"Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed—doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language. But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps—who works in a foreign land—will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace."

-President John F. Kennedy

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 2: FYI I am posting multiple times, scroll down to read in order.

Day 2 at site:

Woke up at about 6am and laid in bed for about an hour wondering what the heck I was going to do. Then the rains came. It poured and poured for most of the morning, and a light rain fell for the rest. Ghanaians basically close down when it rains, so I really had nowhere to go or anything to do. I relaxed and read through some of the stack of books and papers I acquired from Peace Corps during training. I survived off one of my remaining Clif bars for the morning. By noon the rain had gone and I went to the same chop lady for food..jollif rice once again, but this time I got a coke along with it. Whenever I go somewhere out of my home I have at least 10 small-talk conversations with people along the way. The conversations basically consist of the Mampruli greeting, which changes based on time of day, asking names, what they do, where I’m from, and they always laugh at my attempts to speak the language. They truly are all friendly and welcoming and always smiling.

My afternoon was solid. Goats tend to gather on my back porch thing, which means goat poop is all over, and I’ve made a little makeshift fence where they come in. I will see in the morning if it worked or not.

If you don’t know about Moringa, look it up quickly. It is a plant and nearly all parts of it, leaves, flowers, pods, roots, have incredible nutritional value. I planned to grow one, but I found out there is one out back of my home. I grabbed some of the leaves off that and am letting them dry (out of the sun because they would lose vitamin A or C if dried in the sun)  so that I can crush them up and use the powder to cook with. I can also just boil the leaves and eat them plain or add them to sauces or soups.

By the way, the power just went out, and it has gone out about a handful of times since I’ve moved in. It seems to only go off for less than an hour, so we will see if it comes back on soon. It is kind of cool to sit here in pitch darkness, except for my computer screen of course.

In the afternoon I hopped on my bike and went back into town to run some errands. I returned the two soda bottles I bought from the chop lady, they are very particular about returning the bottles so they can return them to the distributor to reuse. I needed another little plastic bowl so I can wash my hands. I bought some rope/string so I can hang my hammock that Menucha gave me. And I bought a bunch of phone credit so that I’ll be able to use my iphone as a personal hotspot in order to get internet (slow) on my laptop. While I was out I saw a chalkboard sign with todays European football matches listed. A guy about my age told me that there is an entertainment center where I can pay 70 pesawas (~35 cents) and watch the games at night. I planned to go check it out.

The power is now back on, it was just a few short minutes.

I returned home from my errands and was able to tie up my hammock between a couple trees out back. Can’t wait to relax in there, I hope my rigging holds up. One of the neighbor girls, Rosaline, who helped me set things up, told me that her uncle was around and he is an electrician. He was nice enough to come over and help my fix a few easy things like the lightbulb connection in my main room, my refrigerator and voltage regulator that was messed up, and an outlet that was faulty. Glad to have those little things fixed up. Joyce brought me dinner again, this time it was TZ (or tizet, or maybe t-zed) which is a staple in the north. I had tried it once down south and I didn’t like it, and that held true here as well. I could only take a couple bites. I had to go find some other food, and I knew my only option was the rice ball from the chop lady down the road, so off I went. Her place is also close to where the football matches were going to be played in the “entertainment center.” It was dark by the time I left, and I made my way over, greeting people along the way. A lot of people will now shout my name from across the way. I am going by Jacob here because it is a known name in the north. Anyone younger than me says Mister/Master Jacob. Instead of taking my rice ball to go, I ate it there. This meant I sat outside at a little wooden table and ate my rice ball in soup with my fingers, Ghanaian style. Since it had just come out of the pot (which was heated by fire) I burnt my fingers when I first shoved them in. The little boys around me laughed, but then got me another bowl of water and put my bowl on top of that so it worked as a coolant. I was eating right next to the little mosque, and about 40 men were outside worshipping or doing their prayers all together, facing east. That moment was one of those times where it really hit me what I was doing. I was sitting outside next to a woman cooking over a fire, next to muslims worshipping, and eating with my hands. Whew.

I finished eating and called the guy, Sirleh, who wanted me to come to the football game. He found me and showed me the short way to the place. Basically the entertainment center was a room with five wooden benches, dirt floor, a tv, and a speaker. So a bunch of us smelly guys piled in at 7pm for the start of the match, it was Barcelona vs. Walaga or something. I really need to start paying attention to football because it’s huge here, they all have a favorite team in Europe. I actually got into the game more than I thought I would, and all the other guys were constantly shouting in Mampruli arguing about who knows what. I’m glad I went. There were a lot of people out along the road at night. Everyone kind of just sits around in groups and talks. As I walked home I had some more people yell my name, so I greeted along the way. I’ve been introduced to so many people and it’s darn near impossible to remember even 10% of their names. It’s hard enough for me to recognize someone in the daytime if I’ve already met them, but at night it’s just not possible.

I’ll chalk it up as a successful day two. Tomorrow I absolutely have to go buy my own food so I can start cooking.

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