It's hard to believe I've been living in Ghana for one year and 8 months. 6 1/2 months to go! It felt like last week all of my Ghanaian friends realized I will be leaving soon. My landlord and his family asked when I will be leaving and so did my NGO. Both told me they would cry when I leave. I am excited to get home but it will be hard to leave Ghana. I have bought my close of service (COS) ticket home. I'll be backpacking through West Africa with my good friend Terri, who is also a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Ghana. We will leave Ghana in early November and go through Burkina Faso, Mali, Gambia, and Senegal. We will fly from Senegal to Morocco and explore there for a week before taking a boat across the Gibraltar to Spain. In spin we'll meet up with 8 other PCVs from Ghana and take a 14 day cruise across the Atlantic on our way home. The cruise will stop in Portugal, the Canary Islands, and the Bahamas. It's going to be an amazing trip home. I'll get back to the US in December just in time to relax for the holidays.(This is part of the crazy crew that will be making trouble on the cruise!!! Taken at my village on a fishing boat!)
Everyone has been asking me what my plans are after PC and I'm not sure to be honest. I'm not even sure where I will end up living but I will figure it all out when I'm home. For now I'm focusing on my work in Ghana and living for the moment. Work has been going great, after distributing the 10,000 copies of the brochure I made last year for the stilt village, Nzulezo. (These pictures are Nzulezo, the stilt village and some of my friends that live there) This year I created 5 different posters to promote new attraction in my area and my NGO has just made 4,000 copies of them. Our most famous attraction is Nzulezo, a village built on stilts above the Amansuri Lake, which is protected by Ghana Wildlife Society, my NGO. You can take a 1 hour canoe ride from Beyin to the village on stilts. There is also the Meandah crocodile pond which you can continue to from Nzulezo an additional 15 minutes. The crocodile pond has a boardwalk nature trail that is 500 meters long. Last time I was there I saw a mona monkey swing across the trail on my walk to the observatory on the crocodile pond. The last time I went to the crocodile pond I stayed the night there to research the crocodiles. The Amansuri wetlands is home to long snout, dwarf, and Nile crocodiles. (To the left is a terrible picture of me at the crocodile pond) We are also promoting a new visitor center at a village called Ebonloa. Ebonloa has a nature trail and is located on the Amansuri Lake as well so you can go to Nzulezo from Ebanloa too. In addition to Ebonloa you can see akepteshie distilleries and learn how the local people brew the local gin. Then there is the sea cruise, taking hand crafted wooden boats with an outboard motor 1 hour to sea and returning. Whale season will begin soon and you can actually see the whales jump from the shore. Another of our attractions is For Apollonia, a trade castle that was also used during the slave trade. (The picture to the right is Caitlin, Sarah, and I on a cannon outside of the castle. To the left is the inside of the castle.) Well you can imagine with all the attractions I'm staying busy. Our project was originally funded by the Dutch government, when that contract ran out the French decided to fund us. Our French funding ended this month and they just visited this week. We are hoping the French Ambassador will continue the funding after the visitor center in Ebonloa opens at the end of June. Oh, I also made post cards for our attractions and we printed 1,0000 copies that we are selling in our gift shops. I will try to send some out to my friends and family. I guess that about wraps up all the work I've been doing for my NGO. I am also working on building latrines for my village in my free time, which I haven't had much of. I will keep you posted on the latrine project as it continues.
Good news, I've managed to stay healthy since I returned from the states in January. I haven't had malaria or any infections this year. I've only had to fight off a little dysentery but I'm back to perfect health. Oh besides the current black eye I have, it's small though. I was riding home from market and I hit the side of my eye on the metal casing around the window of the tro tro. The roads are horrible, almost as bad as the drivers. I was hitting the roof on every bump. I didn't realize I had a black eye because their aren't any mirrors around but everyone in my village was trying to rub the bruise off of my face. They thought it was dirt, they can't exactly see bruises on their skin. They also always try to scratch my freckles off. Haha!
I love you and miss you all and can't wait to be home in December! My Dad decided to get a new hip while I've been gone and now he is acting like he is 20 years old again. Their might not even be work left to do on the house when I get home. My Mom of course is still staying busy at work and trying to keep my Dad in line, a never ending project. My Grandmother just left after spending 3 weeks in Florida with my parents. Congratulations to Griffin who just graduated from the fire academy. He is very happy living in Texas now. I'm missing all of my buddies from A&M who seem to be doing well from what I hear.
I think that's all I have for now. Sorry I haven't blogged in such a long time. I promise to post more frequently Kime! I love and miss you all. I hope their aren't too many type-os, I am always in a hurry at the internet. Looking forward to that beer state side.