Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Traveling Photos

March 28-29th: A weekend in Kumasi. Rich, Boris, and I in Kumasi for the Ghana vs. Benin World Cup qualifier game. The game was a bit dull, but other than that the atmosphere was great and we had a rocking good time.

April 9th-13th: Easter trip with family to Kwahu, Eastern Region. For Easter weekend I traveled with my family to their hometown of Kwahu, a nice little town located in the "mountains." The mountains did not qualify as mountains to me, but nonetheless it was a beautiful place to be and I had a great time. The well to the left was the one from which we got our water for bathing, mmm!!

April 17th-24th, trip to Mole National Park, Northern Region, and ferry trip down the Volta Lake.

A village along the roadside near Tamale, Northern Region.

Dying of heat on the bus in Tamale, Northern Region.

Elephants may very well be the most amazing animals on earth..

These african swine were anything but wild.

Crossing the Volta Lake.

Cattle being loaded onto the fairy, it was shall we say, a multi-purpose boat...

Ghanaian sunsets are absolutely spectacular, this picture does not begin to capture the beauty.

From left to right: Rich, Boris, Dylan, Me, Rose, Brittany, Katie, David, and Hailey. Rich, Boris and I are the only AFSers, the rest are a wonderful group of volunteer teachers we met in Larrabunga, the village we stayed in outside of Mole Nation Park.

After the cattle, the boat was absolutely crammed full of yams, there was barely any room to sleep! (I take that back, there wasn't any room to sleep! I spent the night on a bench that was at most 2 1/2 feet long.)

A small fishing village on the shores of the Volta Lake.

The front of the ferry, as I said completely stuffed with yams. Ickk.

Takoradi, Western Region, May 27th-30th.
A nice group photo in Takoradi, Dylan, David, Me, Margaret, Boris, and Rich.

Rich, Boris, Dylan, and a group of small school girls at a coastal village near Takoradi.

Crodile search up a river near Takoradi. No crocodiles found unfortunately, the only exciting part was Dylan (behind me) brilliantly diving off the boat and slamming his head onto the bottom of the shallow river. Miraculously he was O.K. other than a sore neck and chest.

A supposedly crocodile infested waterway... No crocs but still a nice boat ride.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Traveling and Malaria

