Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Adventures Schedule

Here is my grand adventure plan for those of you who are curious:

April 22nd-24th: Elmina Castle, Nzuelzo Stilt Village

April 25th-27th: Study for and then take Culture, Gender, and Reproductive Health final exam

April 28th-May 1st: Togo and Benin (w/ Clara and Kristin and Sarah)

May 2nd-4th: Study for and then take Regionalism and Ethnicity in Ghana final exam

May 5th-10th: Burkina Faso, Crocodile Sanctuary, Hippopotamus Sanctuary

May 11th-May 13th: Study for and then take Human Rights in Africa final exam

May 14th-May 16th: Study for and then take Penology final exam

May 17th: Be baffled as to of how my time is already gone, spend one more day at the beach, pack

May 18th: Worry and panic about not enough suitcase room, desperately rearrange things in the hopes to make them fit better. 10:30 p.m. take off for Heathrow Airport

May 19th: Arrive in Heathrow at 6:30 a.m. entirely confused, find chocolate, wait for next plane. 11:30 a.m. board plane, fly to O'Hare. Arrive at O'Hare having lost 5 hours somewhere along the way. Make it through customs, find Clara's parents, cry and hug them ecstatically. 2:30 p.m. hop in the car, head to Saint Paul. 9:30 p.m. arrive at home, repeat crying and hugging ecstatically, take a hot shower, go to bed.

So there you have it, the next month of my life. The last two days are particularly well planned out, haha. Today is April 18th, which means exactly on month to go until I leave for home, so crazy!! And I'm quite sure time is going to fly with all these trips! Also, if you were going to send me mail, you should send it now or not at all. Anytime past this week, it probably won't get to me before I leave. Feel free to send e-mails instead! :) I miss you all and hope you're having as much fun as me! :)

The president of Ghana, waterfalls, and monkeys

What a great weekend! This weekend was the last of our four CIEE trips and I think it was probably my favorite one. We went to the Volta Region, where I hadn't been yet, and went to Wli Waterfalls and a mokey sanctuary! I also saw the president of Ghana, John Atta Mills, purely by chance, but it was so cool! The hotel we stayed at was having a shopping mall of sorts constructed by it and Mills is really big on developing Ghana, so he came out to give a short speech about how important this progress was. Security didn't let us get to close to him, but he drove past in his motorcade and waved to the few of us who were outside, it was awesome! I have now seen in person, the president of my home country and the president of my temporarily home country. I'm pretty impressed with myself. :)

Saturday afternoon we had an early lunch at the hotel and then we drove about two hours to Wli falls. We had a 45 minute hike through the jungle which meant a break from the sun, but holey moley the humidity was crazy! The forest was so green and gorgeous, but it was hard to see everything, because a lot of time was spent making sure I didn't fall on my face since the path was pretty rough. There were some people doing the walk in flip-flops and I'm surprised no one broke an ankle, I was pretty thankful for my Merrell's and for my dad being smart enough to make me get some. By the time we reached the falls I was pretty sweaty, but my problem was conveniently solved by the 60 meter high waterfall that I got to swim into! The water was a little chilly, but not much worse than any MN water in late May, I think most people were just babies. It was so cool to swim under the actual waterfall, and then we went behind it and looked up from there and that was amazing! It was something of an uncomfortable walk back with a wet bathing suit, but it was so worth it for the falls! I have some cool pictures, but you all will have to wait for those until May. And someone on the trip has a picture of me in the falls, so there is proof! Dinner was back at the hotel, and afterwards some of us went for a night time swim, which was almost as good as the falls, haha. Night time is never all that cold (at least not for me) so it was great to have warm air around me and a cold pool to swim around in. Plus, it was night time, no worries of sun burn for me, woo-hoo! I enjoyed an amazing hot shower and then slept in an air conditioned room, sooooo nice!

Sunday morning was a breakfast of beans, toast, eggs, and steamed lettuce (pretty common around here) and then we were off to Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary. These monkeys are pretty used to tourists and they're calm, so we got to feed them! They came up so close to us and really happily grabbed the bananas and ate from our hands. It was great to see them up so close and their jumping abilities are pretty impressive. I fed one monkey who happily sat by me while eating, and then another mama monkey who had a tiny baby monkey attached to her. Pretty sure it was one of the cutest things I have ever seen! Again, there are pictures, but you will have to wait until I am home.

Between swimming in a waterfall and feeding monkeys, I had a very African experience weekend. Which is good, it reminds me of why I choose to come to Ghana and not a more developed or more like America country. Of course, when I got back, the water was out all over my dorm, and I was back to wondering why not England or Ireland, haha.

I got my Visa for Togo last Thursday, and on Tuesday I am getting one for Benin, so that trip should be good to go! Also, this Wednesday I leave for Elmina Castle and a stilt village. Elmina Castle is in Cape Coast, where I have been before, but my tour of Cape Coast Castle was kind of a let down, so I'm going to try again with Elmina this time. From there we take off to Nzuelzo stilt village and hopefully this will go better than the planned trip we were supposed to go on, that never happened, when at 4:00 in the morning, there was still no bus. We come back Saturday and then I'll study like crazy for my first exam on Monday. It's crazy to think how soon those are happening! EEK! I've got all sorts of trips planned out for the next few weeks, but I will save your eyes, and put those in another post.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Still Alive

Hello All!

Sorry for not being better about posting, but the internet has been particularly slow these past few weeks, so getting blgoger to work is always a challenge.

The past two weeks or so have been filled with different things. I purchased fabric a ways back and was finally able to have clothesm madfe with it. I found a great (and cheap) seamstress who is incredibly nice and does really good work, so I'm very pleased with my clothes. I've been to the beach a few times (don't worry Mom, always with sunscreen). Last weekend I toured a prison in Nsawma (a small town outside of Accra) which was quite interesting. 5 men live in a cell that's about 1/4 the size of an average college dorm room. There is no shade anywhere and there is always noise. I recommend never doing anything illegal to anyone who comes to Ghana. This past weekend was Easter, which means all of last week and this past weekend was filled with church services. My one suitemate can't believe that I had no plans to go to chuch at all. I went to Palm Sunday service and that was enough for me. Clara (one of the girls on the trip with me) went to Easter service with her host family and it was 7 hours long! Needless to say, I'm ok with having not experienced that. For easter itself, Clara and I went to Gail and Stu's (the folks who work for the Embassy) and that was really nice! We met three of their friends and had delicious turkey and salads and lemon merengue, yum! We also got to sleep there, which means air-conditioning and real blankets, woo-hoo!

This is the last week of classes here, although three of my four are already done. Two classes ended two weeks ago, and one class ended last week. So I just have the one class today and then I am done! Next week is revision week, and then exams begin for three weeks. It's weird to think that I am done with classes here, I kind of feel as if we're just now starting to learn things.

Planning for my different trips is starting. I'm hoping to make it to Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, and then a few different places within Ghana. Once I know my travel schedule I'll keep you all updated! I have a feeling that my last three weeks here are going to go pretty quickly, because I'll either be studying, taking a final, or traveling. So I will spend the next two weeks getting ready for all that.

This time in exactly 5 weeks, I will be boarding a plane in Heathrow headed to O'Hare, this is crazy! While I love being here, I will definitely be glad to be headed home, but I'm glad I've still got lots of travel time to go!

Happy Tuesday!