Rainstorms and Research

12 Jun

Well today has definitely proved that animals know a lot more than we give them credit for. We were about to go to bed last night when one of the fellows noticed several streaks of water below our front porch…or so he thought. The “streaks” were about 10 feet long and three inches thick, and they branched into bizarre patterns, somewhat like gnarled trees. Upon taking a closer look, however, we soon discovered that they were actually massive lines of flesh-eating ants. Welcome to Ghana. Oh, and apparently they can kill a person in under three hours…so much for going to bed. We armed ourselves with mops, brooms, and buckets and went to battle (or rather, Lorenzo went to battle and tried to derail their lines with a mop). We thought we had made some progress, but the lines soon began to reform thicker than ever, so we gave up and went to bed. A few people set alarms for 2:00 am to make sure they hadn’t marched their lines into our rooms in the middle of the night.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 am to the sound of a torrential rainstorm. Then it hit me that the ants had come out to gather food (in the form of dead bugs from our porch) and then weather out the storm underground. Smart little creatures.

I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I did some yoga and then took a freezing cold bucket shower to wake up. It took us a while to get going this morning because of the disastrous weather, but a few people managed to head over to the junior secondary school at Asuansi to interview teachers. They came back five minutes later with the news that teachers don’t come to school when it rains because it’s too loud on the tin roof. Apparently they found a bunch of screaming children running around unsupervised for the day. Party time. Since the school plan wasn’t an option, Paula, Natalie, Jessie, and I decided to head to Cape Coast in search of a health clinic and a high school. When we got to Yamadam, I reached out to grab the handle of the Tro Tro as I climbed in…and the entire door fell off! Oops. The whole Tro Tro filled with Ghanaians started laughing at me but assured me that it was not my fault. That fact was solidified when the Tro Tro broke down halfway to Cape Coast, and the driver dropped us off at the side of the road to wait for another one. We eventually made it to Cape Coast, and Jessie and I immediately found a large health clinic. The director did not have much to say about either of our topics, but he sent us to the Metropolitan Health Directive in search of more information. It was quite a walk, and we got lost several times, but an incredibly sweet Ghanaian woman took pity on us and walked us the rest of the way. The directive had an on-site nutrition center which deals primarily with severely malnourished children. I spoke with an intern who was extremely helpful, and she explained many of the barriers to proper nutrition in rural Ghana. She also showed me a photo album of their patients, which was incredibly disturbing. I have never seen such emaciated and helpless-looking children in my life.

Following the clinic, I headed to Baobab House to meet Paula, while Natalie and Jessie took off for a nearby high school. Paula was caught up in a meeting, and I thought I was going to have to head back alone, but suddenly Sydney and John arrived out of nowhere. We had some lunch and then Sydney and I headed to the University of Cape Coast to talk with one of the agriculture professors. He was incredibly knowledgeable and well-spoken, and we both got some great information. After another long walk and a very tiresome day, we finally caught a Tro Tro headed for Yamadam. As we neared one of the station stops, there was a man lying face-down on the side of the road, and the driver did not even acknowledge his presence, let along stop. I don’t know if this apathy is a product of the bystander effect or simply ignorance, but it is rather disheartening.

When we were all back safely at Asuansi, Megan made eggplant with tomatoes, avocado bruschetta, and pasta. It was quite a feast. We’re currently all in the conference room, working on our papers and enjoying the fans. Another successful day of research completed 🙂







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