Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Elections

They didnt pick a winner. The race is furiously close... 49.036% for NPP and 50.136% for NDC. A tie.

there were a lot of NDC supporters over by the electoral commission and they were not pleased. They anticipated winning and their party was in the lead all day but then the Electoral commission said that four constituencies had to be counted again (or mb hadnt been counted yet) and suddenly NPP gained a lot of ground.

This morning we met an anthropologist studying the process here; she was in the crowd and it did get tense towards the evening. She left when young people began to gather stones and sticks and were discussing what to do if the election was taken from them... but the EC played it smart and said that the eastern region (politically neutralish) was SO close that they had to have a revote. That will happen on Friday. Then we shall see.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Elections contd.

Weve been back for a few days now and things are good. Weve been camped in Accra waiting for the results of the run-off election to be announced. There is no violence anticipated but today, when the results will be announced, the police and military is out in force; keeping an eye on the "jubilations."

Its fascinating to watch the groups of young people out in support, and our street has been blocked off and is being patrolled by the military. The electoral commision is only five buildings down the way. There is tension, but it mainly manifests in more poeple taking cabs and small crowds gathered around radios all over, arguing and listening to reporters describe the crowds as they wait to hear from the EC. Currently everyone is expecting the NDC to win, they had claimed victory already, but were chastised by the EC for speaking prematurely. We will see.


The beach was wonderful. Christmas on the beach was exceptional. we stayed at the most ridiculously romantic and beautiful "eco-lodge" i have ever heard of. unfortunately it was expensive, so we had to go down the beach to eat at the completely packed but hilarious backpacker lodge (green turtle) at least once a day.

The place wasnt totally perfect. Although we didnt sleep with lizards we definitely came home to find them pooping in our bed. The waves were fun but the ripp tide was definitely dangerous, and while untouched beach is intensely beautiful... there isnt Tons to do. it was still fun, but the highlight was probably when we found a kitten. This kitten followed us home. A 2 hour walk down the beach. It saw us, came over, and when we left it followed us over the rocks and along the beach. It almost drowned in the waves (Ingrid saved it) but made it all the way to our hotel. They took it to the kitchen and fed it. we were pretty excited for saving the kitten and not getting fleas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Headed to the beach

We left the camp last friday. They had a nice ceremony for us, saying goodbye, and gave us clothes, and then we headed back to Accra.

we have spent a fun week here, a day trip to the botanical gardens, and an overnight trip to ada foah, a tiny town nestled against an estuary. The botanicl gardens were clearly beautiful onc, and the tallest tree ive ever seen was there, but you cn tell that it is no longer taken care of. It was nice and green, but sadly shabby.

The town of Ada Foah (ada fo) is next to big ada and ada kasseh and it is a study in contrasts. A row of rich beautiful beach houses but around the corner is a thatch village that has been there for hundreds of years. We stayed with the nicest man I have met in ghana. he was old and used crutches but was incredibly kind.

Tomorrow we will head out to the beach. I meant to make this a longer post, but I spent my internet time reading the news, so I guess I will just tell you that im excited to go to the beach, that accra is still HOT, and that I wont have internet this week, so if you need me, call me.

Have an awesome Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Elections are Hilarious

We are at a roof-top bar playing cards and rinking beer when the radio chaneges from music to news. Apparently an NPP pickup truck drove into where the ballots were being stored, grabbed a whole bunch of boxes and drove off. They were being chased by a car of NDC supporters who were in turn being chased by the media. The media was calling it into their rasio stations and were reading off the tag numbers so that the police could track the cars down. Amazing and Hilarious.

This was a small number of ablots and whether they were rescued or not the election commision declared that a run-off vote between the two leading parties would occur on Dec 28th. We'll be here, getting ready for the new year, and waiting to celebrate.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Elections: Day 2

Today was a national holiday in ghana. and thats a really good thing because people are still counting all the votes from yesterday. counting and recounting. We have spent the day doing laundry or sleeping in the 100 degree heat.

now we are waiting for lection results it is 6:40 PM the day after and all we know just now is that the NDC has a slight lead. Parliamentary results are in, for the most part, and some of the presidential candidates have conceded... but the NPP and NDC are waiting for a run-off to be called. how will that work? Totally unclear.

Violence? only in a few cases, people here are excited that no missing bodies of officials have been found and that shenenigans have been beaurecratic and not violent... thus far. Except in the north but people just seem to shrug that off as though the violence there is sort of typical. huh.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Elections are here

My first Ghanaian political rally was a lot like an American one. The biggest difference? More dancing.

