Sunday, October 23, 2011

Days 1277-1279: Hey Hey We're Monkeys

While my parents were enduring their ordeal (see previous post), Melissa, Ruth, and I - along with several of my colleagues: Ben, his wife Susan (visiting from the US), Richmond, Anna-Marie, and her partner Carl - headed out to the Volta region.  The bus was a bit crowded, and the trip was longish, but worth it.  The countryside was beautiful once we got out of Accra.

The first challenge, however, was when we got to the base of the mountain at the top of which the Mountain Paradise sits.  This is the nearby village of Fume, sitting at the base of the mountain.

This is Mt. Gemi, one of the highest in Ghana, which rose majestically across the valley from us:

This is the mist laying in the valley, as Ruth oohed (it's like clouds!) over our first breakfast there:

This is some of the foliage (courtesy Melissa), and the beauty of the mountain sunset:

Oh, and this is the road leading there:

The hotel didn't mention that there wasn't so much a road leading the 4km up the mountain to its location as... well, a lack of a road.  A sort of potential, aspirational road.  

This wouldn't have been such an issue had we been in a 4x4 or some such.  But there were eight of us in a Tata minibus, which was... interesting.  We struggled up the steep incline, through the mud and scree, with no guardrails, and the driver occasionally getting out to haul chunks of rock out of our way.  

Eventually, we made it to the top, and no one died (though it seemed close at a couple of points).  And it really was beautiful.  I also learned a lesson about my haggling skills.

ME: Hey, so we're hoping to hire you guys to head down into the Tafis tomorrow.  How much will it be?
DRIVER: I will do it for 150 cedis.
ME: Saa.  Tony [the guy who runs the Mt. Paradise] said it would be 80.
DRIVER: Tony is not here.

Chastened, I went to help everyone settle in.  The air was clear, the mountains were beautiful, and Ruth wanted to pretend we were hunting bears "for their meat."

The adults took a hike down to a nearby river, and Melissa, Ruth, and I hung out around the place enjoying the nature.

Ruth also discovered the Mancala board in the shape of a crocodile they had in the bar overlooking the mountains.  I tried to teach her the game, but she mostly liked to put the seeds in the scoring pocket on its head, or in its mouth, and say it was eating eggs for breakfast.

That night, a huge storm rolled in, and so we snuggled in with Ruth to comfort her after dinner (I had the most delicious groundnut stew I've ever had - though mine is getting pretty good now).  The power had gone out due to the storm, anyway.

The next morning, we met some Indians who were living in Tema now and running an import/export business.  Ruth announced that she no longer was going to eat oatmeal for breakfast (up until now, a favorite), but was going to eat "regular food."  So we sat and watched the mist burn off and she ate some bread and drank Milo.  Fun fact: all chocolate products in Ghana are marketed as health foods.

After breakfast, the ride arrived.  I'd mentioned the "Tony isn't here" thing to Tony at dinner, and he said he'd take care of it, and he did.  He found a driver who would take us to the Tafis for the promised 80gc.  So what drove up was an ancient Peugeot.  I mean, I'm pretty sure Fred Flintstone bought it with his summer job money.  It rattled, and fumed, and looked held together with chewing gum and love of Jesus, but it got us down the hill (with Ruth perched precariously on Melissa's lap).  Even though we had to stop for gas at an old-timey petrol station, where they manually cranked the gas up into a glass beaker to measure it out.

We got to Tafi Atome and piled out to find the visitor center.  While we went to check in and find our guide, Anna-Marie, Ruth, and Melissa went over to check out the church service going on.

Though Ruth was mostly excited about the goats, she got less shy and even danced a bit to the singing in the church.

But we were there for monkeys!

Our guide arrived with a bag of bananas, and told us a bit about the sanctuary on our very short walk out to find a troop of monkeys.  We lucked out, and there was a group just sort of hanging out near the entrance.   The guide very nicely asked Ruth if she had any questions about the monkeys, but it was clear that Ruth's only question was WHERE ARE THE MONKEYS.

