Friday, January 23, 2015

Palm Wine!





 There’s something very special about living in Accra.  Sometimes I sit in an upscale restaurant and feel like I’m back home; the next minute I’m sitting at the beach side, enjoying the breeze, feeling like one of the locals.  Last weekend a friend took me up to Aburi midday to search for some fresh palm wine.  Here’s a look at the adventure.



Tasting fresh palm wine was something I’d been hearing about for months.  I first tried it at a street fair in Osu a couple months ago.  The ‘sour’ taste didn’t agree with me.  I wondered why it was called wine.  But after just a few sips, I was appreciating it’s natural flavor.  A friend of mine explained that I was tasting it at night, in the morning it would be even better.  Well, we didn’t make it to Aburi early morning, but we did get there in the afternoon.  The 20 minute drive up to Aburi from Accra is in itself, magical.  There’s virtually no trash along the road; the ride up the mountain is slow and peaceful, with a nicely paved road and clean air tickling the senses.  Things seem much slower in Aburi than in Accra.  Both times I’ve been on that mountain, I never want to come back!


Palm wine and fruit stand, January 16, 2015

Palm wine in an open gourd...no preservatives!  January 16, 2015


Gourds cut in half, January 16, 2015
A garden egg bush (the same as an eggplant I've been told) January 15, 2015

We stopped by one street vendor who had some of the special drink.  Here’s tasted okay, but I suggested we go farther along and try to find some that was cold.  Sure enough, we went a bit farther and found a woman with some nice, cold palm wine.  She had a stand with beautiful pineapples, tomatoes, bananas, and other local fruits and vegetables, some I’d never seen before.  As we sat and enjoyed the wine in the sunset, I couldn’t help thinking that this is the real Ghana!  A calm and natural place after get away from the hustle and bustle.  My friend explained that early in the morning, men go to a palm tree, cut it down, and collect the sweet sap that flows out of the bottom of the tree.  This sap is called palm wine.  They say it is better than anything you can purchase in the store because it is not processed and filled with sugar and other fattening substances.  The locals do nothing but collect it from the tree, put it in water bottles or plastic jugs, and sell it.  He and the vendor also explained that (similar to coconuts that are sold along the roadside) because the sap is 100% natural, it’s actually good for you.  It certainly tasted good! 
Going on the search for palm wine is one of many interesting local activities in Ghana.  Here’s another great memory that I’ll have.  For now, I’m off to the Central region.  Next week, I’ll discuss my adventures in my favorite place in Ghana…Cape Coast!

Beautiful sunset, January 16, 2015


Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Trip to Kokrobite Beach



















Last Friday I took a much needed weekend vacation to Kokrobrite Beach.  The beach vibe, the food, the people, and the atmosphere were all welcomed changes to my usual routine.  Here’s a look at my adventures last week.

          When I woke up on Friday morning, I couldn’t wait to sip a cup of instant coffee, put on my clothes, pack my book bag, and head out the door to Kokrobite.  After running a few errands I was on my way.   I had first learned about Big Milly’s Backyard in my travel book.  Once I arrived early afternoon, I immediately knew I had made a wonderful decision.  The compound was clean, colorful, and warm thanks to the sun and the people.  Parents chased their toddlers through the sand while friends played pool and sipped PiƱa Coladas at the bar.  The place is something like a little village, with stand alone “huts” and concrete dwellings.  From the sand parking lot to the campsite, every area had been well imagined, with tiny seashells sunken into the narrow concrete path to the colorful smoothie bar.

The view heading to my room, January 11, 2015
One of the dwellings on the vacation compound.  Isn't it cute?  January 11, 2015
Upon check-in, the front desk staff, a young Ghanaian girl and guy, were super sweet and wanted to hear all about my experiences as a Black American (as the locals call African Americans, often they just say Americans) in Ghana.  The owner, Milly, was also in the office and suggested I sign up for a massage.  And of course I signed up for that!

                       
Entrance to my room, January 11, 2015                  
Once I made it around the corner with my bags, I fell in love with my room before I even opened the door.  There was a little wooden chair outside for reading and resting, accompanied by a wooden rail for privacy.  The room itself was small, but bright, with high beamed ceilings to make it feel larger.  The double bed was draped by a sky blue canopy that instantly made me want to take a nap.  And unlike several other places I have stayed during my travels in Africa, I was given not one, but two bathroom towels.  What a treat!


