And I’m out

So the beginning of my favorite K’naan song goes like this:

“Any man who knows a thing knows he knows not a damn, damn thing at all.”

I love that line.

The song is called ‘Take a minute,’ and I distinctly remember when I first played it in my DC apartment. It’s not really a song you dance to but I couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop until my feet gave in, waving that white flag. I played it, sang it, danced it, over and over. And over.

Those words always resonated with me. I suppose they resonate because they speak to being open-minded, to being humble, to questioning why you believe what you believe, to wondering why others might disagree, to making the effort to stand in their shoes and see what they see, to, putting it more plainly—enter every context with big eyes, big ears, and a small mouth.

It’s hard to meet that maxim regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. It’s not easy to recognize your own blind spots. I suppose that’s why they’re called blind spots. It’s not easy to stand in someone else’s shoes and see what they see. Empathy isn’t an easy trait to come by. It’s more like a process, a day-to-day struggle of sorts, than it is something actually achieved or internalized. It’s hard for me especially—my mouth tends to move faster than my mind. And it’ doubly difficult since I’m writing a blog meant mostly to make my mom roll her eyes and chuckle to herself.

So, what’s my point? Well, at the beginning of all this, I said that I didn’t have expectations or a particular agenda for this trip; that I recognized the limits of what I could achieve or contribute in a few short months in a country I knew relatively little about; that I just wanted to learn, from the people, the places, and the work. And then I went and wrote about crocodiles, Bob Seger, and the West Wing. I didn’t exactly share thoughtful, self-reflective posts about living in Ghana or development work.

Truth is, I still don’t know yet what I’m taking from this experience. It’s been amazing and engaging experience–overwhelming at times and edifying nearly all the time. It’s not an experience I’ll quick forget, but it is one that I need to let sit. Got to ruminate. Mull it over. So while I’m not about to jump into lessons learned, I figure I owe it to my loyal readership (Mom, Em, here’s looking at you) to at least share some concluding thoughts.

And (because I tend to abjure structure, organization, and, for that matter, punctuation and proper syntax when blogging—I’m basically Bill Faulkner with a laptop) these thoughts will be scrambled, poorly thought through, revolve mostly around what I’ll miss, and include questions rather than answers.

As an aside—I realize I’m rhyming. I can’t help it. I’m listening to K’Naan as I write and it clearly has some influence on the words I write and the order I put them in.

So what will I take with me?

I’ll miss the crap out of the people I’ve met—the new friends turned life long friends whether they know it or not. I’m hard to get rid of. Ask around. To be fair, I learned an amazing amount from traveling around Ghana—from Accra, to Eastern Region, to Tamale—from chatting with Taxi drivers, wandering the streets, exploring new markets and new neighborhoods, from just walking and talking. But I learned the most from the people—places, in the end, are more about people than anything else, right?

And when I say ‘people,’ I mean the folks I worked with. Working with IPA was a wonderful experience—it made this trip. Even though I only spent a couple of months here, I feel invested in IPA Ghana—I feel apart of the team. And that’s no doubt to the credit of the amazing people that work here. I’ll miss the late night conversations over Tilapia, over chicken and rice, and (mostly) over drinks. The conversations touched a lot of different topics but tended to center around living/working in a developing country:

• What matters most to you, personal happiness/a sense of self or professional success? Are these two things necessarily mutually exclusive? What about in the context of development work? Can you do thoughtful, important work, rooted in an understanding of the local context, while staying connected to friends and family and feeling like yourself? If tradeoffs indeed exist, what’s the alternative? Can you do good work abroad as a ‘development consultant,’ hitting and running every couple of months? If you go the researcher route, how can you take steps to ensure that what you’re doing is informed by local perspectives and informs local policy?

I have my own answers (which, predictably, don’t resemble anything close to an answer so much as they do another question) but I’m curious about what you think.