To my incredible disbelief today is June 10th! Forty weeks down
now and just three to go, my oh my time has flown by. These past nine
months have certainly been an amazing chunk of my life and I am without a
tinge of regret glad that I chose to come here. That said, I am so very
excited to be coming home and I cannot wait to talk to many of you face to
face about the experiences I have had here. Alright, well on to today's
subject, two things that took up much of my time in April and May, traveling
and malaria.
First I will get the unpleasant out of the way. After 8 1/2 months in
Ghana I was pretty cockily confident that my good health was going to get me
through these ten months without having to deal with malaria. WRONG. The
nasty little bug was merely waiting until I least expected it to hit me.
Before coming to Ghana and also prior to getting it, malaria was of course
one of the aspects to African life that I hoped to avoid, but as a precursor
let me just say that malaria was not quite as unpleasant as I thought it
would be. It still wasn't fun though. The first signs of the sickness were
a very painful headache and even worse pains in my neck that made it so that
I couldn't really turn my head. Next followed a really lovely cycle between
burning hot fever accompanied by fountain like sweating and then arctic like
chills. When the fever and chills hit I thought that a trip to the hospital
would probably be a wise idea. At the hospital the Doctor, who was a very
kind and caring man I should mention, diagnosed me with malaria after I had
barely let out the words "headache" and "fever" ( unfortunately I imagine
that even if a person were to only have a common fever or flue of some sort
they would still be diagnosed with malaria here). After the diagnosis he
sent me to a nurse who proceeded to give me two lovely shots in the buttocks
as well as prescribing me several anti-malarial drugs. The shots took
effect very quickly, first by completely numbing my left butt cheek and
giving me a lovely walk that would have without a doubt earned a place in
the "Ministry of Funny Walks" episode of Monty Python, and more importantly
by all but making my fever and chills disappear. From that point on effects
of the malaria lasted for almost a week more, but not nearly so bad as
before my visit to the hospital. I had some odd little occurrences such as
horrible stabbing chest pains that woke me up terrified in the middle of one
night (the thought of having a serious and sudden health ailment here in
Sunyani is scary because the hospital really couldn't handle such an event),
as well as terribly uncomfortable and itchy rashes that appeared at night
for several days. All in all it was not a terribly fun spell of time, and
one that sapped a great amount of energy and appetite, but I suppose, just
another African Experience to cross off of my list.
Now on to the fun! Traveling. Roaming about Ghana has without a doubt
been the fun factor for me during my time here. Life here in Sunyani
has been educational, eye opening, it has made me a more patient and
tolerant person I believe, but to be honest, a lot of the time it
hasn't been all that fun, so I am very happy that through traveling I
have been able to have some much needed good times. To begin with,
let me just say that I am going give a more detailed report on my
specific trips through a photo entry on my blog,, so please check for that next week around
Tuesday or Wednesday. For today though, I want to comment on the ease
of traveling in Ghana. Not only is there a great public bus system
that reaches to almost every corner of the country, and if a bus
doesn't work out there are always tro tros (big vans, cheap but not so
safe) and taxis, but there are also cheap and usually comfortable
hotels and guest houses in every town and city and of course food
stalls everywhere. You can easily travel for four or five days for
under 200 Ghana Cedis, the equivalent of $135, which I doubt is
possible in any first world country. And for that 200 Ghana cedis,
you are not getting a cheap, bare bones experience. In Ghana there is
so much to see, beautiful coastlines, rain forests, African animals
galore, bustling cities full of life and colorful culture, and much
more. There are a few downsides, such as poorly maintained roads that
making getting around a bit tough, but nothing that has discouraged me
from traveling. So far I have been on five wonderful trips,and I can
honestly say that in the many days of travel I have had I have not had
a single unpleasant day and barely any situations that I would label
as more than slightly unpleasant.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Big City Pros and Cons

