Average Days in Accra

Each morning, I wake up around 6am. I lay in bed and listen to the constant chatter and occasional laughter from my two host sisters, my host mom and whoever else is awake. I'm tempted to roll out of bed and join them, but generally stay in bed until 7:15 to catch them before my host mom takes the two girls to school.

I say my farewells to the ladies. Sometimes get online to check my e-mail. Chat with my host brother (and sometimes dad, if he's up). Share some pleasantries with my host mom's sister who stops by each morning. Get hot water to take a bath. Get dressed. Take my 500 gazillion (or five) vitamins. If it's Sunday, add another vitamin. If it's Thursday, add my malaria pill. I put in my contacts. Go eat breakfast. And then either catch a ride, take the trou trou (Ghana's public transportation system, which must have a blog post of its own), or walk to meet the AFS bus. Generally nothing eventful happens, except this morning my breakfast was stolen by a monkey and then I had to sit in the bank and try to retrieve my ATM card after the machine decided to "retain" it...

9:15am: AFS bus picks me up and I head to my volunteer site with the others.

10am-1pm: We paint. And paint. And paint. I've ruined two shirts and one pair of jeans in this process. Which is fine. Except, when I was packing I thought our volunteer project was solely teaching. Somehow when relaying the message to us they left out renovating the Kindergarten block. So I picked my two oldest shirts to wear each day, and have worn my oldest pair of jeans every day, too. My new tennis shoes are ruined with yellow and brown paint (because I didn't bring my old ones since I didn't think I needed to worry about keeping the new ones nice). And well, let's just say it's a good thing I bought two new packs of socks before coming.

1pm-ish: We eat. Food is delivered to us and is a variety of African food. While there are other options available (banku, yams, spaghetti, etc), rice is on the menu each day. Which makes me and my Mexican kiddos happy. The black and white kids on the other team are not as thrilled by this.

2pm-ish: We get back to work. And are often a million times more focused and productive. Each day we see how transformative our work is to the building and we get more excited and more inspired. I still remember the initial reaction after day one: "We're making more of a mess than making it look nice, Miss..." and now, "It's looking REALLY good!" This project reminds me that a) Rome wasn't built in a day and b) things slowly, but surely, get better if you're focused, determined and your heart's in the right place.

4pm-ish: We close for the day as the bus comes to get us and drop us back at our various locations. Sometimes we all head directly home. Other times, people want to go to the mall or to someone else's house or out to eat. The three times I've decided to NOT come directly home, I've gotten lost. I'm able to make it TO the University campus, where I'm staying, but somehow get misdirected once inside and can't find my host family's actual house. This has led to some pretty interesting encounters with skeezy taxi drivers, a fawning graduate student, and a not so happy dog as I walked through an endless string of bungalows.

6pm-ish (or more like 8-9pm, if it's a day I got lost): I'm home, I eat dinner, I chat with the various members of my host family. School, books, and American fashion (which I am a disappointment on for my oldest host sister) with the girls; random moments of our day with my host brother; linguistics, culture or practical life things with my host mom; religion, politics and entertainment with my host dad.

10pm-ish: I'm in my room, reading or sometimes online, winding down for the night.

Sometime around midnight: I'm asleep.

And then it starts all over again....

Each day does have its schedule and pattern, but each day has also brought a new story to tell, a new experience to learn from and share.

Average days in Accra, that are actually not all that average.

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