**continuation of Saturday 11/5**

After dinner, the real party started. Part 1 was our postponed lip sync battle, and just like last time, I was beyond impressed by everyone’s efforts. This is one of those rare situations where it truly is the effort that matters. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know all the words, as long as you own it!

In case you’re not familiar with the lip sync battle procedure, basically, each person chooses a song, you attempt to learn the words, and then you perform with the song playing, just mouthing the words and not actually singing. Dramatic performances are encouraged, as are props, and really nothing is out of the question. We even had some improvised spotlighting for this one (me standing on a plastic chair, wearing a headlamp, and holding a flashlight).

To make it even better, we made popcorn and Avy pulled out some gummies and other candy she had been saving for a special occasion, and we had ourselves a party! Even Agnes (the cook) stayed to watch… I’m pretty sure she thinks we’re all insane. Everyone was fabulous, and Lily, Nick, and I tied for first in the voting. The prize? Fan Ice, of course! I know, high stakes (a Fan Ice is 1 cedi, about 25 cents).

Part 2 was a bonfire and s’mores. A major shout out goes to Nick and Bright, one of our neighbors, for hunting down firewood in the dark because I asked them so late. Thank goodness for good friends. Since I took so long to find someone to get wood, everything was wet from the 30 second rainstorm earlier, and Nick and Lily fought a heroic battle getting the fire to light. Once it got going, everything was perfect. We ate s’mores until everyone felt sick (which is the only reason to stop eating s’mores) and then danced around the fire until it burned out.

Finally, part 3, stargazing. The sky here is dark and perfect for seeing billions of stars, and luckily, the clouds from the rainstorm earlier cleared out. We all grabbed blankets, thoroughly coated ourselves in bug spray, headed over to the soccer field, and flopped down in a circle with our heads in the middle. It used to be the great sorrow of my life that as many times as I’ve been stargazing, I’ve NEVER seen a shooting star. I somehow always manage to blink at the exact right (or exact wrong, I guess) second. But tonight… history was made!! I saw three, yes, THREE! shooting stars.

When you’re looking up at the night sky, it’s also a great time for thinking. Being there was like coming full circle. My second week here, we went stargazing to say goodbye to Maria. Laying there with those people who had gone from strangers to friends in just two weeks, I felt like all was right with the world… the ultimate feeling of contentment. And then, ten weeks later with all new people except for Avy, I had that same feeling. For now, instead of being sad that my time here is coming to an end, I’m just happy that I even got the chance to experience it. Even better, I got to experience it with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. How can I be sad about that? Well don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll easily find a way once reality starts sinking in because right now I’m on a combination sugar/dance/stargazing high, and that’s enough to make even the harshest reality a little less severe.

Another weekend, another adventure! This is Amber and Sosane’s last weekend, and they decided we should go to Kokrobite, a beach town about 30 minutes west of Accra. I’m just happy to be somewhere away from Frankadua to have a chance to finish my mental reset. I feel a lot better than I did at the beginning of the week, but I think that it will be good to have a couple days of a change of scenery. The group for the weekend is Amber, Nico, James, Sosane, three soccer guys, and me.

The beach!

The trip here was NOT simple, and I honestly don’t think that I could do it again on my own. We had a few guys from the soccer team with us who knew the way, and thank goodness because there was a lot of walking between tros and weaving through crowded streets. We took one tro from Frankadua to somewhere around Accra, another one from there to another somewhere around Accra, and the last one from there to Kokrobite. I know, that was so amazingly detailed that you’re thinking you could probably do it with your eyes closed.

Kokrobite is located just outside of Accra.

We didn’t leave home until probably 11AM, so we got to the hotel around 3PM, took a little time to get organized, and went to dinner around 5. James has been to Kokrobite before, and he led us to this food stand about 10 minutes away where we got some awesome fried chicken and rice. Afterwards, we played cards until it got dark. Sosane and James aren’t all about President like we are, so we played a game that they called Blackjack (as far as I can tell, it’s basically Uno with regular cards). What do people do for fun without cards? I love that that’s our go-to activity. This really does feel like summer camp sometimes.

