Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Monster of an Update

Well, it happened. I have a case of the Volta adventure-induced malaria. I have been feeling very tired lately and the digestive system was certainly not up to par, all of which started the day I left Kpando. Fortunately, I had two high powered antibiotics with me just in case, and started taking them in Kumasi with Dr. Jean’s recommendations. So after days of feeling tired and the classic case of the runs, Dr. Jean suggested I get out of bed yesterday and go get some blood work done. I knew it was for the best, but it took me all morning to get enough will power to walk in the scorching sun to the lab.
I saw it with my own to eyes through the microscope, which was actually kind of cool. In some ways it was a relief because I had an explanation and now could undergo appropriate treatment so I could get back to feeling like myself. I have some celebrating to do when I get back!
So, that would be the reason for my negligence these past few days. I am doing very well, especially this afternoon. Dr. Jean is the best possible person to be with right now and she is taking very good care of me. I am so grateful. I have the nightstand of an 87 year old woman with all the pill boxes and bottles as I am on five different drugs right now! I am fine though. Really I am. I am really, really thankful because for African newbies, it’s usually much worse. Last night was the worst I have felt, and I think that was because I was taking my antimalarial drugs on an empty stomach and oh… that was not fun.
While I have been sleeping a considerable amount these last few days, I did manage to see the President of Ghana and the nastiest hernia yet. I managed to pull myself together for an afternoon and evening long enough to greet President Mills (that really has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?) as he came to Saboba in his brief tour of the Northern Region. We just happened to be seated under the awning in the “chief section”, all of whom came walking in clad in their chiefly attire shortly before the President’s arrival. I am getting all the best that Ghana has to offer, and these experiences and pictures are invaluable.
The surgery that evening still gives me the willies. A 75 year old woman with a femoral hernia that was rotting from the inside out… just the sight of it was jaw-dropping and that was before I was close enough to smell it. I was fascinated and eager to see what this looked like from the inside. This was the best I had felt in days, but in retrospect, it was only adrenaline-masked malaria. I will spare the details, but that was definitely one for the books.

Because I feel good enough to be in an upright position but not well enough to leave the house, I am going to try and tough out the rest of my Volta stories…

Back to April 17th
I really love Kpando. It’s got a great feel, it’s beautiful and the people are nice. Today we had a Kpando day, which was a nice recuperation from yesterday’s climb to Wli Falls. There is a little boy Christopher who has latched himself on to Chris and his friend Allero who decided to join us for our trip around Kpando today. They are so sweet. I forget being in the north that Ghana was in fact once called “The Gold Coast” and was inhabited by several European settlers. Chris took us to a German governor’s house that was built the late 1880’s. It is on a hill overlooking Kpando, and we had so much walking up the old, crack steps and through all the rooms. I am fascinated with history, and I can’t help but imagine the people who once walked as I walk now through these remains.
We circled back around near where we began our journey. We were headed to the shores of Lake Volta, the largest manmade lake in the world. One of Chris’s Peace Corp projects is helping a group of farmers in this area in okra farming. Fun fact: there are only three Yoga “retreats” in the world and one of them in is Kpando. I don’t know exactly what this means, but if you are super into Yoga, I think it’s a big deal. The yogi’s house we passed was beautiful- blue and white, like Greek blue and white and moments away from the overlook of the lake.  Once we reached the top, we stopped for a moment to pause at the impressive expanse of the lake, in the shade of course. Chris gave us a brief history lesson and pointed out where his farmers’ okra fields were. There is a little fishing village right on the short called Toco, not to be confused with Togo, so we meandered down the long hill down to the shore. It was market day in Toco, so the village was bustling. I remember when my brother Galen went to Mozambique, he brought back the coolest pictures of sailboats. While his pictures are definitely cooler than the ones I got, the boats themselves were awesome. We wandered a bit and then took a cab back to Kpando because the kids were too tired to walk all that way (it was about a 5 mile walk). All 5 of us piled in the back seat and off we went!
