Friday, May 31, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Not long to go!

So it's official, I have been in this country for 4 months 1 week and 1 day. It's a really long time!! Can't believe it's gone so fast yet also feels like I've been here ages!! 

The last week hasn't had too much excitement. Had a long weekend for African Union Day so we went to a beautiful beach - Busua to celebrate my birthday with Tom, Michael, Georgia, Chloe, Kirsten and me. Was really good and included rather a lot of alcohol consumed and swimming in the sea for about 10 hours in total over the whole weekend. Couldn't have asked for more for a birthday in Ghana to be fair. 

This weekend we are at home as it is our host's mother's funeral. She is the lady who died the day we arrived. This weekend is her official burial and funeral which lasts 3 days starting tomorrow (best way to celebrate in Ghana so quite pleased that's what we'll be doing for my birthday!!). Will post lots of pics and things so you can see how amazing funerals are here when they're in full flow and the outfit we've had to have made for the funeral. Is actually going to be quite beautiful but can't be sure whether I think it is for real or just because it is here. You can all let me know! 

Off to go and get some watermelon before it runs out. 

Be back on this weekend 

Siwan Emily 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Me and Kirsten laughing very immaturely at a spelling mistake 
Stephen being a bucket head. We got a bit bored fetching water
One of the ducks had ducklings!! 
Sleeping at lunch. She had just puked to be fair. There's no such thing as staying home because you're ill. 
Kirsten eats an orange, Afia has a sofa
Casual sleep at lunch...on a desk

Revelations and interviews

This week has had quite a lot of excitement. Monday began with the norm and then I was asked to take part in the interviews as we are hiring two new teachers (2 got fired for not teaching when they promised to during the vacation). So, myself and 3 other teachers sat in the interviews. They were...interesting to say the least. Saw 8 teachers. I will just summarise by giving you some examples of things that were said: 

"What will you do if you fall in love with a student or would like relations of some romantic nature?" (Our students only go up to about 16!) 

"What did you take at high school?"
"What would you like to teach?" 
"How do you say 'hello' in French?"
"Ok, right. Give an example of how you would teach something like since you know catering, fried rice"
"Cook the rice, fry the rice" 
"When did you complete high school" 

"Why do you want to be a teacher?" 
"I think caning is good"

"If Madam Siwan here would like to begin a relationship with you, what would you do?" (SORRY WHATTTTT???? How is that a question for a job interview) 

"Why are you here?"
"I would like vacancy teacher announcement job to learn English" (teach...?)

Most of the interview was based around their romantic lives and their inability to teach anything. Not one person had any education after high school and they were all under 21. Most had finished high school this week! Was in shock!

So, we hired the best of the bunch. One of which is Derek maybe spelt Derrick I'm not sure. He, leads me to the revelation of the week. The eldest sibling in our family, Sylvester who is 15 we found out is actually an orphan and was adopted into the family when he was 4 as his parents died. We always thought he was one of theirs. Derek/Derrick is his brother! He was adopted by our host father's older brother and has just completed senior high school. The family just keeps growing! 

Off to Busua this weekend, a beautiful beach to celebrate my birthday..Yayyy!! I'm almost old! And we've got Monday off so a fab long weekend. 

Laters gaters, 

Siwan Emily x

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Our matrix funeral outfit we were given!! 
Funeral that I danced at
Butra beach

Not long left!

Last 2 weeks have been a relatively relaxing fortnight. Had a weekend at home where we attended another funeral which was great fun as just did lots of dancing and in fact danced in front of the whole funeral (like 300 people) just Kirsten, our host mam, 2 pro dancers and me...awkward but so much fun!

This past weekend we went to visit the bestie (Georgia) in Takoradi for one night and then we went to a place called Butra along the coast for the second night. Was just hoping for an alright hotel near the beach (as long as I got to have a running water shower i was very happy!). We got off the trotro and got in a taxi to our hotel, Hideout Lodge. After a 45 min taxi ride down some off road roads we arrived at this very poor village and thought oh dear, our cheap hotel could be a nightmare but we were directed to walk a little and onto the beach then keep walking along the beach and we'd find it. Well as you will see on the picture, the beach was incredible and absolutely no one on it! The view was beautiful and the beach was amazing. So, we trudged along the beach wondering what the hotel was going to be like after that surprise and the hotel is made up of lots of little huts, all different colours and some...are treehouses!! So, we inquire as to the price of a treehouse to which the man says it is 50 cedis (20 quid) and there are 5 of us. Only 4 beds so me and Georgia share..but we're sleeping in a treehouse!! Next to the beach!! So close we can hear the sea so loud we have to shout a little!! 

