ErinCraig's Travel Journals

ErinCraig

  • 33 years old
  • From Idaho, United States
  • Currently in Idaho, United States

Erin's adventures in Ghana

Many people have asked how they call follow my experience in Ghana. I'm hoping this blog will be a good way for everyone to read about my journey.

Warning...it's a long one :)

Ghana Cape Coast, Ghana  |  Sep 11, 2012
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It's been a few days since I lasted blogged. I'm trying really hard to write every day because I don't want to forget anything about this time. With that being said, I've been sick the past 2 days and went to bed right when I got home from school yesterday and slept until 6am this morning. I didn't go to school today and I'm home resting until I have to head to Cape Coast to meet with the other volunteers. I am feeling better this morning. Yesterday I had a fever, a bad headache and body aches. I was just exhausted. I got sunburnt the other day and I'm thinking that probably had something to do with it. I'm very sensitive to heat and the sun, it always leads to migraines. Ick. I'm sure thats all it is tho. When I woke up this morning, Mama Teko wanted me to go to the hospital to be tested for Maleria. I'm sure that I don't have it though. I talked to Mabel and am going to see how I feel this afternoon. I think the last time I wrote was on Saturday evening. I went to bed a 10pm!! I don't remember the last time I was asleep that early (minus last night). I slept in until about 8 on Sunday morning. Steph offered to help me wash my clothes. Holy moly was that an experience and quite the workout. My sister took a video so I will definitely have to post it when I get internet. It is quite the process. It took about an hour and a half to get everything washed and hung up and another day for the clothing to dry. It is hard work and I have scabs on my fingers to prove it :) Again, it reminds me how good we have it in America. All you have to do is throw it in the washing machine, turn it on and wait for it to finish. Here, you ARE the washing machine :) It is one convenience that I think I will miss while I'm here. My clothes are twice as dirty as they would be at home too so it takes a lot to get them clean. I have no idea what I was thinking bringing white clothing. Also, jeans and sweatshirts are an absolute pain. I didn't wash my town or my sheets yet. Steph warned me that she had to have someone else wash them because they are so difficult. I'm sure I will find out :)After our morning exercise of washing clothes, we headed to Cape Coast to go to the market. I bought a few yards of fabric to get some clothing made. I also bought 2 dresses and a skirt for school. Its crazy how much they try to charge foreign people. I will make sure to always have someone with me when I'm shopping so I don't get ripped off. I already know that I've spent too much on some of the clothing I bought. For example, one of the dresses that I purchased. The person that was selling the dress told me that he would sell it for 25 cedis. Luckily steph was with me and we talked them down to 8 cedis. Steph said that was still high. In American money, that is only about 4 dollars so if you put it in perspective it really isn't that much money. I got some nice things though. I'm sure by the end of my time here, I will be quite the bargainer. Not sure how bargaining will go over at Target tho :) After the market we met up with the boys at the Castle to go swimming. They were playing soccer when we arrived so we watched them play for a bit. Steph and I weren't planning on getting into the water because we didn't want to leave our things on the beach. I was told that someone must always be with your personal items or else they will most likely be stolen. Steph told me about a time when she was here last year where she left her belongings on the beach and when she looked up, a man was running away with her things and there was nothing she could do. Lucky for us, we were with the guys and knew that our things would be safe with them. We swam for a few hours. The boys decided to bury each other in the sand so that was quite entertaining. Nana and I had a handstand contest in the sand. It's the simple things that bring the most enjoyment :) I love it. After the beach we walked up to the first Catholic Church in Elmina. The view was amazing. I will definitely post pictures. We headed home to shower and get ready for the evening. We met up with the boys and headed to Sea Top. It's just a little local place where you can have drinks and hang out. I ordered some delicious rice. I'm starting to really like the food here. I still have a lot to try. Next on the list is FuFu. Not really sure what that is but I keep hearing about it. Nana and I had some really great conversations on Sunday. We talked a lot about the differences between Ghana and America. I didn't even know where to begin with the differences....to me there are so many. We talked a lot about money, expenses and how extremely important money is to people in the US. I was almost embarrassed to talk to him about then nice things that I have in America. We talked about the different salaries in America and what is considered "wealthy". Being here, I feel that I'm extremely wealthy but in America, I live pay check to pay check. I am still far more lucky than many in America and need to always remember that when times get tough. Nana told me how much he makes every month and it was hard to believe that he could survive off of that amount.  