Chris, Mike and I continued to a little village called Dzewoe (pronounced J-we… clearly a phonetic spelling) where Rosina, Chris’s other counterpart lives. This is the cleanest village I have seen in Ghana. Chris calls it the “Zoomlion Effect”, Zoomlion being the national garbage picker-upers. They are not in this village for some reason and because these people cannot depend on the government to pick up their trash, they pick up after themselves. She had wanted to serve us lunch, so we were wined and dined Ghanaian style. These people are so kind! We get their very, very best and I would be doing a disservice to my friends here if I do not make that a practice of my own. We had banku (again, slightly fermented mashed corn in a ball) with red pepper sauce and mackerel. And I ate it, with my hands, and actually enjoyed it. I can only stomach so much because I can only pretend I am ok with unknown parts of a fish for so long. It is so filling though and I usually can’t finish eating all of it. It is a known fact that the Carroll basketball girls can eat a lot, but these Ghanaians would put us to shame!
While we were eating, I heard this huge crack of what sounded like thunder. I looked out to see nothing but sunshine and blue skies. Odd, I thought. We presumed they were doing some kind of construction. Rosina is a potter, and Chris helps her and other women in the area, with their business side of their pottery. She showed us one piece to entice back to her shop the following day. Her work is impressive, and I was very much looking forward to seeing the rest of her work.  
Once outside, we saw in the distance a rather large raincloud brewing… so it was thunder! We started walking, briskly, opening to beat the rain back to Chris’s house. Our hopes were dashed with the first drop of rain. We jumped in a cab, with no defrost and road through Kpando with the driver wiping down the front window the entire time as we drove. Hot, hot heat mixed with rain equals lots of condensation and perspiration! I would have rather  walked, but it would have been quite a trek.
We took shelter under the awning of a drinking spot and waited out the rain. It was a torrential rainstorm, so loud we had to shout to hear each other. I thoroughly enjoyed it though. We didn’t have a care in the world. Three hours later, the rain finally stopped and we walked back to Chris’s house to make dinner.
The rain had knocked out the power so we ate by candlelight and listed to the rain that started to fall again. It was quite the experience. We always have good talks, so times like these are anything but dull. More stories of college, Mike’s wedding and possible future investments for Book Farms. Good times, good times.
I was able to talk to my brother Gavin that night, which was perfect because earlier that day, he got a special man ribbon he gets to wear permanently for his mad shooting skills, M16 skills that is. So proud of him for how well he does. He’s a really big deal.

April 18th
Today Mike and I were on our own as Chris had some farming to do. We were going to see the caves of Likpe Todome, a small village outside of Ho Hoe. While we were at the tro station, I introduced Mike to the egg sandwiches and Milo I rave about. He said I have led him to his two favorite foods in Ghana: Fan Yogo (frozen strawberry yogurt I live on) and of course, the infamous egg sandwich. We sat there at our table as we wait for the tro to fill and people watched, which is so entertaining here. I started laughing so hard as I watched a man literally shove a baa-ing goat in the back of a tro shortly before it took off. Enjoy your ride, goat!
When Mike and I arrived to our final destination, we had to wait for a little bit for our guide to come and take us up the mountain. Chris has a Peace Corp friend here, and she hooked us up with a friend of her’s to take us up. I didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into. From the way Chris had talked about it, it sounded like a quick jaunt back into some caves- no sweat. Typical man… it was HARDLY that!! It was less than WLi, but only because that was a real doozy. Our guide named Joshua, who also sported flip flips, took us up a Fonzo speed. Not this again…
We had reached the top of the mountain to find two rope swings, which I took full advantage of. We had to hike around the back side of the mountain to get the caves. Again, I was holding on for dear life, shimmying across the side of the mountain, trying not to look down. The view was impressive- quiet little villages amidst the tropical Ghanaian brush and to the east of us was a Togolese village we could see on a distant mountain top.