The ruling NPP party has a lot of mone and posters but their primary rivals, the NDC has a large following. I'll update with more info as the elections happen.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Proctoring exams

So the kids are taking their finals. The teacher all proctor the exams. To help minimize cheating the kids are all mixed up; they arent allowed to sit next to anyone in their own class. It takes bout n hour to achieve this.

Then the tests are handed out. This takes another 25 minutes, and is complicated by the fact that often the tests are not all printed out just yet. but eventually everyone has the tests and they can begin.

Thats when the questions begin. Since the 3rd grade cant read, although they are supposed to be able to, after they have tried for a while we read the test to them. They know the answers but they are fairly illiterate. The other grades know how to read, but dont know the words on the test. "what does concept mean?" Then, as you read the test over, you realize that whoever typed it made a lot of errors. A lot.

Proctoring these exams has been sad. tiring and sad. The tests did not get better and the week wore on, and the children did not do better. A few of them found it easy, but for most, well they dont go to school to learn and there is no one at home to explain the value of learning.

Black Stars

We went to a black star's gmae on Sunday. It was really fun. The stadium is big and beautiful, and like football games everywhere there was lot of excitement and noise and backflips. Everytime ther was a goal, there were more backflips. Fun times.

The Black Stars started out playing wfully. They continuously dribbled up the field dramtically but neglected to pass. Over and over again. In the meantime the Nigerian team controlled the field, used tight formations, and had scored twice by the 35th minute.

By the second half the black stars were playing better. Its cler they are spending most of their time playing for other teams, but once they raised their level of play they equalized quickly and then by the 80th minute had made it 3-2.

Fun times, and fairly exciting. Best part... the tickets cost 2 cedis. sooo, $1.85?

Cape Coast

So this last weekend we went to cape coast to see the slave castle there. A word on traveling there. We went in the most comfortable tro-tro Ive ever even seen. It had air conditioning. It wasnt to crowded. It had newly upholstered seats and no nails to stab you. Amazing.

Cape Coast was fun and interesting an the breeze from the ocean was welcome. The slave castle was... a slave castle. I dont know what I was expecting but I thought I might feel more. I gained a more intimate understanding of the horrors experienced by the men, women, and children captured and sold into slavery... but it was still an intellectual understanding. Unlike many people who have been to the cape coast castle, and to the elmina, I did not cry. I didnt feel much more than I have felt in other places of historic human evil. I didnt feel less, but not more either.

I do need to say that white people are ugly. Seriously. This is the first touristy place weve been, with a whole bunch of white people from many countries and well, theyre ugly. They dont know how to walk, and they sweat soo much and dont wear the right clothes and they're just kinda... weird looking. sucks for ya'll.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


This morning I woke up to a text message from an old friend, Emma, asking if my family in India was alright. Emma met my family when she was staying there, and always asks after them. I wrote back immediately, but all I could say was that I had no idea what on earth she was talking about.

Fortunately my family was fine. As are Colin and Sonia, both traveling in India just now.

It is incredibly disconcerting to be far away, not from people, but from the news. I dont notice this distancing normally, it is only now, when I can feel violence touching the lives of people I care about, and I am left in the dark.

I had some information soon after getting to school, and my sister wrote to me early, to let me know that everyone was fine. Soon after this the teachers of the schoool were aware of what had happened. And for the most part they were interested and thoughtful. But of course there is the one person who is gleefully self-righteous. Condemning terrorism and muslims in general with one broad sentence. I ignored it as I always do. I wonder if I always will.

A week from Sunday Ghana will have their presidential election. There are two frontrunners... the incumbent and the person that everyone says won last time. Will there be violence? There has already been violence in the villages far from Accra, but no one is expecting more than tension in the city. Ghana has been peaceful for a while... I really hope it stays that way.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All Night Long

Ive mentioned night life at the camp once before, but I think it deserves another note. Night life here is... surreal.

When the sun goes down and the music turns on you forget where you are. You are transportedinto an outdoor festival. Last weekend (on sunday, the big night) there was an outdoor freestyling competition in the square. We sat in a bar close enough to watch, but couldnt hear a thing, so I have no idea if the liberians are any good. I do know that although we were listening to such hits as 'where is the love' and 'bombastic' the bar / club next door was blasting Carter III on repeat.

Tonight wewill take our new aussie houseguest to the XXX club. Which has cheap beer and an expesive 2nd floor pool. Just to show him the difference between the school we work at and the club kids party at.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Irritating Times

So one of the things about living on the refugee camp is taht you have to know that sometimes you wont have electricity. This is no big deal. So when we cam home last night to find no electricity, we shrugged and movedon. Went to the bar, had a drink, came home, got out the headlamps, sat on the bed... and ingrid was attacked by a tiny little bat. It was clearly afraid of our headlamps but shit, it kept flying around and creeped the hell out of me.