Well I cannot believe that it has now been well over a month since I last wrote to you all, my only excuse is that time for me has been in turbo-charged fast forward mode for the last month. (Well that and the fact that the Internet has barely been working here for the past three weeks..) The reason for this is that March was a fantastic month, definitely the best of my seven so far here in Ghana, and when I am having fun time to a large extent stops mattering. The main reason March was so good is due to a couple trips, an AFS organized trip to Accra March 4th-9th, and then a trip with two of my fellow AFSers Rich and Boris to Kumasi for the last weekend of the month. Going to both Accra and Kumasi was incredibly interesting as they are Ghana's two biggest cities, and while on the two trip I couldn't help but think that my stay might have been a bit more interesting had I ended up in either Accra or Kumasi. At the same time though I saw ways in which being in a big city would be lacking, and so for today's post I want to talk about some big city pros and cons.Big City Pros: #1. More places to go, things to do, people to see. One of the most attractive things to me about Kumasi and Accra is that they are much more interesting places for to spend one's free time than Sunyani. While I am at home, here in Sunyani, my options are incredibly limited. I can just sit at home and read, which I do much of the time, I can come here to the internet cafĂ©, I can go to a local hotel pool and swim, or I can go to local restaurants or bars when a football match is playing on the TV and watch that. Much of the time though, I just end up sitting at home reading, or when my eyes get too tired for that I just end up sitting and doing absolutely nothing at all. In Accra and Kumasi by contrast, there is a much wider array of options for activities to keep my boredom at bay, albeit more expensive options. Accra for instance, just to name a couple, has a bowling alley, a couple movie theatres, and lots of actual cafes where I could go to get coffee and just hang out. Kumasi I don’t think has malls like Accra, but it does just have a lot of nice restaurants and places to hang out, which as I said Sunyani is sadly lacking. The other nice thing about the two big cities is there are a lot more volunteers and just more people from other countries in general, so I think I would have been able to meet a lot more interesting people who I could have gotten on well with. The movie theatres and malls that Accra has I can do without just fine, but I really do wish I had some place here in Sunyani where I could just go to hang out and meet cool people, if I had that I think my boredom problem would largely be solved. #2. People are more Accepting. While in Accra and Kumasi I can count the number of times I was called Obruni on one hand, and I have to say that it was a big relief to almost feel like I fit in after feeling like such a sore thumb here in Sunyani. Of course while I was in both the big cities I was by all means still a minority, still one white face in a crowd of black faces, but I think in those places people are more used to seeing Obrunis than here in Sunyani or other small Ghanaian cities, so they don’t feel the need to shout Obruni or other things I have said to me here in Sunyani. People here in Sunyani generally mean no harm when they call me Obruni, but it still gets a bit tiring day after day and it was very pleasant not to have to deal with that while in the big cities. #3. My third and final big city pro is the big city buzz. Sunyani as I have said is a pretty slow sleepy place, and that can be nice sometimes when I am wanting to be in a place that is simple and easy to navigate. However, while in Kumasi and Accra I was quite entranced with the feeling of being in a human beehive. There are so many people in both places and so much going on, and it is exciting to be in a place like that after spending so much time in a simply small city. In both the big cities there is always something going on, be it live music at a club or a football match, there is always something going that is exciting and fun, which I can't say for Sunyani.
Big City Cons:
#1. Transportation/Traffic. One of the worst aspects of visiting both cities, especially Accra, was the problem of getting from point A to point B in a timely manner. In Sunyani transportation is simple, I walk from my house to the road, stick my hand out for a taxi, ride in one for a few minutes for a mere 25 pesewas (less than 25 cents) and voila, I am in town and everyplace I need to go is within walking distance once I am out of the taxi. In Kumasi I actually didn't have too many problems with traffic, but Accra was horrible. While I was staying there I had to travel across town several times, and each trip took well over an hour. The traffic was absolutely horrible, and it wasn't helped by the fact that many of the roads are not very good. On top of that, it is very expensive to go long distances in a taxi, so the mode of transportation that is cheapest is a tro tro. Tro tros are big vans that when crammed full, and they always are crammed full, hold probably around 25 people, and although riding in one isn't terribly uncomfortable, it is certainly more of a hassle than my simple taxi ride here in Sunyani. #2. The second big city con is the availability of many western world things like malls and burger joints. I know I also listed this as a pro, but that was purely from a personal enjoyment point of view. I am sure that if I was in either Kumasi or Accra I would greatly enjoy having the option to chow down on the occasional burger or go out for a movie now and then, but if I look at my stay here from a purely objective point of view I am very glad that I do not have easy access to those things. This year for me has been about living like an average Ghanaian does, like my family members do, and and my siblings certainly do not have the money to go to a movie often or to buy a burger or a pizza, even if they had access to those things. #3. Big city complexity. Although there is very little to do here in Sunyani, it is nice to know the city very well and because of this be able to find everything I need with ease. As I have said both Accra and Kumasi are huge sprawling cities, and even if I had lived in those places for these past seven months I know I would still not know them nearly as well as I know Sunyani. Having a big hopping city is nice when I'm looking for fun, but on a day to day basis I definitely prefer having a place I know and can navigate easily. Well friends, that wraps up my writing for today. As of today I have been in Ghana for seven months and three days, which I really cannot believe. However, life as I have known it for these past seven months has recently changed as I have finished with school and am now volunteering at a place called Hanukkah Children's Home. I think this change will add a lot to my experience, and here in the next couple weeks once I have worked at Hanukkah for a bit longer I will certainly write about how this new chapter is treating me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Issue of Honesty

