Ghana 2012-2013
My name is Alysa Michelle Meisterling. In September 2012, I will be traveling to Ghana, Africa for five months, where I will be teaching a range of subjects for kids ages 6-12. This is the first chapter of my beautiful adventure. Read More About Alysa →

Weeks 7 and 8

They keep changing their mind about the weather. It’s been cloudy a lot so far, with quite a bit of rain. Some Ghanaians say that in December it gets very hot while others say it will remain cooler. I’m praying it’s the latter. Without the clouds and the rain it would be too hot and humid for me to be able to survive!

I’ve been waiting for two packages to arrive for the past three weeks! Apparently they came over a week ago, but I just got them on Monday. I had to travel all the way into town to get them myself even though I was told they would be brought to my school. Anyways, Mom and Ian...THANK YOU. You two are incredible. The snacks and the photos and all the other little things you thought of made me feel so incredibly comforted. I think my stomach took the snacks as quite a shock’s been two months since I’ve had that stuff! The students are loving the candy corn! We’ve already gone through two of my three bags in the past two days! All candy to them is toffee and they absolutely love the sweets! (:

Names to not forget:
Persis, Collins, Lloyd, Shadrach, Clement, Ferdinand, Mary, Francis, Erika, Adjele, Elliotta, Nancy, Evans, Sebastian, Sultan, Fidel, Godfred, Alex, Caesar and Ezra. Some of them are my students, in my Form 1 English class and others are day time students and boarders who I’ve gotten to know very well. I adore every single one of them. It’s hard to not show favoritism but some of them I just want to keep and take back home with me! They’re truly the sweetest kids I’ve ever known. I showed them pictures of my family, and they were fascinated to see them and to see me with long hair! One of the male teachers, Peter, told me “Ah, you are looking more beautiful in the picture than you do now!” He really didn’t mean it as an insult, but I still gave him grief about it. The students also agree that I look very nice with my long hair and don’t understand why I ever cut it! To all of my family and friends who agree with them, keep your comments to yourself.... 😉

Chrissy and I have gotten much closer with all of the teachers as well. Angie, Peter, David, Philip and Emmanuel are the ones we converse with the most. We all sit and chat in the little teacher’s lounge we have when we do not have a class. It’s fun talking about various things, learning more about some of our cultural differences. It really is never ending so it never gets boring!

Around the school, there are quotes of encouragement painted on the building. Quotes like “It is dangerous to live without Jesus.” “Godliness with contentment is a great gain.” “Procrastination is the thief of time.” “Those who wish to be Eagles must not walk with the turkeys.” Chrissy and I walk around quoting these to each other in very dramatic, serious voices!

I broke my camera about a month ago, so I went without a camera for three weeks until I bought a new one! It’s very nice, and I got it for a much better deal than I would have back home! Fingers crossed nothing bad happens to this one! My luck with technology isn’t the greatest so I need all the good wishes coming my way. (:

Leah and Jenna, two other volunteers, came to visit Chrissy and I two weekends ago. Their school is quite a ways away so we took them into Takoradi, showed them around and met up with some other friends. At the end of the weekend, we went to Cape Coast with them and ate at our favorite little cafe called ‘New Life.’ I feel like all the volunteers and myself are getting quite comfortable there because it’s easy for many of us to get to and we’ve became friends with a lot of people in town there. Plus, the drive to Cape Coast is absolutely beautiful with the oceanside, tall grass and other scenery.

My class has grown. In fact, it has more than doubled. I think there’s around 26 of them now. Right now, we’re working on essay writing. I’m trying to get them to practice writing essays and writing sentences. Some are farther along than others, but they all need help with grammar, sentence structure, etc. It’s a process just trying to get them to understand the assignment. I’ll take a long time explaining it to them, and they’ll all nod their heads. I’ll ask “Do you understand?” “Yes, madam. We understand.” And right as I’m about to move on, a question is asked about the assignment and the whole thing starts all over again. I thought all of my students were around 16 or 17 years old. They’re all Form 1’s so they’re brand new at the school. However, I’ve recently learned some of them are in their early-mid twenties.

Other random facts:
Takoradi is often referred to as Tadi.

Obruni WAWU= dead white people clothes. And besides their nicer, African wear, they wear our clothes...awkward.

The students say ‘Yo’ a lot. Either they use it as a response, as if to say ‘yes’ or they are cheering on their peers in encouragement. If they get really excited and riled up, they’ll scream it really loud! ‘Yooooooo!’ Too great.

Bo froot and Fan milk is my addiction. I get them any time, as often as I can. Fan milk is a frozen treat. Fan choco is frozen chocolate milk. Fan yogo is frozen strawberry yogurt, and Fan Ice is frozen vanilla ice cream. Why has America not thought of this?! They’re approximately 40 cents, and they’re absolutely heavenly!

Kenkey smells and tastes terrible! To all of my fellow Americans, if you go to Ghana, try it. You can’t come here and not try it...but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Many of the Ghanaians have scars on their faces. There’s a wide variety of scars. Some are on their foreheads, their cheeks, the side of their face, by their mouths, etc... The scar they each have and their placement is based on the tribe they are from. I find it very fascinating, and I want to learn more about each scar and what tribe it belongs to!

