Yesterday I had my first major blip being in Ghana. Banging my rock of a head, head first into the hard place of cultural differences between here and the UK.
Or rather, so it felt. Looking back it wasn’t that big of a deal but hunger, frustration, high emotions and gratitude made it feel much bigger than it actually was.
So what happened?
Tomorrow marks the end of the third week I’ve been in Ghana. Although I’m still as confused as hell a lot of the time, and get fairly drained by the constant checking up on me and lack of ability to do anything by myself, or for myself if anyone is around me at all, I feel a bit proud I’ve gotten by and lasted this long without making any (seemingly) big cultural blunders.
That said, I have had to be incredibly patient and let things happen as they happen and just deal with everything as it comes up, rather than trying to force the issue on my terms etc. Pretty exhausting all told.
Anyway, yesterday was pretty much the same. Lately I’ve been having trouble interacting with the kitchen that is preparing food for me, as, among other things, on the few occasions I don’t need any food as I’m away or Emelia is cooking for me, I try to let them know a head of time to avoid wasting food. But equally often, sometimes the message gets lost in translation and either the food arrives anyway (and is wasted as I can’t eat it and don’t know what to do with it), or worse, it AND subsequent meals that day don’t arrive, and I go hungry if I’ve run out of fruit Nd other food in my room.
On a normal day breakfast isn’t given to me until 9am when all the teacher get brought the same food. I’m up at 6am most mornings so am pretty hungry by the time I eat. The food isn’t all that intersesting I should point outr – It’s mostly just a ground maize, water porridge served with bread for breakfast. There are a few slightly different types and I’d recently been asked if I liked one of them. As on that day it was particularly poor quality with sand or grains of grit in it, I said not particularly thinking not much of it.
9am. I’m chatting with another teacher. I’m fine not eating bang on 9am, I’ve been getting practice.
9.30am. Getting hungry. It no food yet, that’s fine, sometimes it’s late being served.
10am. Getting more hungry. The headmaster comes in with a notice for all the teachers. Can’t leave.
10.45am. Meeting over, kitchen serves porridge to teachers, my food must be there now so I head back. Get stopped by various teachers asking where I’m going and what I’m doing.
11am. No food. Hmm…. Head back to staff room to have some porridge there. Nope. None left.
By this point I’m hungry and frustrated. One of the teachers I’m friends with, Hayford, notices and asks what’s up. As we walk out, me to head to the kitchen to try and sort it out, him to listen to me. I explain what’s happened, my frustration to not being able to know the difference between what I think I’m saying and the effect what I’m saying actually has, my constant state of confusion in the face of cultural differences, my not particular enjoyment of eating of over half my meals and my feeling or being coddled.
Basically all the things I thought I’d bee. Handling but instead had bottled up came out and I got fairly emotional about it.
Hayford and all the other teachers there we very kind. We went to the kitchen, explained what had happened. They said they’d get me some food soon as they could. In the mean time, Hayford went into town and got me some food to eat then.
Thank god, because the food that came was fufu and I was in no mood to eat that. The time now was 12pm.
Finally, feeling incredibly embarrassed and thankful towards Hayford. I asked what should be done with the extra food the kitchen had delivered and he said I should find a student to give it to as they’d quite happily eat it or find others who are.
So we did, and all was fixed.
Or so I thought. No lunch proceeded to arrive a few hours later. Apparently that late breakfast was actually only an early lunch without us knowing.
So honestly, that’s what I signed up for in coming out here and so there’s no use complaining about it now, right? But really I’m getting fed up with all this constant mixed communications and I don’t know what to do about it other than to breathe deep Nd release.
Patience really is a virtue.