Sunday, May 28, 2006

Salaga Part 2 - May 11th 2006

Salaga – Part 2

I have been here for maybe nine hours, and I have become more acquainted with my home.

I am sitting right now, under the fluorescent light in my green room. The walls are mint green and the floor is chequered green and black. Having spent all day drinking water and not going to the washroom, I decided to make the long journey to the toilets. Let’s just say that I’m 100% glad I chose to bring a flashlight. The latrines are pit latrines – ie, holes in a concrete floor that drop into large pits where the sewage ferments until it can be spread as fertilizer. Apparently learning can only happen when you are out of your comfort zone – well, I’m out.

Dinner was served to me, separately in my room; I decided that I’d much rather eat with the ladies of the house, so we all ended up eating yam fufu and cassava T.Z (all forms of…dough..), with goat soup. The soup had “ameni”, which are “small small” fish – I guess like anchovies? It also had goat. While the Ghanaian meal in Toronto prepared me for what I was to expect, eating goat is a lot easier when 20 of your friends are cheering you along. Maybe not so much when your new family is watching you and the pressure is on..

After making fun of how little I eat (“You should eat much, and get fat! No man will want you this way!”) the conversation slipped into the exact ‘deeply introspective’ region that we were told to avoid at all costs until we built deep trust with our families and co-workers. Choice tid-bits included “I have heard that men marry men in Canada..” (at this point I’d like to note to all the other Ghana JF’s – WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!? I thought that this was an intense hypothetical scenario when we did it in the case studies. I never once anticipated someone asking me this on my first day, let alone at dinner!), “I do not like the life you all live in your country. I far prefer mine.”, “Why are you here?”, “What man will you marry?”, “What do you think of Africa?”. While some of those were more easily dealt with, some of those required ridiculous amounts of tact and, well, bullshit.

After going into a deep discussion on “good people, bad people, and other countries” (ie, there are good people everywhere, it is your aspiration and hope to be a person of integrity that defines you – not your nationality or gender), all the while back-translating it into tamil for Raju (who’s English he describes as “learned in 5th class, and we didn’t even have a classroom..just a slate..”), I decided to fill my mouth with mango and avoid talking. I just spent the rest of the evening nodding and “eh-heh-ing” introspectively while taking the better part of an hour to eat my so-called dessert.

The people in my house are fascinating – my new brothers and sisters. I have not quite gotten all of their names, but they are coming ‘slow-slow’ to me. Meghan is my little sister, she is 15 and likes science. She likes dancing and wants to become a doctor or a nurse. She gets up very early to study and is very friendly, but very shy. She is the older sister of Boncat, the baby, and she has a middle sister who’s name I can’t recall, but might be Krofiye. Their mother is the matriarch of this interesting courtyard house. I am naming my house Magnolia House because it is the same shade of pink as the flowers I liked so much in Toronto. Janet is 33, seems to be not married – or her husband left her, I am sketchy on the details, and has 3 children. She is very, very, tall; maybe around 6”2, and the very definition of statuesque. She speaks many languages including Twi, Fante, Gonja, Dagbani, Ga, Hausa, and Ewe. She also speaks English and is my language tutor. She always chews on a stick out of the corner of her mouth while holding Boncat on one hip and doing a myriad number of things.

There is Joshua, the accountant at the MoFA and my co-worker. He is around 25 – 35 I think. Then there is the man from Togo, who “works too much to find a wife”, and Maxwell aka Apuri (who is fascinated that “we have the same name”..) who is a joker. He is from the Upper West so his Gonja is slow, but he is very hilarious. Of course there is Raju, and then Abeyama (I think, the names are so hard when they are fast) the other housekeeper, who is very shy but laughs a lot.

Tomorrow is the first day of work, and I’m a little sketchy on the details of how I am supposed to begin. I have a lot of reading to still do and my room is a mess of all my things piled on my bed. It is swelteringly hot because the fan makes too much noise for me to think so I have turned it off. Salaga town is 2 kilometers from here, so perhaps I will go sometime in the next week to the market and buy some okra, or cassava leaf for my family.


At 12:50 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your family sounds very interesting lol. I like the questions "they say that men marry men in canada" lol. ps: I can't see any of the pictures!!!


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