Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Monkeys!!!

Wli waterfall

Volta region

Volta region. Can't describe to you where it is because my geography's a little wonky but it seems to me to be in the centre of Ghana.

Woke up at 5:30am as my guide was picking me up at 6 and off we go!! On the 4 hour car journey but there is never a dull moment! With the combination on the road - people with things piled on their head, motorbikes, lorries travelling with people hanging on, tro tros, taxis and the biggest potholes you have ever seen in your life! Now this sounds like excitement enough but then you have to factor in the fact that there only seems to be a minimum speed of 80km/h but at all times you are recommended to be over 100. Also, if you encounter a pot hole on your way or you wish to overtake you may absolutely go on the wrong side of the road or drive at pedestrians so they move out of your way and you can go off road to get to your destination! I actually think driving in Ghana would be the scariest thing ever.

So, anyway first stop was the Wli waterfalls which were amazing. I'll put a picture up so you can see because it's hard to describe a waterfall because its well a waterfall. But next to the waterfall there were hundreds and hundreds of bats and on the 45 minute walk to the falls there were hundreds of butterflies. Well worth going to and amazing falls with everything completely unspoilt.

Next stop, monkey sanctuary!! One of the coolest things I've ever done! I thought sanctuary meant it would be like a monkey house or something but no! You pay for someone to come with you to the forest and they call the monkeys! They are completely friendly and so cute! We took bananas and the guy made kissing noises and within 30 mins of walking they all appeared. I held onto my banana tight and one monkey came up and started peeling it and eating it from my hand. Then one leapt up onto my arm and was just chilling eating on my arm! They were amazing!!

Last stop was a weaving village. This is where they make the traditional woven fabric here (when you see African patterns with all the bright colours this is what I'm talking about). The special fabric they make here in Ghana is kente. The guys from the village learn to weave from the age of 7 which is crazy because the contraptions to weave are incredible! Ad they do it so fast!! It was insane and I took lots of videos so on my return you will all e bored senseless with my many videos and pictures!

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention through my day was lunch! Now up until this point I've tried everything but have been waiting to try the 2 most traditional meals. Fufu and banku. Fufu is pounded cassava. Cassava is like a yam. The best way I can describe it is like a cross between mash and dough. Then you pour soup over it and eat it. Basically, it sounds weird but it's delicious!!!!

And that my friends is all for today! Washed my clothes today which is so exciting standing in the shower with the tap and soap. Apart from that I have had a morning breakfast of mango and life is good.

Until next time! Love you all,

Siwan Emily

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mahmed's village!

So, today it was mahmed's only day off in the week so he asked if I would like to meet his family! Would I like to meet his family? YES PERLEASE!

So Mahmed picked me up from the hotel and we took a cab to his village, Darkuman! Was just down the road but the whole way Mahmed just wanted to warn me that his house wasn't nice. I told him that he should be happy that he lives differently to me and I am here to see how he lives, I don't mind what his house is like!! If you have ever seen pictures of the slums in Africa with huts that have corrugated iron rooves that is exactly where he lives!! Everything so close to each other, the toilet is the inlet that runs through the houses so you see people weeing every 5 mins. We went straight to his house and I met his mam, sister, niece (the gorgeous 4 year old in the picture who held my hand as we walked everywhere), Regina - his sister who I've met before. No matter how much you understand that 12 people live in one of these small huts you honestly can not believe it until you see it with your own eyes. The darkness looking at the beds and lack of space is insane!!

We spent about 5 hours just walking around and meeting all his 'brothers' most of whom are actually cousins and his friends. Delphina, mahmed's niece came round most of the time just holding onto y hand! It was amazing. Then when it got really hot we went for a beer with 2 of mahmed's cousins and they quizzed me all about life in America/UK. They couldn't get over the fact that my mam works and that I came over here on my own. They also want to all marry a white girl but have accepted that's not me as I have a boyfriend. They want me to bring them white girls to marry! Any takers??

Anyway, I've had an amazing day and really was amazing to spend time with his family. It was so touching how much me going there meant to them when really I felt the lucky one. They are so kind and I honestly will care for each and every one of them always. They have such a special place in my heart for looking after me and welcoming me into their family on my first week here.

Love from the white sister here in Ghana,

Siwan Emily
Had a beer with Mahmed and his cousins! Degrapht, joe and Mahmed!

Had a beer with Mahmed and his cousins! Degrapht, joe and Mahmed!

Mahmed's gorgeous niece, Delphina! Held my hand for like an hour walking around. She was amazing

Mahmed's house shared with 10 other family members

Mahmed and me!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My name

So I'm just writing a really short post with 1 very interesting fact. I have been unsure as to why the first time I say my name to people here they laugh. Saying 'Shwa?' as if they didn't quite catch it. Not sure how you spell it but turns out (phonetically) 'shwa' means testicle so everytime I've said my name and with my accent they assume it without the 'N' my name is hilarious!!

So, I've resorted to calling myself Siwannnnaaa. However, I'm very much considering when I move to the school being called Emily instead. Seems like a lot less humiliation! Bit of a laugh for you all!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Breakfast coconut!!

Kwame Nkrumah's tomb

Jamestown. View of the fishing village from the lighthouse

Noodle meal with omelette type thing (Mahmed's cooking)

Typical food (mahmed's cooking)

Settling in!

So, I totally meant to write on here like 2 days ago but charging phones and sitting down to write it without my phone being drained provided a problem.

