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!