She was not disappointed for long!  The guide called to the monkeys and held out a banana, and pretty soon the bravest little monkey jumped out of the trees to grab his banana, to squeals of laughter from Ruth.  The monkeys in the sanctuary are monas, and about the size of large cats.  It was pretty impressive - they were fearless, running up and grabbing bananas and wolfing them down, and leaping through the trees around us (including one that leapt from a tree, bounced off Melissa's head, and landed on my arm to grab the banana I was holding out).

Anna-Marie was the first of us to try to feed them:

Melissa and I both helped Ruth hold bananas for the monkeys to eat, which Ruth seemed to love:

Anyway, here are some more monkey/forest pictures!

After seeing the monkeys, we wandered around the forest for a little while, and then loaded into our warhorse station wagon to take the bush road over to Tafi Abuife, which is a kente-weaving village.  We passed a beautiful mango orchard on the way, which alas I didn't get a photo of.

Tafi Abuife was also quite nice (though not as much of a hit as the monkeys, Ruth did mention the next day how much she liked seeing the looms).  We started out with a quick lecture on the history of Kente cloth, in which Richmond brought up the great and acrimonious debate about whether the Ashanti created kente weaving, or whether they stole it from the Ewe.  As Tafi Abuife is in an Ewe area, so we got their version of the story - they learned the art by watching spiders weave, and then the Ashanti learned it from captured Ewe during their wars.

They then took us to see the looms, and even brought out a fellow (it was a Sunday, so we felt bad but they insisted for the obruni) to demonstrate their use.  The whole process is extremely impressive - boys and girls in Tafi Abuife start learning the art at seven years old, and the weaving requires manipulating multiple shuttles and the loom itself with both hands and feet.

(And, of course, we bought a few pieces)

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel.  We did learn, during a stop to buy something to eat in Fume, that the one thing Ruth likes more than monkeys eating bananas is eating bananas herself.

Oh, and when we got back, Carl found some spent shotgun shells on the patio - apparently the Indians had been firing off rounds into the valley for fun before they left.  We also met a very nice couple from the UK, John and Mandy, who took a shine to Ruth and told us about how they were near the end of their time tooling around Ghana by tro-tro and whimsy.  I tell Melissa that when Ruth is 15 we're going to come back to Africa and do something similar, or maybe just get bicycles.

Before Ruth came to Ghana, I had promised monkeys and drumming/dancing.  Don't say Dad doesn't deliver.  We'd been by the music/dance department on campus a few times to watch their classes, but I arranged with the hotel to get a dance/drum troupe in from the nearby village of Amezdofe to perform after dinner.  They were a bit late arriving, but I knew it was worth it when we heard them signing as their bus came up the mountain and Ruth started running around saying, "I hear singing!  They're here!"

Ruth was a bit shy when they started, but opened up after they'd been there for a while and I told her that she could dance both barefoot and a bit further away from the action, where she felt safer.

We had a blast.  Ruth wanted to do this sort of combination of ballet, moves she was copying from the dancers, and parkour.  I loved dancing with her - we would spin, and windmill our arms, and run back and forth up a nearby ramp that she was treating like a proscenium. I wish I had video, but here's a photo from when I had to stop to catch my breath, and tried to snap one of her:

I wish I could describe it better, because I know she won't remember much, and my memories will fade, and it was wonderful.

In the end, I managed to get Ruth to join the final dancing circle with me and some of our gang.

The next day, we hung out in the morning, and Ruth played with some other kids who were there (I think children of one of Tony's family, but they didn't seem to speak any English):

Then the adults headed off to Amezdofe to check out the waterfall, and Ruth and I braved the very steep path down into the valley to the stream. I have to say, she was a trooper - she made it all the way down what was a steep, slippery, and sometimes a bit frightening path walking on her own and holding my hand, and taking any slips and slides in stride.  At the bottom, I helped her dangle her feet in the very fast-moving stream.

