The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Monday, June 11, 2007

(You Are) Welcome Emily, Kirk and Denise!

Title: You Are Welcome
[Rainy Roads]

Finally, the rainy season has arrived. In Ghana there are two rainy seasons, spring (May-June) and fall (Aug-Sept), but for some reason, the rainy season missed Ghana last fall. In fact on Saturday, when we were trapped inside with another missionary family at an arts festival (because there was an extreme downpour), we got to counting, and realized out that since we had been here (July of last year) it had rained less than 12 times.

So we are enjoying this rainy season, now that the nights are cool and the days overcast; the air is clean of dust, the birds are singing their happy song and the trees have exploded with color.

[Flowering Trees of Ghana]

The Interns Arrive
But rainy season isn’t the best time to have visitors when your car isn’t running [click here for that story]. On Thursday morning, we met “Andrew’s Interns” who flew in from the States. Emily, Kirk and Denise are first year medical students at The University of Tennessee, Memphis who have come to Ghana to work in with the Jernigans up at Lake Bosumtwi for five weeks [click here for Andrew’s Blog]. The plan was to pick them and then drive half way up to the lake, to Linda Dor (where I had the wonderful Grasscutter Soup), but if we’ve learned anything here, it is to be flexible. So instead, we ended up keeping the Interns a few days and showing them around Accra. Getting to know them, I came to really admire what they are doing, coming all the way to Africa to spend their summer working in a rural clinic. They will learn and experience so much, and it is said no one goes home from Africa unchanged, and so I wonder how God will use this time, and how it will speak into the rest of their lives.

[Amakom distance shot]

The first thing we did was ride a Trotro, which is perhaps my favorite part of a tour because it is so distinctively African. Maybe if our car was running we wouldn’t have done it this way, so it turned out to be a blessing. You can tell a lot about how a person is going to adapt to Africa by their first Trotro ride. These kids are going to do great.

RHS [Kids in Trotro]

We went to see the Arch, and Independence Square and the beach behind it. I love taking people to visit the Arch. Each time it teaches me something new about Ghana, combining the people I’m with, and what is going on in the country. Today, we walk out behind the Arch to the beach.

RHS [Kids at Arch]

Standing there, overlooking the ocean, it is an interesting place to tell the story of Slavery in this part of Africa. On the left is Osu (or Christianborg) Castle, one of the three castles in Ghana that served as collection points for slaves sent from the smaller forts, and served as a departure points for the new world. To the right, we see the twin forts of Jamestown and Usher. We are surrounded by history.
Today Osu Castle is the seat of government, Jamestown Fort is a hard labor prison, and Fort Usher is where the British detained Ghana’s freedom fighters, and is being remodeled for an unspecific purpose. Perhaps a tourist attraction?

We introduced the kids to the typical foods of Ghana, fried chicken and chips (french fries), a buffet of 20 traditional Ghanaian foods, and made Groundnut Stew at home. They loved Ghanaian food!

The Value is the Same
Accra can be an expensive place, there is so much to do, to buy, often it is experience, but there will be little of that in Amakom, where the clinic is located. The Interns will be here July 1 when Ghana redominates their Cedi, chopping off four zeros and issuing all new currency.

This new currency will be called the New Ghana Cedi, and its value, at least at this summer will be roughly equal to the US dollar 1:1, just like it was 40 years ago when I was here the first time, and before inflation set its value at 10000:1 cedi:dollar.

Some people worry about what this will do to the national economy. Will it cause a new round of inflation in a country that has already experienced a frightening amount of it in the past 50 years? I wonder about the village the Interns are staying in, where the average monthly salary is ¢60,000 [click here to read what Andrew has to say]. I figure a wise manager would pay these wages in ¢1000 or ¢5000 notes (so that it would seem like a lot). But in the New Ghana Cedi, it will either be a handful of coins, or a few bills, and largest number of bills it could be is six, and that will not seem like enough. Hello inflation.

The theme for the New Ghana Cedi campaign is “The Value is the Same”, and conversion from Cedi to New Ghana Cedi is explained in charts everywhere. There is even a catchy jingle [click here], commercials the radio and TV, posters [click here] in most shops, free bumper stickers and something in the paper most every day. Of course the opposition claims that the value isn’t the same, just the suffering.

But just in case, you don’t have it figured out, there is a Cedi to New Ghana Cedi converting calculator. As I understand you enter the current cedi amount and in another window (or a part of it) the New Ghana Cedi amount is displayed. Or you could just lop off four zeros, we’re not talking high level math here folks. Or still better yet visit the official conversion site [click here].

[“SUPPER” Currency Converter- what to do about breakfast and lunch?]

There is even a newly published book of conversion charts, and in the paper there was a positive review of the book. Amazing. So I’ve been asking around to my Ghanaian friends like Eric the former taxi driver, or my second wife, the vegetable seller, or even random cab drivers, and few get the conversion right the first time. Most just throw up their hands and say they don’t understand. I wonder what will happen in the village, and so I envy the Interns for being in that place to watch it all unfold.

On the afternoon of their last day, YaYah brought the car back with a new motor. Amazing that a motor can be changed out that quickly. In the evening we played card games, like Texas Hold-em and learned the hard way that Denise doesn’t bluff and can’t be bluffed.

[Playing Cards]

In the morning we drive to Asbury Dunwell Church, and then they were off to Lake Bosumtwi, via the Jernigan’s driver Bishop. For them, the real adventure has just begun. Godspeed to you Emily, Kirk and Denise.

[Ju and Andrew look to the future (window)]


Blogger Leanne said...

I'm so stupid! I just figured out this morning that my son knows your son from school! What a dope I can be sometimes. ;-)

You have been soaking up so much good Ghana- your openness is so refreshing! Although I feel sorry for you missing the absolutely glorious summers here- it's so cool and nice here until September!

Enjoy your summer.

12:38 PM, June 11, 2007  

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