Thursday, December 25, 2014

Ghana Update #5

December 24/25th, 2014

For those that celebrate....'twas the night before christmas and all that, so merry christmas to you....for those who celebrate something else...happy holidays....this holiday season i am in the states with my family celebrating - and it has been a long time since i have done this....so my folks' have gone all out....we have a decorated tree, we are seeing lots of family and friends and doing fun things in this holiday season....even have watched some christmas specials....things i have not done in a while....so i am enjoying it :)  before i get started with this update, i just want to wish all of you who take the time to read my updates a happy holiday season and all the best in 2015!!!!  without you, i doubt i would bother to write these fun adventures of mine out....

things were pretty crazy at the end of the semester at school....from grading and writing comments for all of my students, to a field day of track and field events and giving presentations to my kids about antarctica.....i do this at every school i go to, and i invite my colleagues to come as well...i am always surprised at who shows up for the presentations and for this particular school, i was again surprised....it's fun reliving these stories and that adventure from my life year after year and i love that folks are still interested in hearing about the south pole and mcmurdo...i got great questions and realized it has been 10 years since i summered at the south pole....man, how time flies....but it was a fun way to end the semester and i think everyone who came enjoyed the presentation and realized how much they want to go or do not ever want to go visit.....

i figured my last update of 2014 would focus on the place i currently reside in....ghana, as i have only done 3 updates about the adventure i am currently on....there are many things about ghana that i really enjoy and even though it's getting hotter and hotter by the day, i feel like i have settled into things and am trying to explore more in the town called accra and in the area around....hopefully that will continue during the second semester....i am hoping to get to the cape coast and to some of the western beaches over some of the long weekends....but for this update...its all about accra....which has about 2.4 million people living within it....here are some of the things i see day-to-day and what my daily life is like....


Accra is a town with a lot of art....and people are extremely creative with what they create and what you can buy....just around the corner from our school is a metal smith who is amazing with this art....and at one of my favorite shops are these pair of elephants that greet you at the front door...they are made from recycled and reworked metal and are taller than me....simply awesome....


and of course, some of the most skilled people in ghana are the tailors and the weavers...i have not included much about kente cloth so far, and will need to take the time to do that....that is created by the men of ghana....the fabric above those is what the women of ghana use to create the amazing clothes worn by the entire country...including me....so colorful....but so thick, so i do not wear many because they cause me to sweat a lot...but i sure love the colors....
 

in one of the markets i visited i saw a woman making a shirt on this sewing machine....very old fashioned, but very ghana....there is a lot of pride in this country and for good reason...people work hard and actually as has been pointed out to me, there are many entrepreneurs in ghana who are starting to get the word out about the styles and fashion and ability found in ghana...it's cool to be there for that....


one of the things i am always amazed by is what people, both men and women, can carry on their heads....they must have super strong necks....but everyone can do it....some people, like the women above, put a ring of fabric on their heads to help steady what they are carrying, but not everyone does this....the women above are carrying plantains and bananas...two of the staples of the ghanian diet....
 

one of the other things that happens at every stop light on the way to and from places is the selling of things on the streets....done by carrying things on the head as well...in this shot you can see the woman in red on the left carrying plantains - fried - the woman in the middle is carry water packets - we are not supposed to drink the water from them, but everyone who is ghanian does, and the woman on the right, well, i am not really sure what she is carrying....they are  selling their wares to the people piling on the tro-tro...and the two men in the middle are charging the folks on the tro-tro and are letting them know where they are headed....this is the way ghana functions....



same stoplight....more ladies carrying things...the one on the left, plantain chips...the one in pink - ground nuts - which are probably roasted and are like peanuts....the men are all waiting for the correct tro-tro to take them on their way....there are no public buses and no metro in accra....so tro-tro is the way people get around, unless they go by taxi....