I swear I didn't Photoshop that first one, but the difference in the light bouncing off her and the background is sharp.

Then we started our way back up.  Ruth was a bit scared, I think, and it was no picnic, but I managed to get us back up through a combination of lifting her up to relatively safe ledges and telling her to stand still until I could clamber up to a stable footing of my own ("the Daddy elevator") and bracing her while she climbed ("the Daddy tree").

When we got the top, all that was left was to change out of my apocalyptically sweaty/dirty clothes, settle the bill (I'd planned the trip, so I was the designated, "we're going to need a spreadsheet" guy), and load Ruth into the bus home, where she slept most of the way to finally reaching campus, and Grammy and Grampy.

Oh, and I bought one of those mancala sets (what can I say, I like playing too).  I tell Ruth that we're going to learn how to play for real when she's got a better attention span for counting, but until then I'm pretty happy to just watch her put "eggs" in the crocodile's mouth.

Day 1276: Grammy and Grampy Don't Arrive!

I went to bed last Thursday night expecting to run over to Kotoka Airport late Friday morning and grab my folks with Mr. Lartey while Ruth and Melissa made them a welcome sign.  I checked the flight status and saw that they'd left the US on time.  Whew.

Alas, it was not to be.

Google, please index this post as Delta, Delta Sucks, Delta is Terrible, I Hate Delta, F*** Delta.  You get the picture.

I woke up Friday morning to a somewhat cryptic email from my folks saying that their flight had turned around.  It turns out (and here I'm sparing you the convoluted process I took to get these answers, so some of this I only learned once I finally saw them) that there was a problem with the bathrooms on the plane.  The flight crew said that they would start working when the plane hit 16,000 feet.

Guess what happened!

My Mom, about 5 hours into the flight or so, decided to check the flight path display, and huh, saw that it seemed they'd turned around.  Oh, wait, did you expect the flight crew to inform the passengers?  Oh, no no.  They'd gotten 3.5 hours out, half the bathrooms didn't work, and so they turned around.  Delta, in its infinite generosity, put them up in a cheap hotel room and gave them a $6 voucher for breakfast.  Score!

I had carefully planned a trip for the family to the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary and a stay at the Biakpa Mountain Paradise.  I'd arranged for a bus to pick up the family and a bunch of other interested obruni from campus, and we were going to spend a relaxing weekend in the rural Volta region.  Importantly, I'd scheduled this for the only weekend that both Melissa and my folks were going to be in town, and we were scheduled to leave at 7AM on Saturday.

Anyway, my folks had been rescheduled onto a new flight, scheduled in at 5AM on Saturday. I re-arranged the bus to come at 9AM, and figured my parents could sleep on the bus and we could salvage things.

Friday night at about 7PM our time, I checked the flight status, and it was listed as having departed about 5 minutes early.  Whew!  Melissa and I had some beers and relaxed.

Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, my parents got on the plane.  One of the passengers found the headphones he'd accidentally left behind in a seat pocket... because it was the same plane.  If you were thinking, "oh, they must have fixed the bathrooms, great," you have never flown Delta.

As I was about to go to bed, I realized that in my smitten-ness with my wife, I'd accidentally left my computer on.  Just because, I hit "refresh" on the flight status page... and now the flight was listed as "boarding."


I mentioned this to Melissa. I couldn't figure out how a plane went from "in flight" to "boarding."  It sounded dangerous.  Did they lower ropes?

I called Delta.  They told me they had no idea what I was talking about, the plane was delayed coming in from Barcelona, and was undergoing routine security checks, and it had never been listed as in flight.   I'm pretty sure the rep I got was Ari Fleischer.

Meanwhile, my parents had flown out 1.5 hours... and then flew back to Atlanta because the bathrooms didn't work.

Yeah, basically Delta lied to me (Google, you can index that phrase too).

