Monday, December 18, 2006

Arrived just in time for the weekend!

We have had a super busy weekend and absolutely no time to write. It seems that we arrived just in time for the weekend. It was great for being a tourist, but terrible that we had to wait to start work on our volunteer project.

We arrived to Ghana on Thursday late in the evening so we stayed the night at the women in progress flat in Accra. It was nice to have a wonderful cold shower and a bed to sleep in after 16+ hours of flight. Renae, the head of women in progress here, picked us up in Ghana, so we were happy to see a friendly face.

On Friday we set out early for breakfast at the “Sunshine Café” in Accra. A wonderful breakfast of eggs we were both happy for. After breakfast we were on a mission to see about Renae’s car, which was in for service. The mechanic never showed up so we decided to go to a local hotel to hang out while our driver was off running some errands. It gave us some time to enjoy the air conditioning, as we were not accustomed to the heat yet. Our driver returned for us and we were off to Cape Coast.

It was a harrowing drive, like most developing countries. The wonderful part is that the street vendors are a common part of life and a necessity for your grocery shopping. Women with enormous baskets of fruit or water balanced on their heads would come to the car. We tried mango, FanIce (ice cream), and some peanut butter cookie thing all from the comfort of traffic congestion. Three hours later we arrive at the Global Mama’s store in Cape Coast to a busy work environment trying to get the U.S. wholesale catalog out by the end of the weekend. Tiffany and I were in a dazed state from all the travel but one of the other volunteers, Serpil, offered to take us to the market to find food for the weekend since the cook wouldn’t be around. Maybe the FanIce didn’t sit really well with the bumpy road but it seems that the market was not a good place for us on our first day. There is a lovely food item here in Ghana called Stinking Fish. Yep, you guessed it….it stinks! It is some sort of smoked fish that they use to flavor the food. There is no way to describe the smell though. Needless to say the shopping trip didn’t last long. Tiffany bought a mango. We headed back to the volunteer house.

Dinner was at Ellie’s, the cook for the volunteers. We had a great vegetarian curry so I was happy. There are about 8 volunteers here right now, though some are leaving as we speak.

Saturday morning we meandered around the house and then rallied a group to head over to Elmina Castle. There was Tiffany, Serpil, Elisha, and I. Since we had all skipped breakfast we started the day with lunch at the “Castle Café”. Since it was hot out we decided to eat on the rooftop patio. Serpil, who’s parents live in the Netherlands began chatting it up with a couple next to us who was from her town. Next thing we know hoards of Ghanaians in traditional dress begin to filter in and we end up sitting in the middle of a wedding reception. Feeling extremely out of place, we ask the mother of the bride if we should move downstairs and she emphatically said no. We became part of the entertainment. They all looked amazing and we were sitting at the front next to the elders. We were all grinning at the sight of twin toddler boys when the mother comes over with them. She picks one up and asks Serpil if she is married (we have learned to always say we are…) and she replies, yes. Then she thrusts one of the boys into Serpil’s arms and exclaims, “Then take one!”, and the child began to cry. We all die laughing.

After lunch we head into the castle for a tour. The Elmina Castle was the main African trading post. It was an emotional and shocking tour that is difficult to explain if you can’t see the enormity of the operation.

After the tour we were all exhausted so we headed back to the volunteer house to clean up before dinner. Since it is some girl’s last week in town we all headed to the local resort, Coconut Grove, for dinner. It was beautiful and oceanfront. We ate outside under a grass-covered awning. We feasted on lobster and red snapper.

On Sunday Tiffany and I awoke early and got a start towards Kakum National Park. It was about an hour taxi ride to the park office. We paid our cedis and waited for a tour group to form so that we could venture across the canopy bridge. The venture up proved that us lazy Americans are out of shape, but at least the others in our tour group from Ivory Coast were just as winded as us. The bridge was amazing! It is 120ft in the air and 1050ft long suspended between seven trees. I am not scared of heights but this really threw me. Tiffany went racing across. I got halfway across the first bridge and, wow, vertigo set in. I made it to the first tree and to take a breather. Tiffany thought it was the funniest thing…yea, poo on her. The view was amazing up in the rainforest canopy, but my eyes were on the next tree. J After the bridge Tiffany and I decided to take the nature tour where the guide told us of all the medicinal purposes of the plants in the forest. Hey, did you know that mahogany bark is a natural viagra? Yea, me neither. Prince, our guide, told us to never take it alone. Make sure your partner takes it too or you will likely kill them. We saw Rocket trees, ebony, and amazing termite built structures.

After the tour we start walking down the road to eat lunch at the Hans Cottage Botel. There we meet up with a Ghanaian and a Londoner who we had an amazing lunch with discussing everything from politics to local culture. Hans Cottage is an interesting place that is actually awnings built on stilts over a crocodile pond. There sure were friendly crocs, they wandered right up to us. We didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt and kept our distance though.

Lunch ended and we decided to hit up the Sunday market in Cape Coast. This was the clothes shopping day and was even more chaotic than our first trip there. We didn’t find much, but I bought a skirt to get me through the week. Exhausted and sweaty we headed back to the volunteer house for some R&R.

A nap in front of the fan and then we headed back to Ellie’s for a dinner of egg stew and boiled plantains. After a long day, an early bedtime was needed.

Today is Monday and our first real day of work. Our first assignment was working with Serpil who is a fellow engineer on creating a database to track each business’s progress and prepare them for Fair Trade Organization certification. Three engineers trying to build a database together can get hairy but after a whole morning’s work we finally have the structure mapped out. Serpil has some errands to run in town and Renae wants us to look at the supply chain management so we will start plugging it all into MS Access tomorrow.

We are having a fantastic time and adapting well. More to come soon!


At 1:55 AM, Blogger Soundhunter said...

Love the pics of the momma with her kids. What an exciting trip you two are on!


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