In my last post, I talked a bit about my family, and I feel as if I did a decent job of giving a basic impression of what my family and family life is like. However, there was one big thing I forgot to mention, and that is the issue of honesty.
The integrity of my family, namely my brothers, first came into question last October, not all that long after I had arrived in Sunyani. Over a period of a few days, I had five Cedis (a dollar is worth 1.2 Ghana Cedis) stolen from my suitcase, as well as a Swiss Army Knife given to me by my grandfather before my departure that was very dear to me. In response to this I questioned all my brothers and alerted my host mom, but I wasn't able to find out who the thief was so I bought a padlock to guard against further theft. The lock seemed to have solved the problem until just about a month ago, at which time I received a couple boxes from the U.S. and theft reared its ugly head at me once again. The boxes contained a whole lot of books, which nobody but me seemed too interested in, as well as a lot of candy bars and other food items that everybody else were definitely interested in. When the boxes arrived I shared out close to half the candy bars as well as some delicious chocolate covered espresso beans, and I thought I had been pretty darn generous. However, candy bars and the espresso beans soon started disappearing in large quantities, and I realized that someone or multiple someones hadn't thought I was all that generous. At first I thought the problem was that the thief had found a key to my lock that I had misplaced, so I bought a new lock, but on the same day that I bought the lock more stuff disappeared so I then assumed the trickster knew how to pick locks. At that point I realized that I needed to figure out who the culprit was, so I immediately talked to all my brothers and let everybody know what was going on. As you might imagine this didn't really work, because believe it or not thieves don't particularly like to own up to their crimes if they aren't under any pressure. I honestly don't think I would have been able to get anywhere if it weren't for my host brother B.B., who commands more than a bit of respect from my younger brothers and who was able to get them to own up. It turns out that my brother Ben had indeed felt like I hadn't shared enough with him, and in response he had cut a hole on the bottom of a pocket on the top flap of my suitcase, and had been snagging candy bars and chocolate covered espresso beans through it. B.B. also was able to get two of my other brothers, Solo and Oraku, to admit that they had known what Ben had been doing for quite some time, although they had not known how he was getting the bars. At first I was furious and wanted to give Ben especially a bit of a slapping session, but after a bit I managed to cool down and realized the best thing to do would be to turn them over to my host mom and let her deal with them. Unfortunately, before I could make them do this Ben ran off, and Solo and Oraku followed saying they were going to bring him back. This was of course but more lies from them, and none of the three of them reappeared until after my host mom had gone to bed.
The theft ordeal was quite a difficult experience for me, but once it all had been figured out I made a conscious effort to put my anger aside so that I could think about the causes of the thievery. Before I had the self-control to do this, I was outraged that people I had considered my brothers and friends would steal from me, because as a member of a first world family this kind of behavior is unthinkable to me. But as I cooled down, I realized that the difference of course is that this not the first world, this is the third world and theft is unfortunately an incredibly common occurrence here, even with families and between friends. My family here is definitely solid Ghanaian middle class, not rich enough to be driving around Mercedes or BMW's like the rich of Ghana do, but comfortable enough to own a nice house and to send all the kids in the house to school. Despite this relative financial security, it is incredible to see just how little my siblings have in the way of material possessions. Before leaving the U.S., I had top pack all my belongings away for storage, and to do that it took numerous boxes and big black garbage bags. In contrast, I imagine that my siblings could pack all their worldly goods into a small suitcase. While I had to pack away multiple pairs of skis, bike gear, books, cds, and lots of clothes, all my siblings would have to pack would be a small pile of used clothing, a couple pairs of shoes, and there school bag and notebooks. So I suppose that because of this it is no surprise then that when my brothers see something that they'd like and can snag without the owner noticing, they do so. On top of that, this behavior is not discouraged because even when a thief is caught, there are no big consequences it seems. After I alerted my host mom to what my brothers had done, I expected that they would be in fairly deep trouble, but it never happened. It almost seemed as if she was a bit amused by the whole incident, I imagined she was thinking, "The little stinkers cut a whole in his bag just to get some chocolate?" Well, whatever she was thinking, she never thought to punish them in any way, and a day after I had found them out everyone but me was acting like nothing had ever happened. I will not deny that I am still a bit unsettled by this theft ordeal. I once and for all have realized that I cannot allow myself to trust people here, but unfortunately that puts me in a bit of an odd place as far as my family goes. As I said, they all seem to have forgotten the incident, but I am having trouble forgetting about it and for the rest of my stay I don't think I am going to be able to see my brothers in the same brotherly light. Whenever they tell me something, there is this little nagging voice in the back of my mind saying, "Is he telling the truth? You do remember what happened last time you believed him right...?", and that little voice makes things quite difficult. Recently during a phone conversation with my parents, I told them that I've learned that with people here, such as my brothers, I just have to look beyond the trust issue. Yeah, they can be liars and thieves, but it seems that that is almost part of being an adolescent boy here, and it doesn't necessarily make them bad people. I am trying to think in this way, and in many ways my life at home is still OK. I still laugh and joke with my bros, and I expect they feel forgiven. But in other ways, the way I feel about being in this family has been damaged irreparably. I have been brought up by parents who have instilled in me a sense of how important honesty and trust are, and I can never fully feel a part of a family that does not seem to value these traits. Time keeps passing quickly, and I know that I will survive my remaining four months just fine. But there is no denying that my whole being will be filled with relief when I am back with the family that I love and trust completely.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Osei-Mensah Family

