Saturday, July 03, 2010

Project Shadow: Mampong Edition

Peace Corps did it again. They got me to go out and enjoy the country. Darn them and their evil plans!

I am having a great time visiting a fellow volunteer who is ending her third year of service in the country. We (another PCV in Training) left our town at 7 or so in the morning on Friday to make the half-day trip over to the Ashanti region in Ghana. The first ride was air conditioned which was a huge plus, the second ride was in a regular air-cooled tro-tro and my trousers should the worse for wear by being covered in a black/brown dirt that I am sure won't come out in the next wash. Yet the trip was a success; we made it to our destination right on time.

It should be noted that we had a stop at the Kumasi station which is the 2nd largest market in the country. Words just don't work well enough for me to get the scene right. Think of a hustling and bustling Times Square in NYC but ten times more packed with people, cars, chickens, and other odds and ends plus every shop owner who can eek out a living in a three foot by three foot square. It was utterly amazing at how dense this market was. Hundreds upon hundreds of people selling whatever could fit on top of their heads. A shoe market that just ran up and down one alley way draped on a hill. Too many Black Star flags and apparel to count as the big game was going to be that night. So much action and it was all condensed into about an hour. I enjoyed Nic, my co-traveler trying his best to negotiate a fair price for items there - his Twi is much better than my own. I say "Good afternoon," and don't hear a thing after that when the speaker asks me something I haven't memorized. Nic can deflect marriage proposals with a shrug and a word and the crowd laughs and applauds him. Maybe my Ewe will be that good.

Onto Mampong. We arrived and got right to business. Where to eat, and where to watch the game. A restaurant close by was the best spot, and soon we were eating our fufu and relaxing in front of a television with 30 or 40 others. Darkness sets in early here, so the match began as the sun set, and into the evening we watched. Pandemonium broke right at the end of the second half on Ghana's first goal. Maybe the Black Stars would do it, move on past Uraguay.

So very close. So very, very close. It was awful to see the game end with a tie and proceed to overtime where a goal kick would have won it for Ghana, only to see the ball riccochet off the crossbar and then to see Ghana lose in a shoot-out. Everyone just became quiet, and into the night they went. Disbelief and sadness were there, but I am certain that everyone was very proud that Ghana played their hearts out and almost pulled out a win.

We went home and made up for some time spent watching the game by talking Peace Corps late into the night. I believe 2AM we all hit the hay, and we got ready for another day.

Just getting to know another region as Peace Corps has allowed us to do is something I'd like to do again. Those of us stationed east should find time to travel west. Those of us south ought to make it a pact to hightail it over to the north when time permits. There is just something exciting about traveling and getting to know another town. Today we had the great fortune of bumping into a young student who said she had the time to take us on a tour of her town, her school, and to help us understand what people said in the native tongue as we walked around. Many people do wonderful things here for us and I believe I really lucked out to get this chance.

Our contact has been a tremendous asset. We are sure to be only adding to what she has already accomplished in the ICT stream with her counterparts here. She and other ICT developers inside PC have set up a repository of useful software and references. I feel better already about my prospects for teaching students with that type of support.

Not bad for having about 24 hours of time in Mampong I'd say.

And I saw my first goat riding on top of the roof of a commercial bus.


Phineas said...

I hope that you brought your sketch book in lieu of a camera. Make some time for drawings!

K said...

Dave this is all fabulous stuff. I love hearing the stories! And there were two Yanks in London cheering on Ghana and sharing in the disbelief when the game was over.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Dave!
So good to hear that you are starting to get out and about more. It would be a real shame to be in Ghana for 3 years and not get much past your own village. Sounds like the Peace Corps will help make sure that does not happen. Too bad for Ghana in the WC, but heck, they got a long way. Much better than us Yanks or my adobted Aussies! Spain Vs Holland should be a good one.
Keep the blogs coming....I love them!
Take care,