Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Lakes, nudists and prostitutes...

14th August

Weekend! I woke up at a fairly respectable time, did my washing, then hung it up on the makeshift drier created by Charlotte (2 brooms across 2 chairs.)

Eventually I left the house and headed to the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) via an art fair. The museum was pretty massive, covering German history from 100BC- 1994, so I knew I was never going to cover it all. After seeing the temporary exhibitions on castles, and German reunification in 1990 I went round the modern half of the museum, covering 1918 onwards, which still took me a couple of hours with skimming some sections, so who knows how long it would take to go round the whole museum properly... After writing a couple of articles I went round Kate’s flat with some of the other girls for pizza, then quickly checked the internet at Rosenthaler Platz.

We headed out fairly early to CCCP Bar, a supposedly communist themed bar in Rosenthaler Platz. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the communist theme- the main quirk of the place was a rather odd 70s porn movie projected on to one wall. It did resemble a Communist state in that whilst people tried to convince us we were having a great time, as soon as we left we appreciated just how shit it was. After wandering round Berlin for a bit- everyone wanted to go to some big dance club, but a few of us decided we weren’t going to pay 12€ to listen to shit techno- Kate, Andy and I ended up at White Noise, an indie night in an underground club. I had a great time- it was like being at Fun Factory at the Union on a Monday night, except underground with less snakebite and more Germans.

15th August

Despite our late night partying, Kate and I managed to leave the apartments by 11.30 to head to Charlottenburg to visit the royal palace. On the way all the lights on our U-Bahn went out and the engine shut off, so we had to rethink our route slightly... We made it to Charlottenburg quite late, so decided to just go to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and Erotik Museum and then come back another day to do the palaces.

We had lunch at this amazing restaurant that sold beer in litre glasses, so had quite a lengthy and relaxed meal! After our beer we were ready for the Erotik Museum, which was quite hilarious. Highlights included an interactive ‘find the G-spot’ game, a selection of chastity belts and a ‘guess the fetish’ game. Kate and I were also quite amused by a 50 year old man wandering round the museum by himself, who spent quite a long time reading the erectile dysfunction display...

Afterwards we headed to Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, a church which was heavily bombed in WWII, and the half-destroyed tower has been left un-restored as a memorial. Next to it is a new church with windows created from the shattered stained glass of the old church.

We then got the U-Bahn to White Trash Fast Food, a restaurant above the club we went to the night before. The décor was very eclectic; an old Irish pub with a Chinese twist, covered in random pictures and old paintings... The food was good though. Afterwards we headed to B-Flat, a very cool jazz club, for a rather sophisticated evening of live jazz.

16th August

After language class we went to Schloss Bellevue, the presidential palace, then I saw a memorial to Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn in Tiergarten. I exchanged some money as was running low on funds, then proceeded to buy out the souvenir shop to get rid of my 100€ note. After finishing off my articles I headed to the internet café to send them off and check my emails. A fairly chilled day!

17th August

Language class was extremely satisfying today, as I had a German grammar and tenses breakthrough. Unfortunately this proved to be the highlight of the day. The afternoon trip was a visit to the Stasi Museum, which should have been fascinating but we had a tour guide so dull he managed to make spying seem boring... After 45 minutes I couldn’t take anymore, so snuck off and covered the rest of the museum alone, looking at secret buttonhole cameras and notes hidden in clothing and tyres. The evening was pretty dull as I was just editing articles- the next few days won’t be much fun but it is what I am here for!

18th August

No language today as it’s Wednesday, so time for our workshop with Caroline. My articles weren’t completely ripped to shreds, which was nice. The rest of the day was pretty unproductive, and I got very little done, but I did eat a lot of food in the name of helping Kate with her restaurant reviews. We also went to the chocolate shop, which has huge chocolate versions of Berlin monuments (and Titanic for some reason). After a late dinner I got a much-needed early night.

19th August

Today we had our progress meeting for the travel guide. Unfortunately half the group didn’t turn up so it was difficult to ascertain just how much progress had been made, but it seems like we’re going to be ok. I am writing the 600 word overview of Berlin’s history, which I am almost certainly going to regret volunteering myself for... As we now only have a couple of days to finish writing, Kate, Adie and I headed to Charlottenburg Palace to explore and take photos. We didn’t have time to go inside so decided to head back in the last week. We then headed to Museum Island, as all the museums there are free after 6 on Thursdays, to go to the Pergamon Museum (which we had been referring to as the Pokemon Museum.) The Pergamon Museum is difficult to describe, but it was absolutely amazing. Essentially they’ve just excavated ancient sites, taken them and rebuilding them in a museum. There was a massive Greek temple entrance, a Roman market gate, massive columns, and the entrance gate to Babylon. Everything looked amazing, and it was nice to be able to appreciate things without having to read loads of information.

In the evening I was going to go out, but with so much to do Friday I just went for pre-drinks, managed to get fairly drunk by accident, then went to bed.

20th August

I woke up slightly drunk, but still managed to make it to language class. Today’s trip was to Müggelsee, a large lake with a beach. Luckily it was a nice sunny day, so it was a great afternoon. Kitty, Katre, Kate and I went straight into the lake, swam to the nudist beach and had a brief naked swim until the boys started following us... There were lots of rocks which hurt my feet when I came out, but I thought I was just being a bit of a wimp. Ten minutes later I looked down to see that my toe was covered in blood. After washing away the sand and blood I realised I had a massive cut in the side of my toe, and that now I had noticed it, it actually hurt quite a lot. Fortunately there was plenty to take my mind off it. Unfortunately the main distraction was being constantly chased by wasps. Kate and I would be chatting, then one or both of us would have to leave and run about for a bit until the wasps went, then we would resume our conversation. When we left I tried to put my shoe on but it hurt too much, so I just walked with one shoe off until we got back. Later I had the not-so-enjoyable task of removing the blood-covered grains of sand from the cut. In the evening I had intended to finish my articles and do some editing, but ended up mainly just watching Mad Men and doing a bit of writing on the side, so vowed to be productive tomorrow instead.

