Trip Start Feb 21, 2010
Trip End Apr 18, 2010

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Flag of Ghana  ,
Friday, March 19, 2010

Today I thought I would share a few unrelated short stories. As much as I find myself following a routine, there is so much going on around me that sometimes I have to stop and take it all in.

The Cobbler
My feet are my most important assets here in Ghana. Each day they get me out of bed, take me on my run and get me to and from the office. Unlike the locals, my feet don't have much experience on the pavement without footwear so I rely heavily on my black Sanuk sandals to get me around. Sanuk sandals are amazing, they're made out of a yoga mat so they're comfortable, soft and durable. Each day we walk at least two hours so it's important to have proper footwear. Although I brought two pairs of sandals with me from home, my second pair are army green and I can't bring myself to wear them with my pink skirt. The day my left Sanuk sandal tore apart I was left to decide whether to buy new sandals or suck it up and wear pink with green. I imagine this all sounds trivial seeing as though I'm volunteering in an extremely poor country and should be thankful that I have footwear, but I can't help it! On Wednesday I still hadn't made my decision so I wore my pink skirt with my broken left Sanuk sandal to work. Comfort from Jesus is Free noticed me hobbling around and told me that I should get a cobbler to fix my sandal. I asked her where I could find a cobbler shop and she informed me that the cobblers in Ghana walk the streets banging on their wooden tool boxes to let people know where they are. As it turned out, Comfort's brother (one of 9 siblings) is a cobbler and would be coming around soon. An hour later, Comfort sent for me and when I arrived at her shop her brother told me to sit down and asked to see my broken sandal. I did what I was told and watched him remove his supplies from his wooden box and meticulously fix my sandal. When he was done with the left sandal he asked to see the right one and decided it would be best to fix it too as it was starting to split. This all took place in under 10 minutes and in the end I had two Sanuk sandals in tip top condition that I can now wear with my pink skirt. Aside from matching my skirt, they will carry me through my day and make my trip all the more enjoyable. The actual cost was under a dollar but the way my feet feel now is priceless!

The Skinny One
My parents have always said that honesty is the best policy but in reality, sometimes the truth hurts. The Ghanaian people are known for their honesty. If you're fat they call you fat, if have a zit, they'll point it out to you and if you have a big nose, they'll make sure to remind you of it's enormity. Last weekend we called our friend Sam to take us to the beach. While Sam and I were waiting for Maria outside the house he looked me up and down and informed me that most white woman that visit Ghana are skinny but that I'm not, I'm curvy and have an African butt. When I didn't respond he assured me that this was a good thing, so I reluctantly thanked him. Two days later Maria, Jane and I flagged down a taxi and when it stopped we realized that there were already four people in it. The taxi driver didn't seem to mind and instructed the skinny one to get in the front and the two big ones to get in the back. Us girls looked at each other and had to decide who was who! In the end, Maria and I jumped into the back and Jane got into the front. After the taxi driver took off, I told him that he would be getting half his fare for ruining Maria and I's self esteem and we all had a laugh.I paid him the full fare in the end.

Flash Me
All of the travel books about Ghana state that there is a high chance that if you're a white female traveler you will receive hundreds of marriage proposals. Before I left, I got an old ring that Nick had given me sized and was determined to wear it. Well, I hate to admit it but two weeks into my trip, I ditched the ring. Not because I wanted to be perceived as a free woman, but because it is so hot here and my finger would swell up and then I couldn't get the damn thing off! The sad truth is that even without a wedding ring, other than the orange ladies son, I haven't been proposed to. What's wrong with me? Is it my African sized ass, I thought that was a good thing? The good news is that I have been flashed and been asked to flash. The majority of Ghanaians might not have running water or electricity, but they all have cell phones. Cell phones are quite affordable, I bought mine for $30 when I arrived and can call home for under 7 cents a minute. When someone asks you to flash them, it means that they want you to call them but only for a second so that your phone number appears on their phone, then they can store it and call or text you. Last week Dani and I were having lunch at the Castle restaurant and after waiting two hours for our meal, our waiter Emanuel told us that if we were strapped for time, we could call him in advance and he would place our order so that when we arrived we wouldn't have to wait so long. He told me to flash him which I thought was a brilliant plan, no more rice and beans for lunch! Since that day, my waiter buddy Emanuel has called me at least five times everyday. The first few times I answered and turned down his offers to go to the beach, now I just don't answer. I guess there's a fine line between getting a good meal in under two hours and getting courted by your waiter. No more flashing for this girl

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judy on

Hey Mel,

I love reading your blog....its awesome!!

Sweet D on

Oh my goodness, such great stories! You should be proud of your African booty, your Callan thighs, your curves and everything awesome that you are composed of!
Dad will be mad if you keep flashing people, so its a good thing you're stopping.
SO funny that you cared about your sandals, this coming from my older sister Mel who LOVED to wear HUGE chunky sandals from Gravity Pope with wool socks, or who wore dressy leather sandals with too short pajama pants all through Australia.
You've come a long ways Nan, a long ways. I'm so proud.

gramma_nance on

This blog almost replacing the morning sneezes. ALMOST. Miss you! xo

Barb P on

Melanie - Your tales about the people you are meeting entertain me and others here in Edmonton...I ihave a feeling you are entertaining the people you meet in Ghana too. Glad to hear you are looking after your feet. :)

othermom on

I'm smiling every time I read your stories, I'll have to snag the cobbler one to add to my "Feet" stories...Good thing you don't have someone nagging you to wear socks all the time to cover up those pretty toes!

Bran on

How I love Thee! I have been following your blog and I'm not going to lie...I love starting my day reading your candid tales! It sets me up with a smile and chuckles :) I'm glad your having fun..and learning loads!
Luv Ya,

gramma_nance on

We are dying of Blog-thirst here! Now that you have us hooked, you can't leave us hanging. WE NEED OUR NEXT FIX. Please -- serious withdrawal pains are being experienced in Canada. We know you're working -- but we're CRAVING our newest blog entry!

The Broad on

Is "DJ MP" in da' hooowse? Music selection is not the same here without you! Hope you are having Fun (note the capital F) and can't wait for the next post:) Really miss you buddy!

The Broad on

As I am typing, you are in the dailty office thoughts...Judy is eating a cupcake she received from "Free Pastry Day" at Starbucks - Judy says"it's delicious...way better than the one Mel made Christa steal for her from the fridge."


Twin A on

Baby you got back! I think this one is one of my favorite blogs! You write your blogs the exact same way you would tell me in person and I love that.

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