The set up was this: there are six separate caves that were supposedly ancient dwellings of the ancestors of Likpe Todome. A meeting room, a dungeon, a sleeping room, the chief’s throne, and others I don’t remember as they were literally just holes in the ground. This was by far the most dangerous things I have done in Ghana. I was in Chacos (not smart) and completely and totally freaked out in some parts. I am not nearly as hardcore as my brothers, but I really try and keep up with them, which is why I go rock climbing with them on occasion. Though I have done it a few times before, last summer I had a complete meltdown 30 feet in the air for some reason. Galen had to climb up (without a rope!) and give me a pep talk. I tell them all the time learning how to deal with my antics will only make them better husbands. Anyway, I had to harness my inner-Galen that whole afternoon. Freaking out was only going to make things worse. I was sweating from the heat but from fear as well and I was completely soaked Completely. I have pictures to prove it! Everytime we climbed around one and into another, I considered it a moral victory. The fourth one and I laughed at. Joshua and his little flip flops whipped around backwards onto a ladder and disappeared underground. “Watch out for the bats” he says.
You have got to be joking me.
Deep breath. Big girl pants. I can do this. The other caves you could somewhat walk into, but this one I had to turn around backwards, squeeze through a small hole and climb down a ladder hoping I would not disturb any bats. It was so eerie inside. I could feel the wind of bats flying past me inside the dark cave. We had a weak flashlight and a few sunrays gleaming through the hole in the top, but that was it. This was room they slept in, though if it were me, this would have been the dungeon!
Yes, I was scared several times, nearly out of my mind, but I did have a blast. This is something I wanted to do, and I am really glad I did it. Unfortunately, this day of all days, I forgot to bring enough water with me. My nalgene was only half full when we started and it was completely empty at the top and we still had the caves to climb through and to get back down. Coincidently, Mike had also not brought any with him so we were some seriously whipped whites once we got back to the village. When I get tired like this, I have one speed and that is first gear. And I do not change that speed for anyone or anything. It is survival speed! Joshua and his flip flops were yards ahead of me with Mike following behind him. I was so tired coming down the hill and I stubbed the side of my toe on a sharp rock, so until enough dirt got in my sandal, my toe was stuck the inside of my shoe from the blood. Gross.
Once rehydrated, we walked through town with the help of one of kind man who was friends with Jeanna, Chris’s Peace Corp friend. Her project is to help a group of woman start a batik business, a technique used for dying material in the neatest patterns made from wax and dye. There work was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this process. Jeanna had just finished a two yard piece of material that she laid lace on top, mashed kasava (a starchy potato-like plant) over the lace, pulled the lace off, and dyed it, leaving behind the pattern of the lace on the fabric. Super cool.
I really enjoy traveling around here. There is a lot that could go wrong in a short amount of time and the ever-present language barrier, so it is very satisfying when you get to where you want to go for a reasonable price in one piece. We did not have Chris with us today, so I had to step up to the plate. When Mike and I arrived back in Kpando, I might have given myself a pat on the back.

April 19th
The Potters of Fesi. That was the highlight of the day. After a good morning chat over some coffee and Milo, we headed out to Rosina’s shed in a nearby village called Fesi to see her handiwork. The Volta is such a beautiful area, and I am impressed with its beauty the more I am here. We walked around a grove of trees to a large shed with open sides except at one end where her gallery was. Around the edges were pots of aloe plants and vases beyond vases. It was incredible! Rosina was there to greet us with fresh mangos, and once we perused around her gallery for a while, admiring her work and then we sat and talked for a while. I watched her as she worked… they do not use a wheel. All her work is formed from the bottom up by hand. What craftsmanship!