21st August

After greatly enjoying our trip to Müggelsee we decided to check out another lake, so went to Orankesee. I had chosen this on the basis it had a big slide going in to the lake, which proved to be a excellent decision. In the evening Jack, Dustin, Chloe, Kate, Claire and I went to random reggae bar, where Claire and I ended up playing foosball with two random Germans. My German (who I can’t remember the name of) and I won, although I think my contributions were mainly just flukes as I was fairly drunk at this stage... We then left in search of a club via McDonald’s, but ended up wandering the streets for quite a long time. Eventually we stumbled across a random gathering of people round small fires playing guitars, and hung out there for a bit before getting a taxi home at 5am.

22nd August

Another sunny day, another trip to a lake. This time, Weisensee. A fairly relaxed day, although I unwisely got persuaded to swim across the lake and back... I managed it, but did think I was going to die at one stage. The evening was meant to be serious getting down to work time, but after a bit of editing, writing one article and starting another I got distracted by Mad Men. I was pretty knackered so figured would just go to bed, but then was presented with a load of new articles to edit... After ten minutes I gave up and went to sleep.

23rd August

After all the editing I had been given yesterday, as well as the fact I hadn’t finished my main article, I had to miss language and headed to St. Oberholtz for a day on the laptop. I was there for about six hours, so by the time I left I could barely see properly.

In the evening Jack, Chloe, Kate and I went to A-Trane, a jazz club in Charlottenburg that has a free night on Mondays. We then headed to a bar, where a random man started chatting to us. He had been raised in Leicestershire, lives in Berlin but works as a professor in France, and was quite interesting although extremely drunk. He bought us all a round of drinks though so we were happy! After a trip to Burger King we got a taxi home, and got in at about 5am.

24th August.

Despite my limited amount of sleep, I still managed to make it to language class, although my German skills were slightly affected. In the afternoon I went to the D.D.R Museum, a museum about life in the German Democratic Republic, which was good fun. You could sit in an East German car, listen to G.D.R radio stations, look around a typical G.D.R house and play with G.D.R toys among various other things.

After a power nap and some dinner a few of us attempted to go back to the Reichstag for look at Berlin by night. Unfortunately we got there slightly too late, so we headed to a Singapore-style bar and restaurant on Oranienstrasse for some cocktails. After two tasty but sickly cocktails Andy, Nicola and Charlotte went home, whilst Adie, Kate and I headed to another bar, lured in with the promise of free shisha. We then discovered they sold absinth, so duly ordered some absinth and beer and spent a couple of hours trying to work out how to blow smoke rings with the shisha. Whilst sat at the bar we’d noticed quite a few people who were clearly prostitutes wandering past, and when we headed off down to Rosenthaler Strasse we saw a prostitute every 10 metres... A group of German men started talking to us, enlisting our help as they were fed up of being harassed by prostitutes and they were left alone whilst they walked with us. We were then befriended by some 18 year old English guys, who had only been in Berlin a couple of days and were quite terrified by the onslaught of prostitutes! After helping them safely negotiate the prostitute zone and leading them to a club we headed to get beer and chips from 24 hour food place in Rosenthaler Platz. Adie was pleased when an Aussie girl befriended us, as she got to hear another Melbourne voice for the first time since she’d been here! At 4am we decided we couldn’t be bothered to hang around an hour for the first tram, so got a taxi back.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Jazz, museums... and the meaning of life

9th August 2010

Today was my first day in the advanced group, and I actually understood some things so it wasn’t quite the disaster I was expecting. Vocab still isn’t coming back to me though which is quite annoying. After language lessons we went to the Badeschiff in Kreuzberg, which is an outdoor pool and beach bar. The pool is on top of the river, which feels rather weird when you’re swimming in the pool. It was nice to have a fairly chilled out afternoon and still feel like I was doing something.

When we got back I grabbed some pizza from the supermarket then went to the internet cafe to write up my article and check my emails, then headed back home for an early night.

10th August 2010

Today was pretty uneventful- after language class we went on a visit to Zitty magazine, one of Berlin’s top magazines, which was quite short but pretty interesting, then briefly went to the shops at Postdamer Platz and got some postcards before heading back to the apartment.

In the evening a few of us went to a couple of bars, one of which was a slightly random punk bar, but it was a fairly nice chilled out evening.

11th August 2010

In the morning we had a journalism workshop, where we read out and critiqued each other’s articles, then we were finished with our organised activities for the day.

Dustin, Andy, Charlotte, Adie and I went to Potsdamer Platz to quickly visit the shops then we separated to do our own thing. I went to the German Resistance Memorial Museum, which is in the buildings where von Stauffenberg planned the failed assassination attempt on Hitler (you know, the guy Tom Cruise played in Valkyrie). The conspirators were shot in the courtyard of the building, and there is now a memorial there. The museum itself was really interesting, as I knew very little about German resistance during World War II, although as nearly all of the exhibits were in German I was at the mercy of the audio guide, which unfortunately skipped nearly half of the rooms. After the museum I went to Tiergarten, a massive park, where I wrote my postcards by the river with a small mouse for company.

In the evening a few of us went to Yorckschlösschen, a small jazz and blues bar, which was amazing. There was a great atmosphere and the band was brilliant, and after the saxophonist jumped on the table for a solo we all vowed to return before we left Berlin.

12th August 2010

I decided to be a bit of a rebel and skip classes in the morning as I was knackered, so after a thoroughly enjoyable lie in I went to our project meeting. This was fairly uneventful apart from the fact I had knelt on the floor in the office, not realising there was a piece of glass there until I noticed a small pool of blood around my knee. It was slightly disgusting, but it was a tiny cut and I was slightly high on Haribo sweets so it didn’t really hurt...

