having a baby

I am going to stick with respectful child. I say please “dimsolo” and “Mpa_a” (thank you has an upside down fish symbol that makes an ych noise so I cannot type it) I say please and thank you a lot….mainly because my dogbani is terrible so saying please and thank you constantly makes me feel better and people then think I can speak dogbane.

My village is beautiful. The flat grasslands full of bright green grass and farms stretch for miles and are full of shea trees (luckily I missed dry season…probably wont be so nice). I bike to nearby villages and am within hours biking distance of other PCV’s when I return home my new neighbors yell my name “pumaya!” and beckon me over and greet me. I sit with them and they teach me to boil shea nuts, crack them, and make shea butter. They laugh as I try to keep up with the old women and copy their routine that they make look so easy. They then try to take my nut cracker paddle thing away and tell me to go rest but I continue to finish the work with the other girls……they laugh……I am the entertainment of my village. I am happy to entertain such beautiful people.

Also if you are ever in a bad mood or need to release some energy paddling Shea nuts is a great release….invigorating and relaxing at the same time somehow.

They take me to farm and we plant watermelon and groundnuts. We collect shea and I made the mistake of saying “the fruit is sweet” so now everyone brings me gifts of shea fruit (which is okay but makes me a bit ill and is hard no eat without the fake “mmmm thank you *gag*”

the little nuggets come to my door pants-less with t shirts full of shea nuts so I wash them and put them in a bowl and pretend to eat them while I convince them they have to help me.

FYI nuggets are the adorable bobble head 3 year olds but i consider all cute babies to 12 year olds nuggets. most kids look a few years younger than what we are used to in the states. I often get nuggets carrying nuggets. 7 year olds or younger carrying their baby sibling on there back who is half their size.

yet they smile. I get out my flash cards and they help me pronounce dogbani words and we reenact them and laugh and practice english and dogbani.

I go to school to help the women prepare food for the children when I come all the kids poke their heads out and yell Puuu----myyyy-aaaaaa! I apologize for disturbing but the teachers they greet me and help answer all my questions. If a class is not having a teacher I go and play with the kids. I am trying to learn Dogbani and they are learning English so I figure hey we can help each other out… mainly turns into them laughing at me and looking confused and then we play the banana raison game which they love…and….then….I got nothing….sooo….. m chaη k aka na…..I go find something else to do like garden, read a book, or explore the bush paths on my bike.

I do not have electricity so I use a solar panel to charge my lights, ipod, and speakers. The teachers also do the same. I can leave my bike outside, my hammock, my solar charger, and no one will touch them.  People are respectful.

Whenever I greet anyone my age or older I drop to my knee or a crouch and ask for their health or if they slept well. Everyone I pass on my bike waves and we bow to each other. When the children come over after school and I bring out my art supplies they stare at it. I give them paper. They stare at it. I give them a crayon. They stare at it. I help them write their name. They place the crayon exactly back in its spot in the box.

My coloring party was a fail. In the south kids would have been grabbing and fighting over the crayons and destroying them while coloring as much as possible.

After a while I had drawn all the kids different animals and their names in block letters and they colored them very diligently (or their older siblings helped them). Later when I was sitting with some of the women their children came up holding their pictures smiling and laughing rambling in dogbani.

The Fulani are in my area right now. They herd cattle and migrate from Niger and Burkina. They also have milk and cheese. Due to lack of food (and electricity) in my village I have been on a diet mainly of wagashi, mangos, and groundnuts. I learned quickly how to bike out and find the Fulani houses and say "afternoon, how are you, please, I want wagashi, please, thank you....i am happy....thank you...buhbye" I was sick the first few days from massive wagashi intake and nothing else but honestly in the south my favorite foods were wagashi and mangos which are hard to get and right now I am in the land of wagashi and mangos....I pictured the north as some desolate desert (I haven't been through hot season and harmattan here yet so my perspective could change) but so far its more of a shea savannah.But also shea is seasonal so that will be over soon too. I hope my lavender I planted grows fast so i can get to work on my homemade lavender shea butter.

I love the north.

but also I do not have a fan and it is hard to sleep when its 100+ and no fan...I have used a folder to fan myself while laying my bed trying to sleep and its not even hot season. If they can do it I can do it.

 positive note:
yoga mat +bikram sessions on my solar charged ipod= free hot yoga! 24/7 I even have incense!

Peace Corps isn’t always peachy keen. If I were to generalize it is constant amusing weirdness (no...thats not it...but i will behere for hours if I try to sum it up in a few words). I don’t hate all the terrible things that happen because it makes life exciting and interesting. If I were not so easily amused peace corps may not have been the best place for me.

