In which our intrepid hero describes the market and imitates MacGyver

Greetings, everyone. It’s been a quiet week in Seikwa. I’ve been spending the majority of my time improving my home, working on the school computer lab, and getting to know my way around the community.

For the last two weeks or so, it’s been decently hot during the day, pleasantly cool at night, and the skies have been relatively clear. When combined with the near-absence of light pollution, it makes for some incredible stargazing. It’s incredible (and also somewhat sad) how much of the night sky we miss due to the constant intensity of street lights. Words can’t describe it, so I won’t even try.

Last night, however I experienced one of the most violent rainstorms I’ve ever seen — I actually had to close my shutters because it was blowing into the house, and I discovered that I have a couple of holes in my roof. I woke up around midnight when the storm was at its apex, closed everything up, deployed a couple of buckets, and went back to bed. When I woke up this morning at 6am and it was still raining, I decided to forgo the morning run and sleep in a bit.

Thankfully, the rain stopped shortly after I turned off my alarm clock, which means that the market grounds were dry enough to allow for a full-fledged, no holds barred market day.

Market day is a grand tradition here in Ghana. At least once a week, any town big enough to warrant its own transport station holds a market day. It’s a delightfully eclectic mix of commercial and social activity, and I’ve really grown to enjoy it.

Most markets are about the size of a couple of football fields, and they are always open-air with some free-standing stalls or kiosks around the perimeter. They tend to be roughly divided into sections, but with no clear delineation between them. In addition, there are usually women or children walking around selling food from their head — most often bowfruit (think donut holes the size of your fist) or FanIce, but also sometimes grilled sausage and soy kabobs.

The mix of things you can purchase on market day is truly astounding. Within the first 30 seconds of walking into the Seikwa market this morning, I saw people selling shoes, fabric, bednets, flashlights, radios, pots, pans, plastic basins, backpacks, battery-powered toys, and  tomatoes. Today, I bought a little battery-powered light for my closet,
two yards of fabric for a shirt, two pair of socks, a pair of trousers, some 1 penny nails, and a package of hangers. The only reason I didn’t buy vegetables is because I already had leftovers.

The rest of the week, one can buy vegetables and other culinary necessities at the smaller, daily market. This, while tiny in comparison to market day, is still a grand social affair. Old women sit with their produce, carrying on conversation and giving little children hell for making trouble. Part of my daily routine is to stop at the market to buy whatever vegetables I need or can get, stop at the cold store if I’m feeling like having meat for dinner, and then buy bread from whoever happens to be selling it. I usually do this after I come back from school, where I have had ample time to contemplate what I want for dinner while working on computers.

Which brings me to my MacGyver reference. I am literally building a computer lab from scratch with whatever I can find. For the last week, I have spent a fair amount of my time sitting in the staff common room of my school putting together computers out of whatever parts happen to be there, sorting out working and non-working equipment, and installing Xubuntu Linux on the machines that I can get to boot. When I started this little endeavor, I had 14 computers, 2 of which worked. This afternoon, I had 6 working. Of course, working is a relative term — I have 6 computers and 3 hard drives. Next week, I’m going to Kumasi to get computer parts, namely hard drives and memory, and after I return I’ll concentrate on *where* to set the computers up so that I can teach somewhere other than the staff common room.

Well, that’s enough out of me. You can expect a report on my Kumasi excursion next week. As always, keep the questions and news flowing.

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I'm just this guy, you know?