Inside my room.  Made me feel like going to sleep.  Very relaxing, January 11, 2015
Once I was settled in, I changed into my swimsuit and headed over to the outdoor restaurant (I read online that dinner orders should be made a couple hours in advance).  After having a late lunch, I placed an order for barbecued meatballs for dinner.  Then, I was off to the beach!

Everyone I spoke with was right about Kokrobrite: compared to all the trash that lines Labadi Beach, Kokrobite was a clean stretch of sand with fisherman preparing their nets and women and children selling wares along the hotel wall.  The Harmattan made the beach especially enjoyable, as it wasn’t too hot or too cold, just right.  Finally, after six months of living in Africa, I finally made it to the beach, inside the ocean!  As I swam farther into the ocean and ‘fought’ the waves with the other tourists, I was quite relaxed and happy.  Upon making it back to the sand, I took 40 winks and then pulled out my book for some reading.  Shortly before the sun went down, I made my way back inside to wash up and get ready for dinner.


Fisherman preparing their boats for the morning's catch, January 11, 2015
The sun setting on Kokrobite, January 10, 2015
Relaxing on the beach, January 10, 2015
The barbecued meatballs were okay; they were accompanied by french fry wedges and salad.  That night, there seemed to be a lot more people around than when I had first arrived which livened the atmosphere even more.  Around 8:00pm, the drummers came and put on a live performance for the guests.  Song after song they played, all with drums.  Dancers came out in their traditional attire, yelling, singing, and twisting and moving their bodies in ways that were admirable, but I certainly wouldn’t try!  As I was sitting in a reclined chair enjoying the music, one of the locals began asking me about my trip and where I was from.  He seemed like a nice young man with a good head on his shoulders, but once he started telling me about some of his extracurricular activities, I could sense he was about to ask me for money so I told him I was going to go look for a better place to view the drumming and excused myself.


Friday Night Drummers, January 10, 2015
Drumming out a beat January 9, 2015















African dancers, January 9 2015
This guy can really move, January 9, 2015
          The music was still going strong when I headed to my room for bed.  As the pulse of the music permeated my screened window, I drifted off to sleep quite quickly.  Before long, it was morning.
The next day, I headed to the restaurant for breakfast.  It was quite the cultural melting pot (as was the rest of the hotel) with lots (I mean lots) of international couples with children and folks from Europe, the U.S., and China interacting with the local people.  Culture shock hit again as I observed this interaction.  It wasn’t what I was used to seeing back home, but the cultural exchange and joy the people shared among each other was wonderful to see.  For breakfast, I ordered a pancake.  To liven it up, I asked the waiter if he had some chocolate he could put on it.  I sat there, thinking he was going to drizzle chocolate syrup or cocoa powder over my food.  But instead, when I cut open the crepe, there was a big scoop of chocolate ice cream inside!  Having learned a long time ago to go with the African flow, I went ahead and tried the sweet breakfast.  To my surprise, it was quite delicious and I was pleasantly pleased!  Along with some black coffee, I considered it a good meal. After walking around a bit, I went back to the restaurant and watched the waves in-between catching up on my Bible Study lessons.  After about an hour, a small woman came over and introduced herself.  She was super friendly and talkative, told me she’d be giving me my massage but was running a little behind.  “Will you be okay if we wait for another hour?”
“Sure that’s fine,” I said.  “Great!”  After another hour, I headed to my room to wash the sand off of my feet, then went back toward the restaurant.  She was there, waiting for me I assumed.  I waved at her and asked if she was ready.  She told me to wait for her on a bench while she got a drink of water.  Once she came over to the bench, we sat and chatted for a little while.  A short woman (shorter than me) who appeared to be a little older than my parents, she explained that although she was half Czech and half African American, she was proud to be married to a handsome Ghanaian man.  Before we began she asked me if I was a Christian.  When I said yes, she said she could tell I was a Christian from the way I walked and carried myself before she’d asked!  Once it was time for the massage, we walked through a narrow concrete path to an open space.  Culture shock hit again throughout the whole massage.  There was only a low fence and tree branches overhead separating us from passers by.  “Are you sure no one’s going to see me out here?” I asked.
         “Of course not!  You’re fine.  Relax!”
         “Okay.”  Back home in the US, the masseuse usually calmly points at the towel and tells me to disrobe to my level of comfort, then leaves the room for a few minutes so I can change.  As I waited for her to hand me a towel and walk away, she just stood there and kept talking.  “What,” She said when she caught me not disrobing, “Go ahead and undress, don’t be ashamed of ANYTHING the Lord has given you!”  Talk about culture shock!  It was an interesting experience indeed.  I wanted to just lay there and enjoy the sun and the kneading of pain out of my neck, but she asked me about my time at Legon (the University), my family back home, and she discussed her own family.  In the end it was a great conversation and by the end of the massage, I promised her that I would stay in touch.  Meeting her was really wonderful.  She was a sweet old woman who was full of life and reminded me not to ever be ashamed of ANYTHING the Lord has given me!