My favorite part of the day was walking on the beach at night. I think it was something about the moon and the clouds and how they looked from the ground, but as soon as I walked out onto the sand, it took my breath away. The moon was bright and directly overhead, and the clouds were kind of splotchy and made the sky really seem like it was a dome. I felt like a tiny molecule inside a water droplet. Sometimes it’s nice to feel small because it puts life into perspective. I’m just a little bitty part of a much bigger picture.

Anyway, I’m excited for some chill time tomorrow. I’m going to pass out any second, so I should just do myself a favor to go to bed.

​Sometimes you don’t realize how in need of a break you are until you get one and are reminded of what it feels like to be relaxed. That’s exactly where I was, and today has been the most perfect, relaxing day.

Fernanda with our hut

We took our time getting up this morning (YAY for sleeping in!), ate a leisurely breakfast, and got changed into our bathing suits to go to the beach – 10 feet from our huts.

Huts everywhere!

Oh yeah, did I talk yesterday about where we’re staying? The “hotel” is a collection of little huts, so we have a three person room with a sand floor (aka no floor… just a hut sitting on the sand) and a two person room with a floor (a luxurious concrete floor). I think they’re hilarious. I also have to comment on the electrical situation… There are lights in both rooms, but only one has a switch. In the other, we’re supposed to just pop the light bulb in and out to turn it on and off. The “fixture” is literally just a bulb hanging from the ceiling, supported only by its wires. Where two wires are connected to each other, they’re just twisted together and the connection is exposed. To get the power from hut to hut, there are just wires running underneath the sand without any protection beyond the normal plastic insulation (at home they would have to be in a pipe). I could keep ranting about the lights in pretty much the whole country, but I’ll spare you. Maybe another time.

The river side

ANYWAY, we decided to go for a walk to explore, starting on the river side of the peninsula and walking around to the gulf side. It is beautiful here. It’s also pretty cool to see the difference between the river water and the gulf water, and you can clearly see the place where they mix with each other.

Me on a rock. Obviously.

The rest of the day was equally uneventful. We played some volleyball, went in the river and played monkey in the middle, and laid on the beach. I made a sand sculpture and took a nap on a hammock and lost to Nico in chess. We watched the sunset and ate dinner, and after everyone else went to bed, Fernanda and I sat on the beach, looked at the stars, and talked. On a clear night, the sky here is always incredible because there are barely any lights around to interfere with the dark sky.

Sand sculpting

I’m really bummed that Fernanda is leaving next week… I think I’m still in denial a little bit. We get along so well and have a lot in common. But Mexico City isn’t TOO far from Philly, and she’s promised me a piñata if I come to visit, so it looks like it’s time for me to start planning a trip to Mexico!

Sunset!

​It’s starting to look like the days at school are just alternating between good and bad. Today was such a good day! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

This is from yesterday when we were shucking and de-kerneling, so today we just skipped the second step

We started out at the farm, as usual, and today’s activity was shucking corn. The good pieces will be sent to the orphanage, and the bad ones get fed to the chickens. It’s always nice when we have a less labor intensive day, but I have to say that I think shucking might be my least favorite thing we’ve done so far. Ehhh maybe not… I really don’t like hoeing. But it’s a close competition between the two.

With shucking, there’s probably a 50% chance that you’re going to find something unpleasant in your piece of corn. Usually it’s a worm or two and a bunch of icky worm eggs, but I had one where I discovered an entire ant farm inside and proceeded to scream and throw my corn. It was gross. The experience was basically an hour and a half of constantly feeling like there were things crawling on me and sometimes discovering that there actually were.