Hello Dear Friends and Family,
Well to start with, since this is the first time I have written in 2009, let me wish you all a happy, happy new year! Life here in Sunyani keeps rolling by at a pace that continues to amaze me, and in just a few short days I will be at the five month mark of this journey of mine, almost halfway through already! Today, I am finally going to tell a bit about my crazy and huge family, the Osei-Mensah family.
When talking about my family, one word will always come up. Big. Over the holiday season when all the family had come home, there were over twenty people here, four times the size of my family back home. So to start with, let me just list off the names of everyone in the family. The head of the family is without a doubt my host mom, who's name I believe is Vida, but who we all call Auntie. Although my communication with her is somewhat limited due to me not being able to speak much Twi, and her not being able to speak much English, she still has been a wonderful host mother so far. I mean first off, she has welcomed me into her already crowded house with open arms, which is incredibly generous, and on top of that she feeds me and makes sure I am happy, so I really cannot complain. Her husband, my host father, is named Charles, but everyone calls him Papa. When he is around, he is a man of very few words, so I really haven't gotten to know him at all, but despite that he has been kind to me in his quiet way. They have four children, B.B., who is 23, Nase, who is 21and is away at university much of the time, Mame who is 16, and is away at boarding school much of the time, and Solo, who is 13 and is one of the brother's I share a room with. All four of them are very kind and fun people, and I have enjoyed getting to know them all. All the other numerous people who live at the house are either relatives or just family friends who needed somewhere to live, and I'll quickly just list them all off as well. The guys are Kweku (twenties), Kofi (19ish), Oraku (15), Ben (15), Seth (16), Eminem (19ish), and the girls are Addie (6), Mamia (19), and Angel (2). These are just the regulars who are around most of the time, during the holidays the number balloons, and also occasionally people will just drift in and stay for a few days or a few weeks. Of all my siblings, the ones I have become closest to are Solo, Ben, Oraku and Seth, they definitely have there moments when they drive me crazy, but for the most part they are great, fun company. I also really enjoy spending time with Addie and Angel, they both are great little kids, and it is fun to have young siblings to play and joke with.
Well as you can see by reading all those names, the family is indeed big, quite big, and really it is the size that in many ways has made my family so much fun, and has also made it a bit difficult at times. Let me first explain the good. My relationship with my family is really quite simple. I think that because there is a bit of a language barrier between me and them, and also just because we are so very different because of the places we have grown up, I have not gotten to know the members of my family on an individual basis as much as I might have in say a European country. Because of this, the joy I get from being with them isn't from having deep conversations or from sharing common interests, but from a more simple, ancient thing, the wonderful joy of human interaction. If I were to make a list of things that I enjoy about my home life here, it really would be a very, very short list, and that is not because I don't enjoy life at home, but instead it is because the life I am living is quite simple. The list would look something like this: 1- Spending time with siblings. 2- Eating (sometimes) 3-sleeping (if my brothers don't wake me up constantly). 4- Watching football matches on tv. 5-Sitting outside and reading. And that would be about it. Because there are so few things to in the way of recreation or entertainment, I feel incredibly blessed that I have ended up with such a fun and lively family. The best times I have here are times spent sitting with my brothers and sisters, laughing, joking, horsing around, just being simple people enjoying the profound joy of being together.