this last shot of the same streetlight is what happens when the cars start to stop....the women and men selling things walk up and down between the cars selling their things....it is sometimes quite scary, as they get caught between the cars when the traffic starts to move....but luckily i have never seen anyone get hurt....the women generally sell the food - plantains, donuts, water; and the men sell the funny things - wind shield wipers, blinking santa hats, bath mats, massaging wands, furniture, bubble wands....it's wild....

i took this shot as i was walking up to the store where i was having some framing done...this woman is carrying a wooden box on her head that held underwear and socks and things to put your hair up....as you can see, she is also carrying the stool she will sit on when she needs to take a break from walking....just amazing what they can effectively carry on their heads....blows my mind....
 

i apologize for the quality of the picture above, but i have been trying to take a great shot of the bats at night for months now and have not been successful....every night at 6pm - almost on the dot - the bats come out and start to head north from the bat trees they sleep in the daytime....there are hundreds and possibly thousands of them and are incredible to watch...it is one of my favorite things about accra...the sheer number of bats that fly at 6pm....this and the loss of power of our house are what help me set my watch...not really, but it truly is incredible and it happens every night :) i am hoping to get a better picture of this flight path, but this will have to do for the moment....


the other animals i see daily are the lizards....whether they be geckos on my wall at school or home or these agama lizards running across the street, up the walls or across campus....lizards are everywhere...the one above is a female agama....at some point i will try and get a good shot of the males, as of course they are prettier in color...most male animals in the world have this claim to fame, as they have to win the females and therefore have to show their stuff...the females are beige and the males are black, orange and beige....hopefully i will get a good shot of one for you to see....but here's a link to a nice shot of one by someone else.... http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6EHequIpf6g/UEJfTx-ki3I/AAAAAAAAAxk/JO38uElTbQM/s1600/P1200734.jpg  


some of the other daily things i see in ghana are the tro-tros and they always have religious sayings on the back of their windows....does not matter if the driver is christian or muslim....they all have god or allah somewhere mentioned on the tro-tro to help them drive safely...
 

here is another shot of me and one of the girls from DUNK....thanks so much to everyone who wants to donate things to DUNK...and really, i am still trying to figure out the best way to help and what exactly is needed, but the organization is rather disorganized...when i figure out a way to get stuff to us effectively and that it really goes to the kids, i will let you all know....but until then...i thank you for your willingness to help.....anyway...this is me and mama-tah....she is over 6 feet tall and the center of the girls basketball team of course....i took this picture for a friend in croatia because this was going to be used in a poetry reading about snow....she has never seen snow before....thought that would be cool....



here are some more of the crazy girls i work with at DUNK....we took out a map of africa to go through with them...and none of them knew it...which was a bit crazy....so then we showed them a map of the world....and really they had no idea about what it looked like....they can name the countries and the continents, but visually had no idea where anything was located....it was eye-opening for me....when they asked where i had lived....they were shocked to see all of the places....we have now figured out, that visuals are things we should be using to teach....because all they ever get is words, words, and more words - verbally or from a book....never pictures....and you should have seen how great they were at coloring the maps...works of art i tell you!!!!



one of the other things i have done in ghana is become a member of the ghanian astronomical society....we actually have a planetarium in ghana and this is a picture of it....the man who built it is extremely passionate and really wants to help ghanians learn about astronomy, so he and a few other kind donors built this planetarium.....i have been to one show....very different from my seattle center days....i am hoping to get more involved with this over time....
 

walking to a friend's house one day this past month i came across this truck....what you see in the foreground is a truck that is fine...but in the background an 18-wheeler truck had its payload slump to the side when it took the corner....crazy view....


someone recently asked me to take pictures on the walk to school from my house...so the next two pictures are those....as you can see, i have a sidewalk i walk along, next to an open sewer (that's the water on the right side)....sometimes it can be pretty smelly and my biggest fear is falling into one of these...it has been known to happen....i just hope it does not happen to me...on this particular day there was also a guy with his donkey and cart picking up recyclables....everything in ghana, like china, gets recycled....the only issue here in my opinion is the amount of plastic in the system....bags and containers litter everywhere....and i do not think they are recycled....some of them get turned into the water packets, but when people finish their water they generally throw the packet on the ground....its a total bummer...


