Today was my day to relax. Saturday. Well, I have not been pressing very hard on the other days of the week truth be told, but that is to be expected a bit after six days a week of training for the past two months. I feel that I am moving right along here and getting myself acquainted with the new town in the easy-does-it mode. While in my room I pulled out some of the books that the education volunteers received right at the end of training and started reading through them. The first one out was the book devoted to learning a new language – it is more of a guide to the learning process than something that I can use to find out how to say, “That book is too expensive.” Still, there is an approach there in the book that might be useful for me in planning to attack the Ewe language. Focus on small parts and incorporate the new vocabulary and phrases into your conversations. Makes sense to me, I'll try it.
After reading through that book I finally picked up the phone to call a volunteer who lives in my very town but whom I have not met yet. Scott said he was eager to see me so by about one in the afternoon I was in a taxi to go visit him. He is a teacher who has been in the country for a year and teaches art at a deaf school. We easily spotted each other on the road and we sat down to chat (not in the road mind you). Instead of going to his house we stayed outside under the shade of an orange tree at a family's house that Scott has befriended. The house is wonderful and the company was excellent. It was mainly just the two of us talking shop for a while about the education system and what he had gone through to get his job to be the perfect fit for him. I was impressed to find the leeway he had in getting to that point and realized that one is not locked into something that they do not enjoy. That is reassuring to hear. He showed me the vocational aspect that he has been working on: getting his students to craft pocket books and bags out of pieces of unused garment cloth and plastic water bags (see my earlier post on water sachets). Neat stuff, and it was helping to fund projects at the school.
After a short time one of the sisters stopped by at the house and we had a good time talking cultural differences between the three of us. It helps a bit to do this with a volunteer who has been here a while to feel out decisions that we may need to make. My one example to bounce off each of them was a woman in the town who has already asked me to buy food for her. She sells food, why she can't just go thirty paces down the street to buy her own food was beyond me, but I felt that urge to be “nice” and respond one day with giving her a biscuit. I chatted with them about this dilemma and felt better for their answer. We concluded that the seller was just testing me to see if I would be “the new guy” and buy her something. I won't, but I will just say thank you if she asks again. Oddly enough, if I offer a Ghanaian something that they may not want (a banana for instance), they are more likely to tell me, “thank you”. They don't take the banana, but answer only with those two words. In this part of the country that effectively translates to, “No.” I am going to try that and see if that fixes my problem of the pushy market woman.
Come to think of it, a woman in Asafo always expected me to buy bread for her as well. She didn't get any from me, so I better just apply the same rule here to be consistent.
Many hours were passed talking to the point that I had to come home to eat. We said our goodbyes but before that we already planned out another meeting for Sunday. We hope to work out a way to cross schools a bit and see what we can do to help the other out. Sounded good to me. Have I mentioned how much I like being here lately?
I like it a lot.