After the meeting a few of us went to Oranienstraβe and had a look at the art around there. It was quite cool, with lots of artists displaying paintings and sculptures, and lots of random creations made of scrap metal scattered around the place.

After going back to the apartment to grab our laptops, we decided to get some dinner before heading to the internet cafe. After what seemed like forever (but was probably about 15 minutes) wandering in the pouring rain we managed to find somewhere with room for the 7 of us. Helpfully, they had an English version of the menu, but the translations were somewhat dodgy, including such classics as ‘glass soup.’ By the time we made it to the internet cafe it was nearly 11, so we didn’t spend that long there before we headed home for bed.

13th August 2010

Friday 13th! Unluckily for me, I seemed to have missed something fairly important in language classes the day before and spent the first ten minutes with absolutely no idea what was going on. Luckily I eventually got it, although the class didn’t get much easier, as we ended up discussing the meaning of life- in German.

Afterwards we went to the Berlin Wall Memorial, which was really interesting, with lots of information and a recreation of the Death Strip between the two sides of the Wall. I then headed off to Museum Island to have a bit of a wander round and formulate a plan for my museum day tomorrow. (Almost everyone is going to Berlin Zoo, which I don’t really fancy.) After about an hour walking at the exterior of the beautiful museums I decided that I was now in love with Berlin and wanted to live there, and sat down in front of Berlin Cathedral to write the last of my postcards.

After I was sat writing for a while a man came up and started talking to me. He introduced himself as Jann and guessed that I was a humanities student, and started talking about how you can tell what people study by looking at them. After telling me had lived in Colchester for a year, I told him that my nan lived near there, but rather than seize upon this piece of common ground he started asking me what I thought of Eastern European art. As I did not feel he was attractive enough for me to pretend I was interested, when he offered to take me to an exhibition of Eastern European art I politely explained I couldn’t as I was meeting my friends shortly. (I was meeting them 3 hours later, but he didn’t need to know that). I then left my spot by the Cathedral and got the tram home. In the evening a few of us girls decided to have a pyjama party, so had a chilled evening chatting and drinking wine.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Party on the U-Bahn!

4th August 2010

Today we didn’t have our language classes as we were having our first journalism workshop with Caroline, which included such joys as the ethics of journalism... I wasn’t sure whether any of us working on a travel guide would have thought about taking secret cameras and secretly recording in places, but at least we now knew that this would be unethical. After lunch Katre, Gemma and I went for a layout meeting, as we’re doing the design of the page layout for the guide. Afterwards we were joined by Adie and went to a photo-journalism exhibition which was really interesting. There were displays of work by photographers such as Robert Capa, George Rodger and Cartier-Bresson, with a wide range of photographs. There were some particularly harrowing photographs of the liberation of the concentration camps, as well as some more recent photographs capturing the war in Afghanistan.

In the evening the plan was to go to a cool bar/club, but we were confidently led in the opposite direction and ended up walking for about an hour before giving up and spending the rest of the evening in a bar in Alexanderplatz. The evening was greatly enhanced by challenging Dustin to jump and touch various street signs and high-up objects, and laughing at Jack’s relative lack of jumping prowess.

 5th August 2010

I enjoyed language classes a lot today, as learnt some new stuff and actually remembered some German which was a nice change. For lunch we headed to Potsdamer Platz and saw the Sony Center, and I experienced my first bratwurst. I was slightly indifferent- it was ok, but I think I prefer normal sausages...

After some food we went to Topography of Terror, an exhibition situated opposite the old Gestapo torture chambers documenting the crimes of the Nazi government. It is quite unique in that it focuses on the perpetrators rather than the victims, documenting the bureaucracy and processes which allowed these atrocities to be committed. It was quite interesting in that it also looked at what happened to Nazis after the war, but I was shocked at the sentences, if any, served by some of the leading figures involved in the Nazi war crimes. Unsurprisingly it was quite depressing, and we all emerged in quite a sombre mood. After going back to the apartments for food we headed to Kreuzberg to go to the open air cinema, but we had some geographical issues and ended up pacing up and down the same road until Chloe, Jack and I decided to ditch the group and drink beer at the playground. Although the rest of the group found the cinema 5 minutes later, the playground was definitely a great idea, with lots of tyre swings and a zip-line. After rediscovering our childhood whilst drinking beer we headed to a nice bar where the bar man told us about some of the good clubs, and the dark rooms came up again. He referred to them as “a place where you can get down to business quickly.” I feel we won’t be checking them out any time soon... We then went to another a cool bar before heading back to the apartments for bed!

 6th August 2010

Today we had our final German lesson with Barbara, which I rather enjoyed after having a slight revelation in which I finally understood how the dative case worked. I am now slightly scared as next week our group is merging with the advanced group...

In the afternoon we went to the beer festival, which I thoroughly enjoyed! I enthusiastically tried several types of beer, and had a taste of home when I found they had Brothers strawberry cider. I was fairly sober, but a drunken Kitty and Katy decided that some dancing in the rain was in order. We stayed until the evening, then went back to the apartment for food and a power nap. I went for pre-drinks but bailed on the night out as I was still shattered. This proved to be a wise decision as some of the guys had almost got into a fight with some neo-Nazis...

 7th August 2010

Today we went to Potsdam to see the royal palaces, and met at Alexanderplatz at 11am. We were slightly depleted in numbers after the previous night’s festivities, with Chloe and Claudia managing to sleep until 4pm (apart from a break for lunch and a shower!) After grabbing a McDonald’s we got on the train to Potsdam, which was my first experience of a double decker train. It was slightly anti-climatic as it was much the same as a single decker train, just with two floors.