after one block i turn the corner and walk another block up to my school....this is shot of the far corner of the gate of the school....so not a far walk, but its starting to get really hot now in ghana....so it is a sweaty walk for me....
 

these last two shots from ghana are some of the christmas shots i took while there....i love the santas....got one for my mom and one for me....they were everywhere before i left for the holidays and they just make me smile :)
 

this shot was taken at a cool cafe (cuppa cappuccino for those in the know) who decorate their cafe for the season....it was really weird for me to be in such a hot place to get ready for the holiday season....i have to tell you i was really looking forward to being chilly, instead of sweating...and now that i am back in the states i am just enjoying wearing a coat every day....but i did enjoy the places that tried to get me into the holiday spirit even though the weather was not correct for me :)


so here we have made it to the last shot of 2014...in accra i have now found a real chinese restaurant/hole in the wall...run by two chinese families...the menus have "chinglish" issues, they have cctv from china playing in the background and only 7 tables are in the whole place...i love it and i love that i can order tasty chinese treats in my really bad chinese from these older women....and crazily enough, they even have tsing tao to drink......so i am not missing that aspect of shanghai and china....there are many things i miss, but the food, i got that covered now....

so again....happy holidays to you and yours....hope to have the next update out in a month or so, but it also means i need to get out an experience more of accra and ghana....i wish you all the best in 2015 and thanks as always for reading the updates :)

peace out....dani 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ghana #4 - October Trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

November 22, 2014 - 
hey there folks....well, it's been a while since i last got an update out, so i am hoping to get out two in the next three weeks, before things get really crazy here with the end of the semester....i can't believe those words are actually coming out of my mouth already....time here, is flying....i look back and i have been here for four months already....i have settled in and have a routine....i am liking the kids more, but am still not so happy with their academic rigor, although much more for the 6s than the 8s....the 8s have surprised me, as they do in most schools, and have risen to the bar....just this morning - a saturday -  6 kids have turned in rough copies of work that is due on monday....they are learning....woot!!!  so school is fine....DUNK is great....and just this week the girls have started calling me coach dani.....hahahahahaha....i told them i used to coach basketball once....they asked if i would join their coaches.....ummmmmmmm....this for a girl who was told she was too short in middle school to play....love what happens in life....

so DUNK is going well...i am trying to come up with a plan, because many of you have offered to send supplies and such to the community center, but we are having a difficult time with customs at the moment...i am talking with the guy who runs the place and the school to see if there is another way....and will keep you posted....thanks by the way to all who have offered to help....this morning is a "Street Store" at DUNK, which is being run by students and teachers from the school....they have been collecting gently worn clothes and shoes and are putting it out for people to come and take....cost is free, which is a great thing....and the clothes and shoes are perfect for the kids and families at DUNK....it's a win-win....and because it is set up like a store, it causes the families to feel better about selecting things for themselves.....it's a great concept that was started either in london or somewhere in the states....and this is the second time one is being done in ghana....very smart....

enough about life here....although the one other thing....still no reported cases of ebola, cholera is still everywhere and malaria is now hitting people in huge numbers, due to still having rainy days (which is weird for the season, so everyone tells me)....this week 4 more teachers were diagnosed with malaria....i am using bug spray like deodorant and perfume....so fingers crossed i do not test positive...anywya...below are my shots from my most recent trip out of ghana to the UAE - specifically dubai and abu dhabi....two very different cities with friends in them, who i wanted to say hi to....i also wanted something relatively close, that was just easy in comparison to africa....and UAE is 180 degrees different....from getting a clean, metered taxi with a driver who knows where they are going or has a gps to help them, to a metro system and bus system that exist, to sidewalks to walk on....although its so darn hot you are not out a lot, to many different choices of food, to all of the american chains (canandian too - they have tim horton's!)....the chains thing was really weird....to a shiny and new city...and yes...i miss a city....so it was a good place for me to visit....but i have to say, i doubt i will go back....it was like vegas on steroids...not my kind of place and really i am glad i did it, but i don't really need to go again....just not my style....but perfect for what i needed and excellent for catching up with folks....so onto the pictures....