The students are constantly trying to imitate my voice. They always talk high-pitched, and I thought they were making fun of me. When I ask, they simply say “Madam, we want to speak good english like you!”

They all have nicknames for themselves!
Ferdinand= Gaddafi (Young Obama, Young Apostle)
Alex=Obama (yes, seriously)
And so on... Many of them have asked me to call them by their nicknames. I just look at them and laugh!

I’m getting eaten by mosquitoes religiously it seems like. Sometimes it won’t be so bad, and then there will be a solid week where I feel like I can’t escape them! Our room is right next to a gutter so I feel like no matter what we’re doomed! Don’t worry. I’m being cautious! Mosquito repellant, Malaria medication and hiding out under my bed net in the evenings is helping!

On November 1, the school started Sports Day #1! It was ‘Volleyball Day!’ While some of the students played in the games, I hung out with the other students on the side. I showed them my neat little drum I bought in Cape Coast a while back, and we all started dancing and singing! Naturally, it was to music I did not know the words to. I stood there, clapped along and smiled! Such a joy! (:
The following day was ‘Football Day!’ Or rather ‘soccer...’ We all walked to a field near by and cheered on all the teams that were playing. They were all separated into ‘houses,’ and they all wanted me to support their house! The teachers also participated, and they tried multiple times to get me to play! How do you tell a bunch of Ghanaians that their team will lose if you put a small, little white girl on their team?? I don’t think it really mattered to them though. I could do something absolutely ridiculous, and they are always so impressed and amused to see! They’re the best support team! (: And for the record, no I did not play. I was sweating just standing there, thank you very much.
My friend Farida came to visit Chrissy and I from Sekondi. She met some of my students and then just the two of us left and traveled to her village and school. We spent the night at her place and woke up early in the morning for our weekend adventure! Farida and I went to Nzulezo Stilt Village! Nzulezo, we later learned, means “full of water.” We took a tro tro from Sekondi to Takoradi, found the Nzema station and paid our 5-cedi-fee for a tro tro to Beyin. From there, we caught a taxi to take us farther into town and found the Nzulezo Visitor’s Center. We had to wait for a little while, and we were surrounded by a group of Ghanaian church members who would not stop pestering us with questions! They wanted us to try their food, take a picture with them... One of them kept insisting that I marry him! It was easy to see they were all bothering us and we weren’t happy. A lady named Rosemond asked if we were annoyed. Ghanaians use the word annoyed as their way of saying ‘mad’,’ ‘bothered,’ or ‘pissed.’ So yes, Rosemond. We were in fact very annoyed!!
The canoes finally showed up! I was expecting something much bigger, but instead we were pushed into these tiny little canoes that barely sat higher than water level! Our poor canoe even had a little hole. There were five people total in our canoe. Farida and I shared ours with Rosemond, Frank, Emmanuel and our canoe guide, Solomon! The three guys paddled, Farida helped paddle occasionally, and Rosemond kept pestering me to scoop the water out of the canoe with the bottom half of a water bottle. There was very little water on my side but still I kept hearing behind me “Obruni, fetch the water!” Yessss, Rosemond...
The canoe ride was an hour long. We got to see beautiful little ponds and forests, and then it finally opened up to a big body of water.
When we got to the village, we took a 30 minute walk around and decided not to stay the night at their ‘Homestay Guest House.’ The village was adorable, but it was so far away from town that there was very little food there and not a whole lot to do! The entire village was maybe a quarter of a mile long. Lots of little naked kids ran up to us, asking us to sign a paper and donate money for them to go to school. Those little faces are awfully hard to say ‘no’ to...
They only have one little school there, and it’s so cute. The village seemed like a very sweet, close little community. We learned that Nzulezo is over 600 years old! We were so glad we got to visit!

When we got back to Beyin, we needed to find food and a place to stay for the night. We met a man at a drinking spot (club) who led us to the owner of the Apollonia Beach Guest House. The owner’s name was Steve, and his little beach houses were right on the beach! We paid 23 cedis total for a sketchy, dirty bed we were terrified to sleep on and jollof rice and plaintains he made for us himself. He even brought the food to us in his grandma’s wicker basket, which was around 50 years old! Farida and I enjoyed our meal on the beach as we watched the sun go down!
We also got to watch an African festival begin right beside our beach house and in front of the Fort Apollonia Museum. They were all dressed up and painted, dancing and moving about! We joined in with some cute little kids and took lots of pictures.

We spent the rest of the evening making friends with some of the locals and walking around Beyin. We attempted to sleep on the bench outside of our beach house, in fear of the bed we were given. At midnight, however, we caved and made our way inside.
We woke up around 6:30am, found Steve to pay him and say goodbye. We bought bagged water to brush our teeth with and fan milk for breakfast. Steve told us to take a certain tro tro to Takoradi so we boarded it and ended up delaying our trip by 2 hours, thanks to the flat tire and the muddy hill our tro tro was never going to make it up. It was an adventurous, not thought out trip, and it couldn’t have gone any better!
That’s the great thing about Ghana. You don’t need a plan here because your plans are going to get messed up or changed somewhere along the trip. It’s better just to pick a starting point and see what happens... (:

2 thoughts on “Weeks 7 and 8”

  1. You paint very clear pictures with your writing. I can see you trying to get water out of your canoe with a plastic water bottle.

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