I had already arranged for Mr. Lartey's cousin to pick me up at 4:30AM the next day, and so I figured that calling Mr. Lartey at 11PM would be obnoxious, but not as obnoxious as Gabriel showing up in the wee hours of the morning and being told to go home.  So I did.

Melissa and I agreed that she would go ahead on the bus with the rest of the crew, I would get my folks when they finally arrived (now scheduled about noon), and then I would pay Mr. Lartey whatever it cost to get him or one of his crew to taxi us out to Volta.  I finally got an email from my - exhausted - parents telling me to go ahead, they would just crash at the Guest Center and recover from their ordeal. So, with great reluctance, we did.

After pushing back from the gate again and returning (but not actually getting into the air), they finally made it here.  Fortunately, they met a man named Stephen on the plane, who was a "big man" (my Mom is great at meeting people).  Stephen not only agreed to drive them to the Guest Center on arrival, but he greased palms all the way through.  Walking behind him, passport control waved my folks through without checking.  My Dad started to get his out, and was told, "oh, that's OK, I just wanted to know that you had one, I don't need to actually look at it."

Next: the fun story about monkeys, and some actual pictures.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 1275 - Big Crazy Market

So crazy I didn't get any pictures!

This morning we got up and hung around a bit, and then I headed over to the Guest Center.  Yesterday, we'd run into Mr. Mensah, who works there, and was a friend of Anna-Marie's (did I already say this?  It was a looong post).  His sister is a seamstress, and so he called her over and we talked about getting her to come by the flat to measure me, Ruth, and Melissa and make some shirts/dresses for us.  She'll be here at 8AM on Tuesday, so I have to remember to set the alarm!

Then, we went down to Makola Market.  We were lucky enough to catch the MMT bus, and though it was a bit of a long trip (Accra traffic is a nightmare), we made it there in one piece.  I even managed to find us a number of fabric shops, which was our main target.  We all got some fabric - certainly enough for two shirts for me and a dress each for M&R, plus we're probably just going to see if we can have dresses/skirts made for Ruth out of any large enough leftover pieces.  Ruth picked out a nice piece of pink fabric with purple geometric designs.

And of course, she remembered the promise of beads.  She had definite ideas of which bead shop she'd seen to go to, and despite my trying to show her others, insisted on a strand of pink sparkly plastic lozenges. The woman running the shop was nice enough to let Ruth watch as she made them into a necklace, and threw in two elastic wristbands made from the leftover beads.

From Makola, we walked up (not that bad a walk, though today was pretty brutal hot) to the National Museum, where I got to try to explain what the model slave ships were all about to Ruth in age-appropriate terms.  We settled on, "it was very sad."  Fortunately, she was also excited about Kwame Nkrumah's chair, and she remembered that the stools were what kings sat on.

Then we jetted over to Osu, grabbed some needed curios for folks back home from the AACD store and some needed lunch for the rest of us (I took us to the place where we could get chicken and french fries and somehow still didn't get Ruth to eat much), and then after a few false starts and missed turns, got to the Osu Children's Library.  Ruth did a puzzle, and then I read a few stories to her and the other kids there.

Then a long cab home where Ruth fell asleep and I managed to spill satchel water all over myself.  And, of course, Ruth wanted to watch Ratatouille again...

Tomorrow: Grammy and Grampy arrive!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Days 1266-1274: Ghana, Part 1!

Last Tuesday, Melissa and Ruth finally arrived in Ghana... whew!

I shirked my classes last week (with my head of department's approval, don't worry) so that I could help them settle in after the long trip, the culture shock, and the jetlag.  I'm glad I did.

Before everyone got here, I'd gone to Game (now owned by Walmart!) to get Ruth some art supplies to make her feel at home (and some wine, to make Melissa feel at home).  So, Tuesday morning I got picked up by Mr. Lartey and went over to the airport.  We arrived just as the plane was showing that it was landing, but I ended up waiting for a while for them to clear customs, etc.  I spent a while on tiptoes expecting them to walk through the doorway... until I realized that I was watching people deplane from the Air Emirates flight instead of the Delta flight.  What tipped me off was that Air Emirates dresses its stewardesses like this, while Delta crew looks like this.