         After a wonderful midday nap, I again put on my swimsuit, had a little lunch, placed my dinner order, and headed out to the ocean.  There were fewer tourists than the day before, but the weather was just as pleasant.  I swam, slept, and read my book.  For dinner that night, I had lobster.  My first seafood dish since I arrived in Ghana, it was okay, could have been better.  Perhaps if they had sprinkled some salt, lime, and melted better over the flesh it would have had more flavor.  I doctored it up myself at the table as I chatted with a British man and his Ghanaian wife/girlfriend.  By the time I’d finished, I was quite satisfied. 

Beautiful artwork on the restaurant ceiling, January 10, 2015
The restaurant, January 10, 2015

Lobster, french fry wedges, and salad, January 10, 2015
Saturday was Reggae night, but the Reggae group was running late, so there was more drumming.  As the smoothie server whipped up a chocolate shake for me, I told him I was skeptical about the Reggae guy showing up.  He told me not to worry and that he’d come find me when it started.  But after an hour or so, I was headed to my room to rest.  It’s amazing when you slow down from school how you realize how tired you really are.  I read my book until my eyes burned, then turned the lights out.  Sure enough, the Saturday night “Reggae” (which was more like easy listening) began.  I drifted off to sleep as the familiar tunes echoed in my memory.

The next morning was quiet and peaceful.  I got dressed, had another chocolate ice cream-crepe-pancake, and checked out.  The front desk duo gave me a warm goodbye and said they looked forward to seeing me upon return.  I told them I’d had an excellent time and that I’d definitely be back.

My trip to Kokrobite may very well be the most relaxing trip I’ve taken while in Africa  There’s something about being near the beach and walking everywhere through soft white sand.  I will definitely be going back!


****Music Segment****

Drumming

Today begins week two of the local music series.  Since I heard some first class drumming at Kokrobrite, I thought it appropriate to share some drumming music this week.  Ghanaians pride themselves on their musical capabilities.  Their talents with music and art are obvious whenever one listens to drumming, jazz, and any other sort of sounds.  Unfortunately, I'm having some technical difficulties uploading the short clip I recorded, however, here's a great Youtube clip to listen to.  Just follow this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSSMAoWSb8A

****End of Music Segment****
                                     
This ends this week’s post.  Next week, I’ll discuss heading to Aburi for some sweet palm wine!

Friday, January 9, 2015

A care package from home

 

When living in a foreign country, it’s not unusual to have difficulty finding familiar products such as facial creams and food brands (I’ve mentioned lack of variety of hair products a couple of times in earlier posts).  Fortunately my parents posted a care package for me a couple of months ago with some much needed items and a few goodies, too.  Here’s a look at what was inside my box.








At the post office paying the customs officer.  What a joy it was to see this box.  December 29, 2014
The items I requested from home fall within three major categories: clothing, food, and personal care.  First, let’s talk about clothing.  Before I left home, I found the most comfortable shoes in the world (in beige and black).  When I put them on, I feel like I’m walking on a cloud of air.  Amazing!  And although I brought along four other pairs of shoes with me, none of them compare.  So naturally, after wearing two pairs of shoes for five months, they’re going to eventually wear down, no matter how nice they are.  Thankfully I was able to go online and purchase three pairs from a reputable dealer in the States, send them to my parents’ home, and have them included in the box.  They sent two pairs to me to make sure I’d receive them.  When I tried on the black pair of shoes and it was a perfect fit, I almost cried.  What a relief to have them in my possession.  