Just as the lively environment I love about my family is partly due to its size, the aspects to my family that I don't like as much are also largely due to its size. The first thing that I find difficult is sleep, or more accurately the conditions in which I have to sleep. I love sleep, I absolutely love it, and especially here, after a long day spent sweating under the hot sun, the feeling of laying down and falling asleep is wonderful. Unfortunately however, I share a room with at least four other brothers all the time, and they often make it very difficult for me fall asleep or to stay asleep. Back at home in the U.S., sleep is such a respected thing in my family, and we never wake each other up unless it is urgent, and if we have to go into a room where someone is sleeping we tiptoe and make sure not to disturb that person. Here, sleep doesn't really seem to be an activity that people enjoy all that much, and because of that they, or at least my brothers, have absolutely no respect for people who do enjoy sleeping. As many times as I ask my brothers not to turn the light on, they still have to turn it on whenever they come into the room. Sometimes they'll barge in and bang the door open, and I'll have to get up to close it when they leave, only to have them barge in and out again without closing it. They also have these incredibly annoying cell phones that double as music players, and instead of using headphones they blast their music through the phone's surprisingly powerful speakers. I have been woken up at one in the morning before by these satanic devices, and again I have asked my brothers many times not to play music on them while I am sleeping, but apparently the forget very fast. Basically, they just don't seem to realize, even after I have told them many times, that I like sleeping and would like to do so in peace, and they continue night after night to disturb me despite my pleas. I really only have on other big complaint against my family, well really mostly against my brothers, and that has to do with the area of manners and general politeness. As much as I like my host mom, I really don't feel that she does all that much parenting, and because of this I think my siblings have grown up not knowing really what manners are. For instance, recently I have received several boxes from home, and I have been able to share things with my siblings like chocolate and Kraft Mac N Cheese. Unfortunately though, sharing with them has not been very gratifying because instead of saying, "Gee Wes, thanks so much for this Reese's, I've never had one before its really good!", I instead get, "This is sweet, give me more," and that is not an exaggeration. There are many other small things like this that come up often, sometimes I'll be watching TV and one of them will come and just change the channel without asking me, sometimes while I'm away at school Addie will take my toothpaste and use it and then not put the cap back on so that it spills all over my toiletry bag, basically just lots of small things that result from them never having been taught simple things like saying "please" and "thank you". Other than these annoyances, I am for the most party a very happy guy when I am at home, and I really do feel that I have been incredibly lucky in ending up with such a good family.
Well there ends my first post for this year 2009, I hope it has been successful in telling you all at least a bit about my family.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Photo Update

