Thanks so much for the wonderful comments on my last post, I'm glad you enjoyed. I'm not sure I'll be able to continue to impress you, but I feel as though I have to try.
Writing them on paper might be a good idea, but with the help of Moses at the office I've discovered that I can just use one of the monitors in the office and use my laptop as if everything was normal! Although I still can't use it outside the office. At the same time I didn't discover that early enough to prepare a post in advance, so this one will a be "on the fly".
I'm trying to arrange one-on-one discussions as we speak. I've made up a basic structure with some key questions that I'd like answered. And hopefully through that interaction I can get a clearer idea of the environment they find themselves, with more specifics.
As well, I wasn't in Accra, so I apologize if I said that somewhere, it was a mistake. The internet cafe that I'm using is in Tamale, about a 25 minute drive from Pong-Tamale. I will be spending most of my time in Pong-Tamale, only coming into Tamale on weekends. I hope to elaborate a bit more on my attempts to find a permanent residence later in the post. As for the compounds that you likely saw from Google Earth, each of those would generally house a family. I'm not 100% sure about the functions of the larger buildings and smaller huts, because I believe it varies from family to family. Generally, though, I think the larger rectangular buildings will house the head of the household and in many cases has other rooms for other members. The other huts can serve many functions it seems, usually as a room for sleeping but some are the entryway to the compounds. Once I find a compound of my very own I'll provide the layout.
So this week was a bit different than my previous ones, it presented me with my first truly tangible pangs of home-sickness, a drop in motivation and general frustration with the difficulty I've had communicating with those around me. It was a bit up and down. I would have a day of feeling more or less useless and then start to feel better the next day, and then the next day I'd be down again.
I'm feeling fine now, and today in fact was quite fun, but I'll save that for the end. This week was difficult for a number of reasons, many little things compounded together to appear much more frustrating than they should have been. First of all, I was thinking that things at work were moving to slow, and that I wasn't pushing myself enough to keep up momentum. I was banking on my interactions with the students this week to act as my springboard to jump into the coming week, but on both Wednesday and Thursday, the students failed to arrive. It turns out that there was a scheduling mistake and they had been asked to meet with me on the two days leading to a deadline to fill out some important paperwork in Tamale. But even given this, it still didn't feel good to think that I had wasted two afternoons waiting for them, and that I was unable to make the preparations I was hoping to make for the following week.
This let-down was added to my inability to make any progress in finding a home in the community, so that I could begin the process of attempting to understand the local people and their livelihoods in earnest. I hadn't felt that I was properly communicating my need to live in the community to the Principle of the College, with whom I was staying. And in truth I had no idea where to begin, I was simply going to have to stroll into the village and start asking.
A stroke of luck came with the intervention of an extremely helpful individual by the name of Rahman. Thanks to a call from Sarah my coach to the Vice-Principle, as well as the subsequent conversation that he and I had, the Vice-Principle had asked Rahman, a young man of 25 who lived in the community to give me a hand. Rahman and I had met before, he had helped get my bicycle ready for use. Rahman had immediately spread the word that I was looking for somewhere to stay and the following days were spent meeting all the individuals who had a room to spare. Rahman had presented me with more options than I could handle.
So the prospects of finding a suitable place to stay in the community are now much better than they were at the beginning of the week, and I've been able to give myself the extra push to realize that I can and should just pursue the things I'm hoping to accomplish at work, such as interviewing teachers, rather than waiting for something to just happen on its own. The important thing was to get past the fear of feeling annoying!
And now on to today! Adam and I had arranged earlier in the week to go farming with his host family. So this morning I woke up bright and early and caught the first tro-tro (a large bus-like van) for Tamale. After a breakfast of egg-and-bread (literaly fried egg squished between a bun) and a mug of Milo (hot chocolate) I joined Adam and his friends Yussif and Ibbrahim outside their compound and we jumped onto bicycles to make the journey to the farm. It wasn't exactly a comfortable one since I was riding on the rear rack of the bicycle and could feel every bump and rock! After one small tumble caused by mud, we recovered and arrived at the large rectangle of earth that we would transform into a maize field by spreading seed.
Yussif and two others traversed the field back and forth poking holes in the group for the seed with large sticks, than Adam, the rest of the boys and I walked behind them tossing seeds into each hole and covering them in soil with our feet.
It wasn't that tiring but the sun began to take its toll, calling for lots of water! Eventually we were joined by the women of the family, and they joined us in the sowing of the seeds. It took surprisingly little time to cover quite a bit of ground. The family laughed at Adam and I as we sweated and applied and re-applied sunscreen. This prompted the phrase "Wintanga a yaya"
The sun turned out to be too much for the entire operation by the time 2:00 rolled around, because it had dried out the soil, and it was no longer productive to continue sowing. And thus ended my first farming experience in Ghana.