Monday, June 29, 2009

We Beat President Obama to Cape Coast! And Did Michael Jackson Die???

Apparently, President Obama is visiting Cape Coast on July 11th. Well, not to brag, but we beat him there! So...yay!

We had a great time in Cape Coast. We visited the Cape Coast Castle, from which a lot of the Triangle Trade took place. The Americas sent raw materials to Europe, Europe processed those materials and sent them to Ghana, and Ghana sent slaves to the Americas to produce the raw materials--in a nutshell. It was so interesting! I feel like I have so much to tell everybody about it. We met a senior missionary couple on our tour of the castle. They were a piece of work. The man asked the tour guide, a Ghanaian, if he thought that slavery was a good thing. Really? You're asking an African if slavery was good? Also, a couple of men were fishing off the coast. The man asked our tour guide if those were the slave ships coming to get the Africans. I was ashamed to be American at that moment. I really wonder what impression tourists give off in the various places they visit. I wonder if our tour guide will someday go to America and ask a tour guide at, say, Monticello if he thinks slavery was a good thing. Ugh. Some people. We also learned in the castle that Michael Jackson died. They had been playing his music all day, and we were all curious as to why they were doing that. Then, a man in the museum said that he died, and we were all distraught and talked about our favorite Thriller dance memories. Is it true? Someone give me an update.

Anyway, it was so rainy in Cape Coast! We got there in flood conditions. Cars were half-submerged in muddy water. I was glad to be on a big huge bus. However, we were lucky that whenever we went out it really wasn't raining too bad. We even went to the beach for a little bit. We ran around in the water and got some fun pictures. Two little boys were playing with us and wanted to be in all of our pictures. It was pretty cute.

We also went on the Kakum Canopy Walk. I think anyone who reads this should try looking it up online. It was incredible. Basically, we were suspended hundreds of feet above the jungle by a walkway and a rope bridge. It was so beautiful. Sadly, my memory card ran out in the middle, so I had to delete some pictures (don't worry, they're already saved on my computer at school). It was so incredible, though. We didn't get to see any animals, but we didn't really expect to. Lots of bugs though. Exotic, tiny, creepy bugs. Imagine my delight.

We stayed at a really nice hotel with a toilet that flushed! The high life. We also ate at some really great restaurants. I had some banana pancakes that pretty much changed my life. We also got to look in lots of fun little shops. We saw a textile mill that printed a fabric with Obama's face on it that said "Akwaaba (welcome) Obama." Ghanaians are really happy that he's visiting soon.

I wish I could write everything that happened in Cape Coast because it was SO FUN, but I only have a couple minutes left, so I have to go. I'll email/blog again this Friday, and then I won't have a chance to come to Kumasi for the next two weeks. So send love now or for two weeks hold your peace!

Love you all. Have a great week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Malaria Strikes Back

...but not at me. Four people in our group got malaria this last week. Justin and Kayla definitely have full-blown malaria. Michelle and Shannon might have it, but they are still taking the medications. SO, we couldn't go to Cape Coast last weekend. We'll be leaving this Friday instead. I did get a summer cold, though, because it's been really cold from the rain. It's no malaria case...but I'm still phlegmy.

Guess what...I got birthday mail last week! Last Wednesday, I got cards and letters from the Lindquists, Devin, and Momsy and Popsicle (aka Mom and Dad). Thanks so much, you guys! I did not realize the mail could come here so fast...less than two weeks! Imagine my excitement.

I have to keep this blog post short because I don't have too much time left. Update: this last week was Athletics Week for the town of Wiamoase. Athletes from all the different schools competed in running, football (soccer), volleyball, and table tennis events. Presby (my school) took first in volleyball, second in football, and third in running. Go Presby!

One cute little anecdote. We were waiting on Thursday for the running events to start, and I was sitting on a bench. A little girl was holding her sleeping sister, and no one would let her sit down. They wouldn't let me stand up to give her a seat, either, so I asked if she wanted me to hold her sister. She said yes, and I held onto the little sleeping girl for a while. She was so cute...she probably had the chubbiest cheeks I've ever seen. Michelle took a picture of us together. When I get a chance, maybe I can try to upload it somehow. Anyway, I had to readjust her because she was falling off my lap. She woke up and saw a white girl holding her and freaked out a little bit. It was pretty funny. I was happy to help out the sister, though, because it was so hot out that day! I didn't even want to sit too close to someone, much less be forced to stand up holding a sleeping baby.

