Culture shock

It is weird to think about the fact that we are staying here for three more months. Everything is so different here. When we go to the kindergarten in the morning, we see people standing naked in the streets washing themselves, brushing their teeth, cooking, going to the “toilet”, cleaning the schoolyards and so on. They sell everything from shacks; there are barely any actual stores or buildings. There is trash and garbage everywhere, and some days, like today, they gather it up and they burn it. It is so much smoke that it hurts my eyes, and it scares me to think of all the toxins and other crap that we breathe in.

Washing clothes is something I have postponed until now, as we have to do it by hand, and because of all the smoke. I feel like I have rashes or something that itches my skin all the time. My stomach has not been on game since I left home, and washing my hair thoroughly is close to impossible, as our shower is only drippling a few drops.

Eating is difficult as we do not know what is safe to eat and not. Therefore, it is a gambling game eating vegetables and fruits that are not cooked or have peel to take off. Most dinners are vegetarian, like pasta or rice with a vegetable sauce, these are not too bad. Breakfast is cracker bread with raspberry jam. Maybe noodles or more cracker breads in between.

It feels like I have been away from home for half an eternity, even though it only is 12 days. This is what happens when nothing is like home. Cultural shock. Of course, I expected everything to be different, but I thought this place would be a bit more “city” than what it is, as we were told, “Winneba is a cozy little town and provides everything you need”. Words cannot explain the differences. There are no café’s, but a few “restaurants”. A decent cup of coffee? Forget it.

Now things probably sound horrifically bad down here, and sometimes, to be honest, it is pretty bad. Nevertheless, all the nice people who live here, and especially the people who work here at Manuel’s weigh up for a lot of it. We have learned how to cook tilapia (a kind of fish) on the grill with a special, Ghanaian tomato sauce on the side. We play table tennis with the guys here (they are so much better than us), and we hang out with Manuel’s children. There is also a lot of beer-drinking going on. The six of us go well together, and I am glad we do. I am also certain things will get even better when we get more used to this culture and how things work here.

– Kristin

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Martine, Julie, Christian and Linn

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Martine making some art

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Dusting off the ping-pong skills

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