Work and Play: The aftermath, dressing to impress and the magical cure to killer phones
After the removal of all the PC vols from the area, a countdown of just over a month before the Danish Health Workers leave and a few weeks before the National Volunteers come to the end of their placements I was feeling a little down. How do you cheer yourself up when you're feeling down? Three things; watch a lot of 'True Blood' my new guilty pleasure. (Sex, violence, vampires and ware-panthers, how could that not fail to be amazing!), go to a birthday party where we cooked half a warthog and in the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, 'There's only one thing a man can do when he's suffering from an spiritual and existential funk! Buy new suits!' (As no one actually wears suits up here I just got some shirts made by a local tailor using two sets of material that I had bought but not got around to doing anything with). Oh and I thought that I would grow a beard from good measure for a few weeks, just to see what it looks like.
Because you have a lot more time to yourself when you live alone and have a very relaxed work schedule I have been able to read loads (I used to read around 4 books a year, mainly during the summer holidays, I now read about 4 a month). Before I left for my birthday I got a selection of Amazon vouchers that I used to load my kindle with a variety of reading material and because of the small download size of books I can just about get the odd one while I am here, hence how I have managed to read the '50 Shades' Trilogy. (By the third book was so tired of the mindboggling descriptions of all the kinky shagging and the constant use of 'sex' as a noun, biting lips, smouldering eyes, I could go on for hours, that I skimmed to the important bits, which amounted to about 19 pages of a rather weak kidnapping plot). I try to keep my book reading to a specific order. I read a trashy murder/crime/law book (James Patterson, Michael Crichton, John Grisham), then a child/teenage fiction book (I still think some of the most exciting/interesting books on the shelves in bookstores fall under this category) and then an adult book (my dad gave me a large selection of ideas before I left) and I occasionally throw in a autobiography to mix things up (read 'Catch Me If You Can' it is soo much better than the film, some of the stuff he pulled off was spectacular!). Although I will admit I am slightly behind on my grown up adult books.
Because reading all the time is rather tiring most volunteers carry an external hard drive around with them when they go to visit other volunteers to exchange films and more importantly TV shows. This means I can finally watch things like 'The West Wing' which has been sitting on my DVD shelf at home for over a year. This has also led to a couple of interesting finds, mainly due to recommendations from some of the Americans. As I said earlier, I have been 'getting my teeth into (boom!)' True blood which constantly surprised me with how they unashamedly push the boundaries (for example, in the most recent series I have watched a main male character is kidnapped by a bunch of meth addicted ware-panthers who handcuff him to a bed, turn into panthers, savage him so he has the ability to 'turn' into one, feed him Viagra under the pretence of medicine and every female takes turns to help carry on the family/panther line before he escapes and his best friends girlfriend saves his life by feeding him her blood (she's a vamp) which leads to him having bizarre sex dreams about her and so he rugby tackles her into her house to save her from being killed by a curse-welding 16th century witch whose coven was ravaged by vampire cardinals during the Spanish Inquisition and burnt at the stake and has now possessed another woman to take her revenge. (Try saying that whole sentence without taking a breath!). That is only one plot point of the first three episodes and I have not even got into the whole shape shifter/werewolf/mindreading fairy/vampire king dynamic and don't even get me started on moving a main character to New Orleans to become a cage fighting lesbian for no apparent reason (except for the excuse to have two very attractive girls beating each other up then going to bed together for a few episodes.....oh I see now!). So bonkers that you can't help but love it!
Next up, 'Breaking Bad', a programme about a chemistry teacher who after getting diagnosed with terminal cancer becomes a meth dealer to make some money for his family!
So after a few days of wallowing in 'True Blood' it was time to go party! It was Celia's (Danish Health worker) birthday. I splashed out on a bottle of rośe (from the Total Garage station, the finest/only place to buy wine in a bottle in Tumu) as a birthday present, put on a shirt and headed over. I was greeted by what can only be described as a very chaotic, but very ambitious kitchen. 7 kg of bush meat (some sort of warthog) was partially defrosting in the corner (they had bought it off the watchman's hunter friend a few weeks before) and an array of dips, vegetables, sauces, plantain and yam chips and a whole host of other things too wonderful to describe. Having now been to three feasts at their house, I have twice forgotten my camera and once had it but it was out of batteries. I promise to get photos of their leaving party as food at theirs has to be seen to be believed.
