Friday, 2 April 2010

Day Light Saving and Slimy Fish Stew

Sun 28th March 2010

My alarm goes off and I get straight up, that £30 at least resulted in a good night’s sleep! I said I would be at George and Joyce’s house for 7.45 so I leave at 7.30 and take a leisurely stroll up the road. It’s a lovely lazy Sunday morning; women are brushing their children’s hair by the side of the road and they are dressing in their Sunday best for church. I arrive at the house and I am surprised that no one is around, perhaps they have overslept, I call out Grace’s name quite quietly just in case I wake anyone not going to church! Joyce comes to the door just as I look at my watch and see that I am an hour early. The clocks in the UK went forward last night and my UK phone is also my alarm clock so when it went off this morning at 6.30am it was in actual fact 5.30am Ghana time. I laugh and try to explain this to Joyce, apologise profusely and tell her I will come back in an hour. At least I get to do that walk again.

Back at the hotel I ask if I can have some coffee and I sit down to do some work. My coffee is taking ages so I remind the waitress and am told that it is just coming. I wait for a bit longer and a bit longer and just as I am thinking I will have to leave it as it’s now time to go back to the house, a waitress arrives with a tray of coffee, toast, eggs and fruit! Obviously when I asked for coffee she thought I wanted an entire breakfast. It looks lovely and I don’t want to cause offense so I eat it as quickly as I can without appearing gluttonous and head off to the house, now I’m going to be late! Luckily everyone else in the house is running late, we have more coffee and laugh about the fact that I was an hour early and then 10 minutes late. Jason left early this morning to arrange for the second container and crane to come up from Accra, it’s getting very exciting and I wish I could stick around to see the whole thing come together but Jason has promised to take plenty of photos! Grace, Joyce, George and I talk about where we go from here with the project. I will write a report and have a think about how we can apply a little more strategy to the project, I am sure there will be scope for us to partner some way in the future. I will see Grace when she is in Accra next Tuesday, we agree to have dinner at the posh Sushi place that I have been desperate to try. I have to get to Ho today and Sammy is coming for me at 10am so I say my goodbyes and head off.

Sammy is early so we hit the road and head to Ho. Next stop, Madventurers projects in and around the villages of the Volta region. My good friend and Madventurer Founder, John Lawler has arranged for me to stay at their volunteer house just outside of town. Gideon, Madventurer Ghana Manager, comes to meet Sammy and I in his car and we follow him to the house. When I get there I am introduced to two other members of the MAD team, Courage (who is Gideon’s right hand man) and George (who mainly just helps out when not at Uni in Accra). Gideon tells me there are 3 volunteers here at the moment but 2 of them are out. I introduce myself to the one volunteer in the house and find out that she just arrived and her name is Fuzzy , she is here for 6 weeks, her friend is also volunteering but went to church this morning as it’s Palm Sunday .

Gideon says we will have lunch before Sammy has to head back to Accra. I’m so relived because I am really hungry. Lunch is Banku (fermented corn/cassava dough) with Okra and Fish stew, I hate to say it but for the first time, I really can’t eat it. I try and eat some but there are so many fish heads and scales and tails and it’s so slimy that despite my ravenous hunger I really can’t eat much at all. Because of the fermentation process the banku just tastes like off milk and it’s not really going down very well. I just wash it down with a bag of pure water and try not to let on to the guys that I am not a fan!

We finish eating, I use the internet, update my blog and Gideon, George and I head to Shia village to see the very first Madventurer (MAD) project and meet the man who worked with John back in 1998 when he first lived in Ghana. John is a Chief of this village due to all the work that he and MAD have achieved there. I look at various different school buildings that have been put up by MAD and I am told what the plans are for the summer volunteer group. COCO has worked with MAD in the past mainly on projects in Tanzania and I hope we can do something similar in Ghana. MAD’s speciality is getting buildings up and functioning and we’d like to work alongside on the long term development objectives. This visit gives me a good idea of what they have achieved so far and how they operate in country.

There’s a football match going on in the village, the away team are from across the border in Togo which is very close by, in fact we can see the border from one of the schools. The football match has attracted lots of villagers on this lazy Sunday and there’s a real feel of community in the village. After a thorough examination of all the buildings and getting the low down on development plans for the summer, we head back to Ho.

Gideon tells me he will take me out for dinner as I didn’t like the fish stew (obviously I didn’t hide it very well) but I am so relieved! We get back to the house and all 3 volunteers are there, we have a quick chat and I get a quick much needed bucket shower, there’s no running water at the house at the moment. Gideon, George, Courage and I venture out to town and I order chicken and rice (nice and safe after the adventurous lunch). Gideon quizzes me about COCO and we chat about just about everything!

Back to the house, I talk to the girls about volunteering; I tell them all about COCO and then turn in. I wake up in the middle of the night because there is a huge storm and the rain is spitting at me through the open window! It’s really refreshing in the heat of the night so I don’t bother to close it and just throw the sheet over my head and go back to sleep.

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