I’ll miss my morning walk to work—seeing kids so unbelievably happy playing soccer on the nearby dirt field. It makes me want to be 12 again, playing golf (thanks mom—for driving me to the driving range nearly every weekend), playing basketball in the driveway (thanks dad) without a care in the world. Just being a kid. I’ll miss the little kids shouting ‘Hi’ and then giggling and waving when I say ‘Hi’ back. Best high fives ever. They’re adorable.

I’ll miss the woman who makes the best egg sandwiches in the history of the world. It took me awhile to find her, but I now visit her daily—she calls me her husband. I’ll miss chatting with the Kingdom Books employees as I wait for my sandwich—we last chatted about whether it made more sense to marry an ugly man (he’ll treat you well and never leave you, but you’re kids will be pretty ugly) or a good looking man (you’ll have good looking children but he might leave you old and wrinkled). Thoughts?

But it’s not just the kids or the egg sandwich lady (seriously considering opening a shop of my own in Cambridge)—it’s the sense of community. Everyone knows everyone else. They stop to say hello, to check in on one another. It’s a genuine connection that I don’t see as much of in the U.S.

I often feel more alive here. There’s a different energy/spirit here than anywhere I’ve ever been. People seem less guarded, less worried about how they’re going to be perceived. It’s not always easy being yourself, unbridled and unconcerned with what others might think. But go anywhere in Ghana where music is playing (and you won’t have to walk far to find it—music is everywhere) and you’ll find folks dancing (hard), guys dancing with other guys, laughing, being silly, being themselves. It’s a beautiful thing.

Last year, one of my closest friends from school (and my favorite Nigerian) once remarked “You’ve got some African in you.”* As I reflect on these last couple of months in Ghana—on how hard working people are, on the pervasive sense of community and closeness, on the kindness shown me and others, and on the energy that fills the market, the streets, the nearby soccer field and everywhere in between—I can only hope that she was right.

* She may or may not have said so after I out butt-danced her. But since this is a blog, I figure it’s not treasonous to ignore context every once in awhile to make a broader point.

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the old man and his flip flop

People of the webs, I’m back.  I didn’t really go anywhere.  But I took a blog break.   Got lazy.  Got busy.  But here I am.   Back, in small part, by request.  It turns out that my mom, dad, and sister aren’t the only people reading my blog.  Weird.

For those of you that can only stand to read what I write for more than a minute or two (I don’t blame you, though perhaps I like you a little less than the others), here’s the executive summary: 1) went to Tamale for a IPA conference 2) kicked it with crocodiles 3) ate apple pie on the 5th of July and 4) made it back to Accra (just barely), just in time to drink beers on the beach.

So, first things first, I went to Tamale.  Tamale is in the north of Ghana a couple of hours south of the Burkina Faso border.  It’s a trip times two. It’s a trip because it takes 10-17 hrs by van/bus (more on the hour spread, later).  But it’s also a trip because it’s so strikingly different from Accra.  Accra is a sprawling metropolis with everything you could imagine: fancy grocery stores, slums, pizza joints, tin shacks, shit roads followed by pristine pavement etc.  It’s difficult for me to describe in part because it’s so varied.  If it were a regression, its error term would be heteroscedastic.  The u’s vary with the x’s.   Oh snap.  I went there.  Anyway, think pockets of Cambridge pinned next to pockets of Chad.

Tamale, by contrast, is more uniform (though that’s no doubt an opinion formed over the course of a couple weeks, with most of my days spent in an office or a conference venue.  So what do I know, really? But this is a blog—so I’m about to get my generalization on).   It’s a small town defined by its markets, at times its overwhelming smell (folks burn their trash, and because people live closer to one another, it’s more potent in Tamale than Accra), and surrounded by miles and miles and acres and acres of subsistence farmers.  Mud huts, thatch roofs, kids without shoes playing in dirt, others twirling a machete as they walk to the field to work (either instead of, before, or after school), women balancing more crops and goods on the top of their heads than I could carry in a hundred trips, rains so hard and so sideways that they knock whatever is balancing on top of your head, off, flood farms and uproot informal businesses.