After getting the bus to Sans Soucci, one of the royal palaces, and seeing the grave of Frederick the Great, (which was covered in potatoes, as he introduced potatoes to Germany apparently) we then had a 2km walk to the New Palace for a tour. A highlight of the tour was one room where the walls and ceilings were covered in shells and stones, with the sea theme completed by a dead 18th Century flying fish. However, the best thing about the tour was the fact we had to wear massive slippers to protect the floor, which meant we just slid and shuffled our way around. It was like ice skating but with less falling over.

The evening’s festivities involved a spot of pre-drinking before heading out to a club in Kreuzberg which had its own Motown night. On the way we stumbled upon an impromptu party on the train- a group of people taped coloured bin bags over the lights, stuck up a disco ball and pumped out dance music and passed around beers. We decided to miss our stop to join the party train, then got off a bit later and headed to Lido.

The club was great but rather hot, and the combination of Motown and heat reminded me of Wednesdays at Welsh Club. A great night!

 8th August 2010

The day began well, waking up naturally for the first time since I’ve been here after lying in until 12.30. Chloe, Claudia and I headed to one of the big flea markets in Berlin, which I absolutely loved. 2 dresses and 1 pair of earrings later we headed towards the sound of what seemed to be music... It was in fact karaoke, watched by a crowd of hundreds. Apparently this happens every week, and each performance is filmed and put on the organiser’s YouTube channel. I found the karaoke hilarious, especially when Germans would sing English songs with their made up words, but I had to leave when someone started brutally murdering The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take.’

In the evening Jack, Dustin, Chloe and I went to a blues bar, but unfortunately the music had finished already, so we just went for a quick drink somewhere else and vowed to head back Wednesday.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Welcome to Berlin!

1st August 2010

3.45am- the perfect time to start any form of adventure. Or so I told myself as I got ready to leave the house, bleary-eyed and thoroughly unimpressed at the fact I was starting my day when it was still dark outside. After a straight-forward car journey and an uneventful airport experience I was finally on my way to Berlin. The flight was frustratingly short, and I was unable to supplement my 3 hours sleep, so when I landed in Berlin I was in full zombie mode. After getting my baggage I found Katie, one of the other people on the programme, and shortly afterwards we were met by Marcus who was taking us to our apartments.

The journey across Berlin was enlivened by Marcus’ titbits of information about the city. My favourite piece of advice concerned Germany’s liberal attitude towards sex and Berlin’s nightclubs: “avoid the darkrooms- unless you like fornication with strangers.”

I was impressed by our apartments, which are quite spacious and have a large lounge separate to the kitchen, and a balcony. In my apartment is Katre from Estonia, Donna from Canada and Charlotte from Derby. After unpacking I went for a power nap, but was so tired I didn’t wake up until 3 and half hours later, but was just in time for dinner. About 15 of us went out for dinner at a steak house in Alexanderplatz. Unfortunately I could not fully understand the menu, and my steak seemed to be mainly pepper. I tried to plough through, but after the majority of my tastebuds were destroyed I had to admit defeat and give up on the steak. We then went for a drink at one of the beach bars... there are no beaches nearby but the bars have deckchairs and sand, which makes for a slightly surreal drinking experience. After my super nap I wasn’t quite tired enough for bed when I returned, so watched three episodes of The Thick of It before calling it a night.

 2nd August 2010

The day began at 10am with our ‘orientation’, which mainly consisted of getting lots of information in a short space of time, but at least I know what I am doing now. After lunch we went on a 3 hour walking tour of Berlin. The tours are free, but the guides don’t get paid so ask for a donation at the end of the tour. We began at the Old Museum, where Hitler had held Nazi parades, and saw all the main sights of Berlin including Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate and the Nazi ministries. Oh and the balcony where Michael Jackson dangled his child out of.

I realised how much of a history geek I was when we got to the site of Hitler’s bunker... The site is completely unremarkable- it’s just a car park and a patch of grass- but I had guessed we were walking across the spot where Hitler had committed suicide as I vaguely recognised the car park from a Nazi documentary I had seen about four years previously. No cool points for me.

We also saw the Holocaust Memorial, which was a slightly odd experience. The memorial is controversially solely for Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and consists of hundreds of concrete slabs. It isn’t much to look at, but inside the middle of the memorial the tall stone slabs feel very oppressive and intimidating, which I suppose is the intention, but I left unconvinced that this was an appropriate way to commemorate the millions of Jews murdered during the Nazi regime.

After the tour ended Kate, Claudia and I split from the rest of the group and went to the Reichstag building. The exterior is the original building from the Kaiserreich (although partially rebuilt after extensive bombing during World War II) but the inside is extremely modern, with a futuristic-looking dome at the top of the building. The dome, designed by the British architect who designed the Gherkin building in London, has a spiral slope which you can walk up, and the centre consists of a series of mirrors. After finishing our tour of the Reichstag building we were going to go back to the apartment, but then we got hungry so jumped off the tram at Alexanderplatz and got some fish and chips. Whilst eating our meal a tramp stood watching us, waiting for us to finish. Not to take our food, but our empty bottles- here you can get money if you take back empty plastic or glass bottles, so you regularly get followed by tramps if you’re about to finish a drink! We then went to a bar for a drink. I am not yet fluent in beer language, so have started a game where I order random types of beer to see what they are like. My beer was quite ale-like, but in a pleasant way, which was good as I’d ordered a rather large amount. We then got on the wrong tram, but made it back to the apartment eventually...

 3rd August 2010

Today- language classes begin! I was in the intermediate group, and soon discovered I had forgotten almost all the vocabulary learnt at school. It was a long three hours.