Since, my last post a lot has happened so here's my shot at remembering everything. I decided to move hotels as I found it was a long way for me to get anywhere and they locked the gates so if I arrived back late there was no guarantee anyone would let me back in. Also, due to its remoteness simply finding food in the evening was difficult. I have since discovered the map on the website is a lie and isn't actually where it is so anyways, I am now in a new place for half the pricein a very buzzing and apparently cool area. Hotel is a little errm primitive but you get what you pay for...about $5! Got a bed and a light and a fan and a bathroom to share with people and bugs that has a cold shower and a toilet and a sink. What more could I ask for?

Since being here I have made a lot of friends. One in particular who now calls me his 'white sister' and calls himself my 'senior brother' because he says he looks after me. His name is Mahmed and we get on amazingly and it's nice to have someone to chat to about missing everyone. I tell him all about my life and he tells me all about his. I tell him all about America and the uk, he tells me about things here including me showing me how to cook Ghanaian food everyday and speaking the language! We have had some amazing chats about families, like our traditions in marriage and children. He is amazed that I have a boyfriend who will never 'want another woman'. He wants to fall in love with a white lady because they are honest with their man and dedicated. In Ghana, traditions of marrying more than one woman are decreasing but still it is very legal and encouraged by the older generations. I have taught him about all sorts in the western world and he makes me great food everyday including goats meat which I actually really like!!

Aside from goats meat and rice I am eating not much else. Things are carbs (rice/noodles) with meat (chicken/goat/beef). Breakfast is amazing as I walk down the street and buy tea-bread from the ladies and coconut from the men from their wheelbarrows. They hack the top off with a massive machete and you drink the middle then they crack it open and you eat the middle! Perfect morning.

In the days I have been around the bar with Mahmed and met his sister, Regina lots of his friends, get on well with his footballer friend maxwell and I like the guys from the hotel, Eric and Emmanuel.

Today though, I went on an exciting adventure and paid a guide to drive me around all the good places in accra (the capital city where I am staying now). WAs amazing but very tiring walking and talking in the heat all day. First went to acts centre which is a market where all things touristy is sold. Then went to the Kwame Nkrumah memorial park whih was amazing as he was the first president and I learnt all about his life including he went to prison, went to uni in Pennsylvania and was the president in power when Ghana gained independence. Then went to Jamestown! Which is amazing but shocking. It is the oldest and poorest town in accra. Saw the old slave fort and lighthouse but the amazing bit was going into the town. A local took us in to 'meet his people'. It's a fishing village so the first thing that hits you is the smell. The second is the flies and the third is the insane amount of people! Naked children, men with different shoes, women who can't walk properly because they have been carrying a baby on their back and a bucket on their head their whole lives. But I got to see their homes and they are so welcoming and kind. Then, came the best bit. Welcome to Jamestown school. These gorgeous kids were sat there shovelling food into their mouth with their hand but staring at me smiling at the same time. The school conditions are very similar to those i'll be working in with just 3 classrooms of wooden benches, very cramped. They have to teach the kids here when they can as if they are educated until 12 they can get into the government provided high school which is so important! All the teachers there are volunteers from the village who don't earn any money so rely on families giving them food and food for the children at school. Seeing their faces and their hard work was the best part of my day. Finally, we went to kokrobite beach. But after the experience at the school no beach was exciting!!

Spent this evening, chilling with Mahmed. Had some noodles and egg which had a name but I forgot!!

Anyway, I'm very tired and I've bored you all senseless with my very detail. Sorry it's so long! I will write more often hopefully so that they aren't so long but since none of the sockets work in my room it's a pain to use all battery or stand in te corridor to charge my phone!

Thank you for all your messages/emails!
I am trying to reply to all but it's really nice to hear from you so email me if you have a sec (siwan1994@gmail.com)

Love to all,

Siwan Emily

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 1

After a nightmare journey lasting 24 hours I successfully arrived in Ghana at 7 this morning and arrived at the hostel. I was pleased to hear that they had run out of water...welcome to Ghana!! So decided to get myself in some cool clothes since it is soooo humid! Then, I got my first taste of how fantastic Ghanaian people are. I asked the best way for me to get a SIM card for my phone. Right away, I was walked to the tro tro (minibus that fits as many people as possible on). Then when reaching my destination, the gentleman couldn't get me a SIM card for my iPhone so paid for my tro tro and came with me to the mall. If I can say ANY first impression of Ghana it's that Ghanaians will go to any length to make sure you're ok and happy. Happiness is why this country is magic.
I am already in love with the people here and am shocked by the happiness considering the poverty. I can't imagine I've seen anything yet as it is only my first day yet I'm shocked by the happiness people show even when they're coming our of their shack for a home.
I'm now in the local drinking a local beer which is fantastic and watching the Africa cup of nations football with the locals! I couldn't ask for more.
Will update quite a lot in the next 2 weeks as am exploring alone so am making he most of it! Keep checking on here! And lastly I want to say thank you to the most amazing family and boyfriend, in the last 2 days I've been through probably some of the hardest times I'll ever have and your support has reassured me that I'll be fine and I'm doing the right thing. Right, enough of the emotion.
I love you all,

Siwan Emily

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

6 days to take off!

So, as I have promised many of my friends and family, here is the blog which I will be updating regularly to let you know how everything is going while I am in Ghana and what I am up to. Also, depending on my internet situation out there, I will be able to upload some pictures since I know you are all going to be missing my face oh so much!! Also would be great if you guys all commented/emailed to let me know what you're all up to in the UK/Canada/US since as much as I hate to admit it, I am going to miss you all!

I'm just in Cardiff with 6 days to go until I fly out (Monday 21st is the magic day). It's starting to get very exciting and I just want to get on the plane now!

Love to you all,

Siwan Emily