We spent the evening chilling and listening to one of the guys from the hotel drumming literally for us as there was no one else at the hotel but 2 couples and they were taking romantic strolls down the beach (bitter and jealous, yes I was a little). Then, off to bed and no one felt like sleeping so we were all awake till like 3 in the morning and then after finally going to sleep we were awoken again at 5 by the biggest tropical storm ever!! Seriously!! No exaggeration, the tree was rocking from side to side...with us in it, then the roof started leaking on Kirsten which gave me the giggles and we couldn't hear anything with the rain and the sea being so loud but still managed to get back to sleep! 

Sunday, we went back home and had some well needed rest. 

This week, we do not have much planned and then we are off to Cape Coast this weekend for a volunteer reunion of all the volunteers as we haven't seen each other since the beginning and some have left recently. Numbers are slowly decreasing! 

Back on soon and not long till I'm home now! Very final leg! 


Siwan Emily 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Long time no blog!!


Firstly, I apologise for my long absence on the blog! I hope to explain in this very long post and update you on all that has happened. I only have limited time at this internet cafe and the keyboard is a little odd so I will be rushing and will probably make a ton of spelling mistakes so I apologise in advance!!

First things first, I will explain why I haven't been able to update in a while. About a month ago (when I disappeared and stopped updating) we went to Accra for the weekend to do some touristy stuff and visit Tom and Michael's placement which is in a village in the outskirts of Accra. To cut a long story short, on the journey to their placement we had to take several trotros and some way or another I lost my phone... We called it immediately as I realised and a man had it so I assumed it wasn't stolen from me. He told us to meet him at this roundabout which was about 10 mins away but when we got there he never answered the phone again and since that roundabout is the best and pretty much the only place you can buy iPhones in the whole of Ghana I am pretty sure he realised the benefit of just selling it... If you whatsapp me now, you are likely to get a Vietnamese reply saying he does not speak English but at least I am now aware a Vietnamese guy has my phone! I now have a Nokia with internet so if you want me back on whatsapp add my new number which is +233547796826 and you should be able to get hold of me on there again.

I just got back on Saturday from our vacation! So, I will now proceed to try and tell you all that we did over the 2 and a half weeks. We began the holiday with a visit from other volunteers, Mia and Janice which was fab! They live in Takoradi which is a reasonably big city with loads of expats and started their holiday earlier than us so came to stay for 5 days. It was nice to show them how insanely different our lives are from theirs in the city where they can find most Western food and luxuries close by and we can't. Also they experienced the great bucket shower and a toilet which is essentially a pit. Janice resisted going because she couldn't cope with all the flies that fly out when you lift the lid. We have become quite fond of what we call our faeces flies.

We then went to Otinibi to stay with Tom and Michael until they had finished school and Georgia would join us in order to complete our little 5 travelling group - Tom, Michael, Mia, Georgia and I. Staying at their placemnent was really good. The other rural placement which is quite different from ours as they live in one of three houses which share with like 6 families so lots more people but less crazy as the kids entertain themselves more.

Then Satruday, we left!! First stop, Ho!! Ho is in Volta Region. We decided not to do anythng crazy here as we had a lot planned and there isn't anything crazy interesting so we relaxed together.

Next stop, Hohoe! Also in Volta Region. This is where I went for a day in my first 2 weeks here when I was alone and we went to the waterfalls that I did when I was there, Wli (pronounced 'vlee) Waterfalls but this time we did both the upper and lower falls where before I had just done the lower. Little did we know this meant a very large hike and I mean half hike half mountain climb for 2 hours!! We had walking sticks and we all felt like we from Lord of the Rings. We each elected ourselves characters - I am obviously Sam!! Was a great day even if we couldn't really walk properly for a few days and we all thought we were going to die on the way up from exhaustion or sheer lack of water as we were drenched in our own sweat...yum. We disguised it though by standing under the waterfall when we reached it at the top. Was a lot of fun and it is safe to say until you have sweat that much with people you can not say you have done the deepest level of bonding!!