It was all very stereotyped. The men grabbed a beer and when and barbecued the meat and discussed manly things, while the women stayed in the kitchen sorting out everything else. The meal was brilliant and it was nice to be around such a nice group of people. The birthday girl had water poured over her (I am not sure if it was because it was a Ghanaian tradition or just for banter!), we drank a lot of peach schnapps (the rugged 40% Danish kind, not the 16% stuff teenagers mix with lemonade on a park bench on a Saturday night.) and yelled 'Skull' lots. (Think it means drink in Danish, might be where the expression 'skulling' your drink comes from). We even tried the rośe which was......ok. Definitely better then the box wine but three times as expensive. The jury will have to stay out on that one. Not sure if it beat 'The Baron' (our last bottle from there that was red and called 'Baron Romero'). As it was a school night I excused myself and went home before midnight to very pleasant dreams.
The final thing that happened last week was a little sad. Two men turned up at the office to give a speech about the danger of mobile phones. They had already been to hospital as the Erasumus and Celia had told me about them. They claimed that mobile phones gave you radiation poisoning, could give you cancer and even having it on vibration in your pocket could make you infertile. All very similar to the stories floating around England about 8 years ago They used lots a very scientific words and had come from very respected sources. They were being funded by a Reverent from Finland.
They claimed that if you brought their product (a sticker type thing that goes in your battery pack) that within 30 seconds it would remove all the radiation from your body and it would keep you safe for 10 years. They gave some practical 'demonstations' and answered all of the quiries (including mine) with claims of corruption in telephone companies/government or fancy medical talk.
Ghanaians in general take two things very seriously. Religion and health. If someone official looking tells them about a how their health is in jepody they will listen. Ghanaians are also trusting almost to a fault, despite quite a few agreeing with my arguments it was an interesting to see the pack mentality and even though they wanted to believe me the ingrained instinct to protect themselves and their family from something dangerous that they do not fully understand won out. I completly understand why. Most people at somepoint in their lives buy something or take something despite no actual proof on the contray but it saddened me that this group of people would be going town to town charging 7 cedis for their product, taking advantage of peoples goodwill and praying on their fears.
Right, I refuse to end the second blog in a row in such a downbeat way. I am sitting here in my first locally made Ghanaian shirt (will get a picture up) sporting a spectacular beard (which is worryingly flecked with a surprising amount of grey!) and I have just found out the the Presedent of Ghana has just died (slight panic in the office!). So to finish on a slightly more exciting note I will attach part of another blog/collection of bits and bobs I started writing a few weeks ago and only just remembered called:
Fascinating facts, tantalising titbits, interesting ideas, curious coincidences, amazing answers, glorious gossip, quirky quotes, boisterous banter and mysterious musings about my time in Ghana so far.
1. Ghanaians will go to great lengths to get a laugh, often using children/babies to get the desired effect, hence yesterday a member of staff running into my office putting a baby on my table and saying 'she's yours now!!' and running out to much laughter,
2. You want to watch a football match in a town you don't really know head to the eggs and bread and tea place, grab a massive cup and watch England be crap at penalties,
3. To borrow a projector (or any variety of minor tasks) involves two letters, 4 signatures and 3 hours of waiting around,
4. Mango goes in almost anything,
5. So does groundnut paste,
6. Nigerian films are shown on buses during travel and are amazing and although they often have some rather odd morals they also have magic! The last one I saw was about a gang war at university between two gangs run by Nigerian midgets who happened to be wizards. Almost everyone died after some spell casting, girlfriend stealing and soul searching but that did not stop there being an advert for parts 2 and 3 where apparently they come back to life for no apparent reason at all,
7. The hair on the top of my head grows slower than the rest of the hair on my head. Am convinced that this is due to the harsh weather conditions and nothing whatsoever to do with premature balding....
8. I am not very good at skipping,
9. Local missionaries wash their fruit and vegetables in bleach, I give a token wash under the unfiltered water in the tap,
10. Turns out the vegetables that I buy are grown in raw sewage,
11. Living opposite the fire station makes me want to be a fireman,
12. I have still not seen a honey badger but I am constantly vigilant against the threat they carry. Sometimes when I walk home at night I can feel them stalking me, like a tiger, but more dangerous.
Ps the photo that I chose for this blog has nothing to do with it, just a fun photo of my improvised waterproof jacket in Bolga. Surprisingly it was not very successful at keeping the rain off!!!
Useful bit of information: As you may have realised by now, blog writing and picture posting is a little sporadic and unless you keep an eye on facebook you do not know when I have updated. I have just discovered that you can subscribe to updates! It's not easy to find but if you click on the 'blogs' tab a new page comes up and in the top right, underneath the tab 'messages' and the title (To me, Tumu) there is a little box which says subscribe. If you click it you can put in your email address and you get convenient updates!
Hope you enjoyed these last two blogs! Comments always welcome.
PS its my birthday on the 16th which means if you want to send me a card/present you have to get your arse down to the post office pronto!
Address for anyone who has forgotten is:
PO Box 18,
Upper West Region,