Things are still going well for me. I will start my research next Wednesday after the retreat to Cape Coast. I hope everyone is doing well! I'll try to update again next Friday with tales from the beach.

Love you all!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dananananana You say it's my birthday (to the tune of the Beattle's song)

My birthday was on Friday, and it was a fabulous day. We all went to Kumasi to celebrate/use the internet (which was down in the city...again). Instead, we went to the cultural center and looked around for a while. We even got to eat at the restaurant there. I had Red Red, which is fried plantain with spicy beans, and chicken. It was super yummy, but there sure was a lot of it. I justified everything by saying it was my birthday. So did everybody else. If someone wanted to buy something but tried to restrain themselves, everyone else would say, "It's Amy's only comes once a year." Inevitably, that person would agree and indulge themselves. I used the justification to convince me to buy not one but two Fan-milk treats--Fan-choco and Fan-ice. They are basically like frozen chocolate milk and frozen marshmallow ice cream, respectively. My favorite. I have to find a way to imitate them when I come home so everybody can try creamy Fan-goodness.We came back from Kumasi, and in the evening Christiana made my favorite for dinner (tomato stew and rice with a fried boiled egg). For my birthday celebration, my group made salsa (both regular and mango) and fried up some pitas, so it was like nachos. It reminded me of watching movies with Devin. I loved it, though. We got lots of great pictures.

Other than that, I continue to observe in the schools. My kids are so funny. They teach me Twi and lots of really cool hand games. They are so coordinated. Fortunately, in my day I was the hand game queen, so they are always really impressed at how fast I learn. The girls love to play with me. The boys are really funny. They all want to take me to wife. They kiss my hand all the time, and the teachers have to shoo them away so they don't suffocate me. Thank goodness I'm not claustrophobic. This week, the kids are doing a town-wide athletic competition. It's so cool, and it really works well with my project to see them engaging in physical activity. They play football (soccer), net ball (like volleyball but not), volleyball, and track. I am amazed at how hard they trained the week before, too. They play football without any shin-guards, so it's not so much about contact as it is in America as it is about ball control and skill. For the track events, the students wear socks but not shoes. They run on the rocky ground, too! I can't imagine being that awesome.

Last Wednesday, one of the teachers at the school asked me to preach to the students. Every Wednesday, the students have a worship service. I love listening to Ghanaians sing, and they REALLY sing! They shout really loud, but it sounds beautiful, especially with the drums. Anyway, I preached to a whole Presbyterian school. It was really scary, but I'm glad I did it. The kids loved it.

Speaking of worship, funny story. Last Sunday, when we went to Church, the taxi driver had some music on. They always put on Sunday appropriate songs when we go to church...and sometimes they play Celine Dion. They're practically the same. Kind of. Anyway, last Sunday the lyrics were "Move to the left in the name of Jesus. Move to the right in the name of the Lord. Shake that booty that Jesus gave ya. Shake that booty in the name of the Lord." We could not stop laughing. It was pretty funny.

I am starting my research next week in the school. My informed consent forms have all been handed out to the students. Printing them all off cost almost $27...thanks a lot, IRB. Oh well. This Saturday, we will be going on our mid-semester retreat to Cape Coast...aka the beach. I will be sure to update next week if the internet is working. Until then, have a great week, everyone! BYU students...good luck on finals. Love you guys!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Got My Hair Done!

I hope everyone appreciates this message because they did not have to wait 3 weeks for it like they did last time. Yay!

I am wondering how everyone is doing! I miss you guys so much, and even though I'm having a great time here I can't wait to come home. There's just something about indoor plumbing that draws me in.

I have a great you may have guessed from the title, I got my hair done. It looks fabulous. The women came on Friday. It took two people and three hours. Youch. It also required two bags of fake hair. First, Sister Jenna (one of the hair stylists) took a really tiny section of my hair. She wrapped a bunch of fake hair around the roots of my natural hair so it kind of looks like a knot. Then, she braided the hair all the way down. She snipped off the stray hairs along the braid with some scissors. She and Comfort (the other hair lady) did that to my entire head. I now have hundreds of little Medusa braids all over. When they were done braiding, they put a flame next to the fake hair to burn off more stray hairs. Needless to say, I was terrified. Kayla got some pretty great pictures of the process. At the end, they boiled the ends of the fake hair in water and I was done.