The box turned upside down: shoes, Fruit Loops, Raisin Bran, shampoo--all kinds of good stuff!  December 29, 2014
My parents also sent a big black hat to help me find relief from the sun and four pairs of the most comfortable shorts in the world (in gray, blue, black, and my favorite color, navy).
The next group of items I checked out in the box was food.  Even after visiting several grocery stores in six months, I’ve had no luck finding steel cut oats.  I was elated when I opened my box to discover steel cut oats, flavor powder packets for my bottled water, iced animal crackers, and a box of Luizianne sweet tea.  Again, I was overjoyed when I saw two boxes of Fruit Loops and two boxes of Raisin Bran.  I immediately opened the box of Fruit Loops and began chowing down on handfuls of the delicious bites of colored sugar.  You can guess what I had for dinner that night.

The box turned right side up, complete with a much needed beach hat.  December 29, 2014
When I tried on the camel-colored pair of shoes, my luck wasn't as great.  It seems the company sent me a half size too big (as you can see in the photo).  I've been emailing the company to see if they'll exchange them, but haven't heard anything yet.  Hopefully they will replace them.  December 29, 2014.
Finally, for personal care items, my parents packed some of my favorite brands of shampoo and conditioner and leave in conditioner.  They also included facial cleanser, and lovely scented travel-size hand sanitizer.  A few days later when I washed my hair, I was so glad to be able to condition with my well known and trusted products.

  It’s amazing how we take things like easy access to good quality goods for granted.  I never thought Fruit Loops, scented hand sanitizer, and a pair of shoes could mean so much.  I know I owe my parents big time for sending that package.  Hopefully I’ll be getting another one soon!

**Music segment**

     As mentioned last week, today marks the fist week of discussing local music.  Ghana’s music scene is just as diverse as her people, ranging from ‘Popular’ to Hi-life to Spiritual, and so on.  Many of the songs were written in local or Nigerian languages, so I’ve had to have multiple people translate for me (hopefully the translations I’m giving to my readers are as accurate as possible). The music that will be discussed here are songs I’ve heard over and over on the radio, at social gatherings, or ones I think have a good beat.  The first song falls under the Popular genre and is entitled “Aye."

     Aye is a girl who the main actor in the video (Davido) loves.  She comes from a royal family and Davido is a poor farmer.  He loves her because she “No want designer.  She no want Ferrari.”  In other words, she appreciates a simple life (I’m sure most men want an inexpensive woman).  To listen to the song you can follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKpcZHG3y7U

     In the video, Aye eventually slips away from her husband, the King, to go dance with Davido in the field.  While the video seems to encourage doing whatever ‘feels good,’ which is not okay, the song is very popular among the local people, has a good beat that makes me think of Africa, and brings a smile to everyone’s face.

This ends this weeks blog post.  Next week, I’ll discuss having fun in the sun at Big Milly’s Backyard!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas with my host family

  Happy New Year to all my family and friends back home and to everyone around the world!

          When I called up my host mother two weeks ago to ask if the invitation was still open for Christmas dinner, she said she'd be delighted for me to come over.  I was even happier when I heard that we would be having an American-style dinner.  Little did I know that on Christmas weekend, I’d be invited to a memorial/coming out of widowhood celebration, an engagement, and my host Rotary Club’s holiday party.  Here’s a look at my adventures during Christmas week.

Christmas tree decorated for the season, December 25, 2014
On Christmas Eve I met Ms. Joanne (my host mother) and Abraham (my host brother) at her church for service.  We arrived early enough to help decorate the church.  Once the service began, song after song we sang as a congregation, including some of my favorites such as Oh Holy Night, Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angel Sing, and Silent Night.  The pastor gave a 10 minute sermon, more songs were sang, little gift bags of fruit, candy, and cookies were passed out, and church was dismissed.  That night we sat around the kitchen table with my host father talking for hours.  After a while we all became pretty tired and headed to bed with thoughts of good eatin’ in our heads.  


          Christmas day was wonderfully low key, as we sat around the house and watched the news, read books, wrote in diaries (me), and prepared Christmas dinner (I just sat still and enjoyed the scents that came from the oven).  After taking a lovely mid afternoon nap, everyone woke up around 3:30pm and we were feasting by 4:00pm.  The menu included corn pudding, port with port gravy, baked chicken with chicken gravy, collard greens, cauliflower, stuffing, and rice pilaf with gravy.  For dessert, we had pound cake, bread pudding, and “Sweet potato something.”  My favorite, hands down, was the brandy-drenched bread pudding.  It was sweet, soft, warm, and delicious!  For the rest of the evening, we continued to just relax, which was right up my alley.  After a few hours we all turned in, and a good thing too, since the memorial/coming out of widowhood celebration began early the next day.

