Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blog Stat's

So, as most of you who have blogs are well aware, there is a section called “Statistics” on the blog editing page where you can see all of the referring URL's and sites that have directed people to your blog. There is also a little mini world map that shows where in the world your views come from and my favourite option – a list of “search keywords” that people have typed into google that caused them intentionally or unintentionally to stumble across your blog page.

I am now going to share some of that list of keywords with you:

  1. becky fotobi” - Pretty standard. The average family member that hasn't really figured out how to use a website bookmark. (Don't worry family, I do this too.)

  2. ghana” - Makes sense, I AM in Ghana. Although I'm a little bit confused about how my goofy blog rates in representing the whole country of Ghana. I feel it puts a little bit of pressure on me, knowing that I am having a part in randomly shaping people's opinions of the country.

  3. my sister in accra even” - Errrrrm.... I don't really have anything to say about this.

  4. jesus loves me in ghanaian” - Guh... this reminds me of that fateful day when I had to sing “Jesus loves me” in front of an entire expectant congregation.

  5. women 'communal shower' ” – bahahahhaha.... I think this person would have been severely disappointed with what they found.

  6. Hridi Chowdhury” - BAHAHAHHA. Hridi, just so you aware, someone has been google-searching you. Or maybe that was just you searching your own name... Don't worry, I do that on occasion too.

So anyway, just a quick update for now. I was looking at the blog statistics this morning (don't judge, I have nothing better to do) and thought I would share. I was also wondering if any other IDS-ers have weird search keywords whereby random people have stumbled upon their blogs.... please share ! Entertain me, I live in a village.

Hope you are all well! I'm coming home in only a couple of weeks!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A bit out of touch... apologies.

First of all – sorry that I haven't updated for the past two months. I really don't have an excuse as to why that happened, except that it's difficult to perceive the events of my every day life as being interesting enough to write about to the masses (ie: all 10 or so of you who read this... and that may be a generous estimate.)

For the past few weeks, I have been going full-swing with my research. Fifty-two interviews!! It's been intense. The idea of transcribing them all makes me feel slightly nauseous. But as for the interviews themselves... I'm actually really enjoying them. Especially interviews with students. It's so rare for young people in Ghana to be asked about their opinions... it's really a breath of fresh air to see how eager and enthusiastic they are to help me out. So all in all, the research process is going okay – despite having an extremely late start. Unfortunately though, it's about all I have time for these days as my ten months in Ghana quickly wind down. Currently, I have only 22 days until I leave! I am having mixed feelings about this...

A funny story. On one of my research ventures into the education office in the nearby city, a man asked me to come over and speak with him which is really nothing unusual. He asked me the usual questions – my name, where I'm from, blah blah. In turn, I asked him his name. His response: “Well, you know I have a bit of a strange name... let me write it down for you.” And so he wrote on a piece of paper P-E-N-I-C-I-L-L-I-N and then looked up at me, “Do you know what that says?”

I replied confusedly... “umm... Penicillin?”

“Yes!” He exclaimed, happy that someone knew how to say his name correctly. He went on to inquire, “Do you know what that is?” I admitted that I did, but I don't think he believed me. “Is it a plant or an animal, do you think?” he demanded.

I responded awkwardly... “Uhh... it's a mould.” There were a few awkward moments following this remark where neither of us knew what to say. I tried to recover the situation by volunteering, “You know, penicillin has saved many lives... your father must have known that you would be a strong man.” He seemed happy with this suggestion and I quickly changed the topic.

A couple of days later I went to one of the schools and another man approached me, shook my hand and said “Hi, I'm Hillarius.” It was all I could do to stop myself from bursting out laughing. I ventured, “You mean your name is Hillarius?”

“Yes,” he said, and spelt it out for me on a piece of paper which is the reason I know the unique spelling.

Last night I was venturing around my village trying to find something to eat. It was only about 7:00pm, but completely dark outside due to Ghana's equatorial position. And when I mean completely dark, I REALLY mean completely dark. Village dark. My village does not have electricity outside of the school where I work. The only light visible was in the form of tiny candles that food sellers use to see what they're doing. Anyway, as I was meandering around, due to my light-reflective skin colouring, people can see me but I often cannot see them. So from the midst of the darkness I often here young men shouting “Obruoni bra bra” (ie: “White lady, come here!”). This also occurs in the day time wherever I go and has become rather annoying, and in my opinion, is fairly rude. Usually, in response, I say “Oh... you bra bra!” (If they really want to speak with me, they can make the effort to come over.) They usually laugh at this response.