We then went to the East Side Gallery, which is the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. The wall is covered in artist’s paintings, which were really interesting to look at but slightly spoilt by the fact they had recently been repainted. The artists who had painted the wall in 1990 repainted it last year, but this time had added their websites and email addresses, which I felt detracted from the messages portrayed in the paintings. We then strolled through Kreuzberg, and were all slightly over-impressed by some giant benches. When you see the photos, you will see why. Or think we are all weird. At lunch I continued the beer game, ordering ‘krystallweiBe’ which possibly means something to do with white and crystal, but it tasted nice so I was unperturbed by my lack of knowledge. When we got back we grabbed our laptops and headed to the nearest cafe with Wi-Fi. I ordered another unknown beer, which sounded vaguely like rhubarb beer, which in fact was rhubarb beer, which is surprisingly nice. After I’ve uploaded this I shall be off to get some food from the supermarket, then may go out, rain permitting!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Goodbye Ghana

Thursday 30th July

Today we were filming our Global Mamas mini-documentary, so after meeting at the TV station Barbara and I caught a taxi into town. When we were just around the corner from the Global Mamas shop another taxi decided that looking before pulling out was a little bit too safety conscious for his liking and so crashed into the back of us. Luckily we escaped unscathed.
Eventually we made it to Global Mamas where we met Lynette and proceeded to the office to film our interviews. Global Mamas is an organisation which gives women a much better wage than they would earn elsewhere, with Global Mamas employees earning ten times the average Ghanaian daily wage. The women who work for the organisation are also offered training in areas such as finance and computing to enable them to effectively expand their business. I really enjoyed conducting the interviews and talking to everyone at Global Mamas, and think it was definitely one of my favourite days with Coastal TV. After buying out the Global Mamas shop and briefly venturing to Panafest for some souvenir shopping I returned to the station. After discussing the script for the documentary and planning what we would do tomorrow there wasn't much else to do so I headed off to the police station in an attempt to get hold of my police report.
Naively, I thought that having been told the report would be ready by Monday I would probably be able to collect the report by Thursday, especially as this was a whole week since I had been mugged. How naive I was! It took twenty minutes just for the police to establish that I was actually there as a victim of crime; one of the policemen recognised me from when I had come on a Daily Guide assignment and had tried to take me to the office of the woman I had been meant to interview, despite me clearly stating that I had been there the previous week to report my mugging and was here to collect my report.
After it was finally established that I was there to collect my police report, I then faced the battle of actually getting it. Once I had told them my full name, they figured a report for some one sharing part of my name would be adequate and so I was handed the report of someone called Charlotte Graham. Although surprised that I was not happy with this, they dutifully started to write a new report for a certain Daniel Graham. It was at this point that I started to get a little angry. After a total of two hours at the police station I was given the mobile number of Sgt Senoo, the man who had taken my statement, and told to ring him to find out when I could get the report.
I was feeling pretty pissed off after all of this, so was quite pleased that we had chips for dinner. That evening we watched my pirate DVD of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince; a relaxed night in before my final day of placement.

Friday 31st July

The last day at the station was fairly uneventful, as we just editing the Global Mamas footage and I was recording the voiceover. After several phone calls to various people, (quelle surprise, the number I was given for Sgt. Senoo didn't work) Salem eventually rang me to tell me to go to the station I left the station three and a half hours later, still without my report. Highlights of the long 210 minutes at Central Regional Headquarters included being told that I shouldn't have had an expensive camera if I didn't want it to get stolen, being prepositioned yet again by the delightful Sgt. Senoo and being met with hysterical laughter when I asked for the report to be changed so it was actually spelt correctly. I then rang Salem, who took me to a different police station where he knew the district commissioner, and within 20 minutes I had a police extract with details of all the items that had been stolen. Admittedly the experience had not been without its negatives- the whole time I had been next to the cell so had to talk to the policeman whilst ten prisoners waved and gestured at me- but at least I had something to use for my insurance claim. That evening Salem also presented me with the final police report from the first police station. Here are the 'brief facts' from the police report. All spellings, grammar etc is copied from the actual report:
BRIEF FACTS: Complainant is a British National in Ghana working as a journalist at Coastal Television in Cape Coast with global volunteer projects. On 23 July 2009 at 1200am complainant and her four British nationals were retuning from Oasis Restaurant going to board a vehicle to their residence at Abura a suburb of Cape Coast. On the castle road the complainant had her hand bag stolen containing the above mentioned items stolen by unknown person.
My favourite bit is where I am retuning from Oasis with my nationals.
After leaving the second police station I went back to Coastal TV to say my goodbyes. Whilst I had not originally wanted to work at the TV station, I had ended up really enjoying my time there and was genuinely sad to leave.
I went back to the house to receive my final items from Lydia and say goodbye. I did actually get a bit tearful as I knew that I was unlikely to see her again. We then went out to Oasis to see some African drumming and dancing then went home to bed. Last full day in Cape Coast tomorrow!

Saturday 1st August

I got up early and did most of my packing before everyone else was up, then after having some breakfast we set off for Elmina Castle. Used by the Dutch as a slave castle, our tour was very interesting to start with but ended up being excessively long. In total, our tour took about 90 minutes, which was quite impressive considering it took 15 minutes to walk around the entire castle.
After some purchases in the gift shop we headed to Coconut Grove for what was for me the final time. After an afternoon attempting to get a tan (ultimately I failed) we had the now expected hour's wait for the taxi driver before giving up and getting one of the resort's plush cars back to the house.
The evening was an alcohol-fuelled event at Oasis, at the end of which I discovered that vast quantities of punch+ movement= sick Daniella.