due to crazy flights, it actually took me around 12 hours to get to dubai....longer than i originally thought, but definitely doable...so needless to say i was very tired and pretty much slept the whole first day - sunday away, which was okay, because in the UAE, due to the muslim religion, that is the first day of the work week....so my friends were working anyway.....when i did wake up i took some shots from my friend julia's apt....and this one above was timed perfectly....the sun was just coming through the hole at the top of the building....we have some buildings like this in ghana, but they are few and far between....so it was nice to be back in a city....the weird eliptical shape to the right of the building is actually the ski slope in dubai....julia lives right near a mall...as do most people who live in dubai....there are a million of them...


this is a shot looking the opposite direction from the sunset and here you can see the "main" city part with the burj khalifa....another shot of that will be later....this is the tallest building in the world....dubai has many records like this...tallest building, biggest aquarium, biggest mall (i think)....this is the land where you want to have the biggest, most expensive and fastest thing on the planet....and believe me, i saw many of these things...not really for me, but good to see them once....just once....


this was one of my favorite restaurants while we were in dubai...."on" the beach, well, until a building was built in front of them...but its a shack on the beach, that offers shrimp and two kinds of fish, only....and man, it is tatsy...local emiratis know about this place...and it was packed by the time we got our food....hard to find, cheap to eat here and tasty to boot...and look at those fish...if i remembered their names, i would tell you, but i can't (julia?? stephanie??)


so of course we had to stop by and see ski dubai....didn't bother to ski though....didn't have the time and actually was not super interested in it....but it was fun to watch the kids play in the snow castle and watch people roll down the hill in a zorb...i am sure this is amazing for folks who have never seen snow, or if someone is jonesin' to go skiing....but to me it symbolizes dubai...bigger, better, faster, wilder and most expensive things possible...not really my style, but of course you have to go check it out :)



Dates, dates and more dates....this is the land of the dates....and we found some amazing ones in the malls and the supermarkets.....i am not a huge fan of dates, but some of these were incredible....


it's funny how much you miss skyscrapers when you don't live around them anymore....this was a nice reminder of shanghai for me...as we wandered around the marina part of town...i especially liked the silver curvy building...i am always amazed that architects can make things like this stay up....yes, i get the physics, but it's just so cool :)


the walk around the marina brought us to a reunion of shanghai folks....we all worked at scis...stephanie, me, giovanni and mary kelly....we shared happy hour and ladies night...overlooking the palm...the crazy islands that look like a palm tree...got to the happy hour a bit to late to see it clearly....but even in the dark it got me wondering about building in a body of water like that....crazy...


the next day i headed to the souks of dubai (souk means market)...the first stop was the spices market...lots of things for sale...i was so happy to see some of them and bring them back to ghana...and i was really happy at the selection of walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds...those things here in ghana are pricey....had fun walking the souks, but they are rather swanky...they have been refurbished i think...and are covered and have space...nice, but not as much personality as the souks in turkey and egypt...


there is a creek in dubai...that you need to cross to get from one souk to another...its a cute little hop and skip...and it was cooler on the water....a busy place this creek....all manner of boats...not super huge, but boats carry many things, many places....


this boat is called an abra....it is used as a ferry across dubai creek...it costs about 30 cents to go across...i feel like i should have gone more than once...it was short and quick and provided a good breeze in a hot town...you sit on the box part with the captain in the middle...here you can see the captain trying to duck out of the picture of an empty abra coming in to pick up passengers....


once across the creek i went to the dubai museum....which was mostly underground...very cool...here you see a abra and the top of the very small fort this was in....again, most of it was underground...dubai has been around as a notable town for only 200 years....and its amazing how much growth has happened within the past 50 years...its exponential...i did not know the history, so it was cool to understand more about this city from its museum...definitely worth a quick stop.....


