Things to Consider: Friends

One of my least favorite things about living abroad is my lack of friends / social life.

One of my most favorite things about living abroad is that, in general, making friends reverts to kindergarten-style. Oh, hello there person sitting at my table. We are now friends. Seriously. We are going to travel together, have play dates, have inside jokes, talk about our poop, and be best friends forever! Awesome.

This post is dedicated to my new BFFs, Jan, Melissa, and Wayne

Happy Friday!

My day thus far, in brief.

Leave for the field at 6am. Jet lag, ugh. Arrive at village. Trek 30 minutes to the farm. Wade through knee-deep river. Told that the river is sometimes chest deep. Feel better about it, but only a little. Worry about giardia. Look at maize. Trek back through river. LEECH! Gross. Bloody. Wipe it off and try not to think about germs. Or giardia. Or other potential unseen leeches/other buggers. Walk to another field. Look at maize. ANTM-style photo shoot with KPF.* Walk back to village. Get in car. After 3 hours of trekking, car smells a lot like people. Not in a good way. Give a ride to an old man who is an One Acre Fund member. Brace for additional person smell in the car. He smells like baby powder. Lovely. Drive home. Shower. Scrub feet 3 times. They are still dirty. Make coffee. Blog.

And it isn’t even noon…



*Photos forthcoming.

Fort Ussher

In February, I traveled to Accra for a weekend and, among other adventures, had the pleasure of visiting Fort Ussher. This Dutch-built fort was originally used for the slave trade and then, under the British, to house political prisoners including Kwame Nkrumah, the first President and Prime Minister of independent Ghana. The fort is now in disrepair and, despite intentions to turn into a museum and historic preserve, sits largely unnoticed by everyone except its lone caretaker.

As I entered the main cell block, the jail cells creaked with age and sighed under the weight of dust, half-finished construction projects, and rusting scrap metal. I was initially worried that I had accidentally wandered into a horror film that that the cell block door would suddenly slam shut behind me and hosts would appear rattling the bars on their cells and shouting while a hanged ghost prisoner swayed on the makeshift gallows sitting in the center of the cell block…

But my jitters were quickly replaced by a haunted awe, as cell after cell revealed beautiful mural testimonials left behind by those who passed their days within these walls.

One cell revealed a Middle Eastern tile mosaic drawn in chalk but reminiscent of a multicolored, glory-filled mosque. One the remaining wall of that cell were written Koran verses calling for strength, perseverance, and hope.

Another cell revealed a landscape focused on Eve and the serpent, with Adam looking on from the side. Eve’s hair seemed to sway in the wind and her titillating figure was drawn, I’m certain, to provide the prisoner relief both spiritual and physical.

The next cell brought an incredible portrait of Jesus on the cross. The next, a list of exotic European travel destinations, with Amsterdam as a jet-setting highlight. And so on.

The caretaker told me that he believes the government will eventually turn the fort into a historic preserve and fix it up as a proper site for international and domestic tourists. I can only hope, when this happens, the prisoner artwork is also preserved and not scrubbed away. Without the artwork, it would have been impossible to see the humanity that existed within the fort’s walls.

[Sorry for the lack of photos – next time, I’ll  bring a camera]

Vegan Day

I was never a vegan in the US, but regularly had days with an accidental vegan diet. In Ghana, however, I tend to eat a lot of meat and eggs. Usually delicious.

Nonetheless, I’m pretty certain that today was the first day I’ve eaten an entirely vegan diet since arriving in Ghana. And it was a gastronomic delight. What did I eat? Here’s what.

Breakfast: coffee; quinoa with soy milk, cinnamon, apples, and dried cherries

Lunch: tofu khebobs; pineapple-moringa juice

Dinner: homemade bagel (!!) with eggplant salad; fresh mango from my tree.