Sunday 2nd August

Quite a few of us woke up feeling rather worse for wear, especially Kirsty and I. Feeling rather delicate we headed off to Hans Cottage. Partly because I had been before, but mainly because I was afraid that if I moved I would either pass out or be violently sick, I decided to sit down whilst the others went crocodile spotting. I almost found it funny that I was experiencing the worst hangover of my life whilst about to embark on a 24 hour journey from Cape Coast to Poole.
After a couple of hours at the house doing last minute packing and lounging around, the taxi arrived to take me to the airport and it was time to say goodbye.
After a mildly terrifying taxi journey to the airport- we often travelled on the wrong side of the road to overtake up to eight cars/minibuses/lorries at a time- we made it to the airport. The taxi driver tried to charge me over the agreed price, which I felt was an appropriate end to my final Ghanaian taxi driver.
After a couple of hours milling around the airport, it was time to board my plane to Heathrow.
Goodbye Ghana!

People in Ghana that I will miss:
  • The other volunteers living in the house who I made friends with over the course of the four weeks, and hope to keep in touch with.
  • Everyone at Coastal TV who made me feel very welcome.
  • Lydia, the amazing seamstress who was definitely the nicest and most genuine person I met in Ghana.
  • Arthur, the only taxi driver that didn't try to either rip me off, come on to me or both.
People in Ghana that I will not miss:
  • Allan, who thought that the British were to blame for everything going wrong in Africa.
  • George, the employee of Global Volunteer Projects that liked to steal our money.
  • The rude woman at the shop by our house who looked at me as though I had just killed her grandmother when I was in fact just buying a bottle of coke.
  • Every employee of Ghana Police.
  • Every taxi driver in Ghana apart from Arthur.
Things about Ghana that I will miss:
  • The sun.
  • The fact that I could get drunk for about £3.
  • Shared taxis into town that cost 40p.
  • The fact that when you walk down a street, not everything is grey.
Things about Ghana that I will not miss:
  • Cold showers.
  • Being constantly covered in a layer of dust.
  • Toilets that don't flush, have no toilet roll or seat and smell like someone has died in them.
  • Having to wait at least an hour for food to arrive. On a good day.
  • Having people shout 'Obruni!' (white man) at me all day, everyday for four and a half weeks. Most of the time also followed by the person asking me for money.
  • The smell of sewage in the streets.
  • Being constantly ripped off by taxi drivers.
  • Food that is total crap.
  • Being harrassed to buy really awful paintings.
  • Being proposed to at least once a day.
  • Being called a racist everytime I turn down a marriage proposal.
And that is the end of my tales of my Ghana adventure.

Au revoir,

Daniella xxx

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Getting mugged and getting hungry

Wednesday 22nd July

Today I was back at the Daily Guide, and was told by Sarah to get there for 9am. At 9am I arrived at the office to find someone that also works there, but no sign of Sarah. Luckily I had brought a book with me, so I could read for the hour and a half before Sarah eventually turned up, without explanation of course. She wrote down a list of questions and a name and told me to go to the police station, find this person and ask her the questions then come back. So off in a taxi I went to Ghana Police Station. The Central Regional headquarters are not exactly brilliant. I was chatted up by a policeman walking up the drive, then when I got to what was presumably the reception there were about six policemen just stood around doing absolutely nothing, and there was no place for anyone to sit. My main thought was that I would hate to have to come here as a victim of crime. After asking for Madam Felicia Ayisu, I was taken to another room to wait for a few minutes before I was taken to her office. Madam Ayisu claimed to have no idea who I was, despite the fact Sarah had rung her about 15 minutes previously, and said she would not answer my questions until she was officially introduced to me by Sarah. I rung up Sarah and explained what had happened. Ten minutes later she called me back to inform me that Madam Ayisu would not be answering my questions, and she had nothing else for me to do so I might as well go home. I was fairly unimpressed.
On the way home I bumped into Eric, who asked me if I wanted to come along with the volunteers doing the HIV project with a view to writing a story about it. I had nothing better to do so I was more than willing to come along. First we had to pick up some of the volunteers from a school where they were doing the Outreach project. Basically they go to schools and clean and dress the wounds of the children. I got my camera out to take some pictures of the children, who at this point went completely crazy. They were so desperate to be in the photo that they were all pushing each other out of the way, and at one point a mini scuffle broke out. I quickly took a few pictures then put my camera away. At the next school for the HIV project, I observed Emily's HIV presentation. She was teaching the boys about how you can and cannot contract the virus, how HIV progresses and what you can do to prevent yourself from catching the virus. The boys were very impressed by Emily's application of a condom on to a wooden penis.
That evening, we went to out usual beachside hangout for food and a couple of drinks as it was Joe and Harriet's last night in Cape Coast. I was sticking to my new budget so only had one drink. At midnight Emily, Joe, Harriet, Kieran and I left to get a taxi home, but there weren't any outside so we walked a bit further along the road to where we knew there would be taxis. The road was well lit, and there were still plenty of people around, but there was a short section of about ten metres where there were a lot of shadows and I couldn't see any people. The five of us were in a line, with me on the far left. Just ahead I could see a person in the shadows. Instinctively I checked that my bag was across my shoulder and zipped up, put my arm across it and looked straight ahead as I continued walking. A few seconds later I could see him approaching, I grabbed hold of my bag then he came up to me and tried to snatch my bag. He forcefully continued to tug until the strap broke and he ripped the bag from my hand, and it was the pain that caused me to scream. All this happened in a matter of seconds, so by the time everyone realised the man was already running away. Joe started to run after him but soon realised chasing a mugger down an alley in the dark was probably a bad move. We quickly walked up the road to where the taxis were, which was less than 100m away. As we walked to the taxi my hands were shaking. Once safely inside the taxi the shock subsided and I realised just how much my hand was hurting, so distracted myself by working out exactly what was in the bag.
1. My Ghana phone, which was only worth about 20 pounds.
2. Some Benefit make up that I had bought in duty free on the way out here. Annoying to lose, but easy to replace.
3. My purse. It was only my Ghana purse so had no cards or anything in it, and as I had only been taking out with me what I planned to spend that day there was only about ten pounds worth of currency in it. Unfortunately the purse also contained the key to my suitcase, so I would be unable to unlock it when I got back.\
4. My camera. I had planned on buying a new camera the next time I went away as this one was starting to break, but it wasn't the camera itself I was concerned with. I'd spent ages earlier in the day looking through my pictures, and realised I had over 300 photos from my first three weeks in Ghana. And now I'd never be able to prove I'd seen Barack Obama!
When we got in, we looked at my hand. When the mugger had torn my bag from me, the material from the handle had ripped the skin between my middle and ring finger and ripped some skin at the top of my palm. Luckily my medic friends had their kits from Outreach, so cleaned the skin with some violet stuff that dyed my whole hand blue and then bandaged me up. We then went to wake up Eric. His response was typically sympathetic- he spent ten minutes telling me that I had walked the wrong route to get a taxi, although someone had actually had a knife pulled on them last week on the alternative path that he had suggested. At no point did he ask if I was ok. Tired, a bit upset but mainly very pissed off, I went to bed.