In any event, they eventually came through, and though security glared at me for even leaning through the doorway to wave, Ruth ran into my arms.  Our only snag was that I ended up having to pay 10gc to the guys who "helped" Melissa with her bags by grabbing them out of her hands, mostly because Ruth was wiggling and I was tired of fighting about it.  But a short cab ride back to the Fulbright House and Ruth was contentedly painting with her water colors.

The first night was rough.  Ruth had slept on the plane, despite the turbulence (and after watching Ratatouille twice, which at least means she has good taste in movies).  But Melissa didn't get much sleep, and everyone was jetlagged.  Ruth couldn't sleep at the flat (being +4 hours from Baltimore means that we were asking her to go to sleep when her body thought it was 4PM), and since there's only one bedroom here, we're kind of on top of each other, so the tossing and turning kept Melissa awake.  In a desperate effort to get everyone at least a little sleep and start getting on the local time schedule, Ruth and I ended up camping out on a "cushion fort" in the living room.

(I don't recommend it).  Eventually, we all got some sleep, and I let everyone sleep in the next day while I worked.

Wednesday, Ruth and I spent wandering around while Melissa rested.  We went to the botanical gardens and ran around for a while (stopping at the university bookstore and reading a new book on the steps in front of the library first).  Ruth found a huge palm tree that we could go inside, and we pretended it was a house (but Wednesday, Ruth requested no pictures).  Then we walked down to the main tro-tro stop and bought coconuts to drink out of.  From thence, back to the flat to have a bit of a flop day.

Thursday, the three of us took a promised ride on tro-tros to the Shangri-La to check out their pool, which we'd heard was quite nice. Actually, on the way over, we ended up catching an MMT bus rather than a proper tro-tro, but Ruth still said, "this is so fun!"

(We took a proper tro-tro home, but it was way too crammed for pictures)

Ruth certainly approved of the pool.

We splashed and lounged for a long while, then came home.  We took Ruth to the Guest Center restaurant for dinner, because they had some home-y foods.  She ordered mac and cheese, but fell asleep before it came.  We had a nice surprise when we went to pay to take it home with us, though - we'd run into Helen, the head of my department, before dinner (she lives at the Guest Center), and she'd paid for our meal.

Friday... didn't work out so well.  The morning was fine - Ruth and I strolled over to Max Mart for provisions, where Ruth discovered her new favorite thing - La Vache Qui Rit.   In the afternoon, we tried to take Ruth to the Embassy for their weekly barbecue and maybe to use the playground that was supposed to be there.  But, by the time she woke up from her nap and we fought traffic, it was almost 4.  And we learned that, despite the fact that the BBQ starts at 1PM, the embassy officially closes at 12:30, and my badge doesn't get us in "after hours."  Sigh.

We headed back to salvage the end of the afternoon and the promised pool by going to the U Ghana pool - which actually was fairly nice.  Melissa lounged while Ruth and I splashed about a bit.  And on the way home, we got some chicken-on-a-stick that was pretty tasty.

But then... the HEALING JESUS CRUSADE began.  Oh, for the love, just click on that link and look at the size of the scaffolding for their speakers.  That was set up in the field right across from the flat, by which I mean those speakers were maybe 150 meters away.

I can't find a "contact us" link on their main website, but here's their Facebook page so you can post long, angry rants.  Seriously, fuck these guys.  As Melissa pointed out, if the thousand+ people who showed up spent time actually doing something besides listening to a huckster for five hours, they could maybe get the taps flowing in Accra.  I was just struck by how one of the sermons was all about how you don't know when you're going to die... and all I could think was, dang, the last thing I would do with that insight was spend a few hours out in a field listening to some dude tell me that Jesus was a'ight.