Also I have to brush off a lot of things. I have had a hard past few months and it has definitely been a rollercoaster. Sometimes I wonder if I am crazy because I feel like I should be upset. I am moved, my computer breaks, I cannot write my quarterly report, I lose everything from my old site, I show up to my new site and have one bottle of water and no filter, no way to cook and nobody around. No furniture and it rains and the roof leaks and all my thing are on the wet ground. It is weird thinking about all the bad things that have happened. For some odd reason I am not upset. Other people feel sorry for me and have been helping me with my problems, and that is the one thing that makes me feel bad. My problems are nothing. My site evacuation rocked my world and I do not think I have ever been through anything harder in my life but I made it through, and most the women in my village have endured things 10 times worse than what I did. I know the world has problems but when you are sitting with a group of women who have been kayayo’s and been put through things I cannot imagine and we are laughing and singing and I cannot get enough of there beautiful smiles and something inside you changes.

This is the most important part of my peace corps experience

But also I have my thesis and I am lucky enough to have the training and resources to help my new home as well as the surrounding villages. Behavior change is a hard thing. Why not sh*t in the bush when you are surrounded by bush? Why would you sh*t near your home? I cannot just come in and tell them “hey OD is BAD, STOP, DO this instead”… is hard. I cannot just say you shouldn’t process shea this way. Look at all the wood you are wasting?the carbon! The deforestation! But it is tradition, and there is plenty of wood. SO why improved cook stoves? Why change what my mother and great grandmother and ancestors did. Sustainability is hard. Writing my report for future research is hard because this takes time and I do not have time. I have to be patient and take many precautions to try to make the largest impact I can by empowering my community to improve themselves instead of me trying to improve them.

I better get back to writing my quarterly report I am working with a new toilet design that will be making a large impact on the developing world thanks to Dr. Mecca and I am also looking into improve shea processing to reduce carbon emmissions as well as food storage and drying. But in-between all of this my life is full of moments I will never forget.

We just had a PCV media IST and I would encourage you to watch our videos

The shea video was shot about an hour bike ride from where I live so it gives you a good idea of what spending time with my girls in Tigla is like.

4th of July is coming and in Peace Corps 4th of July is a big deal. I will hopefully have lots of photos of me in my new northern smocks at our celebrations soon. It is funny how in America I was never really a big fouth of July fan but man, let me tell you, when you are a minority, we congregate and do justice for the sake of our independence day….I hear warriors and a parade may be in order….as well as potato salad and fried chicken of course.

To all my pen pals here is my new address

Emily Adams
Peace Corps Ghana Tamale Sub Office
 PO box #962
Tamale, Northern Region
West Africa

I also apologize for those of you who sent letter during my evacuation I asked if they could get my mail for me but I think many of you sent letters that never made it to me at my Asamankese address.

I wish I had more pictures but because I am trying to fit in with my community I don’t like bringing out the camera. There are so many moments I wish I could capture to share. I really believe the PCV media videos are worth watching. I am so proud of what they have done and I hope I can help with producing more throughout my time here and hopefully soon make more videos of my personal expriences for you to see.

****organizing photos, text, editing, and everything else is very hard with practically non existent sketchy I apologize for the spelling and photos not going in the right place

Deal with it

Emily/Pumaya......the un-pregnant hopefully not looking pregnant Pumaya. I will get down to the bottom of it eventually. It is hard when it is a language where one word means 500 different things in different context

yours truly

appendix I

the other day we had a long discussion about jokes/sense of humor here. Here is a Ghanaian joke for you (stolen from another volunteer)

a man says to another man from the north "ayy! what happened to your face?"

a moto accident?
a robbery?
a fight?

the man replies: "no boss, it is my fathers signature"

NOW this is the point where ghanaians laugh hysterically....and I think to myself....everyone in the north has facial scarring and tribal is the signature of their family/tribe......why is this so funny....maybe I should laugh but why?......often times someone is talking to me and looking for a response and I realize "oh no, was that a joke? I should probably laugh...otherwise they will keep starring at me waiting and wondering why I am not amused...

In defense....I do not think jokes translate is probably deeper than we realize...i hope.

in a sense they fly right over my head not because of comprehension but because of the fact that common knowledge is not funny in most cases unless used cleverly with a pun (a good pun at that)

or it could be comprehension....most likely. I should not judge because our jokes make no sense to them. also you cannot say "making sense here" it is derogatory.

