Saturday, 24 August 2013

Ding + Maths + Rasta Lunch = Another Week in Ghana

August 13th – Ding!


Pronunciation: /dɪŋ/

Damage to surfboard caused by dropping or collision with another hard object or surfboard. Dings must be dried out and repaired immediately otherwise water will weaken the strength of the board.

I’ve dinged my board.

That’s a nasty ding you’ve got there.

The damage in all its glory.

I awoke late after a night out with Bjorn at Coconut Dream and headed straight for the morning meeting. We discussed the plastic situation and looked for viable alternatives. Eben contacted a man to Agona and Julia looked up plastic recycling factories in Ghana. I made some posters for the kids film night which we printed off to hang around the village. I went for breakfast and headed in to the waves  before my meeting with Eben at 1pm. The waves were small and fun. I’d been in for just over an hour when I took a left. Seeing it was closing out I tried to jump off the back before I got caught in the whitewater, but the wave got me first. It flipped my board over and took me out at the knees. My knee hit the board hard. I surfaced and grabbed my board to check it. “Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!”. Now there are over 1,000,000 words in the English language but with the size of the hole in my board staring back at me only one came to mind. Repetedly. I headed in for the shore. Gutted. My new board. Fuck! The hole was huge. Well it looked like that to me. In reality it was knee sized. Still pretty big on a 6ft board. I showed the ding to guys on the shore to much sympathy.

Bettsy in theatre.

“Your leg!” Exclaimed Julia.

I looked down. A stream of bright red blood trickled from my knee to my foot. I looked up at Julia.

“Never mind my leg. Look at my board!” My priorities as clear and rational as ever. After feeling sorry for myself and swearing a bit more I decided to go and clean up my leg. I met Pascal on the way back to the room who took me to Teach on the Beach and patched me up. The wound was merely superficial and not very deep at all luckily. The board on the other hand…

Bjorn's steady German hand makes the first incision.
I spent the day reading moodily. Not in the mood to talk. Eben arrived at the beach at 3 apologising for being late. He had been unwell and had slept in his room. We quickly put up some posters for the film night about the town before I sent him back to bed to rest.

I went back to the beach and over to see Bjorn as both Peter and Kofi, who could help repair the board weren’t around. Bjorn winced at the sight of the board. He understood the pain. We took Bettsy in to the surf shop and lay her down on the operating table. Bjorn cut away the broken fiberglass with German precision exposing the dented foam beneath. We filled the home with most of my session saver putty before smoothing it over and layering resin on top of it. I stood on the beach, Bettsy under my arm, in the weak evening sun, like a poser next to a sports car, waiting for the resin to cure in the solar rays. All patched up I sanded down the ding to make it lie flat. After well over an hour in theatre Bettsy emerged. I headed out to the waves to see if there were any lasting side effects. I walked in tentatively. At least she still floats. After a frustrating day it was time to vent. I surfed hard. Aggressive turns, big pumps, floaters all came off. It was the best I’d ever surfed. I came in smiling. The first for a few hours at least.
The surgery continues.
I went back to my room and changed. I took Vanessa and Roland along with me to the kids film night at library where they showed some documentaries about Greenland and Jungles. I wonder what the children thought when they saw all the snow and ice on Greenland. Could they even comprehend anything that cold? On the way back in to town the power died and we walked the kids back through the darkness to the main street. The power came back on quickly though and I headed to the beach to buy Bjorn a beer to say thanks for his help. He said he we do some art over the repair to cover it up.
All fixed and ready to hit the waves.

“How about a cup of tea?”

Bjorn laughed “So English!”

“Always. And it’ll remind me of Big Thursday.

“Of course! Perfect!”

August 16th – Call me Sir

Mr Newsom takes control of the class.
The kids had asked that we learn Maths today at After School Club and I was nervous about it. Although I am fairly proficient at Maths, teaching it is another matter. Surely the kids would see through my pathetic attempts to feign interest in everything fractions, square roots, times tables as easily as Russell Crowe putting on an accent (Robin Hood – I rest my case). I brainstormed with Eben about what to do to make Maths anything less than suicidally boring. We came up with a game of Naughts and Crosses where each of the squares was a Maths problem and the kids had to get the answer right to claim the square. Nothing revolutionary. But hopefully there would be no pupil boredom based fatalities. Satisfied I headed to breakfast and then straight in to the surf. At first I longboarded with Peter but after an hour I headed in to say hi to a very confused looking Bjorn on the beach. It had been Bjorn’s leaving party the night before and it turned out that he had managed not only to lock himself outside his room but also had lost his phone. I laughed and leant him my phone so he could arrange to meet Simon in Agona before heading back to Accra and then headed back in to the brine with Bettsy (my fish) for some more waves.