Anyway, the conference itself was a lot of fun—really enjoyed getting to know the rest of the staff, learn about all of IPA’s projects, went through some RCT training etc. Then, wait for it, we went to a crocodile pond!  In a town called Paga, which sits on the Burkina Faso border, there are three crocodile ponds.  As the story goes, if you feed a crocodile a live chicken, you can sit on it and it won’t do a damn thing.  Makes sense right?  I mean, anyone can do just about anything to me if I eat enough Chinese food, and I won’t mind.  I’m that content.

So when you arrive to the crocodile pond, the chief of the pond (a 75+ year old man who speaks little/no English) tells you about how the pond came to be—it’s some mythical story that involves crocodiles helping his great, great grandfather (or someone else like that) swim across the pond and away from danger.  I wasn’t really paying attention, truth be told.  I kept thinking to myself “What the hell am I doing here? I’m at a crocodile pond.  I’m at a pond full of crocodiles, and walking toward them.”

So the old guy leads us to the first crocodile.  We all gather around and then it starts.  One by one, everyone in our group sits on the crocodile, holds up its tail, kneels next to it, and it doesn’t move.  It just sits there.  Calmly.  I start to think that it’s sedated—that the old man drugged the crocodile, and this is all some sham.  But then, it moves toward us. We, predictably, freak out—I start to climb up the nearest tree (that’s no joke, though my climbing skills were a bit comical).  It probably only moved a couple of feet before the old man raised up his hand, and the crocodile stopped in its tracks.

Anyway, up until the last minute, I was adamant I wasn’t going to touch this crocodile.  “Hell to the no.  Ain’t happening” I said a number of times.  I ate crocodile once at the ‘Bite of Seattle’ (tastes like tough chicken), and this crocodile would surely know so.  He would smell it, feel it, sense it.  I ate its brother or sister and this would be payback.   Putting all sense to the side, I kneeled down next to the crocodile, put my hand on its back, and smiled as best I could for a couple of pictures.

I thought we were done—we conquered the crocodile! Bam! Take that, crocodile!  We’d be YouTube sensations.  It would go viral by night.  It would be all over the Google.  But we weren’t done.  The old man takes us to the actual pond, where 7-10 crocodiles have come out of the water, knowing they would likely be fed.  So the crocodiles were situated in sort of a semi-circle surrounding us.  And they would get up and move a couple of feet closer, one at a time, in a strategic, offensive, quasi-military maneuver.  And each time, we freaked out for a minute or two until the old guy held up his hand, and they would sit back down.

Until one crocodile didn’t listen to the old man.  He wouldn’t sit back down.  It kept walking toward us.  It was going rogue.  Then the old man takes off his flip-flop and throws it at the crocodile’s head.  It hits the crocodile, and the crocodile returns to the pond.  At this moment I realize that the only thing between a bunch of crocodiles and a bunch of researchers is a 75-year old man and his flip-flop.  Bad life choice.  Anyway, so we fed a couple of crocodiles live chickens and went on our way.  On to the pie!

So the 4th of July came and went.  I didn’t do a whole lot.  The morning call to prayer woke me up (just about everyone in Tamale is Muslim and the daily prayers are blasted over the loud-speakers, beginning at 4am).  I spent the morning wandering around town—went to the internet café, walked around the markets, grabbed some food, and then played ultimate Frisbee with some co-workers, friends of friends, and a couple of Ghanaian kids.  It only reinforced the fact that I haven’t been able to work out since I’ve been here.

