Plantain Overload

14 Jun

I tried to post last night, but the internet failed…so here’s an update.

6/13/12

It’s 9:40 pm Ghana time, and today has been pretty darn fantastic. Sydney and I started the morning with another beautiful run and great conversation. I think I’m actually starting to get used to the massive hills here, even though they still leave me breathless. There were no buckets when I went to shower, so I headed over to the well to fill one up and automatically put it on my head to carry it back. After some laundry and oatmeal, Sydney and I headed to Cape Coast for a day of research. The Tro Tro dropped us off at the wrong station, but we got our bearings and walked over to the “Agric-Junction,” a collection of agriculture and food-related offices located near the town center. We had been referred by a professor at the University of Cape Coast, but when we got to the massive row of haggard-looking buildings, we realized that we had absolutely no idea where we were going. After some wandering, we finally located the right building and found Madame Esther Akomaning, the head of food production and perseveration. She seemed like she was in the middle of a million and one things, but she whisked us into her office and spent over an hour discussing our research. Although I read several articles before arriving in Ghana, nothing compares to the information I’ve gotten directly from Ghanaians who understand the idiosyncrasies and customs of their people. She spoke with us about nutrition, family food production, food processing, and management of resources, and she was definitely the most articulate and well spoken person I have met here so far.

On our way back into town, Sydney and I shared a grilled plantain from a street vendor, and it was so delicious! I’m definitely trying them when I get back home. We were both starving, so we headed to Castle Café for lunch overlooking the water. I was craving more plantains, so I ordered vegetable stew with boiled plantains…definitely the best thing I’ve had here so far. I could seriously eat plantains every day.

We were on our way back to Agric-Junction to meet with another department official when we ran into Megan and Lorenzo at a clothing vendor. I ended up buying a beautiful Ghanaian dress, and I can’t wait to wear it on our next night out. Our second interview was with a fertilizer expert, and while his expertise pertained more to Sydney’s research than mine, he had some really interesting things to say about food security.

Tired but full of great information, we headed back into town to catch a Tro Tro home. I feel like I’m getting to know Cape Coast fairly well and growing accustomed to life here. I never thought I would say this, but it’s going to be weird to leave. I’m even getting used to the constant shouts of “AuBruni” (white person) from the village children and “Hey! You. Whereyougoing?” from the hoards of taxi drivers at the “station.”

Paula and Jessie made French toast with bananas and nutella for dinner (YUM), and now I’m back in the conference room attempting to do some reason before I fall asleep on my laptop. That’s all for now… I can’t believe I’m halfway through the trip already!

 6/14/12

So I’ve finally started to get my bearings and solidify me research…and then it hit me that I still have to write a paper. Yikes. With that in mind, Sydney and I decided to devote today to getting organized and working on our outlines. We went for another great run this morning, and it started to rain midway through, which was awesome. After chilly bucket showers and breakfast, we headed to Cape Coast again and started wandering. We walked past Cape Coast Castle and ended up finding a peaceful spot on the beach to sit and talk. We explained our research in detail and gave each other suggestions and feedback on our progress and future direction. It was extremely helpful, and I feel like I actually know where I’m going and what I’m looking for over the course of the next few weeks.

When we got hungry, we headed to Castle Café again for another plantain fix. When the plantains arrived, however, they were hard and bitter, and we both left them on our plates 😦 When the waitress lamented about our lack of plantain consumption, and we explained that they tasted different, she suddenly understood. Apparently there are two different varieties of plantains, and if they’re cooked when they’re still green, they taste like starchy, underripe vegetables. Oops. We know better now though because she told us to specify that we want “soft ones” next time. After our disappointing lunch, we found an internet “café” (ie. little upstairs room with wifi for 1 cedi an hour), and we’ve been working on our research ever since. I found a lot of potential contacts in Accra, so I emailed them to see if I could meet with them next week…fingers crossed for a response that does not follow the Ghanaian sense of time.  We’ve been here for the past three hours, but we’re about to head back over to Castle Café to celebrate John’s birthday. Plantains round two.

I’m hoping to get in some more work on my paper tonight and then get packed for the weekend. Off to Busua for some beach bumming tomorrow!

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