On our way back, we stopped on the road side and bought water while we waited for a cab. Everything in Ghana is placed in a black plastic bag. Though I am sure there are some exceptions, every place I have seen only uses the same black bag. You can imagine how easily things get mixed up if you are not careful. We had to pile in the bag because there was already one small little lady in the back, so I had to sit on Mike and put my head in between the two people in the front seat. It was hilarious. We realized when we got to the station in Kpando that we had an extra bag that felt something like a… dead animal?! Where in the world did this come from?! We laughed so hard at the oddity of this whole situation… only here would this happen. We determined it to be part of a cow leg and gave it to the taxi driver. We found out later through a very random chain of events that Chris had accidently taken it from the people we bought water from that afternoon.
Funny, funny things in Ghana.
I loved hanging out and traveling with Chris and Mike, but I had not had Nikki time since I left Saboba. Too long! They guys wanted to go to this wood carver’s place and I opted to stay back at Chris’s for some time alone. I didn’t even do anything. I just sat in front of the fan. It was wonderful.
That night after dinner, we played with Christopher, his sister Mary, and Allero for a while. Mike and his trusty headlamp was on dish duty so Chris and I were running around with the kids. Valentine and Valentina, the cute little hellions that they are, had to join in as well. I should explain to you the dish washing protocol at Chris’s: find a large bowl and place on the ground, dump semi clean water in, add dish soap, scrub, rinse in other large bowl of semi clean water. Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes its room temperature, but at least the food is scrubbed off right? Oh dear, that was a new one for me. Needless to say, I did the dishes most of the time so they were done right!
Because Chris had such an early morning, we did not have our usual late night chat and all went to bed… or mat if you were me.

April 20th
To the coast! Chris had a Peace Corp meeting in Accra this morning, so he had to be get up at 3:30 to make it to Accra in time. Mike and I felt like professional tro riders at this point, so I was quite confident we could get Accra just fine. Get there we did, but I was so unbelievably uncomfortable smashed in the front! These things were not built for tall people and I was so miserable. I fidgeted for over four hours, and was probably really irritating the girl with the box of avocados and plaintans in my space really irritated. At one point resorted to beating on one of my legs to get some feeling back into it! I
How telling for the rest of the day…
When got to Accra and I managed to uncoil myself and stumble out of the tro. Never again. That was miserable. We were going for luxury next time. I am too tall for this! Chris had met us there and gave us instructions to the resort we were staying at in Elmina. He was held up again, so we would have to continue on without him. Directions in hand, we climbed into a cab where I had the whole back seat to myself and road to the next station to catch a bus to Cape Coast. I didn’t want to spend any more than 10 cedis for this trip, but I was not going to sacrifice my legs again. Once out of the cab, I was bombarded by drivers all trying to sell me something. I get so annoyed by this and bull dozed my way through the crowd with Mike behind me. There were two ways we could do this: take a Cape Coast bus and a cab further west to Elmina, or take  the bus to Takoradi, which is farther west and get dropped off at Cape Coast. There was a very nice, air-conditioned bus for 6 cedis I just happened to walk into. Perfect. There were two seats left. This was perfect!
My hopes were dashed the second I saw the seat left for Mike and I. Not only was there no leg room, but I was on top of the wheel well! I was so frustrated but always conscientious that I represent the U.S. whose global popularity is debatable at times, I did not want to cause  a scene and sat, sideways. Mike, sorry buddy, your legs are just going to have to go in the aisle! So that’s how we sat for the next three hours to Cape Coast, my bag on top of me, my legs awkwardly in his leg space and he was completely sideways in the aisle. I am sure it was quite the sight. I have learned the perk about not-so nice buses. They do not have any of their Ghana shows playing. Not only do I not enjoy them, but they are SO LOUD!! It makes me irritable. My hearing is too sensitive anyway, and the sound can be nauseating as there is no way to escape. I was so grateful when we broke onto the coast line for a distraction from my cramped legs, aching back throbbing ear drums. It was a clear, sunny day and the waves washing up on the white sands with naked little black bodies running down them was a sight I will have in my mind forever. It was breathtaking. White castles, remnants of old European houses and little shanty huts are all randomly dot the hillsides, overlooking the water. It is a visual paradox.