Then came the 5th.  My bosses and their bosses got to Tamale (they were coming up for the conference I was planning and to take a couple of meetings with different partner organizations), and we all went out to dinner.   A taxi took us to dinner—it was pouring and pitch black and the car didn’t have lights or windshield wipers.  He would reach out his window (letting in rain) to wash the windshield off with a cloth.  Anyway, when we got to our destination he demanded 10 cedi.  The fair fee for how far we went was 3 cedi, so that’s what we said we’d pay. I had taken nearly the same drive the night before (back from Frisbee) and it was 3 cedi.  He flipped out.  Got angry and adamant.  We upped it to 5 cedi because we didn’t want to deal with it. Then he grabbed my boss’s arm so that she wouldn’t walk way.  She calmly said he needed to let go.  I said the same, though less calmly.  At roughly that moment, maybe 10 or so locals came running over to sort of adjudicate the situation.  We explained what happened, he kept yelling, the locals started arguing with the driver, we added 1 more cedi and left.  (I should note that this guy was a nut—he’s not at all representative of the kindhearted folks I met in Tamale) And then I gorged myself with an entire pizza  (a theme of my trip, it seems) and apple pie!  If engulfing 2000 calories in one meal isn’t American, I don’t know what is.  On the ride home, Celine Dion came on in the car, and the office manager, Agatha (who I adore), belted out every word.  She’s amazing—during work she would stop by my desk, tell me a joke, and then ask me if I thought she was funny.  I couldn’t not laugh around her.

Anyway, I left Tamale on the 8th after the conference.   On the way up, IPA rented a van—and the drive took about 10 hours with a couple of pit stops.  On the way down, I took a bus, which took 16+ hours.  By 7am, 30minutes into the drive, the bus broke down.  It took awhile for the company to send a replacement.  But then we were off.  13 hours later, the bus sat maybe 7-10 miles from Accra.  So close, yet so far.  It was a parking lot.  The road wasn’t a road.  It was a sandpit.  A wet sand pit full of cars and trucks and vans acting like off-road vehicles.  It turns out that a huge truck had overturned, prompting the nutty traffic.  Anyway, I got home 3 hours later, watched an episode of the West Wing (more for the feeling of comfort/familiarity than anything else), and went to bed.

Accra felt like home yesterday.  I knew where I was walking.  I knew what I was doing.  I knew people!  And after work I met some colleagues and friends for drinks on the beach.  It. Was. Amazing.  This sounds ridiculous—but I never quite internalized how close I am to the ocean.  I can see the water from work, but it was always in the back of my mind—never really thought about it all that much.  But now I’m hyped to spend my nights drinking beers on the beach with only the ocean in my way.

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bacteria, the West Wing, and coffee shops

So I’m writing when I should be sleeping.   But I can’t.  So hear I am.   Anyway, a lot has happened since my last post.   Well, a lot and not much at all—let me explain.  Or try.  Or ramble about Alicia Keys and my high school days without actually coming to anything resembling a point.  I figure if you’re reading this it’s not because of my particularly insightful musings on Ghana, but because you like me enough.  Or, in some cases, because you’re bored at work and this makes you chuckle.  And then you talk about the funny parts with my sister, because she also happens to be at your work (you know who you are)

The short version: I got a bacteria infection (yes, seriously) on my travels to the Eastern region on Tuesday.   It.  Was awful.  I could go on some rant about colonialism and the IMF/WB, but it didn’t prove in my favor last time around.  So I’ll just say this—being sick in Ghana blows.  Friday was my first day out of bed interacting with the world.  Anyway, on to the longer version.

So first thing Tuesday morning my colleague and I, Eric (the Research Cluster Director), hop into a cab with IPA’s trusty driver Ben, and head East.  I sat in the back, staring out the window, snapping the occasional photo (unfortunately, didn’t take that many—my bad), while listening to Ben and Eric chit-chat about African politics, corruption etc.  But really, I didn’t hear much of the conversation because I couldn’t stop looking at the roads.  I knew ahead of time that the roads would be bad.  I’ve seen the pictures.  I’ve read the reports on the need for highways/road construction as a way to mitigate transportation cost, improve service delivery etc.  But it was still surprising—it’s something that’s felt, not read.  And I felt it.  Every pot hole. Every 10 ft stretch of concrete followed by a mile of wet sand, with no lanes, cars weaving about, making up the rules and regulations as they go.   It wasn’t so bad in the city.  But heading East, over the hills, was a bit of a slap in the face.  Coming back was particularly intense, but more on that later.