May I just say that I have such great respect for Ghanaian women. This hair weighs a ton! How do they wear their hair like this all the time??? AND they are able to carry huge baskets and bowls on top of their hair on top of their heads. Incredible. I am finally used to it, but my neck hurt a little bit the first day. It's also a little itchy at times, but it is getting way better each day. I absolutely love it. And I took lots of pictures that I cannot download because the internet takes forever and cannot handle big files. Oh well. The people in my group have told me that it looks great...very natural-looking. It's also really easy because I can't wash it. Sweet!

Basically, June is the best month ever. There is something to look forward to every week! Last week, I got my hair done. This Friday, it's my 22nd birthday. Next week, we will be going to Cape Coast (the beach!!!) on our mid-semester retreat. The week after that, I will finally start testing in the schools and will do it for 3 weeks (2 students a day for 15 days = 30 students...wowsa).

Speaking of my birthday, I know lots of people have wanted my address to send me a card or something. My address is:

Amy Nagle
c/o Esther Baffour
P.O. Box 14
Wiamoase, Ashanti Region
Ghana, West Africa

Do not be sad if I don't get mail...we just received a letter for a girl that was here during Fall Semester...we got it last week. Mail is uber slow here, so I wouldn't send anything valuable or large.

I'm really excited for my birthday. The group and I will go to Kumasi (the capital city of the Ashanti region) to celebrate. It will be wicked fun.

I hope everyone is doing well in America! Enjoy the month of's my favorite.

Love always,
Amy Elizabeth

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

1 Month Mark, Malaria, and my first day of school

My oh has been a while.

And for good reason. The Wednesday after I emailed/blogged last, I got malaria. Since the symptoms take 2 weeks to come, that means I got bitten by a mosquito carrying malaria getting off the plane. Just my luck. Luckily, no field study student has ever gotten malaria twice, so hopefully this was my only time to get it. Since it was so early in my field study and I have not yet started my research, I consider this a good thing.

Basically, on Wednesday morning at about 12:30, I started vomiting. And boy, do I mean vomiting (I actually developed a taste eversion against cabbage stew and cookies because they do NOT taste good on the way coming up). I threw up probably 8 times. Most of it was just dry heaving, but it was pretty yucky. In the morning, I told Margaret (my facilitator), and she walked with me to the clinic. As a malaria survivor, she took good care of me. In the clinic, I had a blood test, and then they tested all of my vitals. I had a slight fever, but I was still doing ok. I had been drinking some crystal light to get some fluids and electrolytes in me, but I threw that up at the clinic. My shirt was a lovely shade of pink, though. I had a blood pressure of 80/50, so they brought me to a nice room of my very own and gave me two IVs of saline solution. It was really cold, and I loved it. The nurses took excellent care of me, and I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was ready to go. I got my pills from the Dispensary. All together, the treatment cost 10 cedis (under $10). Now that's health care, hehe.

The next couple of days, I just recovered. I wasn't vomiting anymore, and they gave me pain killers, so I slept through most of it. I lost a bit of weight, but not too much. Basically, I was sick for one day, and I was woozy for four. Not too shabby. I got over it on Sunday night. I felt bad because I was going to start observing in the schools that Wednesday. Sad.

Monday was African Unity Day. I had an extra day to recover because I could not go to school. It wasn't open.

Tuesday, though. Tuesday was my first day of school. I took a first day of school picture in honor of Kwistin (remember last fall?). I went to the school and met the headmaster, Peter. He and all of the teachers have been so kind to me. I love it. I love the students, too. They keep teaching me Twi and lots of different hand games. I think the thing I like least about school is watching corporal punishment with canes. It's pretty scary, but it's just a part of the culture. I'm learning to understand and not be too judgemental. A great learning experience.

I love how strong the kids are. The other day, they brought their desks outside. Not only are their desks made attached to the chair, but they are made for 2-3 students. They are huge, and most students carried one by themselves! Incredible!

Speaking of making observations, I got IRB approval! YAY! That means I can start my research finally. And, I got a scholarship from the Kennedy Center, so that always helps.

Friday is my one-month mark. Today is four weeks. It has passed so fast so far, but I still feel like I've been here for a year. It's really been an incredible experience so far. I have been able to begin accomplishing one of my life goals: to serve people in Africa. I have wanted to do it ever since I learned about AIDS in 6th grade. I absolutely love the people here, and I hope that my research helps people all over the world become healthier and happier within their own cultural contexts.

I'll keep you all posted.

Devin...9 months. Just sayin'

I love you all!