Monday, July 8, 2013

Hello everyone,

This past week has been very fun! I have been discovering new things around Accra and getting a few souvenirs to take home. This past week I had my regular classes Twi, Policies Society and Government and then I had my dance class. In that class we learned a new dance that we will finish learning this week. We have a dance recital next week on Thursday and I will be sure someone records this so that everyone can see us dancing!

Aside from that I went to the Bush Market last week to have a dress made for myself and my mother. I also went to the Medina market where they too have an assortment of fabrics, soaps, goods, food, and more. The smells were very similar to Kumasi, there was still raw fish, cooked fish wrapped, fried fish, some chicken, a lot of peppers for sale, people walking around with bowls on their heads, grocery bags, and food for sale.

To go to the market or mall or just about anywhere in Ghana we take these public “buses” called tro-tro’s. It is not really a bus but more like a van with anywhere from 9 to 20 seats people pay from 40 pesewa’s to 2 cedi’s depending on where you are going. There is a driver, another person in the front seat and then someone who is in charge of the door and collecting money. This person who opens the door and collects money will use hand motions to show people if they are going to downtown Accra, the circle, Medina, La Paz, Legon, and more. Then when they come you basically push your way onto the  tro-tro trying to get a seat! You have to be very aggressive which is intimidating to do. We used the tro-tro this weekend to go to the mall, Medina Market, the circle, the art center, and church. Compared to using a taxi you could only spend 2 cedi going to a destination and back compared to spending 20 cedi on a taxi!

On Friday half of the people in the USAC program went to the Volta region to see a monkey sanctuary where the fed monkeys, hiked a mountain to look over the forest and swam in waterfalls! I stayed in Accra hanging out with the other half. We decided to go to the art centre which was a journey. After arriving there immediately the craftsmen and women in the market run to us selling bracelets, gold, wood carvings, paintings, postcards, key chains, kente cloth and more! It can be very overwhelming but you have to be firm here telling people that you are not interested. It is also helpful to stay with a partner or in a small group when walking around so you do not get lost and can go off of one another to find things or if you are overwhelmed you have someone to walk away with. We were at the market for about 2 hours and we purchased several items. Here at the market you bargain with people. Typically you can cut a price in half and then go from there and bargain a price. For example, I bought a painting and he wanted to charge me 40 cedi. I said no 5 (I know this is not half but I am a college student) then we kept negotiating and I eventually bought it for 15! The other thing is that since we are foreigners they can tell and will sometimes inflate prices for a larger profit so it is important to bargain well and know what you want to spend while you are there and what you originally came searching for.

On Sunday, I went to a Baptist Church with a student leader and 3 other people from my program. I had wanted to go to church and be able to tell my family the differences. It was very fun and upbeat being able to go. Women wore their Sunday best with traditional African dresses. We were welcomed with Sprite and a pastry after services concluded.  Later on Sunday I had a few items made for myself from a seamstress for only 21 cedi which is about $10. Such a steal!

Now I am going into week 5 with a few classes just reviewing for finals that are next week. There are no field trips planned for anyone this coming weekend. I am sure we will all find something to do or we will be studying. Some people will be going back to Cape Coast or Mole which is a national reserve with elephants baboons and more in the upper Northern region of the country which is mostly dry savannah compared to the lower portion which is more rainforest and humid.

 I will post again next week!

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