Happy February to everyone back in the frozen tundra (or not so frozen this winter so I hear). My mini version of winter has come to an end. The heat and humidity are back in full force and we have gotten our first rainfall. Once March rolls around we will be in the rainy season. They stopped working on my road back in November and there’s no sign of them returning before the rains come so it will be interesting to see how it holds up in the coming months.
The country is certainly a buzz right now with the football team in the semi finals of the Africa Cup of Nations. They play Zambia on Wednesday and if they win they will play the winner of Cote d’Ivoire vs. Mali on Sunday. If they do indeed end up playing our neighbors to the west Cote d’Ivoire (and actually win) the country will erupt and it will surely be a sight to see.
The training that I had went smoothly. It was great to see how everyone was doing and catch up. It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off of other people and set up possible collaborations. I might go to a neighbor’s site for beekeeping training if my village is interested. I do also hear about problems people have at their villages. In fact one volunteer had such a bad time that she actually moved to a different village. It’s hard to tell whether these “issues” are indeed the fault of the community or if it’s the volunteer just not being able to adapt. Whatever the reason it make me appreciate my situation because other than the common annoyances and frustrations of living in Ghana I haven’t had any problems.
I went back to my village for a few days and did some cocoa research with my neighbor who is going to try and write a grant to advocate the government to promote moving up the value chain of cocoa by doing more processing in country. A lot of the cocoa is processed elsewhere which has Ghanaians missing out on more profits. Apparently this has been their goal for some time now but they haven’t quite gotten around to doing anything about it. If this grant comes through perhaps it will give them a little push!
Then this past weekend I went to help out at the National Spelling Bee which was awesome! I got to stay with an embassy worker and his wife and it was just like being at home again! Air conditioning, internet, satellite TV with American channels, home cooked meals with American products, hot water, and most important…American alcohol. I arrived after a 13 hour travel day to a dinner of nachos and Blue Moon. I was on cloud 9.
The Bee itself was a great time! It did take all day as we were there from 7 to 7 and it was chaotic at times but it was amazing to see 89 spellers from all over the country ages 9-12 spelling in front of 1000 people! Their English was incredible. It was sad to see them get one wrong and have to escort them to the staging room. They’d cry and say things like the kids at school were going to make fun of them. But we reassured them that they are so much farther ahead than anyone else their age and they should be proud. They were even spelling some pretty difficult words that even we hadn’t heard of before! The winner ended up being a boy from the Volta Region (Eastern part of the country). It was the first time someone from outside Accra had won. Now he will get to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.
There were a lotta other volunteers helping out so it was great to see them too. At night we went out to a party at the Canadian Embassy, the US Embassy, and our local bars that we like. I even met two Peace Corps Volunteers visiting from Kenya so it was nice to compare countries. Yesterday we watched Ghana win their quarterfinal match against Tunisia in extra time which was fun. We were at a huge bar with big tv screens and cheap draft beers which was a great atmosphere. Then we went and watched the Super Bowl at the Embassy at night. Boring game if you ask me but it was still fun to watch.
Tomorrow I got back to my village and I get to ride in a Peace Corps vehicle which is free and has air conditioning. I’m hoping to get moving on this latrine project so I need to have a meeting with the village to see if there’s enough interest. I’m also going to look to get the CocoaLink in some other neighboring communities. A new group of volunteers get here Wednesday and we are supposed to be getting five in my neck of the woods so that will be nice. Finally I want to apologize for more poor proofreading of my last blog post. I read it today and it was riddled with mistakes. Bear with me.