So we eventually arrived in the Eastern region, and met first with the credit manager for Mumuadu Rural Bank, a local partner on a couple IPA projects (a labeled savings account project—shoot me an email if you want the details, it’s a pretty interesting behavioral study).  Then we went out to the site of one of IPA’s “Epi-Centers.” An Epi-Center is essentially a big building, in a rural (like 30 minutes by car from anything or anyone) village that houses a bank, a health clinic, a theater for community productions, a classroom and some other jazz.  Anyway, IPA partnered with an NGO called the Hunger Project to evaluate the effectiveness of some of these programs (again, email for more details).  The visit was a kick in the pants.

We arrived and almost the entire village was there—they had just finished a pretty big meeting with a director for the Hunger Project.  When we arrived, the person leading the construction (his name was Charles! Booyah!) of the Epi-Center sat us in front of the entire community, like performers on a stage or a teacher in front of a class, and told the entire community that we were evaluators here to see what was up (he said it more eloquently, but that was the gist), which gave us far more credibility and stature than we deserved.

Originally we were hoping just to see the building, walk around, ask a couple of questions, and leave.  We went on a whim—Eric asked Hana (a helpful IPA colleague showing us around Eastern region) if an Epi-Center was nearby.  We went with no notice, no plans. But ended up sitting in front of a captive audience of 30-40 village members.  Hana (thank god) ended up speaking for most of the time, as she speaks Twi, but it was really quite neat to hear from the community why they wanted to implement the programs their implementing, why it’s so important to their community, how it would make a material difference etc.

Next stop, lunch! This is the only part of the trip I regret.  Because what I ate (a chicken curry dish) gave me whatever bacteria infection I got.  Ever had a bacteria infection?  No? Well, as you might have intuited from the name or learned from the Google, they suck! Major stomach problems + fever + hot flashes + body aches = no fun at all.  Not even a little fun.  Not even “remember that one time…” kind of reflective fun.  And normally I reflect fun all over the place (couldn’t help it).

Anyway, I digress.  Hopefully I won’t have to write about being sick much more.

Next we went to a couple of meetings with folks at Ghana Statistical Services to learn about some of their survey methods, NGO contacts etc. Then we went home. Got home by 830-9pm.  The ride home was more intense than the ride East.  Same roads of course (though ‘roads’ doesn’t seem like an apt term when it’s holes and dirt), but no lights.  And it poured. And those that know me know I don’t like driving in the rain—it all goes back to a pretty bad car wreck I got into in high school.  I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, I was holding on for dear life, thinking about starting a foundation that I’d call “Roads to Development,” or something catchy but not too catchy.  People might think it’s about different pathways to development, focusing on health and education and agriculture or small business development etc. ‘Suckers,’ I would say.  ‘It’s about roads! ‘ So who’s in?? Let me know.  Want to contribute?  I’ll let you know where to send the checks!  Thinking about this got me thinking of the West Wing.  Say what? Yea, I’m about to blow your mind.

So in season 7 of the West Wing, near the end of the series (a sad moment in my life—I was thinking the other day about adding up the number of hours I’ve spent watching the West Wing and the Wire and dividing that by the total number of hours I’ve been alive.  Then I thought that’d be sad.), CJ is entertaining post White House job offers (as the Santos team is transitioning in and the Bartlett team is transitioning out), and Franklin Hollis, some really rich guy, offers to let CJ pick one specific problem in the world, and try to solve it.  She picks the problem, he provides the billions of dollars. Sounds like an awesome gig, right? He thinks it might be malaria or HIV/AIDS or sanitation.  Her answer? Highways! God I love that show.

*Listening to Jay-Z’s “Young Forever.” That shit resonates.

So the next two days go like this.  Wake up.  In pain.  Walk back and forth from bedroom to bathroom.  Sleep.  Watch the Wire (already been through Seasons 1, 2 and 4 since arriving.)  Call my mom to let her know I’m not dead. Go to bed.  Repeat.