Thursday 23rd July

After an hour or two spent skulking around in my pyjamas as I was unable to get into my suitcase, Eric finally had time to break open the lock on my suitcase so I could retrieve my underwear and get dressed. As we were about to leave for the police station, I asked if there was anything I needed to take with me. Eric said no, so I did not take anything apart from myself. Once at the police station, Eric quickly explained the situation to one of the same policemen standing around that I had seen the previous day, and I was told to wait to be seen. For some reason the reception had no seats whatsoever, but there was one bench outside which I went and sat on. Eric then announced he was off to the bank so when I was finished I should get a taxi home. When I pointed out that he had told me I didn't need to bring anything out with me, he gave me the taxi fare and was off.
I can't say I was particularly impressed at being dumped on a bench at a police station with no idea what was going on or how long I would be there. I sat on the bench sniffling, mainly because I had developed a cold but partly because I was trying not to burst into tears, when the lady on the bench next to me offered me a tissue. We got chatting, and I learnt that she was from Nigeria and was in Ghana visiting her father, who joined us on the bench and turned out to be the editor of the local newspaper. If only I had met him earlier, I would have tried to wrangle a placement with him! They were both lovely and seemed genuinely concerned about how I was, and chatting them for the 45 minutes that I was waiting to be seen made the experience a lot more bearable as well as making me realise that there are a lot of genuinely warm and friendly people in Ghana.
Eventually Eric returned, spoke to the policeman, and I was told to explain what had happened. Nobody seemed that bothered, and Eric explained that I just needed a report to claim on my insurance. He then left again for Accra.
Fortunately, it was at this point that Salem turned up. A Lebanese businessman based in Ghana, Salem looks out for all the volunteers based in Cape Coast. This unofficial arrangement, with a man in his late thirties befriending young volunteers, seems very strange to anyone on the outside and I must admit I had always been slightly suspicious of Salem. However, I was incredibly grateful that he had come to the police station after one of the other volunteers had told him what had happened. He knew the head of the police station, and soon everyone was suddenly slightly more concerned about what had happened- particularly the fact that my hand had been slightly injured in the mugging. I was taken to the head of crime investigation to explain what had happened, then taken to someone else to make an official statement. At this point Salem had turned to leave, so I was now alone again.
I filled in a witness statement form, which included my name, age, address, phone number and statement. As I now had no phone, I thought it would be fairly reasonable to leave the phone number section blank. The policeman with me pointed to the phone number section and asked for my number "so I can call you." Resisting the urge to explain that in Britain if a policeman chatted up a victim of crime it would be seen as sexual harrassment, I instead reminded him I was there because someone had stolen my bag, which contained my phone. "Do you not know your number from memory?" was his response. I gave up. He then asked me if I would marry a black man, to which I replied that I had no idea who I would marry, let alone what colour they would be. This apparently meant that my parents were racist. Another policeman came along and had a look over my statement. I thought he was checking everything had been filled in correctly, but no. He pointed at my age and said "that's good." When I asked why, he replied, "you are 20, I am 25. We can get married." After being driven to the scene of the crime to point out the exact spot where I was mugged, I was finally allowed to leave, and told to return on Monday to collect the police report.
Back at the house, it turned out today was the day we would be having our Ghanaian drumming lessons. As I couldn't even slightly move my left hand without pieces of raw flesh rubbing together, I thought it was best to sit it out.
After the drumming was over, a few of us went into town. I decided to cheer myself up with a visit to Francesca, the lady who made beautiful jewellery. When she saw my hand she asked what had happened and I explained about the mugging. She seemed quite outraged and repeatedly apologised, saying that these bad people were ruining Ghana. I was touched by how genuinely appalled and concerned for me she was, but her reaction was nothing compared to Lydia, the lady who makes clothes for us. She seemed so upset for me I thought she was going to cry! Whilst I was away at the weekend she even called me to make sure I was ok. I tried to reassure Lydia that I was ok, and explained that her coming round had made my day. I wasn't lying- she had brought with her three finished dresses for me and I loved them. I've spent more on fabric and dressmaking than anything else since I've been here! I spent the rest of the evening having a relaxed night in with the girls and big Kieran.

Friday 24th July

I started the day by attempting to organise my life at the internet cafe, but yet again was thwarted by Ghanaian technology. I came back to the house and went all motherly by making sandwiches for everyone to eat on our trip to Beyin. When Emily and Kirsty returned from placement, we got a taxi to the tro station where we met Fatima and Nicola. We then got a tro-tro from Cape Coast to Takoradi, and another from Takoradi to Beyin. The journey took less than four hours and was surprisingly uneventful! We were staying in Beyin Beach Resort, a place with great views and an even better menu. We were all practically drooling when we clapped eyes on the menu and saw what was on offer. I went for jacket potato with cheese followed by chocolate brownies, and it was amazing. I went to bed feeling full for the first time since coming to Ghana.