i also spent a day in abu dhabi, visiting my friends kent and kath....this town is very different from dubai...not as tall or flashy...it has been said that dubai is the "party" part, and abu dhabi is the "culture" part of the UAE....on the way there....nothing but desert....as you can see from the shot above....


abu dhabi is where the sheikh zayed grand mosque is located....sheikh zayed is the one who brought the UAE together as a country, so he is praised everywhere you go...and really, he did amazing things for this country...its the 8th largest mosque in the world and has islamic features from all over the world...it really is a stunning structure...and if you are female you must be covered to enter....everyone is allowed to enter...but we did the free tour and got to see more than the average vistor...


i just liked how this shot turned out....with the water and the pillars and the dome....this is around the outside of the mosque and the floor of the outer courtyard is said to be able to hold 30,000 people at once for prayer and another 10,000 inside of the mosque...i don't know if they have ever had that many...but all mosques in the UAE use the call to prayer from this particular mosque...it's live here...and piped electronically to everywhere else...


on the inside are three of the largest chandeliers in the world...made from swarovski crystals...super huge and super heavy....this is the one in the middle of the mosque...the third largest chandelier in the world


this shot is inside of the mosques...in mosques you may not have any art in the shape or form of a human...so there is a lot of work that looks like flowers and stars and the moon...it's really beautiful...this is the wall behind where the main lecturer stands...and on this wall are 99 versions for the name of god - allah being one of them...there is one empty space for the unknown names of god muslims believe we do not know, because allah has not shown us all of the names that represent him....very humble and very beautiful works of art....
 

I took this shot as we were leaving the mosque, as a man and woman were heading inside to pray....they are dwarfed by the domes and it turned out well...the mosque was originally funded by the sheikh...but that was only 40 BILLION of the total amount it cost...the rest was donated and given as payment for use of the grounds and the educational facilities...it is/was one of the most expensive buildings to build and no one really even knows the total it cost....amazing...


another shanghai connection...kent & kath...kent is working at a school in abu dhabi...looks like they might be here awhile...as things are working out well...so glad they took the time to hang and have some food...it was great to catch up....


another shanghai reunion...with stephanie and julia...it was because of these ladies that i even made the trek to dubai...looks like they will not be there much longer...but you never know...it was great hanging out and catching up and getting to know their town....


the last thing we did before i jumped on a plane back to ghana was check out the burj khalifa...the tallest building in the world...we watched the fountain show before it - think fountains of bellagio, in vegas...and then headed up to check out the view...we went to the 124 floor...i think...and this is definitely the tallest, sturdiest, craziest and wildest building ever built....you should see all of its records...its amazing....it has a few swimming pools, a hotel, residential housing, offices and tourist spots....completely used and filled...and stunning at night both from the ground and in the building itself...you have to do this at least once :)


for the last shot i decided it would be interesting to see me in abaya...that's the covering muslim women wear in mosques....head-to-toe and everything in between....the tour we were on is why i have a headset on...our tour guide was great...very knowledgeable about the mosque...although she wasn't able to tell us how much it cost in the end of build....

so there you have it...my trip to the UAE...yes, i am happy i went...to see my friends, to jump a metro, to walk on sidewalks, to be in a clean taxi, to eat different foods and to experience the middle east's vegas...but i don't think i will be headed back there...i could see if you were a shopper how this could be a slice of heaven...or if you were part of the jet set...but i am neither....so although it was a perfect trip from ghana, at the perfect time, i am not headed back anytime soon...

thanksgiving is this week....so a happy thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates...we are having a huge potluck at a compound where a bunch of school families (teachers and their kids) live....looks like about 40 - 50 people are coming....which should be a blast....and my dad's birthday was yesterday, so a shout out to him....i hope everyone is well and happy and getting ready to deal with winter in the northern hemisphere....enjoy the cold for me...the temperature here just gets warmer and warmer and most days are in the 90s now (low 30s for celsius people)...and very humid - which is the part i do not like...but i digress...hope all is well and i hope to be in touch again in the next two weeks....with more ghana before the holidays....again, i will be in the states and will be contacting people about getting together...i know it is a busy time, but if you have the time, i would love to see you and spread some holiday cheer :)  peace out....