At 1pm Eben turned up and we reviewed surf adverts together to see what we liked and didn’t ahead of creating our own for the Surf N Shine program and I ate a platter of beige food to abate my hangover. Then it was over to the school. We had 6 students turn up which we split in to 2 teams and set about splitting them in to teams and making the sums harder and harder as the game went on. One of the girls, Suzie had real trouble with minus numbers no matter how much we tried to explain them. For the final game we had “Suzie’s Special Minus Numbers Game” explaining the principals again before the game. She took her time over each of the problems then all of a sudden she came up to the board and got the first question right. Then the second. Then the Third. “By jove I think she’s got it.” It was a nice feeling knowing you’ve actually managed to teach someone something. Eben and I headed to the beached happily chatting about the success of the lesson.  We were both tired and headed our separate ways to have a nap. Around 6:30 Eben stopped by Sabina’s to let me know that the BBQ was ready and the Tuna had been cooked. Tuna is ridiculously cheap here. They bring the catches on to the beach every day and with a little haggling a 5kg Yellow Fin Tuna can be picked up for about 12¢ (£4) which will happily feed 5 people. An incredible bargain. I went over to the BBQ and ate with an American and Canadian Girl as well as a few of the locals before heading over to the Still Princess (the local Rasta Bar – Ghana is known as the Jamaica of Africa for a reason) for a few drinks. Old school reggae and a beer. A nice end to the day.
A previous lesson where we played hangman with the kids to improve their spelling.

August 17th – Rasta Lunch   
Kanai and Helena "busy" cooking.
Helena and Ashanti had invited me for lunch when we were at the Still Princess last night. One of the Rasta’s who we had befriended the previous night had offered to cook us all a traditional Rasta lunch at the girl’s house the next day. We had accepted and Kanai had headed off to Agona this morning to collect ingredients for the day’s cooking. I had a late breakfast and went for a frustrating morning surf before heading over to the girl’s place just down the beach.

The final stew in all it's glory. Probably the best meal I've had in Ghana.
For a Rasta lunch of Rich, Peas and Vegitable Stew you will need:

1 x Rasta (Part baked)
3 x Hours (Rasta’s don’t like to hurry)
2 x Bags of rice
2 x Bags of beans
5 x Small onions
5x Small Tomatoes
Chilies – as many as you can handle
2 x Coconut (dry)
1 x Papaya
3 x Carrot
4 x Okra
3 x Green Pepper
1 x Lettuce
4 x Garlic Cloves
6 x Potatoes
Pepe (Chilli Powder)

First boil the beans and the potatoes. The potatoes will be ready first. When they are ready remove them and let the beans continue to boil. This takes quite a while on a charcoal stove so your Rasta will inevitably roll a joint. While he does that you need to grind 3 of the onions, the garlic and loads of chili peppers (they are small and mildish here) down in to a paste. This is a lengthy process with a pestle and mortar so get someone else yo chop up your okra, pepper, papaya, carrots, lettuce and pepper. When the beans are boiled split them gently using the pastel. At this point your Rasta will return with 2 coconuts collected from down the beach (it’s like they grow on trees!) that need to be split with a machete. Grate the flesh and then strain it to extract the milk. Put the milk in to a pan with 2 chopped onions, several torn chilies and bring to a light simmer. Add the washed rice and beans and boil until the milk has been absorbed. Punch holes in the mixture with a spoon and leave on the heat to dry out slightly.
Good things come to those who wait. Enjoying our Rasta lunch in the sun.
In a separate pan fry the skinned and boiled potatoes (chunked) after seasoning with rosemary, pepe and salt. Fry until crispy. Clean the pan and fry the onion and the chilli past in the pan before adding the peppers, carrots, papaya and tomatoes (both chopped and ground in to a soup) okra and then the fried potatoes and stir. Finally add the chopped lettuce and season with lots of pepe, rosemary and ginger. Stir for a little longer and then serve on top of the rice and beans.

Cooking time: Around 3 hours, depending on your rasta “Why rush mon?” – it’s not ready steady cook after all.

Serves: As many people as in the vicinity. Ours fed 7 and the portions were huge.

Ever the colonialist. There is always a way to enjoy a G&T in the sun.
Kanai was an excellent cook and the afternoon was pleasant and warm. The girls had a raised balcony area in front of the luscious garden area where we cooked, complete with trees and a bench that looked out over the beach to the sea. We sat drinking gin and tonics waiting for the food to cook. Hungry, but happy and relaxed.

No one went hungry.
When bellies were full I went to lie down and read in the shade at the Okorye Tree. Slowly digesting the mountain of food. At 5 I headed back in to the waves. The tide was low but I still had fun. There was to be a big party that evening but I was tired and went for a lie down. At 8:30 I went back down to the beach curious to see what the party was like. The fire was the biggest I have seen here extending a full 15 feet in to the air. The beach was busy due to a coach load of Ghanaian tourists from Accra arriving this evening. One of the Accra tourists was dressed in what very much resembled a Ku Klux Klan outfit and was dancing around the fire. Even the locals thought it was funny. Eventually Abu, one of the locals managed to pull himself together enough to explain that it was a traditional Muslim dress.

“Maybe I should get my black one and chase out all the obrunis” he suggested.     

A celebratory drink with Ashanti and Kofi (who owned the place). Those saches of spirit cost 0.2¢ each.

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