"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

Friday, September 6, 2013

Talk about going out of your way to help someone...

I woke up and had decided the night before that I would try to make pancakes and syrup. I was excited. I was in the middle of making the syrup when my stove-top stopped working….empty gas tank. I knew that filling these was not an easy process. I was going to have to lug it to Walewale and hope that they had the lpg gas there. I was starving so I made a groundnut paste sandwich while I thought it over. I couldn’t really cook at all without the thing, so I knew it had to be done right away. While I was a bit frustrated and upset, I realized that some of my fellow volunteers either didn’t even have a stove-top at all, or had to go buy one and transport it to their site when they moved in. I was lucky to have had it already. Before lugging the tank to Walewale, I made a wise decision to call Jacob in Walewale and ask him if they had the gas there. He made a special trip to the place to go check and see. He called me back and said they didn’t have any of the gas, and that the next closest place would be Bolga, an hour ride north. Great, this was going to turn into a half-day event. But then I experienced the true hospitality and friendliness of Ghanaians. Jacob showed up at my home on his moto and said that he would strap not one but both of my tanks to the seat of his moto and he would drive up to Bolga and fill them up for me. Wow. I was shocked and couldn’t thank him enough. We strapped the tanks on and off he went. I figured it’d be about 3 hours for him if all went well.

About an hour after he left, the rains came…

It poured, a typical rainy season Ghana downpour. He showed up about 4 hours after leaving and he was soaking wet and shivering. Sure enough, both of my tanks were filled. I felt terrible, but was so grateful for his favor. He was lighthearted about it and just said he needed to get home and change and get warm. I’m working on a way to pay him back and thank him, but I can’t exactly take him out to dinner, and I think he is Muslim so we can’t even go get a beer. I’ll figure something out, but I just wanted to share this story of how nice these people are.

I have been calling my headmaster a couple times a day but have yet to get through to him until this afternoon. I just wanted to touch base with him and let him know all is well and I’m moved in. I also wanted to ask him what the heck I would be teaching on our first day Tuesday! He explained to me that we would show up Tuesday and see what teachers show up and then decide who should be teaching what for the year. Ha! Apparently he doesn’t even know which teachers are still teaching at our JHS, and there is no push to figure it out until the first day. Basically I won’t be teaching on my first day, and we’ll see how many days after that it takes to get things organized and to get a lot of the kids to show up. I couldn’t even get a time to show up out of him! I didn’t push too hard because I can look from my porch and see the school so I will just wake up early and see when he shows up. He was telling me that I need to get used to things not following a true schedule, and that Ghana operates quite differently than the down-to-the-minute American approach. Fine with me. I’ve been rolling with the punches for a few months now.

Today I hopped on my bike with my gps watch and started riding around. As I have explained before, Gbimsi is located on the main North-South road in the north. If I ride on that road from the “beginning” of Gbimsi to the “end” it is about a half mile. Let’s call that the width. I rode around some more through the village on one side of the road. My best guess is that the length of the furthest home from the road on the east side to the furthest home on the west side is about two miles. The fields that these people farm go much further beyond. It is basically all the homes packed together and then the fields all on the outskirts of the homes. One day I will ride as far as I can to where the last field turns into wild Ghana bush and see how far back the fields go. There is a network of skinny dirt paths out there because it is how they walk there every day. I wouldn’t doubt that some of them walk a few miles to get to their fields, while carrying a load on their heads.

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