19th August - Present
So far my time in Bodada has been uneventful, but pleasant. I live in a nice-sized, EP church-owned compound with ten rooms, and two of them are mine. My bedroom is about the size of a dorm room, and it's pretty spartan. I have a bed, 2 plastic chair, and as of yesterday I have a desk provided by EPJHS. My second room will be a kitchen/dining room, but it's still under construction. The carpenters have to pour new cement for the floor, the room needs painting, and it needs a ceiling. I'm told that the ceiling will be wooden beams with woven mats placed between them to "Keep the lizards out of the soup." Sounds good to me, right now lizard soup doesn't sound too tasty.
The first day I arrived my counterpart Godwin and I went into Hohoe (the second largest city in the Volta Region) to buy a USB modem, voltage regulator, and other supplies. I impulse bought an electric kettle on the recommendation of my shadow visit host, Mike Shoup, and I can honestly say that it competes with the USB modem as my favorite purchase. I mostly just use it to heat up water for my bucket bath, and after my first warm bucket bath I couldn't remember how I tolerated bathing without warm water.
Since my kitchen is still under construction I didn't buy a propane tank or a stove which cost almost 150GH₵ combined. This means that I get to use the pastor's stove (same setup as I would buy) whenever I cook something, which is nice but I would prefer my own space.
My second major adventure was to the Tuesday market town of Kute which is located on the border with Togo. Although it's listed as 5km away from Bodada on my information sheet that I got about my site, it took almost an hour of traveling to get there. The drive was beautiful: there were mountains, forest, farms, and small villages along the whole way. Like Bodada, Kute is between two mountains, but the mountains that form the border with Togo are noticeably larger than the Ghanaian ones. The town is small, but market itself is large because Togolese and Ghanaians both buy and sell there. Nothing too interesting happened there, but it was nice to get to use my Ewe market skills. Unfortunately I don't think I'll go there too much (at least until I buy a bicycle) because traveling there costs as much as traveling to Hohoe (which offers a larger market with better prices). Jasikan (the town that really is 5km away) has a large market on Fridays, and it's large enough that I buy most things regardless of the day of the week.
My third adventure was meeting Kate Pote in Hohoe for shopping and meeting other volunteers. Kate is the closest volunteer to me (about 30 minutes away from me at Akpafu Sec. Tech.) and is a science teacher there. Akpafu is on the Hohoe-Jasikan road about 10 minutes from Hohoe, so whenever I end up going there I'll probably see what she's doing. We just went to the market and then met up with Scott and Nathan who are also PCVs in Volta. Scott teaches art in Hohoe, and also helped open up a store called Our Talking Hands which sells traditional Ghanaian art products made by students at a Deaf Art School (in Ghana all people with mental disabilities who go to school go to "Deaf" schools...sad but true). Scott is really committed to this place, and he helped the owner create a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/0urTalkingHands and a website http://ourtalkinghands.com/. Nathan lives in the Northern part of Volta, and was just swinging by before his trip home to California. I probably won't see him too much, but he's the head malaria dude in Volta so we'll be in contact.
My fourth and final adventure was school! It started yesterday, 4th of August, but we won't start actually teaching until next week. Schools here don't have janitors or grounds crews because they have lots of free labor at their disposal. That's right, school children do all the sweeping, mowing (called weeding and done with machetes), and cleaning. The first week is dedicated to getting the school presentable and in full working order. Tomorrow we'll be reviewing last year's exams, and it'll be a good chance for me to gauge the actual level of the students. These last two days have been pretty slow, I just show up, talk with the other teachers and the headmaster, and then go home at the end of the day. I'm still not sure what my teaching schedule will be because the headmaster hasn't even figured out the schedule yet...such is life in Ghana.
The last two weeks and a half weeks have been pretty slow going, especially compared to the schedule we had during training, but it's been very relaxing. I've met a lot of people by going to church and many more people come over just to talk with the pastor. I've been out on the town a little, but not too much. Mostly I've just spent time with the people who live in the compound (Pastor Jean-Paul, Sarah, Patricia, and Michael), and spent a lot of time reading too. I recently finished the last two books of the Hunger Games series, and I'm on to the fourth Song of Fire and Ice/Game of Thrones book. I'm really happy that school has started though because it will give my life a little more structure, and I'm really looking forward to meeting the students and teaching. I do know that I'll be teaching all three grades ICT (computer class) and Godwin and I will split the math (known as maths here) and science classes.
I'll try to blog more too. Let me know what you want to know about via Facebook, email, or comments.