Thursday means service learning at basic school with my first grade class! (Okay, this probably sounds like the time change is crazy, but in all reality it’s Saturday and I’m about three days behind in my journal, oops! I vowed that today would be a catch-up day.) The kids had two of their languages classes today, French and Ga (a local dialect). It blew my mind to find that they are learning FOUR languages: English, French, Ga, and Twi. What is the word for that, quadrilingual?? Apparently, it is quite practical for them to know these languages because while English is Ghana’s official language, Twi and Ga are still widely used, and French is spoken in three bordering countries. I’m not sure for how long they study these languages, but what a helpful ability it is in life to be able to cross language barriers and better connect with people. I wish that language was emphasized more in the States. While some classes are offered, few of us roam far from our reliance on English. But the kids here are like sponges, I swear it. We sang Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes in French. A room echoing with 40-some six year olds singing about body parts could stretch a grin on anyone’s face, guaranteed.
Also, I think I mentioned food here very briefly in the beginning, but I need to document my culture shocks with meals for future reference so that I will never ever ever take food in the States for granted. So, there are a few restrictions that many of us travelers have placed on ourselves willingly to prevent from getting sick. One, we can’t drink the tap water. Since the filtration system is not the greatest, we are almost exclusively dependent on purchased water bottles for our drinking water. We have to be careful when we go out to eat to ask for drinks without ice. Two, since we can’t trust the tap water, we can’t eat anything without a peel. There is a big empty space in my heart and stomach that salads and fresh vegetables used to fill. In order to eat peel-less, skin-less fruits and veggies, our food must be cooked. Three, there is so little diversity of foods. When we arrived here, meals were provided for the first weekend, and we ate mainly the local staples including rice, beans, plantains, chicken, fish, eggs, cabbage. Little did we realize these are the only things to eat a vast majority of the time aside from certain fruits at fruit stands. Don’t get me wrong, they taste fantastic, but I dearly miss having the variety of options presented at home. Did I mention that the only kind of cereal here is Corn Flakes? Sadface. Five (and this has been the greatest shock for me), dairy products are not refrigerated. Even in the grocery store, eggs and milk are just hanging out on shelves or in the sweltering heat at roadside stands. This is... this is okay? This isn’t unsanitary or anything? What about expiration dates?!? I feel like my entire life is a lie. Needless to say, I plan to arrange myself a grand feast the day I get back to the States. Burritos, salads, pizza, get in my belly.
That night, a few of us got together to try eating at a local cafe, adorably named Cuppa Cappuccino. We had an extremely frustrating experience trying to get there with a taxidriver who, despite our clear direction, had no idea where he was going. (I’ve noticed this quite a bit with taxis. You really have to confirm multiple times that they know the area, else they will say, come, get in the car, and you’ll end up on the other side of town from where you wanted to be.) Not to mention he ended up charging us more money than we had agreed upon from the get-go. But hey, miscommunication is a recurring reality, right? We can only do the best we can under the circumstances. Anyhow, we finally reached the cafe to learn that they were about to close, yet we were seated and served, regardless! We were worried about inconveniencing the staff; however, they seemed content and happy to wait on us. Is it just me that this kind of service seems few and far between in the States? Many restaurants are so adamant to be on time that they will shoo people away even 15 minutes before closing time. Could be a cultural thing... we Americans are known for being punctual. Long story short, this place had the best mango banana smoothie and cappuccino I have tasted, and I promise I will be returning for more.
Enough for today :) Oy. Sometimes I feel like there are just too many thoughts in my head to squeeze out into each blog post. Forgive me if I ever seem scatterbrained or verbose!
Till next time, nante yie!