Friday afternoon I started to feel more like myself.  So I went into work and then went to dinner with some work colleagues.  I ate an entire pizza and loved every second of it. And it stayed down! Take that, infection!

If you made it this far, congratulations!  Here’s an interwebs  “You’re Awesome” sticker.  Just print this off at Kinkos on sticker paper, and cut out “You’re Awesome.”

I’m finishing this post Saturday morning at the most amazing place—a coffee shop with club sandwiches, good coffee, free WiFi and TeeVees.  There’s something about a good coffee shop that I absolutely love—I think they remind me of home.

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people of the webs

if you’re reading what i’m writing, please leave a comment! blogs are supposed to be interactive! maybe i’ll be more absurd to prompt discussion!

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Alicia Keys and high school me

So I’m alive and kicking. It. In Accra. (Really) witty puns aside, I got over my cold. Bam!

So Friday night after work I met Matt and Julia for dinner at Frankies. Frankies is the place expats go in Ghana for a cheeseburger, pizza, and Chinese food. It may as well be called Charley’s. Though if it were called Charley’s it would (obviously) turn into a dance club at night (playing a mix of Bob Seger and Wale), offer golf lessons during the day, and show reality TeeVee shows on all the flat screens (So You Think You Can Dance and anything from BravoTv).

(By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m listening to Alicia Keys as I write. And it’s amazing!).

Anyway, I don’t know if a club sandwich has ever tasted better. Frankly it was super mediocre and super expensive (for Accra, anyway), but I dipped each bite in Ketchup and loved every second of it. So we went to Frankies primarily to watch the World Cup (apparently So You Think You Can Dance hasn’t taken Accra by storm). But we ended up watching most of the game on the street. Say what?

So Oxford Street (previously the sight of NaNa the Fanta Prince et al.) is more or less shut down during the World Cup. They block off a couple of blocks, put up a huge big screen (maybe 20ft by 20ft), and everyone and their mother comes to watch soccer. It’s. Intense. It’s intense because Ghanaian’s don’t watch sports like Americans watch sports. Or at least they don’t watch sports like I watch sports (I won’t generalize my tendencies to all of America, seeing as how I can’t speak for all of America. If only, right? Charley 2038! Jokes).

Anyway, every play, regardless of what happens, people go nuts. In response to a pass, people jump and down in jubilation. In response to a good header, they blow their horns and shout. They must lose weight watching sports.

Saturday I went to Seattle. Or, well, I went to the Accra Mall, which felt like a mall in Seattle, or Boston or (enter American metropolitan mall here). It was kind of crazy. There was a huge grocery store, a Puma store, a Panasonic store, a movie theatre, a Nike store, a food court—all sorts of jazz. I bee-lined it to the grocery store and bought (nearly) a lifetime supply of coffee, peanut butter, bread, and cereal. That way I can make the same dinners I used to make for myself back in the States (sorry, mom!). If only they had lean cuisines and I had a microwave!

Saturday night I watched U.S.A play England with a bunch of awesome co-workers. Afterwards, we grabbed dinner/drinks and bonded over what we were like in high-school—a subject I brought up because I find that a little self-deprecation can go a long way. And if you knew me in high school, you would know what I mean by self-deprecation. For those of you that didn’t know me back in the day, just know that High School Me= golf team + fat + musicals.

Sunday I watched Ghana play Serbia. The city went nuts. I can’t describe with words what the reaction looked like or felt like. A more talented writer could. But everyone spilled into the streets, some singing the World Cup song, some dancing, some honking horns or chanting something in Twi, some thanking god for blessing Ghana, others just smiling. It was pretty neat to see.

Anyway, tomorrow I’m off to the Eastern region for the day. Hopefully will have some pictures to put up. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves!

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Don’t call it a comeback!

Seriously, don’t.  So I beat the stomach bug! Take that, stomach bug! But I managed to get a head cold.   I know what you’re thinking: “kid can’t catch a break.”  I know it.  Maybe I’m allergic to Africa?  Or maybe my cold is payback for colonialism and structural adjustment?

