Yesterday morning was another day of firsts for me. After waking up in Quasi's sister's room (and briefly locking myself in the room while I had to pee really badly... which was fun), I found out that Quasi wasn't feeling very well so Mariana wanted to stay with and look after him. Rather than spending the day third wheeling, I decided to take the tro tro by myself for the first time. The one thing that is cool about the tro tros not having set schedules or stops is that, as long as you are standing in the direction you'd like to go, you can usually grab a car right away. This is exactly what happened to me, and I only waited outside the house for like 30 seconds before a car picked me up. It was a lot easier to navigate my way on the tro tros than I had anticipated and I was so excited to have gained a bit of self sufficiency.
Mariana had mentioned earlier that the Accra Mall was where I needed to stop to transfer tro tros, so I jumped out at the mall and bought a few groceries I needed at the mall's Shop Rite. There were so many Obronis (white people) in the mall/Shop Rite, which I knew to expect but was still surprised by (as normally I can go a full day without seeing any other foreigners). What was funny about this was that, based on their outfits and behaviors, I could tell immediately that these Obronis were all here on vacation and had probably not set foot from the touristy, air conditioned areas in their time here. They looked confused as they walked around, and they all paid with credit/debit cards instead of the local currency. I could also tell that these Obronis would all take taxis from the mall back to their hotel, as when I jumped on my tro tro home the mate (the guy that lets people into the car and collects their money) was very confused and asked if I knew where I was going. It is kind of funny (and a good feeling) that I am starting to feel more like a local than a tourist!
After another tro tro transfer, I finally got home and was greeted by my three student roommates--Emmanuella, Peace, and Alice--who squealed and ran to me when they saw me come through the door. They were quick to ask me where I had been and why I didn't come home last night--a question I was asked often throughout the day. I have learned from Mariana that, due to their extreme religiousness, the kids and teachers are very against pre-marital sex, and thus men and women sharing a bed. Though Mariana was the one who had spent the night with a boy and not me, I received some of the same judgement, which was annoying but manageable as I knew I had done nothing wrong. (Apparently, the teachers have told Mariana many times that they like her and love how she is with the kids, but that her "weakness" is that she goes out at night. She doesn't view this as a weakness at all, nor do I. Mariana is 29, she can do whatever she wants!)
As soon as I walked through the door, the kids wanted so badly to touch, jump on, and play with me, but I was exhausted from my morning ventures (the sun makes everything so draining). I am starting to learn when I need to be firm in asking for things from them, as so far I have been so nice and willing to play with them that they cannot understand when I say I need a small break. I ended up striking a bargain with them: if they gave me time to eat lunch, blog and shower, then we could watch the second half of Finding Nemo. The girls fetched a bowl of beans for me from the school's cook which tasted very good but also made me really sick. Thankfully, my travel medicine doctor anticipated this and gave me a lot of pills, so after I took a few I felt fine. The food here at the school is not prepared in a very sanitary way at all, so I cannot stomach much of it. So far I have been trying to eat as much of it as possible (to be respectful and also to build up my tolerance), but also eating sandwiches and crackers I bought from the store. After resting for a bit I watched the movie with the girls, and then the girls and teachers showed me how to do my wash.
"Hand washing" takes on a totally new meaning here, as it is not reserved only for delicates. Only richer people in Ghana have washing machines or can afford to take their clothes to a laundromat, so here at the school they wash every piece of laundry by hand. The laundry is done with this three bucket system. In the first bucket, the clothes soak in a combination of water and washing powder. Then, each article is scrubbed with bar soap and lathered by hand, then dunked, twisted dry, and thrown into the second bucket. The second bucket has only water in it, but we again take the bar soap to the clothes and lathered, dunked, and twisted. The third bucket also only has water in it, and the clothes soak here for a bit before they are twisted dry and hung on a line. In my opinion the third bucket isn't really enough to get all of the soap out of the clothes, but whatever, this is their system and they know how it works much better than I do. Even though I only had five days worth of clothes, the wash took a while to do as my long skirts are so much fabric. Though I feel I am adjusting to the local way of life very well by now, I am so used to the convenience and low effort that it takes to use a washing machine that this lengthy weekly hand washing is something I feel I will never look forward to.
Soon after I finished hanging my clothes, the power went out. These power outages are sadly common and make it very difficult to busy yourself when it is already dark outside (this outage happened around 6PM, which was way too early for me to give up and go to sleep). I ate a meal of rice and beans with the girls outside as we tried to soak up the last few minutes of sunlight, and then it became pitch black. I turned the flashlight on my phone on so that I could see the kids, though I was worried about what would happen if I drained my phone battery (since I couldn't charge it and didn't know the next time I'd be able to). I felt so bad for the boys and girls who live at the school as already, on a normal day, they do not have anything to do to busy themselves or have fun, let alone during a black out. I set my phone up so that the light could be seen by most of us, and then I taught the kids hand games to play such as "Concentration." They loved this and had a blast playing it for hours. Eventually I tired out and went inside around 9PM, though it was hard to sleep. Even though I had put bug spray on before I went outside, mosquitos had eaten my feet up and I had about four bites down each side of my foot. The itching got so bad that I had to wrap my feet in a blanket so I wouldn't touch them. I used this time before bed to work on my lesson plans for the next day, as this was the first day that the kids would be using the cameras!