The past day or so has been pleasantly, uneventful. After a a hectic weekend, the slow pace has been a welcome change.
Yesterday, the day was spent at the University, mostly in meetings. In the computer lab, Sheban, Jame’s graduate student found me and informed me we had a meeting (of which, I had just learned). He led me to the graduate student’s conference room, and long, narrow dim-lit room with a white-board in front. He handed me a marker and requested I went over Elisas with him. He sat down expectantly. I did my best, I’ve never been a strong teacher, but he seemed to understand, and I was able to field his questions adequately. We spent the next hour talking, I learned where he had gone to University (Cape Coast), and that at 28, he was finishing his master’s program. This is very common, many people work for several years before attending university to save up money. Public education costs about $1,000 USD a year for room and board, average incomes range from $1,000/yr-$3,000/yr. The government officials of course pull in six-figures.
I had to find lunch alone, since everyone was busy, and after getting lost on the walk, which I thought to be straight forward I passed a few fellow “westerner.” We exchanged guarded looks, which seems to be the normal reaction here. In other countries I’ve visited, seeing a fellow American (or equivalent) results in an exuberant exchange. Here, skeptical looks often read “why are you here?” Alex and I both made the independent observation, and save a few, this tends to be how travels regard one another. I think, it may have to do with the relative scarcity of others, which you get used to and a disruption of such comes as slightly startling. Driving down the road, what tends to catch my eye the most is the elusive siting of another white person, swinging my head back to see, wonder what they are doing, why they’re here.
James had taken me home in the early afternoon, swinging by a few road-side stalls selling fresh produce and grilled plantains. The peppers here are unlike any I’ve seen before, mostly red, green and yellow-very small and bulbous as opposed to elongated, no one seems to know the names, they are just “peppers.” The grilled plantains, which I expected to be hard and uninteresting are actually pretty good, with a smoky flavor mixing with the subtle sweetness of the fruit.
This morning, I woke up and was greeted later by a blunt slam against the lower portion of the door. I go to open it to find one of my new favorite person, the son of one of the worker’s in the area, he is adorable standing by my door with an expectant look on his face. He’s just 16 months old, and when he first saw me, he had a look of awe (apparently, I’m the first white person he’s ever seen). He didn’t dare approach me, but continued to peak around corners, checking to see what I was doing. He would run in and out of my room, stare at me, and run out. Eventually, after following his gaze, I figured out what he wanted. My travel alarm clock that glows blue and makes beeping noises. I let him play with it, and he’s been obsessed with it since. Now, more comfortable he’ll run around the couch where I’m reading, making a sharp noise, ducking behind the couch with a huge smile on his face. Normally, I feel I’m exceptionally awkward with young children, I have no idea how to interact with them. I’m still uncertain how to pronounce his name, but it sounds like it starts with a Q (or else a Ku), so until I figure out exactly what it is, I’ll refer to him as such (Q). He’s a joy to have around, and with him I don’t feel awkward, he doesn’t speak much, except to recite the parts of the alphabet he knows.
Today, we were supposed to work on the farm, but due to a blackout, we couldn’t read slides, so we ended up at the University. This week isn’t very busy, though I have yet to feel bored. Next week I’m working in an actual lab and will be quite busy. The University, by the way is quite large with huge tree-lined roads forming somewhat of a grid system. The buildings are uniformly white with a burnt-orange trim. It could be a University anywhere, though the dangerously cracked sidewalks, and layer of dust are indicative of the area.