Next we went to Nkwanta which is not really a tourist destination at all unless you are a twitcher or a hiker which for anyone that knows me I am most definitely not either!! In fact, I detest both but we just decided to stay there as our journey up to Tamale. Staying though was the best part of the trip for me. We arrived and were immediately thrown onto motorbikes with our huge backpacks on and taken to our hotel. It is in this remote part of Volta region and we stayed at this place called the Kyabobo centre which is actually run by this fantastic ENglish lady who is establishing one of the first girls school all on her own literally in the middle of nowhere. She has entirely moved out as her retirement and is doing the most amazing things! We also met an American who was there for 4 and a half months doing his PHD in essentially dying languages (had a better title but I can't remenber). Was very interesting getting to know his work and how he was finding Ghana. The centre where we were staying was in the most beautiful location overlooking the mountains and there were guinea fowl antelopes and all sorts just wondering around the gardens.

Then we had to tear ourselves away from the relaxing and start the strenuous travelling part going from Nkwanta to Tamale which if you look at a map is a long way. So we started the journey off by a relatively broken trotro from Nkwanta to Kpasso with a lot of goat poo. At this point we thought it won't get much worse...WRONG!! Kpasso to Dankoma trotro was worse. There were 4 people on the roof, and bearing in mind trotros are just minivans we were carrying 27 people... Oh and he could only get it started by hotwiring it and it couldn't get past 2nd gear... Dankoma to Bimbilla we were feeling pretty adventurous now but all needed a wee so got on a good looking or as good lookng as we had seen all day bus and off we went asking him to stop on the way so we could have a wee by the side of the road...yes my standards have lowered I spologise Nay and family! On arriving in Bimbilla about 5pm we heard the words 'Last car to Yendi' which was our last stop before Tamale and thought we would stay in Bimbilla and try that the next day but as we were feeling good we all said ok thinking it would be a trotro...oh no!! It was a pickup truck! So with our backpacks we jumped into the back for a 2 hour drive in the back of a pick up. It gradually got dark and we had the time of our lives especially when about 20 minutes in we were joined by like 5 women with all their kids. I travelled the entire way with the most adorable 2 year old in my arms. Was slightly frighteed we would hit a bump and the child would fly out my arms and onto the road but I held on tight and we all survived. Stayed in Yendi where there was no water at the hotel so you can imagine the state and smell of us after all of that and then getting up and just throwing on some clothes with no shower...again standards are low these days!

Next day we hit the road again for the last 7 hours to our destination, we took a bus to Tamale where I thought we were all going to lose our legs as they were tucked underneath us or above us for the entire 2 hours. Then we reached Tamale to wait for 2 hours for our bus to Mole National Park!! We finally arrived at about 8pm at the Savannah Lodge and had a dorm for the 5 of us which was awesome! In the middle of the village of Larabanga in colourful little huts!! And even though it was a bucket shower it was outdoors which was just so nice. THt night we arrived I literally showered under the stars (with a few mosquitoes but that ruins the atmosphere so imagine it without).

The next day we got up nice and early 5am to go and do our walking safari. We travelled to the park in the back of a Jeep...again we thought and still think we are so cool. We arrived and did a 2 hour walk around the park where we saw a lot of babboons, warthogs, antelope and then at the end 10 elephants! We were so close and they were all in the water and then as we stood near them they got out and walked around in front of very cool!! Will have to be shown better when I am able to put pictures up when I get back!

The day after that we took a canoe trip down the river near Larabanga and saw lots of birds and a very cool lizard which I can't say was the exciting but nice relaxing time down the river.

Next morning was an early start as the only bus out was at 4am so we all rolled out of bed and onto the bus for our 5 hour bus ride. Then we got off that bus and onto another trotro to Techiman so another day of 7 hours on the road so by the time we arrived we were all looking forward to a sleep and a shower and a chill.

In Techiman, we were joined by another of the volunteers whose Dad and uncle had come to stay so had come to meet us now they had gone but we were all so tired by this point we just wanted to relax. So, we took one car to the monkey sanctuary but unfortunately it was raining so we only saw monkeys from afar. I felt a bit smug as I already held monkeys at a sanctuary in my first week.

Last stop was Kumasi, the second biggest city in Ghana so it was way too busy for me after being relaxed and having lived in a little village for 3 months so wasn't enamored by the place but loved the market and went to an amazng culture centre where I bought my first waist beads! Love them and the tradition of them! yes, my hippy side is coming out.

Then, came the end of our stay and I travelled back home to Twifu Mampong on Saturday to be greeted by a hug from our host Mam and all the kids jumping on me. Home is good!!

Think I will leave it that as I have probably bored you all and it is irritatingly long but I hope you enjoy a little!! Still on emails so would love to hear that you are all well as I am coming to the end of my stay. Not long to go now!!

Love to all and missing you (you know who),

Siwan Emily