Let me sum up this rant by saying: I am jealous of bi-tri-multi- lingual people. going to ashanti and speaking twi like a boss then hearing the radio and not comprehending the message.....then 6 hours late I can impress people with dogbani but then they continue and I cannot understand what they could possibly be talking about. Often I translate as much as possible and ask what the conversation was about and am completely off.

tonal languages.

and to end on a happy note (for the second time)

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”


Monday, December 10, 2012

Is it really the holidays? It feels more like hamatan

I do not have time to tell you all about thanksgiving, school, exams, research, farm, or our education reconnect, or basically 99.9% of my life right now. But, I will tell you something. That is why I have a blog right? Yesterday elections took place in Ghana. I am not allowed to leave my village for a 5 day or so period around elections to ensure safety. On Election Day I did not leave my house because there was a polling station in my village. I woke up sweating with chef curled up next to me. FYI the sweating was due to my fan being off=”lights off”. This happened the past few mornings by the afternoon or even earlier “lights on” so no worries. Just don’t open the fridge and use my solar speakers for music and the lights will be back on eventually. So since I could not leave my house my goal was to have a relaxing day (no gardening or heavy cleaning) finish some paperwork, get a chunk of my quarterly report transferred from my field notes, and then play with my puppy and watch Downton Abbey or human planet for hours. I never watched movies at site but after thanksgiving/reconnect I collected a lot of new things to watch. This is not a bad thing because most movies bore me so I wont get stuck doing nothing all day….but human planet….pretty sure I could waste a day watching it, which I can only do with a few choice series. Excited for my lazy day I prepared my normal coffee finished grading the final set of a zillion exams (I do not exaggerate I am an American not a Ghanaian) I cleaned the house and kitchen before preparing to be extremely lazy for as long as I possibly could. “light off” still….computer battery 12%....ugh. It is kind of sad that I have to plan out being lazy….but I was very excited to watch human planet for hours and not feel any regret or remorse for unproductiveness. I vowed not to garden, not to do any intense cleaning, or finish my quarterly report yet….this was my day. I sat angrily amusing my pup with his new favorite toy I found him in Accra waiting for the lights to come on. I texted my teachers. They announced in Asamankese (the large nearby town) that “light on” would be at 4 pm…..alright no worries….. and guess what the lights came on at 5 pm ( 4 pm Ghanaian time). The speakers started blasting from the town I could here all the election craziness just get even crazier with the addition of electricity. So I went to turn on my fan…nada….my voltage regulator…asaaaa….. ummm why does my house not have electricity? I checked the fuse box and decided….it will come eventually. Yeah I sat in my home reading books by candlelight (almost out of candles fyi) watching water drip from my fridge as all my food begins to rot…luckily most food here doesn’t require refrigeration so my veggies and things are all good but chefs food and sausages that I prepare in big batches to last him all week was probably getting pretty rank.  Now it was too late to garden because I would get eaten alive and my new painting would be hard to start without proper lighting, and so I gave my self a mani-pedi  (life is so rough in peace corps *sigh*) crossing my fingers that my solar speakers and ipod would not die (the speakers in town were extra loud) luckily it was a sunny day so they were charged proper. Chef and I took a nice bath which he is actually really good about even now that he is bigger he is not hard the bath and I clipped his nails which he hates. We went to bed and listened to the blaring speakers from the town and did not cuddle due to body heat and lack of fan purposes. The next day I still couldn’t leave town but at least I could go beg to charge my things somewhere and pick up some new food for chef in town.

I awoke to the sound of whirling….yes my fan whirles loudly… yay. Maybe all food (especially recently received care package gifts) have not been too spoiled from 24 hours of heat. So I made my coffee and went to garden…..yeah don’t leave your garden for 2 weeks. My plants are fine except my pumpkins got some fungi thing going on I gotta treat but the weeds … lordy…they done grow might tall. My machete has grown very dull…. Due to the amount of coconuts I eat and leaving it out to rust on accident (multiple times). I really just didn’t feel like a machete type of mood I slaved hours with the weeds before I left making sure it would be manageable when I returned…and to come home to this….jungle of weeds….I cannot believe it….. it made my heart hurt. Can’t deal with the garden the plants (the most important) are fine and weeded I’ll worry about it later. New plan! Guest bedroom. So I am the 8th volunteer to live in this bungalow, meaning 8 other people have left a lot of things behind. Some extremely useful (I am so thankful!) but just…boxes…and boxes…..