So, as usual, last night as I was searching in the dark for something to eat, I heard the usual “Obruoni, bra!” Again, as usual, I responded with “Oh. You, bra!” Immediately after this exclamation, one of the boys from the village whispered to me “Becky, that was the Chief calling you.” Frig. In fact, after saying “bra” the man did come over and I shook his hand and apologized. Luckily, I recovered the situation by declaring that I was searching for fufu. He became very excited by this. “You eat fufu!?” I responded, “Yes, I like it too much paaaaa.” He then declared he would prepare some for me on Sunday. Lunch with the Chief, ftw!

On another note, currently it is the hot/dry season. I am dying. Literally. Between the hours of 11am and 2:30pm I don't want to do anything except sit in my room with my pathetically weak fan blowing on me and drinking water. Showering doesn't help. The cold water only makes the air feel hotter afterwards and I begin sweating before I've finished toweling off. It's brutal. Not a conducive work environment, to say the least.

Well, I hope everyone is doing well and it seems I will be seeing you all soon!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Much Anticipated Visit

A recent dialogue with my Ghanaian friend, Julie, a 29 year-old woman with a farm and 6 children:

"...It pains me to think about you people from other countries. You have no farms. You have to buy EVERYTHING. Me, if I am hungry, I go to my farm and dig cassava to pound fufu or I take maize to make banku or kenkey. But for you... every small thing, you must leave your house to go and buy. If you have no job, you will die because you cannot afford food. So I see that life is very difficult for you. Even my sister in Accra...even though she has money and can buy a big bag of rice and a gallon of oil, I don't like visiting her because she does not have a farm. Me, I like food pa-pa!" (a lot)

First of all – Happy belated new years to everyone! My apologies that the greeting is arriving so late but I have been quite busy lately. As I mentioned before, my boyfriend Kevin visited me over the Christmas holidays. After a cancelled flight and many delays, the airline finally put him on a flight from New York to Ghana in first class! Although this would be a great treat and delight to the average person, the fact that he went from seats large enough to lay down and roll around to the cramped, congested and pungent heat of the Ghanaian tro-tros made the transition a little more difficult than what would otherwise have been the case.

Indeed, coming from a cold, snowy climate to the hot and dry Ghanaian Harmattan is not an easy transition, especially when tro-tros are involved. After one particularly painstakingly long and hot journey, we alighted from the vehicle and I expected Kevin to be somewhat less than cheery. Instead, he had a weird, leering twinkle in his eye as he whispered “I'm sorry to tell you this... but I just died an hour ago.” I'm still not entirely sure what he meant by that, but I guess after being tortured for so many hours, there's no where to look but up. He was quite optimistic about tro-tros after that instance.

Some highlights of the trip included having a pre-Christmas celebration at Julie's house (complete with delicious pineapple, fufu, fresh chicken and presents sent by my mom), spending Christmas day on the beach (I have to be quite honest when I say that it didn't really feel much like Christmas, and it was really only half-way through the day that I actually recalled what day it was), surfing (for the second time in Ghana and in my life – Kevin was not so strong with this activity), a visit to Wli Falls (the largest waterfall in West Africa – very lovely), dodging VERY shifty Ghanaian fireworks on a rooftop bar with Malian volunteers for New Years Eve, and watching Kevin (a pretty flexible and acrobatic guy by Canadian standards) get outdone at his own sport by 7 year-old Ghanaian children at Kokobrite Beach.

Currently, I have to admit that I am feeling just a teensy bit homesick - the first time that I have really felt this way since being in Ghana. This feeling came about, I'm sure, after Kevin left, since he was really the first truly familiar thing I've seen in Ghana, and it made me more sensitive to the other things I'm missing now that he's gone. Other than that, somehow the days are STILL getting hotter, work is slow and in a state of confusion at the moment, my research still has not been approved andddd... well, I will stop complaining there.

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well. Thank you to everyone who sent me Christmas cards and well-wishes for the New Year... and to everyone who sent their words of encouragement when I had malaria. (By the way, malaria is not pleasant, but it's seriousness is about equivalent to the flu in Canada – everyone gets it, complains, deals with it, and moves on with their lives.)