You get over it. You sit on the bed. And then it breaks. I mean really breaks. I hammered one section back together with my shoe. While that happened a mysterious child started speaking through the window. Asking us for food or money he began listing things we had taught. Was he in one of our classes... probably, but still, it was unnerving. Eventually I got a piece of wood for the hammering, and one piece was fixed... but after that... well, its hot enough that you have to just say, nevermind, and sleep on the floor.

In the morning our water had disappeared. sweet.

Still, by the time we got back from school, someone had fixed the bed, we had more water, and the electricity was back on. Basically, im spoiled.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Carolyn A. Miller

Is the name of the school where we are teaching. The other day we went to the teachers meeting. It was fascinating. Not least because the teachers (all liberian refugees) have english as their first language... but have accents so thick, and such a limited (in work settings) vocabulary, that you would never know this.

Sidebar: Why do they all speak engish? Liberia was colonized by a private orgnization in America that didnt think reconstruction was possible and so was sending freed slaves back to Africa.

The topics were also fascinating.

-Can we PLEASE lightly cane the children. they are getting out of hand.
-Can we please enforce the dress code more strictly, 14 year old girls wearing sleevless t-shirts are to distracting to allow us to work. (bullshit)
-Teachers are no longer allowed to have chairs in their 40 or 80 minute classes.
-The final exam will be given two weeks early but we will lie to the kids and tell them it isnt the final exam.

This last one seems silly, but it aparently necessary. People are worried about the election to be held in Ghana on the 7th. I will write more on this as it occurs.



So Colin asked me to tell him how we were getting around when we travel from the camp. The answer: we travel by tro-tro. Think athletic vans that seat around 16 people. Five rows total. The driver's row seats three including the driver. Every other row seats four people. There is one sliding door. This door is manned by a boy who announces where this van goes, gets passengers and collects the fare. The fare is incredibly cheap. To fit everyone in the middle three rows have folding seats at the end closest to the door. They fold up to let people walk by and fold down to let people sit. Colin informs me that in syria and jordan this is a very common way to travel between cities. In Ghana the tro-tros go EVERYWHERE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sex Ed

We taught our first sex ed class today. We were told about 40 minutes before that we were going to teach the class, and then thrown into it. We actually did really well, but Ingrid needs to take the credit; shes a pro.

We will be teaching the class the entire time we are here. The old health teacher is taking advantage of having Ingrid here, he really needs a girl to talk to the girls, so this and English will be our main focus.

A reading group could be fun to start, and for our first book: Charlotte's Web. Or possibly The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Well, we are at the liberian refugee camp. Its kind of amazing. Im in the internet cafe at the school, which is pretty fast, but I only have a few moments. So I'll be brief.

Our first night in the camp was surreal. After walking thropugh and seeing where people lived, we got some food, spaghetti, and then we went... to the club. A huuuge, nice, enormous, clean, gigantic, Club. This club has a disco, and on the econd floor there is a pool. not pool tables... a pool. And the drinks are CHEAP. So right now our house has no running water, but the Club is pimpin'.

Such a weird difference. But as our buddy Lance (a refugee in charge of volunteers) told us... if you arent in school and you dont work... why not party. Even if it was sunday night. Or rather, especially sunday night. I guess Sunday is the new Thursday.

I think I am going to see if the ninth graders would like a blog. They are supposed to be writing every day, to get ready for a high school entrance exam... could be good practice.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


So... I missed the election. When we got here we knew this might happen, and it sucked, but I want to thank all the people who were kind enough to text me throughout the night with updates. I didnt sleep all that well, but it was nice to know what was going on.

People here are totally into Obama. We glanced at a paper on Monday and there were full page bios of both candidates in the international section. McCain's was thorough but... bland. Obamas was hilariously pro-Obama. I loved it. When we watched the local tv station there was a thing about African Diaspora, a group of Africans and African-Americans volunteering for his campaign, and then interviews with local ghanains, followed by, of all things, a segment explainig Rock the Vote.

This morining Obama was, of course, front page news.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Presently in: Ghana

Arrive Accra, Ghana Oct 28th
Arrive Dubai 04-Feb-09
Arrive Bahrain 16-Feb-09
Arrive Cairo 02-Mar-09
Travel overland through Jordan and Syria to Istanbul.
Arrive in Turkey 01-April-09
Spend one month in Turkey and Greece.
Arrive Jakarta 11-May-09
Travel to Singapore in June
Arrive China 14-Jul-09
Arrive New York 14-Aug-09

This may change dramatically, but for now, this is whats up.