Many of my host brothers enjoying a bowl of fufu.

A scaly little night time visitor that one of my Brothers nearly stepped on.

My host mother, who we all call "Auntie," with a ball of banku in hand

They were very afraid of people.

Little baby monkey posing for the camera.

What a face!

Monkeys like Bananas, surprise surprise.

These guys were slightly less friendly and stayed up in the trees.

Our Group, Rich, Me, our guide Henry, and Benjamin, A friend of our fellow AFSer Mari, who is taking the picture

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas From Ghana!

Hello My Dear Friends,
Well to start with I would just like to wish you all a merry, merry Christmas, and a prosperous new year. May you all enjoy wonderful times with family and friends, as well as lots and lots of wonderful Christmas food and drink. As I sit here in shorts and t-shirt, and as I look outside and see the hot, hazy Ghanaian air, it is hard for me to believe that today is Christmas eve, and that tomorrow is Christmas. Even though we very rarely have a white Christmas in Bellingham, I still asscociate the holiday season with cool, wet, Pacific Northwest weather, so it is taking a bit of work to convince myself that it really is December 24th, despite my sweaty brow and the palm trees outside. The fact that it is already Christmas also just brings home to me how fast the time has flown by here, I remember when I arrived here Christmas seemed ages away, but now I realize just how fast the past 3 1/2 months have zipped by.
Here in Ghana, Christmas is already here, as they celebrate the holiday for pretty much a whole week surrounding the 25th, the dates differ depending on who you ask. Exactly what they define as celebrating Chirstmas however, is a bit of a mystery to me, because so far here in Sunyani there are virtually no indicators that it is Christmas. From the adds I have seen on TV for Christmas sales in Accra in Kumasi I get the impression that the holiday is at least commercially a bigger deal in those places, but the stores that put those commercials out are not present in Sunyani, and walking the streets here I have seen no Christmas items or sales. I think in Ghana people still take the holiday very literally, a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, so a large part of the celebration is just going to church even more often than usual. So far at my house life goes on mostly as it has for the past months, the only difference being that a few family members who were at boarding school have come home. I have asked my brothers what we do here to celebrate, and it sounds as if the extent of celebration is a nice meal here sometime in the next few days. I think that although people here are not confronted with a financial crisis like many people in the U.S. are right now, they are confronted with the reality of living in a developing country. In a family like mine, feeding twenty people each day is enough of an expense, and I'm sure there isn't money left for gifts and other Christmas activities. I think that in many ways though they have it just right, the whole family is here to celebrate and to enjoy eachothers company and some good food, and really isn't that the most important part of the holiday?
I have now been off from school for a week and will be until January 13th, and really this year that is the best Christmas gift I could have received, almost a month off to relax and travel. A week ago today my fellow AFSer Rich and I took our first trip for the break, a day excursion to a nearby monkey sanctuary. It was a wonderful trip, definitely the most excitement I've had so far in my stay here. Not only did we get to see a ton of lively monkeys, but we also got to enjoy a beautiful 250 year old forest, as well as a couple helter skelter taxi rides. We have two other trips planned for the break, the first being a couple days in Kumasi at the beginning of January, hopefully with a few other AFSers from around the country, and then at the end of January AFS is sponsoring a trip to the Volta region, both should be great fun. Here in Sunyani I have fallen into a very regular routine, a routine that when I first got here I would have deemed incredibly boring, but at this point in my stay I am very content with it. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Rich and I go to town at 8am and buy a wonderful breakfast of an egg sandwich and a mug of wannabe coffee, and then after that we come here to the Internet cafe for an hour. The rest of my week is spent chilling at home, and as boring and lame as that may sound, I have come to enjoy my time with my family immensely. A lot of my time is spent with my brothers bagging sachets of purified water and sugary drinks that my family manufactures, in fact last night I was up til three in the morning with them working, yikes! I also have taken a couple fishing trips with my younger brothers to a nearby muddy little creek, where with sticks and string we caught an amazing amount of palm sized little fish, which despite there size, we of course ate. Other than that, my days really are incredibly lazy, I spend a lot of time sitting out in our yard under a big coconut tree, often with a little grey and white cat in my lap who has become a fast friend. Just sitting does sound boring when you say it, but I have learned to enjoy my time under the tree, sometimes a nice breeze is blowing and I can close my eyes and enjoy its cool touch, or if there is no breeze to enjoy then I can just enjoy time with my little feline friend and I can spend time time contemplating this crazy world around me. Usually around twelve or one I take a nap, then around five I head out for my daily five-ish mile run, and really that is the extent of my daily activities. Boring as my routine may sound, I really am learning to enjoy it. I think perhaps that is another Christmas gift I have received this year, the gift of learning to enjoy small things immensely, I wont deny that I am longing for a good day on the ski slopes right now, but it is valuable to learn that I don't necessarily need that kind of excitement to be happy.
Alright, well as it is Christmas eve, I am sure you all have much better things to do than read my ramblings, so I will cut this email off here. Again, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, I am thinking of you all and wish I could be there with you to celebrate and make merry.
Best Wishes,