"We are all handmade people created by a God who is not safe or small." Rend Collective Experiment

Monday, December 31, 2007

Jim in Ghana (Day 4)

Day 4

When I went to post this Saturday, the power went out before I could send this writing, so obviously there is a two day delay and the café was closed Sunday.

Imagine this: You take your home stereo system and turn it up about as loud as it can go, but instead of putting your speakers inside your home, you stick them outside your front door for everyone else to hear instead of yourself. It actually seems that the speakers are placed right outside my window of my room. How did these people know that I like to fall asleep to really loud and distorted African reggae music all through the night? What a kind and thoughtful people. In America, this may last for about 5 minutes before the cops would arrive. The other thing is that after about 30 or so minutes, another neighbor down the road switches off and they turn their stereo on instead of the last guy. This way you have more variety of music and everyone gets a turn. Who would have known?

The last several mornings there is a funny resemblance to burning of what appeared to be illegal narcotics. When further sniffed out, it seems that is also smells like a forest fire and plastic too. I have concluded that people burn their trash here and the smell is a combination of whatever is combustible.

I also discovered that people use water tanks elevated in the air and that is how you not only get water into a building, but that is how you can have indoor plumbing that utilizes running water. One interesting thing that I discovered is that when the tank runs out and new water is put in, that the initial color of the water resembles a brownish tint, just like dirty water would look like. Oh yea, that’s because it is dirty water. Just another reason to stick with bottled water. I also noticed that the locals do not drink the water but use water packs that resemble the air bags that some stores ship boxed items in the U.S. The kids like to drink from them, fill them back with air, and make them explode. Fun.

Again, when pictures come and there are a lot of kids outside, they are the locals not from the orphanage. They all like having their pictures taken over and over. It someone wants to really wow the kids, bring a portable printer that can print photos. You will be the hit of the century. Again, sad to be reminded of the simple things we take for granted and not even give a second thought.

If I haven’t mentioned already there is one other thing that is a little different. When we show up at the guest house and sometimes at Starbucks the people smile, shake your hand, and say, “You are welcome.” I had to think for a moment because I did not say “thank you” first or anything like that. That is just their greeting. Instead of saying “hello” or “Come in” they just say, “You are welcome,” so don’t be surprised.

After a quick trip to Starbucks, we went into the downtown area and towards the market. Wow, I don’t think I can describe the scene. There was so much happening. The first place we went to was where you bargain. Fortunately we had Edward and one of the workers went with us. Another strange site was a few white looking people were paving the roads. Edward told us that of all people, our Chinese friends obtain a lot of contracts for road paving in Ghana. Sure enough, as we got closer, there were the Chinese dudes on the paving machines making roads. I didn’t have the heart to tell Edward that the roads contain lead and that they will be recalled within a few years.

The bargaining at the first market was a friendly game, it seemed. I didn’t understand a word, but after several minutes of conversation they came to a price, we either agreed or disagreed, and that was it. There was really no pressure on my end since the hard work was already done. Next we went to the actual market downtown. It is a huge area with thousands of people everywhere. The easiest way to describe it would be like when you see a huge trail of ants which go in both directions. It’s like an organized chaos. There are women everywhere with stuff on their head (yea, just like you see on t.v.). Some of them had babies wrapped on their backs on top of that. On a sad note, Edward told us that most of the abandoned children are found at the market. Most places will not hire you when you have children, so the women just leave their kids to fend for themselves while they go out for work. What a messed up system. People sell just about anything and everything. It’s like Wal Mart but only outside. You don’t really bargain as much there, but you also don’t stand still very long. If you are claustrophobic you won’t last long. You also have to be rude sometimes and push your way through. If you don’t the people behind you either get annoyed, or they push around you. Either way you need to push. I cannot recommend enough utilizing the services of Edward and Percy. Percy is the driver that works with Percy at the orphanage and Edward is the traveling coordinator. Edward knows a lot about the history and gives you lessons along the way. We even saw the coffins that are made into airplanes, fish, and tree like carvings. I wanted to test drive one, but I think they take these things a little more serious than I would. We almost lost Zack for a minute, but us white guys stick out real easy. If anyone is going to go to Ghana, I would highly recommend to bring extra money to take care of Edward and Percy. They will be worth whatever extra you give because they will save you a lot of money with their knowledge. They all work well together. I feel bad for Percy the driver who always seems to have to wait for us wherever we go. He seems kind of quiet, so at least give the guy some drinks (soda). I gave him candy and he later told me that he gave it to his boy. I bought lunch for Edward and he did not eat it so he could take it home to his family. I was very taken back at their humility. Dropping $10 for lunch might be a common occurrence for us in America, but it is almost unheard of for these guys.

Coming back was pretty uneventful, and we just spent some time at the orphanage again. Sampson is a funny little guy. He is going to need some extra attention at first, but he is funny. If he starts to cry, you refuse to let him cry and he almost always starts to laugh again. Go figure. Tomorrow is church day so I will be there and the orphanage on and off throughout the day. I have to be ready for the phone call Monday a.m. I pray that somehow this process will move ahead for the both of us quickly. Talk later…..


Noel said...

Thank you for keeping us updated. We love Jim's description of the market. It sounds like he really had a good time. I wonder if he found any buy one get one free deals? :)
We will be praying that all goes well and that your boys will get to come home with your dh.

much love,
Noel and Rosebud

Deborah said...

We love reading these updates as we sit on the edge of the chair...we are waiting and hoping and praying with you. Thanks for sharing all the information that you can.
We love you a whole lots!!

Anonymous said...

Love the updates! So with this music outside the window all night thing- are people up talking and listening to it or is it just playing? I am a night owl and was wondering if I wanted to be wild for a few moments and just go outside and dance- could I?? It just sounds so fun!! Can't do that here in my hood!:-)


Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for the updates! I love Jim's since of humor, he so funny!
God bless,