Hello everyone! Everything's going great here in Ghana. Right now we are still in Accra, but we leave for Damongo Wednesday morning (6am, bright and early!) We all dislike the city, especially since we got a taste of "the real Ghana" Wednesday when we went to Winneba for Annie's and Fred's mega birthday party. After a stressful tro-tro ride (we accidentally paid the wrong person our fare, then had to pay again), we got into Winneba and immediately loved it. The air is cleaner, and it's just so much calmer and quieter. Fred let us stay at his house for the night, so we met up with Annie and got some lunch at a place by the market. We took a taxi back to the house, got ready, and left for the party. We got to the bar/restaurant just in time for the soccer game (USA vs. Ghana) to start. When Ghana scored in the first 10 minutes...I've NEVER seen anybody celebrate as wildly as the Ghanaians did (except for maybe when they won the game!) It was so much fun, especially when they won; the DJ started the music right away (really loud music, I must say) and everybody was cheering and dancing. Very exciting!
Because we're not huge party people, Janaan, Ross and I left shortly after that to have some quiet time and get to bed early. I was feeling stressed at that point (just overwhelemed with everything, moving around all the time, maybe a bit of culture-shock), so I talked with both of them and they made me feel a ton better. Even if the past two days, I think our group is getting closer and more comfortable with each other. That's very important, as Annie told us, because we're going to need to lean on each other and support each other, especially when one of us is having a hard time.
We got back into Accra last night, and have taken it easy since then. We're meeting with Mrs. Awartie, the director of science education for Ghana, this afternoon, and then we're heading to the market to do some shopping! I hope to get a bag, maybe some gifts...and maybe I'll learn to haggle! I've heard a lot of advice when it comes to haggling, but I've never tried it myself. I think that's one of the many ways I'll learn to stand up more for myself on this trip. One of the things I want to get out of being in Ghana is to learn more about myself and grow comfortable in my own skin. I'm a softie, but I don't want everybody to walk over me all the time - I need to get some tougher skin. It's so hard though, because I'm a people pleaser. Even last night I think I was a little too nice to someone I was talking to in the hotel lobby. I needed help with my toilet - I thought it was broken, but it turns out I just wasn't pushing the lever hard enough - and a Ghanaian sitting there watching TV volunteered to help me. He was teaching me some Twi and making me practice, and he told me (out of the blue!) that his friend loved me and was worried about me. The way I dealt with it was to try and joke my way out of it - "How can he love me? I don't even know his name!" - but he just smiled and repeated that he loved me. So I said I was married, and that my husband was also staying at the hotel. (Ross is serving as my husband, since Kaleigh has already used Eric as her husband; it's also not sufficient to say you have a husband back home, because the Ghanaians will just say "well, he's not here right now..." and so on). By the end of our conversation he was telling me that HE loved me, to which I could only say thank you. Not quite a marriage proposal, but very similar. I hope I handled it well. But I need to get a bit more aggressive (without being mean) and not put up with things that really bother me.
I feel like I've talked your guys' ears off in this post, so I'm going to wrap it up here and try to tell you more later! I wish I could talk more about the culture, but I don't feel like Accra is really "Ghana" - Annie even said that Accra isn't the real Ghana. Of course it's different from back home, but I'm looking forward to being in the smaller communities and really getting to know a few Ghanaians. Okay that's good for now - talk to you all soon! Love you! :)