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ghana Update #3

October 25, 2014

hey there folks...trying to get another ghana update out today at the end of my october break....chillin' at home and trying to catch up with sleep before heading back to school in two days....have just been in dubai and abu dhabi....whoa, what a difference from ghana....a welcome break and great to see folks...i will send an update out about there, but felt i needed to get out about some stuff from ghana....so this one focuses on ghana....and the next one will be the UAE....crazy different....

things in ghana are going well....it's a much harder place to live in than shanghai, but i am adapting....and things are coming together...plus, i am feeling much better now that i have left and come back from break....rested and relaxed....woot!!!!  and in the few weeks leading up to break i did some really fun stuff....which is what this post will focus on.....i went to the beach, two different places over two different long weekends....i went to a bead making place....we did not make them, but we learned and watched how they are made....beads are HUGE here in ghana....and i have some pictures from the new place i am volunteering at called DUNK....this may be the main reason i am supposed to be in ghana i think...i am working with girls from grades 8-10, from local schools, on math and science....tons of fun....they appreciate that i am there and really need the help me and three other teachers provide....so it really feels good to work with these kids....they go to the community center to play basketball....hence why it is called DUNK....and if they study for two afternoons, they are allowed to play....it's a great concept and the kids really seem to love it...

so, onto the pictures from ghana.....

  
this first shot is of a coffee shop i have found at one of the grocery stores here....and they actually sell chai tea lattes....just a slice of heaven....and if you go when they open on sunday mornings, there is no one else there....because ghanians spend all of sunday mornings in church....ALL of sunday mornings...so there is actually very little traffic and you can go shopping without tons of people....lack of traffic though is the best part....as traffic here is insane....
  

a bunch of weekends back we went to a bead making place....there they make their beads out of glass....we did not make our own...but i guess there is a place to do that here....although i hear it is very hard to do....but in the shot above, you can see some of the glass they have collected to use for this process....a very labor intense type of job i might add....
 

this picture is the daughter of the woman who showed us around the place....she was really cute and got very into doing work while we were all around wanting to take her picture....i guess this is her "job" at the bead making place...look cute and stay busy :)



what you see in this picture is the bead make ceramic containers - the white disks in the front of the picture, and the guy who melts the glass in the disks to exactly the right temperature...and my favorite aspect...no safety gear....and wearing flip flops....argh....but he sits here all day in front of this fire, watching over the glass...


once the beads cool and get popped out of the ceramic mold, then then are hand painted....yes, i said hand painted, by the artists....you can see one of the guys doing this....and he is painting the stars on each bead....crazy!!!!


in this shot above you can see the stars he has already painted....very labor intensive and very pretty....if i remember correctly, there are 10-12 individual beads on each stick that they paint....
 

this is my artistic shot from the bead place....loved the color of the glass and the shadows, before they crushed the glass, by hand, without safety gear, into a powder for the molds....


here are strings and strings of the finished products....i went a bit crazy and am planning on putting together strings of beads....still have not done that, but the beads sure look pretty in the bowl i have them in....love 'em....


we also headed up to another market....and they had some great fabrics...but who am i kidding...all of the markets have good fabrics....love those colors....


one of the other things i have done in the past few months is go to a play at the national theater....and what an experience it was...it was part play, part musical in a karaoke style, part revival, part advertisement and finally at the end, the playwright's son proposed to his girlfriend (the very religious crowd went wild!!!!!) it was an.....experience....this was the box for the gum on the way in....very 1940's feel to me....when we walked in you could tell the national theater was beautiful when it was built....but no one has taken care of it....so it is not in the best of shape....


