My New Name
Written: Sunday May 11, 2014
My trip into Jukwa, which is where I am now, was really interesting and fun and it makes me laugh when I think about how I got here. When I stepped of the plane I got into a bus that brought me to ‘arrivals’ and the bus smelled of burning oil and rubber. The bus was full of the smoke but that smell was all through Accra. I got into Accra and went to my hotel, called The Mambo Guest House, which I believe, was just a hostel above a restaurant- The Mambo. The gentleman who met me from the airport and then stayed with me for the evening and brought me dinner, is named Kwame (it means he was born on a Saturday, and subsequently my name is Kwasi, which is the name given to males born on a Sunday).
The following morning, I went and exchanged some money and met the head of the organization with which I am volunteering. His name is Pastor Chris Nyame. We talked about some general information, similar to an orientation. Kwame and I then took the 3 and a half hour journey to Jukwa. The ride was full of terror and adrenaline. There does not seem to be a speed-limit so people drive whatever speed they choose, fast or slow. And passing someone who is going slower than you means going into the lane of oncoming traffic and hoping to get over in time before having a head on collision.
When I got to Jukwa I met Kwame’s family; they are my host family. Cecilia and Quassi (like me) are his parents. His sister is named Harriet, and his neice (a beautiful four year old little girl) is named Hilda. I ate dinner, which was goat (I split the tongue with Kwame) soup and some rice. I also had fufu, which is a food made from plantains and the root of a plant called cassava that they pound together with a giant mortar and pestle. Fufu is supposed to be swallowed and not chewed, it was pretty difficult to get used to it but it tasted pretty good! I had something similar to it the first night in Accra with Kwame but it was made from some other ingredients so it was not fufu.
The following morning I woke up and ate breakfast, an egg sandwich, and helped Kwame dig a long trench for a foundation. The family that I am staying with lives on the same property that they are building a school on. They run the school. They have three classrooms built but they are building another room for an auditorium. Afterwards I took my first bath from a bucket. It was a great experience-mainly because it was very refreshing! But the bath room (the literal bathing room) is an open-roofed room that has an old wooden 2×4 going across the doorway so a cloth can be placed for privacy. The difficulty of bathing from a bucket is twofold- its hard to get your hair wet enough to wash it as well as would have been liked. Also it is difficult to rinse your back because all the water falls from your hands as you try to get your back wet. But it was such a nice experience because the clear blue sky was above me and the cool water felt great on my hot, dirty, and sweaty skin. I then rested the rest of Saturday. Sunday morning, I got up and went to church (which it is nice fact that my host family is the same denomination that I am), came home, ate and took a nap. Sunday’s are a day to rest here, so that is what I did, I rested and read and ate. It was a very nice, relaxing day. It was mother’s day but I was not able to contact my mom, but I came into the city which is about forty minutes from Jukwa, it is called Cape Coast. Its on the coast of the ocean where Jukwa is north of the city. The city has internet cafés that I am going to use to post my blog entries.
Some side notes:
Water in Ghana is mostly consumed from a plastic bag which you bite off the corner and squeeze the 500 ml (1/2 L) contents into your mouth and drink. The first time I had it, it tasted like plastic but I do not taste the plastic anymore. Also the lizards in Jukwa are the length of my forearm and the body is the size of my palm. They are also somewhat colorful which makes me a little wary but they keep to themselves. The many chickens that stay here do not keep to themselves and are worse than dogs at trying to eat your food during mealtimes. There is a mother chicken with her seven little chicks that come around very often. There is also a set of two, white colored chickens that are the most annoying. Other than that there are many other chickens that stay around the back yard and eat whatever scraps are thrown their way.
The reason that I bathe with a bucket is because there is no plumbing, which also means that the toilet just goes into a huge hole into the ground. The cooking is done on fire and only in a few pots, Harriet does most of the cooking and she is a fantastic cook!
Four days in and I’m learning more than I expected!