This was unlike any part of Ghana I had seen before. As we pulled into the station, cab drivers began yelling and beating on the bus windows before the bus had even stopped. This again… I pushed my way through the shouting and heckling, one was so bold to grab my arm, which infuriated me. I walked far enough away to gather myself and let my legs come back to life before I made my next decision. Chris said the place we were staying at was not well known by the cab drivers, so I had to tell them we were going to a place by Coconut Grove, a very popular resort. After negotiating the right price, I jumped in the back, rolled down my window and relaxed. We were almost there.
The drive from Cape Coast to Elmina is about 30 minutes and it’s all Highway 1. We were right on the water and it was just beautiful! Coconut trees, awesome African fishing boats, cute kids running on the beach. It was a very enjoyable ride. The resort we were staying at was called Stumble Inn, but as Chris said our driver might do, took us to Coconut Grove, so we to back track and continue west until we finally found a sign. I was not really sure what to expect out of this place, from the road we were trying on, it might be a hole in the wall.
Wrong. Oh so wrong!
We walked to brush line and to see open beach with tiki huts, chairs and hammocks. This was amazing!! We were greeted by a sharply dressed man with stylish wide brimmed glasses name Kofi. I had known him for 2 minutes and I could tell he was excellent at what he did. He knows Chris so I did some name dropping as we walked down to the bar area to get our arrangement settled. During our walk down, I discovered Chris had not made a reservation, so we could very well be out of luck. Mr. Kofi said not to worry, we would figure something out. We just needed to rehydrate, sit down and relax.
Sure enough, no room in the inn, but he was determined to accommodate us. While he was one the phone, this adorable little blond with a killer accent came over to welcome us. She was Seitska (that is so not the correct Dutch spelling, but it’s the best I can do!) from Holland and she was one of the managers of the Stumble Inn and was delighted to have us. I explained our situation and she was devastated they did not have a hut for us. Surely they could figure something out…
About that time, Mr. Kofi got off the phone. If it would be ok with us, he could arrange for three tents to be spent over and we could camp out on the beach for 5 cedis a night. I think he was reluctant to say that at first, feeling bad for giving us a second-rate offer, but he did not know who he was talking to. This was even better than a hut! When am I ever going to camp out on an African beach again?! I was so pumped. It was going to be a good hour before they could have them delivered, so we were invited to put out stuff behind the bar and go enjoy a hammock.
This place was incredible. Concealed between two major resorts, this is clearly a hidden gem. More than affordable, much more remote and beachy than the grandeur of Coconut Grove, and the ideal place to spend my time on the coast. The sun was just starting to set behind the coconut trees, lighting up the sky with oranges and pinks. So picturesque. I had to pinch myself to make sure this was really real. I had a splitting headache from the traveling, and I did not move for my hammock for a good two hours. Mike and I were joined by Alex, a Belgium doing some research in Ghana. We had a lovely chat and my headache eventually evaporated.
As the sun disappeared, the place became alive with lanterns, creating an unforgettable ambience.  They were dotted over by our tents, around the beach, on one of the tables near the hammocks by the waterline. A warm breeze lightly blew as I sat with Alex and my new British friend Stuart in the main lodge. Alex, Stuart, Mike and I ate our meal of yam, palava (some collard green looking mixture) with two whole crabs. I am not sure how to eat crabs (something I need to figure out) and fortunately neither did anyone else at our table so we knife and forked the living daylights out of those poor little things, laughing the whole time. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy meeting new people, and the only ones I have run into here have been really, really nice people that will sit and chat for hours. These are my kind of people!