and i loved that there were projectors on either side of the stage that had this message when we walked in....yet, during the play they were also used to play commercials at least five different times....and to welcome people back from trips abroad and to congratulate people celebrating anniversaries and birthdays....it was crazy....they also used them to project the words of the music on the walls, so that people in the audience could sing along with the actors...it was definitely a cultural experience....one that i am not sure i need to do again....but the live band at the beginning and throughout the show were great....as was the wedding proposal...it was a different experience.....


i have started going to this local fruit and vege seller...beatrice....and i love her little girl....i don't remember her name off the top of my head, but i thought she looked great just sleeping here....this is the way all moms carry there kids here in ghana....the kids are squished up to the mom's backs and held in place by sarong type material....seems to really work well...and look at that adorable face :)
 

since i last updated, i had two long weekends and went away to two different beach places on them....the one above is called sankofa....and was quite nice....this one was to the east coast away from accra...up by where i sent previous shots from....this was the outside bathroom...and yes, all of those shells were found on the beach in front of the resort....



we were at this place with a bunch of teachers....actually the whole place was people from my school...which made for a fun time....we had a few game nights, which is always fun....the beach was interesting and you can see from the shot above that it is slowly eroding away....the line of palm trees that had collapsed was all the way down the beach toward the local fishing village....
 

the place made excellent food and had a great open space....that was rented by a company one of the days we were there....so it was pretty intense, but a good time was had by all....and as you can see the weather was really nice.....


two weeks later i was off down the west coast of ghana away from accra...to a place called meet me there....i loved this place....so chill...it is owned by a brit who is trying to bring compost toilets to this part of the world....starting with this ecolodge....they were incredible....the toilets i mean.... you can see the small beach he has that leads to a saltwater lagoon in front of his place....


and across the lagoon is the beach....so you can swim or canoe across and then get out and walk the beach....the beach, unfortunately, was covered in plastic garbage....so i was really glad we had the lagoon to swim in....we did hear and watch the locals pulling in fish both mornings we were there....they were not very successful with fish, but caught a lot of very small shrimp, which i guess they sell to a local place to crushes them for flavorings and seasonings....not very much money for all of the hard work....but it was cool to watch them and listen to them sing and drum as they hauled in the nets...but it was quite depressing to see all of the plastic they caught in their nets as well....
 

our last night there had a spectacular sunset....as you can see from here...it was uber relaxing and then on that monday when we didn't have school, i actually got my internet working....so i have now had it for a few weeks....although i wasn't here for this past week....amazing how much easier life has become.....
 

these last two shots are from DUNK...in the first one above you see my co-worker karen from school....she brought some stuff for us to be able to run pH experiments....which the girls had never done....they loved it....they even got to try their own saliva....some interesting results.....
 

and the last shot is of the three other teachers i go with and me with the girls....this was taken just outside of the community hall where we work with them....they were extremely sad when we told them we weren't coming for a week....but we will get back to them this week...woot!!!!  i do think this will be the saving grace for me in ghana....as so far i have loved working with these girls....

and there you have it....things have definitely calmed down and become more the norm for me...my shipment has come, my internet is working, my visa has been attached to my passport and my routine is becoming normal....we still lose power every night at 6pm, i am still frustrated with the lack of academics from my kids and i don't like having to haggle for taxis constantly....but that all comes with the territory.....overall, i am getting comfortable and understanding how to make my way successfully here...i think leaving for a week really helped clear my head :)

my next update will be about dubai and abu dhabi....complete worlds away from ghana....it was great to catch up with folks....ride a metro and jump in a cab that was clean and had a meter....but i do not think i could live there...too weird...i also wanted to let folks know i will be in the states for the first time in a long time for the xmas holidays....i am not sure about timing, but will get in touch with folks in that part of the world as i know more.....

i hope everyone is well and happy and be sure to enjoy fall for me....because we certainly do not get it here....also, for those still concerned about ebola....nope, no cases here recorded....they have gotten the word out and issues that are here that are more ever-present are chloera and malaria...much more common in ghana....but thanks to all of those who have voiced concern....happy halloween!!!!!

have a fab day :)
dani