Singing Les Champs-Elysées

School was a breeze compared to yesterday. English was no big deal, Math we talked about times tables (again), and we played outside for the elective. Afterwards, all of the kids came back into the room and we played songs on my phone/Nico’s speaker. He’s been teaching them a French song which they all love to sing constantly, so we started with that and then moved on to the Hokey Pokey, “If you’re happy and you know it”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and the Chicken Dance.

Hokey pokey!

By the end, ALL of the kids were in our classroom, and I was melting. It’s actually been hot here over the last couple of days, unlike last week. We’ve been spoiled. It’s fine when the sky is cloudy, but as soon as the sun comes out, it’s a totally different story. Today was sunny, and the classroom was HOT.

Our improvised supplies and my beautiful s’mores sticks

After school, the afternoon flew by. I set out on a quest to find good s’mores sticks and used Nico’s knife to get the ends ready. Then, we were all just sitting around talking when someone discovered a bag of embroidery floss with the teaching supplies. Next thing I knew, we were all making friendship bracelets, Nico included, until about 4 hours later when Maria realized it was time for us to run. Time flies when you’re crafting! I felt like we were a bunch of kids at summer camp.

The best part of the day, hands down, was the bonfire. Unlike last week, this one was mostly just the six of us, with a few other people coming in and out. It was partly sad because it’s Maria’s farewell bonfire, but it was partly super awesome because s’mores.

Perfection!

We made all of the kids go home at 9PM (they’re really supposed to leave by 8) and got out our makeshift s’more supplies. I was a little uncertain about how they would turn out, but they ended up being great! I love s’mores. I ate 4. At least. I think. Maybe 5. Ehhh not important.

Anyway, me + s’mores = best day ever. I’m going to bed happy (and stuffed) (and with a lingering sugar rush) tonight.

​Today was SO much better than yesterday, thank goodness. It’s Nico’s birthday (!!!), so we had a day of fun planned to celebrate.

Yay baby plants!!

It obviously started off with the usual early trip to the farm. Want to guess what the activity was today? You got it – more hoeing! That wasn’t very exciting, but do you know what is? OUR PLANTS ARE GROWING!!! Yay!! I am really not a plant person, so the fact that any plants I’ve come in contact with are actually surviving is thrilling.

We sang happy birthday to Nico at breakfast and presented him with a semi-squished cake that we bought at the mall on Sunday. After two tro tro rides and a couple of days in the fridge, I’m impressed that it survived (though only barely).

Nico with his smushed cake
School actually went well too! I was happy to be back in the P3/P4 classroom and to have another person teaching with me. Having a co-teacher makes the days way easier, and I didn’t realize just how much easier until yesterday when I had to control the kids and prep and explain everything by myself.

We talked about pronouns in English (very exciting, I know) and did more times table practice in Math. We also went over measuring distances with rulers, and the kids did NOT seem to get it. According to their textbooks, they supposedly learned it 2 years ago…? I did a quick review because I assumed that they already knew it, but everyone was staring back at me with blank expressions on their faces. I think we’re going to have to start from the beginning tomorrow.

Maria, Fernanda, Avy, Amber, me, and Nico by the river

After school was lunch, and after lunch we went to a hotel in a nearby town, Atimpoku. Supposedly they sometimes have functional wifi, but today was not one of those days. That’s okay. We all got drinks, sat by Volta River, and just hung out. We were only about 30 minutes away from the house, but it felt like we were in paradise. No kids, flush toilets, and fake Oreos (they’re decent fakes though) that Avy brought. Does it get any better than that?

We came home in time for dinner and afterwards headed to the soccer field by our house to stargaze. Today is the first day since we got here that the sky isn’t completely cloudy, and we wanted to take advantage. As you might guess, there aren’t a lot of lights here, so the sky is ideal for looking at stars. It was another one of those nights where I had that feeling of total contentment. It doesn’t get much better than laying in a field and staring at the night sky with a bunch of your friends.

It’s pretty late, so I should get to bed if I want to be able to wake up for the farm tomorrow. But yeah, today was a great day.