Empty parking lots, the bead market, and teaching

I can’t believe it has been almost a week since I’ve written! I had started to write a blog post last weekend, but got interrupted by a power outage (our first since having been here – I’m told they are a common occurence, but we had yet to experience one). Last weekend was fairly relaxing; we spent the time doing laundry, cleaning, and enjoying the hot African sun out in the backyard. I didn’t expect the sun would feel hotter here, but it really does – my skin literally burns in the afternoon sun some days! But I just slather on the sunscreen and am determined to be as dark as possible when I return home! 🙂
This week marked a busy week for us. The kids are incredibly difficult to control in the classroom, which continues to be our biggest challenge here. Our methods of discipline in Canada are very different than here, as children are quickly hit with a cane or a hand as a way of creating obedience. So here we are, a small group of Canadians, entering an entirely different culture, and expecting these children to understand what it means not to hit, not to bite, and what a time out means. They don’t. So we leave the school quite exhausted from chasing children who run away, holding crying students who’ve been bitten or beaten up, and swallowing sarcastic comments when children laugh at our instructions. Consequently our evenings are filled with laying on the couch, eating fandangos or fanmilk, and watching a movie. 
Needless to say, when Lesley and I took off Thursday to go to nearby Kofuridua, we were quite excited for a breather! It is a town about two hours away that has a famous bead market on Thursdays. We hired Issac, Belinda’s friend, to taxi us there. We left around 9, and I have to say although I was exhausted and tempted to sleep the ride there, the drive was beautiul! We seemed ot be driving in more of the hilly and jungle-y areas, so it was mesmerizing to this artist’s eye. We had lunch at a nice air-conditioned resaturant (had a burger and cheese – so lovely! haha). Then we headed out to walk to the market. On the way there, we veered off the main street into a fairly empty (but huge) parking lot. Lesley and I sort of looked at each other, then at Isaac, who said, “Last night Auntie Jo told me to take you guys here. This is where funerals are held.” Les and I managed to hold in our laughs, because apparently this was a big deal for Auntie Jo, this empty parking lot, but to us it was just that – an empty parking lot!
We continued on our way to the bead market, and I have to say it was absolutely amazing! Beads of every colour, of every shape and pattern were scattered among vendors. There were beads made from Ghanaian glass and beads imported too, but all were handcrafted by the vendors (as you could see, because most of them were busy making necklaces right in front of us). We spent almost three hours walking through the stalls, trying on necklaces and rings and earrings. Everything was beautiful. They had really old beads there too – they said that some where a hundred years old. But these were incredibly expensive. 
By the time we were finished looking at the market, and found our way back to the restaurant where we’d left the car (and made an impromptu stop at a fairly modern looking store for jam), we assumed that becaue of the late hour (it was probably almost four) Isaac would take us home then. We had hoped to have enough time to visit Boti Falls, which was a waterfall about an hour away, but Isaac had said it was quite late so we just assumed we were headed home. Never assume here, is a lesson I’ve learned – too much gets lost in translation!! So about an hour into our drive of what we thought was headed home, we pull through a set of wooden gates and have arrived at Boti Falls. Les and I look at each other with a look much similar to when we first saw the parking lot earlier that day, and just laugh.
Boti Falls turned out to be a lovely sight, even without there being much water since it’s the dry season right now. There are 250 steps down to the falls, and along the way we saw not only gigantic trees, but gigantic slugs as well! I managed to wait until we were heading back up at the end of our trek before asking if there were snakes in the area (answer: yes, black cobras and vipers, but much deeper in the jungle than where we were). The falls were beautiful; Les and I took our time exploring and taking pictures.
So, as we left the fall area, it was beginning to get closer and closer to dusk. We were sure we were headed home at this point, but as we are driving off, Isaac tells us he has one more thing to show us. A palm tree with three trunks. Not sure why this is significant, but once again, Les and I just laughed and agreed we wanted to see it. It was literally in the middle of no where; down a dirt road, through a valley (which was beautiful – pictures can’t seem to capture the beauty here) and up a path. At the foot of this three trunked palm, there lies a rock engraved with an insignia of some sorts on it. Isaac pointed out that it is considered by locals to be a magical stone, which, if you sit on it, will bless you with the birth of twins. Lesley laughed and she no longer needed that blessing; I stepped forward gladly, but Isaac grabbed me and wouldn’t let me sit on. Oh well! Haha!
Across the road from where the palm tree was was a cemetary. We headed back to the car, but Isaac kept walking towards the cemetery, so Les and I followed him, down a long winding path up this amazing rock. It’s hard to describe it to you, but it was basically a bunch of smaller rocks with a HUGE slab of rock placed on top of it. And this rock overlooks a huge valley. There was a rickety ladder that you could climb to the top (which I almost climbed all the way, then decided it was too safe to risk it and climbed back down), but even without being on top the view was amazing. I want to go back at sunset, because by then it was dusk, but even still, it was spectacular. I think this was my favorite spot I’ve discovered here – I wish it was closer!
It was a long ride back again, because of our many detours, but it was so worth it. We had an amazing day.
So after our day away on Thursday, Friday marked my first day of teaching on my own. Lesley is still here, but I am feeling a bit hesitant in regards to teaching – I feel like a fish out of water. I didn’t realize how much work goes into teaching kindergarten, from lesson planning to different types of learning to understand curriculum. It’s hard! But I managed to make it through the day, and for the most part the kids listened – it was during play time and outdoor play that they got wild again. This weekend Lesley and I have been going over more teaching things – I feel like I am getting my BEd in just a day – but she sadly is sick and in bed. So I am getting caught up on blogging and emails. Tomorrow us girls plan on getting up at the crack of dawn (by that I mean 5:30) to go see a friend, Smart’s, soccer game and then we are going to forgo three hours of Twi church and do a Bible study here at home. Last weekend we visited Auntie Jo’s church, and it was a great experience, minus not understanding a word spoken! I love how joyful church is here, filled with dancing and so much singing. But, I do however love understanding the sermon and the hymns being sung as well! Belinda told us that there’s an English speaking church here in Asamankese, so we are going to visit there next weekend.
Hard to believe we are already half way through September. Thinking of you all at home and missing everyone very much!
Lots of love,
Angie

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