Travel in Ghana

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Finishing Touches

Jefferson's still worried about that package; the mail's late today and we've just been waiting and waiting for it to come. I don't mind so much, because there's some last minute reading I've been wanting to do, and it's nice to just sit at home and do nothing (i.e. eat, sleep, and watch TV). I'm trying to soak up what I love about my life here before we go. Mostly I'm eating a lot of cheese!

I finally got "excited" about our trip when I stopped by the department, yesterday, for the last time before this trip. Just seeing friends and saying goodbye to them made the trip seem much more real. I don't know what it's going to take to be truly "excited"; I guess I just won't be. In past when I've gone abroad it's never been a really big deal, so this time it's still the same, no different just because it's Africa.

There are definitely some things I'm looking forward to. I've been in contact with an assistant professor of anthropology at Rutgers who has done extensive fieldwork in Ghana and who will be there this summer, just an hour's ride away from Koforidua, where Jeff's mom's house is. We've made plans to meet up on the 20th. I'm looking forward to meeting her after reading a great article that she wrote about her fieldwork experience in Ghana, particularly about conducting interviews in a culture where the concept of "knowledge" is different from our own.

I'm also looking forward to what is actually the last leg of the trip, when we'll be spending 12 days in Winneba. The phonologist at the teaching college there has been incredibly nice, and has made arrangements for us to stay both in Winneba and in Cape Coast (where we'll be for 12 days beforehand). I think he's going to be a great contact in particular for my research this summer for my 2nd Qualifying Paper, because he specializes in Fante phonology and dialect variation (and my paper is looking at some of the consonant patterns in less-studied dialects of Fante). I'm hoping that, by then, I'll have gotten used to living in Ghana and that I'll really be able to get the most work done.

So what I'm excited about is easy: the people. In addition to professors, I'm looking forward to meeting Jeff's family members, even those he complains about. :-) I'm also looking forward to trying new foods, as always.

But what I'm least looking forward to is also easy: mosquitoes, hot & humid weather, and the traffic in the urban areas (Accra and Kumase, mostly). I get carsick really easily and I just know that the bumpy roads and stuffy cars are not going to help. On the other hand, I should be used to it by now (I think I've lost my lunch in at least half of the foreign countries I've been to)! On another not-so-pleasant note, mosquitoes LOVE me. In preparation I've sprayed all my clothing with a thin layer of Deet, and I have copious bottles of various kinds of insect repellant.... I'm ready for battle!

Ten minutes later... the mail came, but the package never came. Dangit! But on a good note, we did just get the entire triology of "The Godfather" on Netflix DVDs. So that'll give us something to watch this summer on Jeff's computer.

Well, I should go and see what else has to be done around the house!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ohmygoodness, we're leaving in 2 days!!!!!

It's a little bit hard to beleive that we will not be in Mountain View in 48 hours.
What has frustrated me about the past couple of days, is the not getting of a package of stuff that we're supposed to take for my mom. I have a bag put aside for that stuff and any extra stuff that will fit into it, but all it does is sit in the bedroom, waiting for that package. I hope it gets here tomorrow, because we will be gone if it gets here any later.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

About Legon

When we first arrive in Ghana, we'll be staying for about 10 days at the University of Legon. I found this description of Legon from the Indiana University study abroad program guidebook:

"The University of Ghana is located in Legon, nine miles northeast of Accra. Students thus have easy access to the capital city’s resources and entertainment while retaining the tranquility of the suburbs. The campus itself is extensive and has its own botanical gardens. The student population of 12,000 is about 30 percent female and 70 percent male. Only 5 percent of the faculty are female. The University reserves 10 percent of its undergraduate spaces for foreign students. Women students at the University of Ghana are likely to come from upper to middle class Ghanaian society, whereas male students represent a broader economic spectrum. This may be because education for men is clearly valued by all social classes, but middle and upper class families are most likely to recognize the value of higher education for women."

Luckily for me, about half of the Ghanaian linguistic professors are women (the first female professor in Ghana was a phonologist!)

There's also this note about the library. The student quote is particularly amusing and troubling! It reminds me of stories Allegra would tell about the John Hopkins medical library...

"Books and resources are available in both the main library and in the more specialized holdings of the various departmental libraries. Student quote: “It is difficult to find the materials listed in the card catalog since many students need to use the same books. Some books are ‘hidden’ by students for their private use and occasionally pages will be missing.”

Finally, a note about time differences. Ghana is on the Greenwich Mean Time, so it's 7 (seven) hours ahead of Pacific US Time, if you (Mom...) need to call for any reason!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Preparing for our trip

We leave for Ghana on the 30th of June, and I thought I'd create this blog as, perhaps, a more reliable way (than individual email) to entertain everyone with my travel stories once we get there. We'll be arriving in Accra on the evening of July 1st, and we'll be on the University of Ghana at Legon campus for the first 10 days, before we go to Koforidua, where Jefferson's sister lives. At Legon we'll be staying in a student dorm; a wonderful senior professor in the linguistics department made the arrangements for us. It's $14 a day, and is furnished, but it's more like a dorm than a hotel; no sheets, towels, etc. During the first few days there we'll probably spend time shopping for pots and utensils and things like that (yay! shopping!), and then I'm hoping to spend a week meeting the linguistics faculty and graduate students, and looking through their library, if I can.

But today is the 8th of June, and we still have a lot of preparations to make. I want to get a new pair of glasses, and we both need to pick up our malaria medication. I also want to do a lot of background research on Akan/Twi, and to get back in the habit of practicing speaking Twi. We also have to get the apartment ready for Gaetanelle, a visiting scholar in the Stanford lx department who will live here for the summer and keep an eye on our rascally little kitty.

Once we get to Ghana, we'll be on the go; never in the same place for more than three weeks. So, snail mail will be hard if not impossible, but hopefully email will be available, intermittently. Based on using email in China, my main email account while in Ghana will be: (Jefferson can be reached at

So check back when you can, especially after July 1st!