Mr. Kofi and Seitska were floating around, doing that really charming thing they did so well and Andre, Dutch turned Brit, was behind the bar. His accent was a perfect blend between the two as he has lived his half of his life in each place. It was fascinating to hear how people ended up in Ghana and furthermore, at the Stumble Inn. Seitska, for example, was traveling for eight months around the world with her boyfriend and stayed for two months at a place just down the beach from the Stumble Inn. They had only planned to be there for 2 weeks, but the managers needed a quick getaway so they asked Seitska and her boyfriend Aaron to run the place while in their absence, which is just bizarre.  They had liked it so much and had done such a good job that the British couple who own the Stumble Inn asked if they would be interested in managing it for a few years. So, they quit their jobs, brought their two year old son and came. Just like that!
It just so happened that night that they were having a group of drummers and dancers come in to entertain the guests. It was one of the most fascinating and bizarre things I have ever seen. I had no idea what they were doing half the time, but I was certainly entertained. The pictures are worth a thousand words.
I was starting to fade quickly, and knowing what I know now, I think it was the malaria talking. I grabbed my things and headed through the lantern lighted path to my little, one man tent. I was hit with the awesomeness of this situation all over again. I threw my stuff in there, and grabbed what I needed and hit the outdoor showers made of bamboo… which came up only past my shoulders, so I had a nice view of the beach while I was shampooing. Two thumbs way up! I was so happy to under a constant flow of water rather than the interment splashes of a bucket bath back in Kpando that I stood there, indulging for longer than I probably should have.
I walked back to my tent, zipped myself in, and laid down looking at the palms of the coconut tree high above me (no, nothing fell on me!) A warm breeze gently blew as I replayed the day’s events in my mind. This was amazing, and I could not be happier. I have so much to be thankful for and I went to sleeping that night counting blessings.

April 21st
This was a great day, but by far the most frustrating day yet! We were victim to the language barrier and idiot cab drivers. After a nice breakfast on the beach at the Stumble Inn, we set off down the water line, past Coconut Grove’s beach and into the actual town of Elmina, a small fishing village with the notorious slave castle. It absolutely baffled me walking through there why in the world people would build their livelihood so darn close to the water! These houses were literally right on the beach. I could not believe it, but then again, my roots are deep in landlocked frontier of Wyoming. I would rather get blown up by Yellowstone than washed away at sea, that’s for sure.
Today we were Kakum bound! This is a national park located about an hour north of Cape Coast. According to one source Chris read, Kakum National Park has one of the top 5 canopy walks in the world. I am not much a flora and fauna buff. I just wanted to climb in the sky! We were 40 meters (~120 feet) walking around on suspension bridges made of mostly rope and boards at the bottom to walk on. I absolutely loved it. Chris had my camera so he got some great pictures and video footage, which turned into a Wyoming bashing session. Imagine that!
We walked out of the park and waited by the road on a bamboo bench for a tro to come take us back to Cape Coast. IF they did come, they were packed to the max. We waited and waited. Waited some more. This guy who works around there started talking to us, which was quite entertaining. I asked him to take a picture of the three of us, since I didn’t really have one yet and he got some hilarious pictures. What ended up happening was right as he was taking our picture, a tro came and I was so excited! Chris stood right up and Mike was just staring at it like it was too good to be true. The guy kept taking pictures the whole time and the progression is so comical.
Our next destination was Elmina Castle. Tourist spot, yes, but an important part of African history that we needed to see. We ended up driving around Cape Coast trying to get things squared away for me to leave and find ATM machines and lost Mike in the process…
All we really wanted to do was get back to the Stumble inn and lay on the beach all afternoon, and this running around was really ticking me off. I did not lose my cool though, and it helped that Chris is a super chill guy. We reunited back at the slave castle, and I got a quick private tour by a super nice guy named Gideon. I wanted to see everything, but I did not need it to take an hour. Mike was already there as we had got separated so we finished at the same time, which was great.
