In which our intrepid hero travels to Kumasi and sees walking trees

Good evening, and welcome to this week’s email/blog post/missive from your favorite Peace Corps Volunteer.

I spent the week finalizing the software for my computers, teaching ICT, and plotting for a trip to Berekum for (among other things) corn flakes and raspberry jam. I never thought I’d ever have a two-hour round-trip expedition to buy corn flakes, but it’s worth it.

I was informed last Sunday that I had a package waiting for me at the Kumasi Sub-office. I spent most of the week scheming about how to get said package, as well as resupply things like bug spray, sunscreen, band-aids, and multi-vitamins (your tax dollars at work). I decided that I would leave as early as possible on Saturday, go to Kumasi, spend the day looking for a few key household items, pick up my stuff at the KSO, and then head back to Seikwa if possible. On Tuesday, I called Accra to let them know that I was going to Kumasi and might need to stay the night. On Friday, I set my alarm for 5am, laid out the few things I’d need to take with me, forgot to turn on my alarm clock, and went to bed.

I awoke at 7am, refreshed and with no chance whatsoever of making the first or second car to Berekum. I waited until 12:30, and managed to get a spot on the third car. Needless to say, I spent the night in Kumasi, and returned today. But, I now have several new books to read (thanks, Nicole!), a few new friends, and a tin full of baking powder. This means that I can now make (and subsequently eat) pancakes. Score.

And now, a fun anecdote:

Most Ghanaians cook and heat water using either charcoal or good ol’ fashioned firewood. The charcoal is made in giant earthen mounds, which look like giant smoking ant-hills. When the charcoal is ready, it’s broken into pieces ranging from hand- to arm-size and placed into 50lb burlap sacks. The nice thing about it is that you can cook with steady, high heat and little smoke. The downside is that it’s a serious chore to light unless you’ve got the proper equipment (read: kerosene or palmnut fuzz).

As for the firewood — anything goes. You take your machete (called a cutlass here), head out into the bush, and find something that looks like it will burn. Most of the time, it’s just whatever dead timber happens to be lying around. Sometimes, however, it’s a young tree that happens to be in the middle of some potential farmland. And because all of the farms are out in the bush outside of town, it means that firewood is carried into town.

Ghanaians aren’t a people to waste anything. When you cut firewood, you don’t leave the twigs and leaves in the bush. Thus, it has come to pass that I will be riding my bike down the road and see what looks like a tree walking along ahead of me. Sometimes, the tree will have company, and as I go past, the tree will turn into a Ghanaian boy carrying fresh firewood.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. See you next week.

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