Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'll have to pencil that in...

So a common theme of my life here in Ghana is never knowing what will happen. Being asked to tell someone my average day here is incredibly difficult. For a lot of volunteers its the same in and out but for myself and Jirapa it is a different world. I can pretty much guarantee I'll wake up, let my adorable, rotten goat head eating, tick covered dog outside and drink a cup of French pressed coffee thanks to the amazing Adam Martyn (enjoy that compliment Adam). But after 8:00am I never really know what will happen. Sometimes that small morning routine doesn't even happen due to knocking on my door at 6:00am for this reason or that.

Anyway, the other day I thought I would go to the office, meet with the Gender Desk Officer and plan out some of our upcoming bicycle workshops for women. I get to the office and she has to leave in an incredible hurry (Vivien is impossible to pin down and is literally representing thousands of women in the Upper West) but we need to meet with this women's group in a small village, Tuggo, right outside Jirapa so it is up to me! I will take my bicycle and ride in the equatorial sun to someplace I have never been...OK, why not, right? The ride was nice minus one large hill and a bicycle with gears that don't work but the woman is waiting for me with pito in hand. Always a welcome surprise! Isabella is a truly sacrificial and selfless person. She is one of the few women in her village that can read and write and speaks English and even though she is retired she works tirelessly for these women. She stopped farming just to come and meet with me. We meet and discuss how annoying it is that all these people want bicycles that don't need them and how the husbands will probably take the bicycles from the women after the workshop but she is hopeful and so therefore, so am I.

After organizing details we decide to bike to the next town over, Babali. By this time it’s getting hot so I'm not excited about biking back to Jirapa so I'm invited to rice and stew with Isabella and some of her grandchildren. Plain rice is good when you've been riding your bike and only have caffeine running through your body so I was thrilled. We greet everyone in town and then I decide, I've come this far I should continue my bike journey to Lawra to visit Adam. I did this for two reasons. One, Adam is leaving soon so I won't be able to do this anymore or see him and two; he's a really good cook so chances are I'll get some good food. It's amazing what I'll do for food now. So I continue at about 1:00pm on to Lawra. As I'm pedaling and enjoying the scenery I realize I didn't put sunscreen on my legs (I'm wearing shorts for the bike ride) and it is BURNING out. I can feel my skin screaming. No Ghanaian has sunscreen and I'm in the middle of nowhere by some stream. So, being very resourceful, clever and dehydrated, I decided to make some mud and spread it all over my leg that’s getting slowly 3rd degree burned. These small village children were fascinated by the crazy white lady rubbing mud on her legs and I don't blame them, even I thought it was weird but I made it to Lawra with minimal sun damage!

When I arrived in Lawra I had somewhat of an international evening. I sat and had a drink with Adam (another PCV), an Italian student, a Canadian Volunteer, and a Cuban doctor. I got a lot of different cultural perspectives on a culture we are all experiencing and studying which was a refreshing change of pace. However, explaining why there was mud all over my legs was difficult but we had a good time. I rode back to Jirapa the next morning and carved a pumpkin with some neighbor kids (one woman told me I was wasting a pumpkin but I grew it so I can do what I want with it) and I cannot be happier with the randomness of my life. I am learning to not have control over everything and that being flexible can sometimes lead to the best of moments and days. I hope to have a little bit more of a predictable life for all of my current bicycle workshops but in Ghana living is about the moment and success is based on the process not the end result. Weird concept for us westerners but I'm getting it. It’s the only way to stay sane and the only way to get anything done. So who knows, we'll see what happens tomorrow.


  1. Imagine my delight as I am printing my pigskin picks for a NFL contest when I go under my favorites to check your blog this fine Sunday morning and discover you have written! The coffee sounded great so I rushed over to get a cup of java to transend the Atlantic to be with you over a steaming cup of joe. My coffee is a whole bean from Rosauers called Big Sky and I love it.
    I'm glad you are entertaining the local children. They are probably wondering if you are trying to get black like them. Post pictures of your carved pumpkin! Happy All Saints Day! Love you and miss you!

  2. Greetings from Yuma, AZ. We're here enjoying the sunshine & thinking of how hot it must be in Jirapa now. Happy to hear that you are doing well. Someone needs to send you a flea & tick collar for your puppy. Good luck on your bicycle project. Don't let the men steal the bikes away from the women. Love you and miss you lots.

  3. You have a puppy?!? I have to hear more. Where did he come from?

    I laughed out loud about the mud on the legs solution. I would have followed your lead, though - to me, the only thing worse than being dirty is being sunburnt.