Oh, wait, did I mention that I could hear every word of the sermons? GO BACK AND LOOK AT THOSE SPEAKERS AGAIN.  Even with the windows closed and the fans on, it was so loud that you could literally feel things vibrate, and Ruth was complaining that her ears hurt.  Of course, it ran from 6PM-11PM, and so all of the work getting Ruth un-jetlagged and Melissa rested was shot.  Apparently, they were violating all sorts of noise ordinances, and it wasn't clear that the University had actually approved them setting up where they were (we're not the only residents near Mensah-Sarbah field; it's in the middle of a major university residential area, with at least two dorm blocks directly abutting the field, and the main uni hotel, the Guest Center)... not that any of that stopped the HEALING POWER OF JESUS ROCK.

Anyway, Saturday we went out to Madina.  One of my colleagues, Carl, and his partner, Anna-Marie, had finally gotten moved into their house, and so they held a housewarming.  I mostly wrangled Ruth, so Melissa could chat (and not being able to sit down to eat was a good excuse to eat only the donuts one of their new neighbors had bought).

One of the Guest Center (where Carl and Anna-Marie had been living while the house was being prepped) staff had moved into their new house's "boy's quarters," and two of his children were out in the driveway laying out corn kernels to dry (I think to be pounded to make flour for banku).  Ruth desperately wanted to play/help, but they were a bit older, and Cornelius' English is a bit shaky, so I suspect theirs may have been as well, so they mostly rebuffed her, unfortunately.

Fortunately, Ruth ended up striking up a bit of a love-hate relationship with Kay-Kay, the daughter (also about 3 1/2) of one of Carl's friends.

Then we came home to... NIGHT TWO OF THE HEALING JESUS CRUSADE.  Many attempts to find a hotel to stay at while Ruth napped had come to naught.  By the - I kid you not - seventh altar call, with Ruth massively overtired and losing it (and telling Melissa that she needed to call the police because people were being loud - when else would we be wistful for Baltimore police response?), Melissa and I were ready to get down there and point out that by the 8th hour of the crusade, anyone who had not responded to the previous six altar calls was probably JUST NOT FREAKING INTERESTED IN BEING REBORN AT THE MOMENT.

But Sunday, we went up to Aburi Botanical Gardens, in the Akuapem Hills north of Accra.  I'd been back in 2009, and I thought it'd make a nice, low-key day trip.  The gardens themselves were lovely, and even though everyone was a bit tired (and Ruth was a bit whiny about walking as a result), I think a good time was had.

(My unintentionally arty photo of a tree heavily growing with orchids)

(Yep, there's a downed helicopter in Aburi gardens.  I'm not sure what the deal with it is.  Since Ruth was a bit tired, we didn't bother hiring a guide which might have made lingering/resting more awkward.)

(Ruth finds imaginative play everywhere.  This is her using a tree stump as a stove to cook an elaborate meal for me on, while Melissa checked out the gardens.)

(Watching some butterflies)

(Wait, I thought you were too tired to walk?)

After the gardens, I'd promised Ruth we could stop at Hillburi to swim.  Ruth is all set to be a third culture kid - show her cultural stuff and she's marginally impressed, but she wants to check out all the pools and playgrounds.

Case in point.

Hillburi was nice, if a bit of a rip-off.  I won't belabor it here, but they really nickel-and-dimed us on fee after fee to use the facilities (our friends who'd recommended it had stayed there as guests, so not been subject to this) but the one thing that really irked me was the restaurant.  We'd stopped for lunch, even though it was a bit overpriced, and being polite had invited our driver to come in if he wanted something to eat.  He'd tried to order (I saw him point - this wasn't the driver screwing us) the side order portion of jollof rice, I think because he'd balked at the prices, but they made him decide between fish or chicken, and then brought him the grill version that was almost five times the price of what he'd tried to order.  We mostly stayed because we'd promised Ruth the pool and playground, and while we wouldn't go back due to the prices, I can't deny that the pool was nice and the views over the hills stunning.

