Greetings from the home of the Ohum Festival. For the next four days, Old Tafo will be a place of happiness where the alcohol flows like water and the dancing goes on until dawn. Expect a full report next week.
You know you’ve been at the Equator too long when you walk out of an air-conditioned space into the mid-day heat and think “man, that feels much better. I was *freezing* in there!” It sounds cliched, but it truly is surprising how quickly a person becomes acclimated to the temperature. Button up shirts, cotton trousers, and a crew cut go a long way towards keeping cool, and as long as you drink enough water, you usually end up just fine.
The hardest part by far is forcing yourself to drink enough water. You drink so much water that you get sick of it. Normally when that happened in the States, I would make myself something like Kool-Aid, Gatorade, or I’d go buy some sort of fruit juice. Kool-aid and Gatorade don’t exist here, nor does any kind of powered drink mix short of Oral Rehydration Salts (which taste AWFUL — I sincerely hope that none of you ever have to use them), and fruit juice is either something you walk a few kilometers for or make yourself. The other problem is making sure that you keep enough electrolytes in your system — precisely the thing that Gatorade was designed to replenish.
Thus, in my constant struggle to stay hydrated, I have resorted to making my own Gatorade. Gatorade is basically just simple sugar, a small amount of salt and other electrolytes, and a crap-ton of flavoring. I took the rehydration drink recipe from Where There is No Doctor (1 liter of water, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda), added the juice from one fresh orange, and shook until I could no longer see anything collecting at the bottom of my Nalgene. While it was far from perfect, I was able to drink two of them in the span of an hour, and I felt much better for it.
Figuring out how to make your own Gatorade is the kind of thing you do when you’ve got a lot of spare time on your hands. I’ve managed to finish 2 books in the last two days. Last Sunday morning, I walked to the neighboring town and back – a solid and respectable 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) round trip. I have spent a fair amount of time playing Ultimate Frisbee, downloading materials and software as part of a “Resource CD” for my fellow trainees, and playing around with both my personal website and some classroom management software that I might deploy at site. Even with three or four hours of language training every day, and a one to two hour technical session on most days in the afternoon, I still end up with more spare time than I know what to do with.
Most days, I end up sitting and talking to whoever happens to be around, like my friend Kwabena, my host mother, my brothers, the neighbors, or pretty much anyone else who wants to stare at/talk to the white guy. Other times, I go over to the palace and hang out with B.J. On market day, I go into New Tafo, buy myself a FanIce, and wander around the market for an hour or two just admiring the cacophony of sights, sounds, and smells. If you ever want to make a Ghanaian market lady happy, buy something from her — negotiating the price is fun in and of itself, but then she also gets the added benefit of increased business from everyone who wants to buy the same thing that the obruni (white man) just bought.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve got a new frequency guide for BBC World Service *and* Voice of America shortwave, so I’m gonna go kick it old school. See you all next week: same Bat time, same Bat channel.