When Ms. Joanne told me the week before Christmas that we would be having dinner at either her home or her sister-in-laws home, I was secretly praying that Ms. Joanne would end up hosting.  After living in a foreign country for a while, you just want to taste your own food, something familiar, December 25, 2014
A festive centerpiece, December 25, 2014
American-style Christmas dinner, mmm mmm good!  December 25, 2014

Christmas gift from my host parents, December 25, 2014
Bread Pudding and "Sweet Potato Something" for dessert...delicious!  December 25, 2014
On Friday morning, My host parents and I left a sleepy Abraham home and headed to Accra Ridge Church for a celebration of life, love, and happiness.  Mr. Ako’s late friend’s wife had invited him to her coming out of widowhood celebration.  It was also a memorial service since that day would have made over 40 years that they the honoree and her husband would have been married.  Since I’ve been in Ghana I’ve been exploring different churches, so this was a great opportunity to get a feel of Accra Ridge’s service structure.  It’s a well attended church, with brick walls and a joint Anglican-Methodist-Prebyterian-congregation.  The widow looked very happy to celebrate the life of her husband while being surrounded by her family, neighbors, and friends.   The celebration officially marked her coming out of black attire as well (according to Ghanaian custom, women wear black for a year when they are widowed.  But interestingly enough, not the men).  

The service at Accra Ridge Church, December 26, 2014
          After the service, we went to the honoree's home in East Legon for refreshments.  The backyard was beautifully decorated and lively, thanks to the Tema Youth Choir.  The meal was traditional—Groundnut soup, Palm nut soup, plus two other types of soup, noodles, baked chicken, and Wachee (sort of like Hoppin’ John, which is a Southern dish of black-eyed peas and rice), Fufu and Gigi, or Face the Wall (both bread-based foods).  Groundnut soup is quite tasty, but I usually steer clear of it because the spice makes me cough and choke and not feel so great.  Once I had some fresh salad, baked chicken, and a piece of Fufu on my plate, I was ready to eat.  However, the folks sitting at our table (my host father’s high school classmates) weren’t having any of it. The men at the table seemed to be amused that I was eating Fufu without soup, but the women at the table nearly passed out.  “What?  Fufu without soup?  Where’s your groundnut stew?”  They were as good as to ask me if I was confused, or did I need help with learning how to eat Fufu.  One woman reached over another woman at our table and pointed at my Fufu nearly yelling, “Where’s your soup?”  I politely said, “I know people eat it with soup, but I don’t want soup, thank you.”  Well, that explanation just wasn’t going to fly at our table.  For the next 15 minutes the whole table discussed me not eating soup and why didn't I like spice and the soup wasn’t spicy at all (which to me it was spicy once I tried it) and so on.  At my host father’s insistence, I did try the soup.  “You can always eat baked chicken, Sierra," he said, “but eating a little pepper bit by bit will help you tolerate and enjoy it.”  Sure enough, when I went back and tried some of the soup, it wasn’t too bad.  I got through about 10 spoonfuls while finishing off a whole bottle of water.  I was good entertainment for the whole table.  After finishing I looked at my host mother, patted my stomach, and said, “I’m too satisfied to be embarrassed.”  The whole table burst into laughter.

Decorated venue at the honoree's family home, December 26, 2014
Tema Youth Choir singing on the portico, December 26, 2014
Plate of traditional food.  The server asked me if I wanted half of the Fufu and started cutting it before I had a chance to answer him.  "Give me all my Fufu!"  I told him.  

Fufu, Face the Wall, and beef in Groundnut soup.  My host mother told me in the olden days, Gigi was called Face the Wall because if you were so poor that all you could afford to eat was Gigi, you didn't want anyone to see you eating it, so you turned your back to company and faced the wall.  She said she loved the way it tasted, regardless of it's cultural stigma.  Sure enough when I tried it that day, it was pretty tasty.  Still like Fufu best, though.  December 25, 2014
Around 6:00pm that evening, Abraham and I sat around the kitchen table while Ms. Joanne and Mr. Ako told us stories of moving to Ghana with their small children years ago and making it work.  Some of the stories were a bit sad, but most were hilarious.  We were laughing so hard and having such a good time that 10:00pm had slipped by without us even realizing it!  Shortly afterwards we all turned in to be rested for Saturday’s engagement.