What I make in 4 hours, he makes in one month. The thing about Nana, and about so many other people here, is how extremely positive, appreciative and happy they are. People say money makes you happy....but I don't believe that at all. It definitely makes it easier but it is not what makes you truly happy inside. Nana is a true believer in loving yourself and being happy with who you are. I have so much to learn from him. We also talked about other differences between Ghana and America. I told him about how most people in America have cars. I explained to him about car loans and how you pay monthly towards a loan. I also explained to him how it was also the same for buying a house. We talked about the sanitation in America, how we do not have open sewers and you very rarely see trash on the ground. We talked about how American's are always so busy and always in a rush. I told him that when I'm home, I'm usually always connected to my phone or the internet. I'm always staying busy by spending time with friends or going out of town. I love that lifestyle. I have also realized that by staying so busy and staying so connected to my phone/internet, that I miss out on a lot of ME time. I need to make more of an effort to spend time with myself and not running away. So much easier said than done. I love my chats with Nana and the others that I have met here. I love learning about the culture here and sharing some of mine with them. Again, there are times where I feel bad/sad/guilty for being so incredibly fortunate in America. Nana reminded me that he has never had the things that I have in America and does not know what it feels like to not have them. This is the life he has always known, along with everyone else that lives here. Who knows if they would even like the luxuries that we have in America. They seem to be just fine with out them :) I am embracing their simple way of life. Yesterday I worked at the school. It was still pretty hectic but I'm trying to be as positive as I can, even through all of the madness. The teachers still did not arrive so I taught a few classes. I think I did an ok job. I did nouns with the students. I wrote out a few sentences and had them identify the noun. The way they teach nouns here is "A noun is the name of a person, a place, an animal or a thing". I broke down the groups and gave them one example and had them list 4 more on their own paper. It is sometimes difficult to explain things to them in English because some of them do not understand what I am saying. It is also difficult to have them do work because a lot of them do not have paper or pencils. Most of them write with pens too. For the most part, the lesson went really well and all the students were able to compete it. I feel like I only know a few different lessons to teach. I can only teach basic english and math. The other subjects are fante, french, ICT, which is computers and technology, and REM which is Religion and morals. I am really hoping to the books so I can at least follow the lessons so I  know what to help them with. I have had a few people ask me if they can donate money so I can get the children supplies and the answer is YES. Most definitely. I have found a few places around Elmina and Cape Coast where I can purchase pencils, exercise books, curriculum books and anything else that will be helpful for the children to have. Donations for the children's supplies can be made directly onto my website... helpsenderintoafrica.weebly.com. There is a donate button on the bottom of every page. The money then goes into a PayPal account and I can transfer it to my bank account and then withdrawal it at the ATM here in Ghana. Any amount is appreciated. One pencil is approximately .10 cedis which is about 5 cents in America. A notebook is about .50 cedis or 25 cents in America. Pens are .40 cedis/ 20 cents. You can get a box of 30 pens for about 15 cedis/$ 7.50. Hopefully that gives you an idea of what things cost here. School books are any where from 10-40 cedis/ $5-20 dollars. I brought some markers, coloring books, and a few pencils that I have started donating and will most likely use some of my own money to purchase more. I have already received SO much support and a lot of monerary donations so if you have already donated, thank you and please don't feel obligated to help any more. :)When I woke up this morning, I realized the date on my phone.... 9/11. What a day in the history of America?!? I will never forget where I was when I saw the 2nd plane hit the World Trade Center. It is not only about 9/11, it is also about the wars that have been going on since then. I have known people that have been killed protecting our freedom. America is so lucky to be free. We are so lucky to have the things that we have. Being in Ghana during this sad day in American history, makes me even more proud to be an American. I love my country, I love the freedoms that I have and I respect those that have sacrificed their own lives for my beautiful country. I will never forget those that have given their all. I miss you, Dan Brown....you will be in my heart and on my mind today. Mama Teko just gave me some "mystery" tea made from some type of leaf that is supposed to make me feel better. Its upsetting my stomach so I'm going to rest for a bit before heading to ProWorld. I will try not to wait so long to blog next time. I know my blogs get extremely long and I appreciate those of you that read them all :) Love and miss you all! XOXO

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