So perhaps I exaggerate.  Or kid.  Or some combination.  It’s entirely possible that my body is just getting used to a new environment.  So what else takes getting used to in Accra (for me, anyway—other people, tougher people, people that like to camp and wear performance fleece might find the following easy)?

1)   Showering: my building has running water most of the time.  But it’s not really “running water.” Maybe “walking water” is a more apt description?  “Limping water”?  It dribbles out of the faucet or showerhead—just enough to get a couple of my hairs wet (luckily my head only has a couple of hairs to get wet, but enough about my insecurities).   And really, isn’t being clean overrated?

2)   Poor access to the webs/caffeine: I’ve realized quite quickly that without the Interwebs and without coffee, I’m pretty worthless.  Seriously.  I got nothing to contribute. It’s not just that I struggle to focus without my morning café coolata (that’s for you, Mel V), it’s that I’m mostly skill-less without the helping hand of technology.  I can read and write.   And I can get my STATA and my Excel on from time to time.  But that’s about it.  Jokes aside (even though I’m not really joking), the broader point is this—it’s much more difficult to be productive when the power goes out pretty frequently and the webs come and go as they please, not caring that I desperately need to be on g-chat even if invisible or red-dotted.

3)   Getting around(s):  Where do you work? By the Kingdom books.  Where do you live? By Blue Gate.  How do you get there?  Take Papaye down.  So in Accra, you give directions by landmark, not streets.  So if I were to take a cab to work, I’d tell them I work by Kingdom books, a gigantic bookstore in Accra that you can see from far away.  Similarly, I live by blue gate, a well-known fish restaurant.  And if I wanted to get home, I’d say ‘take Papaye down,’ a street next to a big chicken restaurant.

I’m sure this list will ebb and flow as my summer continues.  I’ll get used to some of it (though I doubt I’ll ever get used to no nets at home) and discover new things that take some getting used to.   It’s no doubt a process, a journey, a sojourn, adventure, or another word that means journey, sojourn or adventure.  But I feel like I’m starting to get my footing.

Parting thoughts:

1.)  The World Cup starts tomorrow and this country is going to go absolutely nuts.

2.)  We had a once-in-a-year kind of rain last night.  It blew my mind—I couldn’t see in front of me.

3.) I’m headed to the Eastern Region for a day or two next week to observe a couple of IPA projects, chat with local partners etc. And I’m hyped to see rural Ghana. Maybe I’ll even take a picture or two.

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“Yea, probably. Minus the gross parts”

Another scattered post.  Maybe you should get used to it? Order and sentence structure and proper diction are for suckers.  And punctuation! Grammar be damned.

So Saturday I ran around town with Matt, Julia, Esther and Paul.  They’re all here working with TAMTAM, doing a behavioral study on bed net usage.  We watched the U.S. vs. Australia soccer match, went to the grocery store, and bought some counterfeit DVDs.

I promptly went home, watched the first couple of episodes of The Wire, changed and got ready for dinner.  Went to this fish place called Blue Gate.   I’ve heard it’s great but wouldn’t know—my stomach was feeling off so I decided to snack on a kebab rather than dive into a Talapia.  Not sure if it would’ve made any difference.  I spent most of the night puking and doing just about everything else that accompanies a stomach bug (will spare you the details).

I woke up at noon the next day probably 5lbs lighter and feeling pretty terrible.  I spent just about all of Sunday in bed, watching the Wire—thank goodness for the Chinese and their counterfeits.  I expected to get sick while I was here, but didn’t necessarily think it would happen in the first three days.   I haven’t had much of an appetite since, but started eating bananas and rice today. Baby steps.  Talked a bit with my sister on the phone.  She asked if I was going to blog about puking.  I said “Yea, probably.  Minus the gross parts.”   Ta-da!

Best part of Monday: my Ghanaian office-mate’s cell phone goes off, and the ring tone is “End of the Road,” by Boyz II Men.  If only it were Motown Philly!

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