The Ghanaian engagement—similar to a Nigerian wedding—was a celebration of my host father’s newlywed niece and husband.  Although they are both living in the States, it didn’t stop the bride's parents from throwing a party for all the family members and friends who were in Ghana.  The program was sort of like a play--there was a story in which one family member from each side took part in.  They role played, one asking about where the groom was, why he wanted the family’s daughter, would he take care of her, the other asking about the dowry, and so on.  All of it was in one of the local languages, Ga I believe, so Mr. Ako and Abraham translated for Ms. Joanne and me.  Afterwards, we enjoyed more traditional food.  I once again enjoyed some Groundnut soup and Fufu, along with a super tasty salad.  We also received gift bags filled with home items such as coffee mugs, towels, and food.  Our host, the father and mother of the bride, were very warm and made sure that everyone had a good time.  After we received our gift bags, the men received handkerchiefs and the women received hand towels.  As we were leaving, a table of guests were refilling their glasses and just getting started.

Family and friends bringing in gifts, December 27, 2014
Gifts wrapped in pretty packages for the newlyweds and their families, December 27, 2014
Tasty salad, December 27, 2014
Groundnut soup and Fufu, this time with a piece of fish, December 27, 2014
Earlier in the evening, when a server brought a whole bottle of wine to the table for me I asked her to take it away, a bit embarrassed that she didn't just give me one single glass of wine instead of an entire bottle!  As we got up to leave, the host and father of the bride, Mr. Ako's cousin, looked at us and said, "Please, sit back down, I have to bring something nice for this young lady."  Although we politely declined, he persisted, and before long, we were all sipping this lovely champagne.  December 27, 2014                
That night, after Abraham and Mr. Ako turned in, Ms. Joanne and I watched a great movie I had never seen, “The Count of Monte Cristo.”  I don’t watch much television and rarely American movies since television here is predominantly Ghanaian, so I was thrilled to enjoy a show from home while eating warm popcorn and laughing with my host mother.  

On Sunday, after my host mother came back from church, everyone prepared for the Rotary Club of Tema holiday party.  The three of us headed out from Community 10 to make the short drive to Community 7 around 3:30pm.  Mr. Ako would join us after making a vote at his golf club.  Once again, everyone was friendly, the food was great, and the music was loud!  This time we enjoyed hi-life, a genre of Ghanaian music just like country is a genre of American music (hi-life is way better than country of course.  Makes you feel like just sitting in a hammock on the beach with a coconut in your hand and the sun on your face).  I saw some familiar faces at the party and a few new ones.  I even enjoyed a very rare thing in Ghana—dessert!  After dinner, the servers gave out fruit with a scoop of ice cream.  They weren’t stingy either—I had three helpings!  We went home ahead of Mr. Ako to avoid the mosquitoes that come out around 6:00pm.  Shortly after we got home though, he returned.  We sat around the table, discussing the weekend’s activities.  My parents also had a chance to speak with my host mother over the phone and wish each other happy holidays, which was also special.  

Here is trout, Garbanzo beans, beef stew, salad, red rice, fried plantains, and baked chicken.  It wasn't spicy at all and took second place for my favorite dinners of the weekend.  The American-style Christmas dinner was first, of course.  December 28, 2014
Dessert, YES!  December 28, 2014
Rotarians and family dancing on the portico.  When Mr. Ako asked me if I dance, I told him yes, but I didn't want to show anyone up.  December 28, 2014
My host family and I at the Tema holiday party, December 28, 2014
The next morning, as I packed Ms. Joanne’s SUV with my belongings and we headed back to my hostel in Accra, I was feeling relaxed and wonderful.  It was nice to spend some quality time with the Odoteis, the same folks who found me at the airport on my first bewildered night in Africa, gave me a place to stay, food to eat, company, and expert advice on surviving in Ghana.  The change of environment after a busy semester was much needed.  It’s funny; before leaving Charleston, SC, I told my parents that I would love to have the opportunity to live with a host family.  God answered that request and gave me a great Rotary host family.  Spending the Christmas holiday with them while away from home meant a lot to me and will certainly never be forgotten.

          Who could have asked for a better way to spend the holidays?  Yesterday, I found out that I have four more weeks instead of three before school begins—thank goodness!  There’s lots to do in only a short period of time.  Next week, I’ll discuss receiving a long awaited package from the States.  I’ll also begin a segment on a major part of Ghanaian culture—Ghanaian music as I understand it.  Stay tuned!