Friday, April 27, 2007

The Horror

Oh. My. God.

I just asked this question in front of a classroom of fourth graders:

"Chelsey, how many moons does Uranus have?"

And Now For Something Completely Different

We are currently in the process of packing up our Pullman apartment and moving to Spokane. (Not to mention finishing an independent physics course, student teaching, graduating, and leaving for Africa in three weeks!) The apartment is officially ours today, David will be signing the papers this afternoon. AND I STILL HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET! Supposedly it's gorgeous. I am so excited I'm practically counting the minutes (ummm, many, many minutes left - 4+ hours worth of minutes). I'll post pictures later tonight.

Alongside the new apartment, we get to have cats! We're planning on heading over to the humane society Saturday or Sunday after the majority of our stuff is settled in the new apartment and adopting, not one, but two (count 'em, two!) cats/kittens. I've been scouring the Petfinder website and I've got my eye on Mitzi and Squeaky. I'd like to adopt (youngish) adult cats and Dave wants kittens - we'll see how it goes. I'm a sucker for kittens, though. Expect cat pictures by the end of the weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Trials of Packing

I am becoming obsessed with the fact that I am going to forget something very, very important. Like my proof of yellow fever vaccination sheet. Or my camera. Or underwear. So I've been trying to compile a complete list (I'm a list-maker if you can't tell) I found a great site with some hints, tips, and tricks for packing everything you need. Also, check out OneBag for tips on how to fit it all in.

Clothes and shoes:
Pants, shorts, long-sleeved shirts, short-sleeved shirts, jersey dress, T-shirts to trade, socks, underwear, hat, sarong, belt, swimsuit, rain poncho, headscarf, walking shoes and sandals

Money and vital documents:
Passport, visa, vaccination certificate, airline ticket information, traveler's insurance card, health insurance card, statement of good health from physician, cash, traveler's checks (with receipts), debit card, credit card, driver's license, address book (friends, family, Ghana contacts, embassy info, etc.), photocopies of all important documents, AAA card, map of Ghana, Lonely Planet guidebook & health mini-book, Brandt's Ghana guidebook, and phone card.

Equipment: Backpack, duffel bag, and small luggage bag (carry-on size), plastic baggies, rubber bands, sewing kit, earplugs, sunglasses, writing utensils, candles, cord for hanging clothes, books, and safety pins.

Dining equipment: Swiss Army knife, spoon, fork, bowl, and Nalgene bottle.

Health, hygiene, and toiletries: razor with extra blades, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, sunblock, insect repellent, anti-malarial pills, antibiotics, contact lenses (in container) and cleaner, extra pair of glasses and case, clotrimazole, hairbrush, first aid kit, ibuprofen, aspirin, pepto, tums, chewing gum, lip balm, mosquto net, vitamins, towel, disposable syringes, lotion, water purifying tablets & neutralizer, dramamine, and benedryhl.

"Electrical" equipment: digital camera with extra storage drives and cable, photo printer & battery, photo paper, extra print cartridges, recharchable batteries, battery charger, alarm clock, adaptor/converter, IPOD and headphones.

Gifts: chocolates and candies, books, play parachute, pictures, and toys for kids (yoyos, etc.).

"Must-see" Ghana

I have had an extensive list of "must-see" places running through my head for months, so I've decided it's time to sit down and run through it and this blog seems like an appropriate place.

In and around Accra:

Independence Arch and the memorial for the unknown soldier.

Makola Market, where I will surely embarrass myself haggling over prices. Supposedly it's one of the best places to visit on the entire continent.

The Du Bois Memorial Center for Pan-Africa Culture, the gravesite of W.E.B. DuBois, who spent his final years in Ghana.

The National Museum - known as the best collection of African art in West Africa.

The Centre for National Culture - arts and culture center, known to be a bit of a tourist-trap but is also a major hub for tourists, with a wide variety of services available there.

Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park - dedicated to the first democratic president of Ghana, this park has some beautiful architecture.

Central Ghana:

Kakum National Park - walking tours of the rainforest and environmental education sites. The famed canopy walkway is located here.

Elmina Castle & Cape Coast Castle - European-constructed "castles" built in the 1400s & 1600s, respectively.

Eastern Ghana and the Volta Region:

Aburi Botanical Gardens - over 100 years old, they offer bikes for rent and walking tours of the park and surrounding forest.

Lake Volta & Akosombo Dam - there is a "cruise" available from the south end of the lake all the way to the north end that I want to take.

Boti Falls - twin falls supposedly at their best during the time I will be there.

Atewa-Atwirebu Butterfly Sanctuary - home of some of the largest "flutter-bys" in the world

Cocoa farms - several large farms in this area of the country, most offer some kind of tour.

Mount Afadjato, Tagbo Falls, & Liati Wote - on the border with Togo, some of the most beautiful sights in Ghana sit next to the craft village of Liati Wote.

Wli Falls and the Agumatsa Wildlife Sanctuary - in addition to the nature sights, there is also an ostrich farm in the Wli area that sounds like a lot of fun.

Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary - monkeys! Need I say anything else!

Talking River - a river that talks? I'm in!

Ashanti Region:

Lake Bosomtwi - a meteorite-created crater lake surrounded by dozens of fishing and farming villages.

Kumasi - So much to see! The beads of Dabaa, the brass works of Krofrom, the Kente weaving village of Bonwire, the wood carving village of Ahwiaa, and the handmade-pottery of Pankronu. Not to mention Kumasi Central Market, the Cultural Center, and Museum.

Northern Ghana:

The Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary - river safari to see the hippos of the Black Volta. Crocodiles are also a common site here.

Larabanga Mosque - very unique architecture.

Bolgatonga - home to crocodiles and migrating elephants


Since I'll be so close to the border, I hope to visit Togo while in the area. Specifically, Lome the capital.

The Devil is in the Details

My trip has been arranged through IFRE (Institute for Field Research Expeditions). They offer volunteer abroad trips in a dozen or so countries. IFRE placed me at Eugemot Orphanage, in Kolenu, a small village in the Hohoe (pronounced "ho-ho-we") District in the Volta region of Eastern Ghana. There are about 50 children living at Eugemot, from infants to teens. There is a school on-site, and teaching there will be my main responsibility.

I leave on May 18th and return July 23rd. My project begins with an intensive one-week language and cultural immersion program in the capital, Accra. Although Ghana's national language is English, most Ghanaians speak Twi (pronounced "tree", Ewe, and/or Ga. I will be living in a rural area, where these languages will be more prevalent, so I'm excited that I get the chance to get a head start on learning the important terms. From July 9th until I leave, I plan on exploring the country and, with any luck, visiting Sara in Egypt.

So that's the plan this far!

First Post (Creative, I Know)

All right, friends. I leave in three weeks for Ghana. I don't expect that I'll be spending much time on the internet while there, seeing as how I'm a 30 minute drive from the nearest internet cafe (maybe once a week?). But when I do get the chance, I'll update here with pictures and musings. I do plan on keeping a daily travel journal, so as time allows, I will post those here (though that may not occur until I'm back in the states). Also, don't forget to check flickr for extensive photo postings.