I am writing this as I sit underneath my mosquito net in the room Gaelan (JF on the G&RI team, blog to come soon!) and I share in the guest house at Vitting village. Today we saw the conclusion of our two days of in-country training in Tamale as an entire Team Ghana JF group. I have enjoyed the relaxed pace of in-country training. It has allowed time to begin to adjust to the entirely different way of life here that is far from what I have grown up with in Canada. Let me share a few of my first impressions of what is different from Canada:
- It is hot and humid here. I have spent my entire life thus far living in Southwest Saskatchewan in Canada, where the the wind whips through the dry prairie landscape in the summer, and the where the wind chill in the depths of winter can make temperatures feel as low as -40 degrees Celsius. When I stepped off the plane, I was struck by how heavy and tropical the air feels. I like the climate, and it feels good to sweat. My skin has never felt so hydrated!
- There are goats, chickens, guinea fowl, dogs, and sheep everywhere! Surrounding our compound there are many animals who are free to roam around. It is common to hear a rooster calling at 3 am, and to hear the bleeting of sheep throughout the day. It was quite jolting and sad when our fancy STC bus from Accra to Tamale hit a goat which was crossing the road.
- When people smile, they are truly smiling. The people here are so genuine, and I can’t help but to be filled with joy when I say “Desiba” in the morning and am greeted with “Naa” and a smile. I still don’t exactly know what to say in Dagbani after that, so I just smile back. Biela biela (literally small small, meaning gradually) I will learn.
- The market is thrilling. The market is full of many vendors selling a great assortment of things ranging from Ghanaian wax print cloth to giant slabs of raw meat to cell phones and internet credit. As a foreigner, it takes some attention to make sure I am not going to be in the path of an oncoming moto or taxi, and I am still trying to figure out which things are good to try and barter on (which I am really not used to) and which I just take the stated price.
- Food is good and our water is from satchets. Food is tasty and filling here, and I am completely surprising myself with how I so far have eaten almost every bit of meat, eggs, and fish that I have been given. You may remember from a previous post how I was talking about how I have eaten a vegan diet until this week, and couldn’t possibly imagine eating meat. Well, somehow it doesn’t seem like a big deal here and I am tying into chicken, guinea fowl, and fish like nobody’s business! I have a sneaking suspicion that we are being fed more meat than anyone else right now as we stay at the guesthouse, so our meat intake will likely decrease when we are living with families. For ten Ghanaian pesawas (about 6 cents Canadian) I can buy 500 mL of “pure watah” in a bag that I bite the corner off of and either empty into my water bottle or drink straight from the bag. It tastes great and is very necessary to avoid heat exhaustion.
These are a few of my first impressions of Ghana. I feel like we are still quite sheltered living at the guesthouse, so my impressions of Ghana are likely to change as I experience life with a family in a smaller village. The next couple of days will be filled with AVC team meetings, and then I will be heading up to my village on Monday (more details on my actual placement when I find them out in the next couple of days!)