Still in Maase (written 3/1/14)

For some reason this never posted. Sorry for delay.
Blog 3/1/14
March begins in Ghana about five hours before it does back home. This time difference is palpable some days, especially when I speak with Michael and I am exhausted from a long day of training and he is about to begin the second half of his day…
This past few weeks have been very full. Last Sunday we went on a field trip to Boti Falls. It is a beautiful natural preserve in the eastern region. First we descended several stairs to view the twin 30 meter waterfalls and then we climbed through boulders to an ancient cave and on to umbrella rock. Let me assure you OSHA is not alive and well in Ghana. To get on top of umbrella rock you can climb on either of the two ladders that are side by side. One is missing rungs and so the rung spacing is hard to predict and the other was missing the first step… All the same I climbed the rock and enjoyed the beautiful panoramic vista.

Today I did laundry. Since we were away last Sunday I have accumulated two weeks worth of dirty clothes. Washing that much by hand is a ridiculous chore and I ultimately succumbed and will have to continue tomorrow. My knuckles are raw from the scrubbing and detergent. Simple tasks are more cumbersome here, including getting on the internet…

I apologize that I did not make more time this week to pre-write an entry to post upon arriving at my Internet cafe. This one is quite short as a result. This week I took on the role of language tutor to two of my classmates. It must be to the teacher in me that feels compelled to help them catch up. Our instructor is really good and I’m enjoying our progress. I have taken pretty well to learning twi and am pretty good at sounding out the words from their (basically phonetic) spelling. I still struggle to understand people on the street, but they are patient with me and usually ask the same set of questions. So I’m getting really good at saying I’m fine and I go to school… If I want to extend our interaction, most are amenable and allow me to ask their name or how their family members are feeling, etc. This week we learned some phrases for the market, so I have been practicing my buying and bartering skills. It is customary to ask for a discount or a little extra (known as a dash) when making a purchase. This still feels weird, but when avoided suggests lack of integration into the culture. Most vendors are happy to throw in a few extra tomatoes or politely tell me that the price is fixed. Sometimes I intentionally ask on something that is ridiculously cheap and/or I know to be a set price. Then I laugh and include the vendor in my joke. It’s a fun game. I’m hoping to buy some material on my way home today which I will try to get a discount on. I bought fabric a few weeks ago and had a fantastic dress made. All in all it cost (fabric and labor) about $14. Once I’m to site and find a seamstress and fabric vendor there I will accept measurements and orders!

For now, my internet time is running short so I will sign out.
My mailing address for now is:
Chris Todd, PCT
Peace Corps Ghana
PO Box 5796
Accra-North, Ghana
West Africa

I am in need of nothing for the states just yet and packages are VERY expensive to send ($60-90 it seems!). Michael will be coming in May so he can bring things you want me to have. As I get closer to my site, I will know what I need better. For now, feel free to write letters! I’d love to hear from you and only get the internet once a week!

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