As expected, it was pretty difficult to wake up early yesterday as my previous night at club +233 meant I did not get back to my room until just after midnight. After waking up at 6 and going to class at 7, I was disappointed to find that it was pretty difficult to keep my students on task. I am not sure if this was simply because I was tired and thus impatient, or because the class was having an off day, but either way I unfortunately had to spend the majority of the class asking everyone to please sit, listen, and stop taking pictures when their cameras were supposed to be off.
I left the class frustrated and, soon after, ran into Ms. Nti (the owner of the school). I thought that this would be a good time to discuss my travel plans with her, as she had mentioned the day before that she wanted me to stick around for Brainbirds' summer school. Thankfully, we were able to come to an agreement that involves me teaching two weeks of summer school post-safari, and then taking one week to travel. What's more, a subsequent conversation that I had with Gideon confirmed that, in addition to my week off, I could also modify my teaching schedule from September 5th until September 20th to allow me two long weekends to do even more traveling. Due to budget constraints I am hoping to travel around within Ghana as opposed to in other African countries, though I have received a long list of destinations from locals that I am very excited to look deeper into.
After a quick nap, I went to the local fruit stand to grab some mango for lunch (an insane amount for just about 1USD!) and then took two tro tros to meet Elisabeth: the girl I met on the plane ride over here. Elisabeth just obtained her masters degree in theater (from somewhere in London) and she was able to give me some really great suggestions for events to check out within the local art scene. I met her at her office--which I expected to be a corporate, cubicle-filled building, but was actually an upcycled shipping container! She was still in the midst of decorating it when I arrived (she expects to be finished everything in two weeks, but unfortunately she did not want me take any pictures until then), but trust me when I tell you that it was so cool. I will try to show you all later but, if I can't, I'll tell you that it is a giant shipping container that she added a raised tin roof to as well as one giant circular window and two smaller rectangular windows. She painted the inside of the car white and, when I showed up, was in the process of moving a desk and bookcase into the space. Two of Elisabeth's friends were helping her with this and, after meeting them, I found out that one of them named Sena is also a photographer. I did not have a chance to talk to him much as Elisabeth and I were heading out to view a local art exhibition, though I made a note to ask him about the Ghanaian photography scene later on.
Elisabeth actually has a car here so we were able to drive to the museum as opposed to taking a taxi or tro tro. This threw me off a bit as far as knowing where in Accra I was, though thankfully Elisabeth was an excellent tour guide and continually pointed out where we were as well as noteworthy things we were passing. At one point, she noted that this venue we were driving past would be having a food festival next Friday: something I am definitely going to need to check out! She also stopped along the way to grab grilled plantains and roasted peanuts--a combination I was not able to try but that sounded amazing.
The museum we visited was called the Nubuke Foundation. It was a bit difficult to locate as it is actually located in a leafy suburb as opposed to central Accra, but it was evident from the minute we pulled up how beautiful the space was and I could not wait to get inside.
Elisabeth knows the owners of the museum quite well as she owns her own theater company that works closely with the foundation. I think that she might have already seen the current exhibition before as she opted to stay outside and chat with the owners while I walked inside to view the artwork.
The work varied greatly and included paintings, drawings, installation art, jewelry, kente (cloth), flags, and pottery. Each piece was amazing and really promoted Ghanaian culture and heritage. For example, one of my favorite pieces was made from decorative plastic bags (almost every vendor in Ghana uses the same ones), while another used gold weights: a nod to the ancient way in which Ghanaians used weights made from brass in order to weigh gold (aka currency) used in trading. I have pasted photos of some of my favorite pieces below... I wish I could have included more, but my data here is very limited so I am trying not to upload too many pictures.
As you can see above, all of the artwork in the Nubuke exhibition is positively beautiful. While I walked through the space, I was honestly so overwhelmed with gratitude that I met Elisabeth and that she showed me this place... I would have never found it without her!
After some more time walking around the space and speaking with one of the owners, Elisabeth and I drove off. On our way back to her apartment, we stopped at a Max Mart (a grocery chain here) and got a few groceries for the week. I decided to give powdered milk a try since I have really been missing cereal (and since we do not have a refrigerator to keep regular milk in). I've actually never had powdered milk before so I am interested to see how it tastes!
From Max Mart, we drove back to Elisabeth's office. Along the way, she told me about upcoming festivals as well as other places in the area that I can go to look at/buy art. It seems like most of the places she is telling me about will be a little bit of a hike to get to, but I think it will definitely be worth it for some weekend "me time."
When we got back to her office, I had some more time to chat with her friend Sena. He told me about a project he is currently working on in which he is documenting the places where people go to find peace. This is a pretty interesting concept to me so I am really hoping that I will have a chance to check out his work as well as discuss it more in the future. Maybe we can even collaborate on a project! As we talked, I started to help out Elisabeth and Sena with work that they still needed to do at the office. True to the cool, eco-friendly people they are, they decided to recycle empty water bottles by cutting them open and putting plants inside. I helped to cut open the bottles for a bit while Sena filled them with dirt and Elisabeth potted the plants. When we had done enough for the day, Elisabeth and Sena did work on their computers while I read a magazine that Elisabeth had lying around. The zine was called Signature and was created by two Ghanaian brothers who are currently living in the UK. This issue was the first they had printed and it was absolutely stunning. The articles were all about Ghanaian art and culture and featured many beautiful photographs. Even the paper that the magazine was printed on was beautiful--it was a much heavier weight than most magazines are printed on... almost as thick as a high quality art book. I really enjoyed looking through it and am thinking about reaching out to the creators to see if they could use any photography help while I am here. I have been working on this series called #AccraFromAbove that I am really enjoying... you guys can check it out on my photo instagram, @rachelwizphoto if you're interested!
As dinner time started to near, I said my goodbyes and headed toward the tro tro. It took a while to get one as it was rush hour and most of the cars were full with people coming home from work. Eventually I was able to get a car home and got back to the school around 6 or 7PM.
I decided to try using the kitchen again and, this time, made spaghetti. I'm not sure if I mentioned this in the blog before, but one of my students in class 5 named Emmanuel brought me a small baggie of spaghetti the other day after I told him that pasta was my favorite food. How cute, right? Auntie Lily helped me to start a fire ("Auntie" is how we refer to the women here... the kids call me Auntie Rachel) and, due to the heavy wind, it took almost an hour before we could get the coals to light and water to boil. While I was waiting, I made "tomato sauce" from a tiny tin of tomato paste, a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese, a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. Honestly, it wasn't that bad! I boiled the pasta and slathered it in the sauce and really really enjoyed the fruits of my labor. The experience also really made me appreciate how easy it is to make pasta on the stove!
After I ate, the kids and I played a couple rounds of Concentration 64 and then I came back to the room around 9. The girls and I had originally hoped to watch The Wizard of Oz but they went to church instead... so I guess movie night will be moved to tomorrow!