Hello everyone! This might end up being a really long post, because it is my first opportunity to update the blog since I arrived in Accra.
Everyone in my AFS group is really cool, and I have already made good friends. We stayed in a hostel the first couple of nights so we could go through some more orientation before meeting our host families, and we pretty much terrorized the place. Staying up until 4 am playing truth or dare and breaking into each other's rooms and braiding hair. It is nice to have some other Americans as a distraction from being homesick.
So I have been here something like 4 days and I am already practically a TV star from Ghana. On the first evening we all went to the induction ceremony of the new president of AFS Ghana and a reporter interviewed Garrett and me for television (both of us are from the Seattle area so that was pretty cool). It was pretty embarrassing because I was all sweaty, tired, nasty and couldn't hear the reporter since it was so loud, but I made it thru. It's cool how I have never once been on TV in the States and within like 12 hours I was on TV in Ghana. Speaking of arriving in Ghana... this is probably the most welcoming place in the entire world. The first thing we see getting off the plane is this huge sign in Ghanaian colours that says "Akwaaba!" which means welcome, and is the only word of Twi that I remember. That is kind of unfortunate because my host family basically speaks Twi all of the time, but I don't really have a problem with just trying to guess what they're talking about (hopefully not about me =P).
Back to the ceremony/event type of thing, after being there for an hour I found myself in a conga line with a bunch of Ghanaian homies. We moved and grooved to some local tunes, which I have to say are really legit. Then we broke out the American-style dancing and pretty much took the place over. Another interesting thing that happened was I went to the drink table (they always have people whose specific role are to give you food and drink) and recognized nothing, so I asked the dude for a recommendation. He definitely gave me a beer, which I carried around awkwardly for awhile until I found somewhere to set it. Ha ha.
Second day they took us into the city where we toured the University of Ghana (this probably rivals the most gorgeous American campuses in its beauty; everything is so beautiful here). Then we had a lesson in taking the tro tro. Tro tros are kind of like buses, except they are actually huge minivans that seat like 6 rows of people. They are really really crowed, but cheap, and kind of fun in my opinion. I end up talking to people who are interested just because I'm white. They call white people "Obruni!" and I get yelled that whenever I walk anywhere. Obruni, obruni, this shirt is your size! Hey, it's nice getting so much attention.
Thursday we kind of chilled out until we were taken to our host families. I am pretty sure I haven't even met everyone here yet. This is such a huge and wonderful extended family. They are really treating me like a guest of the highest order, although today they allowed me to help sort some pastries. PS I have never had food this good in my entire life. My family likes to cook with ginger (SCORE!!!) and not much garlic (DOUBLE SCORE). My host mother Nancy asked me on the first night what I would take for breakfast. I was like... I'll have whatever you all normally have. But she would not take this for an answer. So I reluctantly admitted that I like to have a coffee as breakfast. In the morning after my bucket shower, I went to the dining area where a platter with like half a loaf of bread, a plate of eggs, an entire hot water pitcher, can of instant coffee, and jar of condensed milk (they use this instead of cream) awaited me. Seriously, I think that was a little excessive.
Yesterday we all met up at the AFS office again and swapped host family stories - one girl has 5 host brothers in her 30's and no host parents and felt really uncomfortable - and went to the Kwame Nkrumah national monument and the National Museum of Ghana, both were really cool. While we were waiting around for everyone I bought a mango from a street vendor, specifically she was carrying them on her head, which is probably the coolest thing ever. The mango cost 40 cents (!!!) and she cut of the skin and cut it into pieces. I held the little bag for her and I even got a toothpick. It was a pretty sweet setup, and also a pretty sweet mango, probably the best I have ever had.
At the Kwame Nkrumah monument I was just chilling outside the bathrooms with my friend Kerry (we both say 'hella' like every other word, so we were instant friends) and a Ghanaian man came up to us and was like, hello good morning how are you! I need to take your picture! We looked at each other and shrugged and were like... okay. So his friend took a pic of him posing with us and then another one once he like changed his shirt. I wonder if it was for some kind of scavenger hunt or something. We wanted to get a picture on Kerry's camera too but the bus almost left without us.
Speaking of weather... which I wasn't talking about at all, it is not as hot here as I expected, but it is pretty freaking humid, as in, I feel like I am wiping my face off ever 10 seconds. Especially on the tro tro when you are crammed next to everyone, you get up and the sides of your clothes feel damp. One of my host brothers told me that it's like somewhat cold here right now. ?!?! Seriously, I have already wiped my face 3 times since the beginning of this paragraph.
Tomorrow I will probably go to church, and Monday is our first day at the orphanage, I am sure this will all yield some good stories to tell, so I will shoot for updating the blog again after that. I don't think there is any way I could have covered everything, so feel free to post with your questions/comments and I will try to answer all of them next time. Also tell me how things are back in the states! I am very curious. I see that we have an all-Williams Wimbledon final coming up... so go Venus! And happy Independence Day of course (my host brother today: *looks at calendar* 'Happy belated independence day!'). I miss you all tons and talk to you soon!