(Ghana's best view.  The Akuapem Hills are nice too.)

(Apologies to those of you who already groaned at that joke on G+)

When we got home, we were fortunately able to assure a somewhat anxious Ruth that, see, the people playing the loud music were packing their stuff up and leaving.  I roasted what ended up being a tasty chicken (Ruth nicely said that my chicken was better than the meat on a stick guy's), and Melissa and I got beers to celebrate.

Monday, we had all originally been planning on heading down to Kaneshie market, where we'd heard there was a good bead section (I'm hoping to send Ruth home with a good number of inexpensive beads that she can bring to school to string with her friends... so far, I keep striking out).  But Ruth was a bit tired and didn't want to go, so Melissa ended up going with the wife of a prof from the History department, who is also visiting (though they are considering staying - he has a potentially permanent appointment).  I'll let her tell that story on her own, but she did come back with some nice bird-print fabric to have a dress made for Ruth.  Meanwhile, Ruth and I had a flop day - she had wanted to go back to the pool, but ended up falling asleep, so I got some reading done, and then she mostly wanted to hang around the flat.

At the very end of the day, she decided she wanted to go to the pool after all.  Even though I had a meeting at 4 further out of town, we rushed over... only to find out they were closed for cleaning.  So I unfortunately had to leave a very disappointed (but, for a three year old, pretty understanding) Ruth behind to hang out and have dinner with Melissa, while I swung out to Ashale Botwe to conduct an interview (confidentiality prevents me from saying much more - you can read the very cynical things I learned when this all becomes a paper).

Tuesdays are my big teaching days, so Melissa and Ruth hung out, mostly at the pool.  I mostly got to see them on their way out.

Afterwards, I met up with them and Ruth and I walked over to Night Market to get some chocolate and what turned out to be a very low-quality bottle of wine that was all they had.  But I cooked my standard comfort food - pasta with tomatoes and garlic in butter - and we hung out.  After Ruth was in bed, Melissa and I had a very nice evening listening to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and spending some time with each other.

Which brings us to today!  In the morning, we did another Max Mart run and then took Ruth over to Bush Canteen to find a seamstress.  On the way, she watched part of a dance class at the dance department.  We then found a very kind woman - Miss Gloria - who is going to make a dress (for 4gc!  If anyone wants to send measurements and commission something, you totally should...) out of the bird fabric.  Then, on the way back, we stopped to watch dancing again for a bit.  The dancers were nice and a lot waved at Ruth or came out to say hello, but she was still pretty shy.  We'll go back.  Unfortunately, I had to run off to teach while Melissa and Ruth were still watching.

After I taught, we unsuccessfully tried to get Ruth to nap, and then she and I hung out.  Melissa had taken her to the bookstore again, so we've all been treated to multiple readings of a bootlegged Indian version of The Wizard of Oz with awkward grammar and anime-style illustrations.  It seriously reads as if it was written by someone who'd seen the movie once and related the plot in Hindi, then ran it through Google Translate.  I think I could have a hit Tumblr feed if I just scanned pages from the series - it will be called "Dorothy acted as advised."  But Ruth likes it.  And Theresa, from across the hall, has been very nicely bringing her lots of books from the Madina community library that she's helping set up.

After that, we just kind of hung out.  I made what I've been calling "rustic hummus" by smashing the chick peas (no blender here), and Ruth and I took a little walk.  We were going to go back to the dance dept. originally, but then she was upset and needed reassuring that she'd get to go home to sleep with her Dora blanket soon (it is with this conversation that I will guilt trip her when she's 20 - clearly Dora blanket > seeing Dad).  So after comforting her, we went to watch some people playing soccer on the field nearby, but not before stopping at her favorite giant termite mound.

And finding a stick that looked like goat horns.

Tomorrow the plan is Makola Market ("the big crazy market"), the National Museum, lunch, and the Osu Children's Library.  We'll see how it works out.  I should probably start doing some work again soon...