Archive for africa

Ghana in Reverse (Twelve)

Posted in GFYS, Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by ccartlidge

Thankfully, someone picked me up at the airport, because the place I’m living doesn’t exist on any map I’ve seen and the house doesn’t have an address to speak of. This part of Ghana reminds me a bit of Central America. I’m surprised at how comfortable I feel here. It’s drier than I expected. Almost so dry the dust chokes me, but I’ve heard the rainy season is coming. For now though, it’s too hot to wear actual clothes, especially when the power goes out (which is a lot) and since I only see two other people living in the house on a regular basis, I wear as little as possible. Side boob for weeks. It pains me to put on clothes to leave the house, but I can’t take a taxi naked. The last taxi I was in ran over a goat. That seems to happen a lot.

There’s a cat. Why is there a cat? I feel like no one told me about the cat. The frogs come out at night and I love listening to them, but people wake very early in the mornings and are not shy about making noise. Sunday mornings bring a parade of singing and drumming men praising Jesus, which is fucked up in my opinion.

There is no coffee. I lied, there’s NescafĂ©, but that’s not coffee. This is a list of all the food obtainable in the market: miniscule light green apples imported from South Africa, mangos (seasonal unfortunately), pineapples, bananas, watermelon (also seasonal), avocados, plantains, white sugar bread, white non-sugar bread, gigantic white yams, white rice, tiny white eggplants, eggs with pure white yolks because everything the chickens eat is white, white onions, yellow onions, red onions, green onions, green peppers, cassava, the greens of the cassava plant that I can’t spell and most people are allergic to so we never eat, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, maize (the tough, non-modified kind), okra, groundnut paste (peanut butter; the women at the market are all like ‘fuck yeah the American girls are here again, bitches clean me out every time’), black-eyed peas, goat, chicken, dried fish, sugar cane, ice cream in plastic bags (everything in plastic bags), chalky chocolate, box wine, and palm oil. I did find Marmite although it molded. I might have forgotten a few things, but that is a list of practically everything that could go into my mouth for the next eight months. I forgot cheap whiskey, that’s what I forgot.

Ghana in Reverse (Eleven)

Posted in GFYS, Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by ccartlidge

There is a feeling I have about the food.

Obviously, I expected to make adjustments in my eating habits. Over the years, I’ve learned the difficult way to attempt not to be the one picky eater because I feel bad being a privileged pain-in-the-ass. A conscious one anyway. For someone like me this is very difficult (cue snare and splash), and the feeling I get is that I might be setting myself up. I’ve never seen so much sugar bread in my life, nor have I ever been fond of green peppers. The lack of running water doesn’t bother me at all, except in the kitchen. No wonder everyone cooks outside.

Theoretically I’ve got everything down, but I have a feeling my job will end up being largely reactive. That’s something, although lots of ideas seem good in theory. Do international non-profit organizations all run like this? My two roommates seem like their jobs revolve around sending emails to students or parents of students and I have no students (although I am grateful for this). We have a good time together, my roommates and I. It’s nice to have friends. I’ve heard there are other people who live in this house too, but I never ever see them so it remains a rumor. I do know that there is a cat. I did not invite him in, but apparently he was born in my closet and since the doors to the house don’t even close all the way, I can’t keep him out. Plus, he might get eaten out there. He just can’t sleep on my bed.

It’s very lush, so I was wondering when it would start raining. I’m not really surprised, but it rains a whole damn lot. It rained torrentially all day yesterday and now the road to the site is totally washed out. Of course we’re pouring concrete soon. Another bad omen. Now I take a shared taxi and walk the rest of the way, which is perfectly fine because I like to walk, but I don’t coo over children like other people and for obvious reasons they can’t help noticing the lone obroni girl walking through their village, and they have this totally adorable thing they do where they chant the same phrase at me in unison, over and over again.

 

Ghana in Reverse (Eight)

Posted in GFYS, Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2013 by ccartlidge

This is new. Now I have a million fucking roommates and I’m pretty sure I only had three a few weeks ago. Nobody tells me anything. I just got used to being alone in this giant-ass house, not bathing, and not talking for days at a time. My newest roommate arrived in the middle of the night. (11 pm is the middle of the night for me.) This is a paraphrase of what I said to her before going back to bed: ‘Here’s the bathroom, there is no running water and the toilet leaks. You could use the bathroom next door, but you’ll have to walk around or climb the wall. This is your closet, sorry about the extra clothes. Keep the door closed, because there are cats around, and the only person who loved them enough to clean them is gone now. This is your bed, sorry it’s so small. Here are some sleeping pills if you want; I didn’t sleep for two days when I arrived. Not sure how strong they are, so you could take two. Welcome to Ghana.’ The next day, I took her to Cape to eat vegan food made by Germans, talk about sex, and visit a Rastafarian who calls himself Son of Man (whose given name I do not know, he won’t tell me, although I did guess his age correctly). She moved next door a few days later. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the running water.