The castle is really beautiful if you don’t think about what happened there. Built by the Portuguese in 1482, It is all white with black trim and bits of green from the plants, one of my favorite color combinations. The beauty of it quickly faded as I began walking in the dark, cellar like rooms. As Gideon walked me around, explaining that this small room, with only one hole for ventilation is where they kept 130 woman. No bathroom. No bathing room. All that on the same floor they lived in… so revolting. And this hallway, this leads to the point of no return, which is a small window they had to go through to get on the boats. There was an open area in which the Dutch officials could look down on the woman they herded into the bottom. They would scout out which woman they wanted to rape and she would climb up these hidden stairs to the governor’s bedroom.
That is just not ok, and it happened over and over again.
What really struck me is that in the same castle all these hellacious acts were happening, there sits a church on the other side of the courtyard. There are various inscriptions through the castle with biblical references. I think they missed something!!  
I stood on one of the balconies overlooking the water thinking about all of this. The sun was setting and sight I saw was just breathtaking. Gideon was looking at something on the other side of walkway on top of the castle, and I was grateful for a few minutes to ponder this alone. So much beauty that housed so much pain.
Snapping back to reality, I walked down the stairs and met up with the guys. Stumble Inn bound to celebrate our last night. Mike was flying out the night day and I was headed to Kumasi. On our way out of the castle, a man approached us wanting to tell us something. Chris is really good at dealing with these people (which means I do not have to) and he is really good about being nice but direct. This time however, he decides to tell the man that I am his wife and he would like to sell me. How much? A few guinea fowl? A half a beef? How much? Mike jumps in with his opinion as the guy is sizing me up, looking at me if I was a cow to buy. I wanted to knock their heads together, but I had to laugh. This continued with all the cab drivers on our way back to the Stumble Inn. There is not enough guinea fowl in the world for this girl!;)
I am so thankful for these last few days. I have seen and done so many amazing things and this is exactly what I wanted. I am so thankful for Chris’s mad tour guiding skills and for such good guys to travel with. We had one heck of a good time.
I will miss my one man tent on the coast of Elmina.

The next few days I spent in Kumasi with Vincent Asamoah and his amazing family. They were an absolute God send to me. I had a huge bed, a huge fan and the space I was craving. I was completely exhausted from the last week and really was not feeling very well. I spend the first two days sleeping the afternoons away, but eventually recovered. He showed me around Kumasi, his basketball courts he is working on, introduced me to his coaches for Shoot For Life, his kids’ ministry centered around basketball, which is foreign to a lot of people here. I really should spend more time introducing him to you so you can understand his ministry, but I am getting very tired of this computer. I filmed him talking about it so hopefully some of you will see for yourselves and jump on board. He has such a great vision, and it’s worth sharing.
His wife Doreen is all that is African beauty. I would get excited every day to see what she was going to wear. I referred to her as the “Queen Mother” the whole time just so I could hear her laugh. It’s the best. They have three kids who are wonderful: Amma-13, Kwame-11 and Afia-8. We spent Easter together, which was a very special thing for me and Afia and I read a lot. I taught her and Amma how braid. Afia ended up getting the comb so stuck in my hair that Doreen had to break it in three places to get it out haha! Afia felt so bad she wrote me an apology, which was just adorable.  They lived in the U.S. or a few years, so they had a wonderful selection of movies. “Beauty and the Beast” on Easter evening during the comb-breaking incident really curbed the homesickness I was feeling that day. I had Disney songs stuck in my head for the next two days!
This was a really refreshing time for me, and I am eternally grateful to this family for taking me in and making me feel so at home. We will be friends for a very long time.  
So that about covers it, folks. That is a long one, but at least you are filled in. Pictures to follow soon.
Again, I am feeling much, much better as the meds are kicking in, so you do not need to worry. The worst is over, and I am in the hands of the world’s expert in tropical medicine. All signs point to “good to go.”
This could be so much worse, and I know your prayers have kept me from the extreme, and I THANK YOU for that.
I am getting very excited to come home and see my peeps again. I am really missing you!
Apologies for the many typos- no proof reading tonight!
Much love.

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