So I had confined chef to the main living room, hallway and my bedroom. I was getting sick of stepping over the blockade I created and decided to puppy proof the kitchen, bathroom, guest bedroom, and other hallway.  The past week I bought a bunch of bleach, anticeptic, soap,  and other cleaning supplies I was running low on so I went to town with my bathroom area and am very proud of the results. All chemicals are contained and out of puppy reach as well as it is nice to have everything orderly and immaculate…then….dun dun dun….(dramatic tone drop) the guest bedroom. Very nice until you look under the bed……8 years of volunteers s*** I had been through briefly sorting out the useful getting rid of the nasty and saving the unsure. Now it was time for the purge. I started organizing boxes….tools…bike stuff…education..screening…..papers…papers….papers….sheets….millions of condoms (still haven’t checked dates yet but I can add them to my own personal condom collection peace corps provided me with)…..hopefully this whole celibacy thing won’t last forever but right now I am not sexually active with an obscene amount of condoms around my house. So I went through box by box organizing, cleaning, and to my great luck discover a family of rodents! I had already disposed of a dead rodent a month ago that probably got ahold of the poison in the kitchen left out to eradicate them (one reason chef was confined to only half the house). So I found a dead rodent and some surviving family members. Now I feel like I should not go into what happened next/I don’t want to think about it. Luckily I skipped lunch and had nothing to vomit otherwise that may have been an issue.

There were no survivors.

Moving on…So I focused on the sorting of the boxes, checking exp dates on things, and washing tool containers of the things in them that were not tools. Pretty soon I had two Ghana Gucci’s fully organized and no more cardboard boxes. Totally puppy proof, mouse proof, mouse free, and awesome. I re-cleaned the guest bedroom….anticeptisized (yes I am making up a word) everything and started thinking about what painting/organization will go best.

So the disposal part was the hardest….luckily thanks to the weeds capable of growing a metre a day my garbage area is impossible to see now. My neighbors like to go through my trash. It is okay until I find all my trash strewn around my house because they found it interesting for 5 seconds then threw it back on the ground. I wasn’t sure how to go about it….I know some things I threw out were just disgusting or not useful. I am sure there are a few things someone might have used though…. I am just not sure how to say in Twi “would you like this 10 year old pair of pliers that have a broken handles and are warped and a ripped blanket that smells like rotton fish and probably had rodents living in it?” So I just got rid of it all….I just hope tomorrow it is not all scattered around my house……

Ahhh….my house is so clean (African standards fyi) and chef is free to roam the whole house now. Although even with his new freedom he doesn’t leave the living room much. And now my guest bedroom is ready for decoration and I don’t have to worry about chef getting into the millions of things shoved under it because they are gone.

It just started down pouring ( “lights off” possibly) so I put all my buckets out to collect from my gutters yay free water! Sadly though I don’t mind fetching water because I enjoy the work out and I get to hang out and practice Twi with my neighbors who don’t speak a word of English as far as I can tell, if the lights stay on I am starting a new mural tonight….or watching human planet…..or basically whatever I feel like doing. The great thing about being a Peace Corps Volunteer is the freedom to choose what to do with my time.

I am sad I missed the Ghostland concert

I am sad I cannot see my friends or call them whenever I want

I am glad I have some of the best friends in the world though who write me (even though I am horribly slow at writing back) and will always be able to pick up our relationship where we left off.

I love and miss everyone. I also love it here and cannot imagine leaving Ghana right now.

You know that month of thanks thing people were doing on thanksgiving…well I will sum my 20-whatever days of thanks into one “I am thankful for my life. I am positive  it is the best life ever. Seriously. I cannot wait to see where my life continues to take me because I am loving every minute of it.”

Except certain minutes…I DO NOT LIKE KILLING ANIMALS OR LIVING THINGS…it just has to happen sometimes….sorry……but every other minute I really do love.



Update: I wrote this a few days ago. So I have a little dis’ting to add. They have giant gutters all over Ghana for those of you who don’t know. I have a goal to not fall in one during my stay here…. which seems inevitable….if you see them you will understand. One morning I woke up to a moat around my house (AKA the beginning of the building of a gutter) so now I have to cross this moat every morning with my bike. I have fallen twice….I don’t count it as a sewer fall because it is more of a ditch/moat fall. Anyway this morning on my way to school my bike decided to break and as I tried to recover without falling. I managed to not recover, fall, and roll down into the moat. My injuries were minor just some pretty nice scrapes and big bruises and some small bleeding. An entire tro tro stopped to watch they all said “ooooh…..sorry oh” then starred at me for awhile…then drove off. It is not everyday you get to see an Obruni eat in and roll into a ditch….I made a lot of peoples day.