The kids in Ankeful are still shouting that phrase at me when I walk through. I haven’t heard it in any other community and I don’t know what it means, although I’ve asked many people. Their mothers seem to scold them for it, so I’m not sure I want to know what it means anyway. Something about money? It is starting to get less rainy now, but it is still overcast almost all the time. The road to the site hasn’t been fixed. Before I left the States, I remember the woman who gave me all those shots telling me about what I should and should not do to avoid parasites and things of that nature. She mentioned never to walk or swim in freshwater. This makes me laugh. Clearly this woman has never lived in rural Ghana or anywhere else without a fully functioning stormwater drainage system because avoiding freshwater mixed with sewage is damn impossible here, even if the rains hadn’t washed out vehicular access to a specific destination and the only choices are to turn around or walk through. Hopefully, there isn’t anything sharp down there. She also told me never to eat fruits and vegetables that I couldn’t peel. This woman could be a comedian.

Ghana in Reverse (One)

Posted in GFYS, Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2012 by ccartlidge

A little background: I’m planning on doing a whole series of posts about everything I’ve learned living in Ghana. Now I realize that this is going to be more time-consuming than I had originally imagined, as I’m still learning it, and more difficult, as I’m in a decent mood today and most of my creative energy comes from extremes. Unfortunately, I just happened to see a No Reservations about Ghana [I have a bone to pick with Anthony Bourdain, that man did not address exactly how he felt about the delicacy Fufu, which is a damned travesty. I do not like or even understand Fufu although it is kind of fascinating to watch it being made], so now I’m dedicated to writing another post. I have to start somewhere and don’t want to write anything that is entirely devoid of value. Twisty brain tells me that the solution to this is to write about my time there in reverse, and I’m going to start with the two days I didn’t sleep while travelling back from Ghana to the US.

It’s December 6th. It’s 5:30 AM in Ghana, but it’s 7:30 AM at the airport in Istanbul where I’m sitting, waiting for my plane back to the States. I didn’t sleep on the plane from Accra to Istanbul, because I never sleep on planes and there were so many movies in that silly box on the seat in front of me, so I had two glasses of red wine and watched Sherlock Holmes, The First Wives Club, and Beetlejuice instead. I’m now sitting at a bar, drinking light beer and waiting for a Turkish coffee (Turkish coffee might be the manliest coffee). Yes, I’m drinking coffee and beer. Fuck it, I’ve already had breakfast and since it seems like I’m still in the midst of a two-year, third-life crisis thing, I might as well go for it. The airport is practically the only fucking place you can drink without judgement at any time of day. It’s probably safe to say that no one sitting in this bar with me now feels like it’s 7:30 AM. We could be from anywhere. (On a side note, I just found a 20 Pesewa coin in my DVD drive, which I hope is the reason I couldn’t play DVDs). I’m tired.

A sketch and a mystery involving chickens

Posted in +/- Minute Sketches, Note to Self, Personal work, Photos with tags , , , , , , , on August 30, 2012 by ccartlidge

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a sketch or anything really, so here’s a semi-random page from my sketchbook. After flipping through it, I’m noticing that the eye-and-diary thing is a pattern.

I ATE BROCCOLI TODAY.

Posted in Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Rants with tags , , , , , , , on July 10, 2012 by ccartlidge

Even frozen, thawed, frozen again, and then steamed it was exciting. Texture not so much, but let me say that I’ve never found the color of broccoli as vivid and congenial as I do today. Broccoli is boisterously exciting, did you know? I fucking love broccoli, for realsies.

In no particular order, here is a list of food items that may or may not cause a violently disgusting, projectile bodily reaction in me upon seeing them on any continent other than Africa:

– Omelettes (and other predominantly egg-based foods with the possible exception of QuichĂ©)

– White Bread

– Laughing Cow Cheese (I’m sorry: “Cheese”)

– Eggplant, any size or color

– Yams

– Cookies, Crackers, Biscuits (really anything sweet and starchy that comes in a shiny package)

 

[On a side note, does Scurvy cause teeth to fall out? Because I’m not crazy interested in that.]

Blackberry art of the day

Posted in Personal work, Photos with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by ccartlidge

Since I’m typing all of this with my thumbs, I’m going to take advantage and post Blackberry photos that I (most likely) haven’t even seen on a computer screen and they stay how they are, which is nice for me.

An attic window. This attic has no cross ventilation and as a result is uncomfortable at best but is also great for hot yoga if you’re into that sort of thing.