Saturday 25th July

In the morning we went on a canoe ride to see a village on stilts. Having paid for our tickets for the canoe ride, tour of the village and use of our camera we were somewhat surprised when the man paddling our canoe spent the first 20 minutes of our canoe ride telling us that we needed to tip him. The stilt village was pretty impressive- it it literally a village built on stilts above a river- but it was fairly irritating being sat down with the expectation of making a donation to the village. This was not quite as annoying as being conned in to paying extra for a 'crocodile tour' in which there were no actual crocodiles. On the way back, our guide spent a few minutes reiterating the need to tip before spending half an hour telling us about his desire for a white wife. Luckily for us, England was one of his top four countries to get a wife from, so at this point I quickly upgraded my fictional boyfriend to husband status. He continued to tell us about his desire for a white wife until his lack of concentration caused him to crash the canoe into the bank. The small leak in our canoe was now a major issue, so Nicola, Emily and I spent the rest of the canoe ride scooping out water to prevent us from sinking.
We spent the rest of the day walking along the beach, where we saw a herd of cows. It would appear that cows enjoy a casual stroll along the beach as much as the rest of us. We then spent the evening playing monopoly, which as ever became a little too serious and dragged on way too long, so I was glad when I went bankrupt and could go to bed!

Sunday 26th July

In Ghana, everything stops for church on Sunday. This meant we had to leave by lunchtime to have any chance of getting back to Cape Coast by the evening. We got on three tros- the first of which was so bumpy that we all thought that if we managed to escape with only mild concussion then we were pretty lucky. Pleased to still be alive, the journey to Takoradi was spent playing 'guess the intro,' which amused and irritated all the Ghanaians on the tro with us in equal measure. At one point our tro was stopped by police, not for our dreadful singing, but for the policemen to ask us which one of us would be his wife. At this point I was grateful for my fictional husband. The final tro journey was spent making up Ghanaian monopoly.
In the evening I counted my money. I knew that I was going to need some more money soon, but also knew that I had left behind a fair amount of money in my suitcase so I thought would be ok for a couple of days. Upon opening my suitcase, I realised that I had only left a few coins behind, so only had 20 pounds to last me for a week and get me to the airport. Time for a phonecall home methinks.

Monday 27th July

Not an awful lot happened today to be honest. Spent most of the day planning a mini documentary about Global Mamas, a fair trade shop which sells handmade clothes and craft items. After making some phone calls, I went into town with Lynette to drop our interview questions into Global Mamas. Lynette works for ESPN in Singapore and is here at Coastal TV for a month. Afterwards I went to the nearest Western Union money transfer place and collected my emergency money, then quickly got into a taxi before I could get mugged again! There was nothing but the usual unidentifiable meat with rice for dinner, so had toast and biscuits instead. We started watching a pirate copy of Harry Potter, but everyone was shattered so we were all in bed by 10.30.

Tuesday 28th July

At 12.30pm we left the TV station and headed off to the village of Mesomagor, located on the eastern side of Kakum National Park. Selete warned us that there would be no mobile phone signal, so I managed to maintain my composure as the signal gradually faded away to nothing. The station had given us a box of food containing lunch and dinner for the day, which wasn't of much comfort to me. Lunch was rice and a horrible sauce which I left completely, a piece of chicken which I managed half of and fried plaintain which I forced myself to eat as I was so hungry. I really wish I wasn't so fussy, but I just cannot stomach Ghanaian food! As I forced down the plaintain I comforted myself with the knowledge that this time next week I will be back in England gorging myself on British food.
After lunch we were given a tour of the village, which was really interesting although I always feel a little bit voyeuristic and slightly uncomfortable staring at people's homes. However, everyone was really friendly and welcoming, and they did show me how to make fufu. I tried to be diplomatic when asked for my thoughts on fufu.
After our tour we were treated to a performance from the village's bamboo orchestra. As the name suggests, most of their instruments are made from bamboo. They also sing, and their performances are enghanced by dramatic dancing with props including a wooden chainsaw! It was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Ghana.
Dinner was cold spaghetti with tuna, so I decided to eat one of my emergency chocolate spread sandwiches I had packed instead.
With no electricity, there wasn't a lot to do since it was pitch black everywhere by 7pm. I read by torchlight until I had finished A Clockwork Orange, then tried to get to sleep. Unfortunately, I soon needed the toilet. There is no running water in Mesomagor, so the toilet is a shed with a hole in the ground located a short distance away from the house in which we were staying. Having seen a rather large spider near the toilet earlier in the day, I hadn't been too keen to take a night-time trip to the loo. After two hours trying in vain to sleep, I grabbed the torch, legged it to the toilet then ran straight back to bed.

Wednesday 29th July

Sleeping had been made somewhat difficult by the menagerie of animals located by the house. I had been kept awake by the sounds of crickets, dogs, goats and cockerels, so it was almost a relief when my alarm went off at six. Almost.
I had half of my final emergency sandwich for breakfast, then we went to meet our guide to start our hike at 6.30. Of course this was Ghana, so we didn't set off until 7.10. We were hiking into the rainforest to see the treetop platform an hour and a half away, but the entire walk somehow managed to take nearly six hours. This was because we were subjected to lengthy talks about every different type of tree, which in a rainforest takes up quite a lot of time. The only interesting part was when our guide told us he had spotted a snake, but this excitement soon faded when I saw the 'snake'- it was basically a black worm. The treetop platform itself was nothing spectacular, although the climb up was quite interesting. The platform was pretty high up, and to get to it you had to climb a very flimsy ladder which shook uncontrollably the whole time. I did think at one point that there was a genuine possibility I might die. On the way back to the village we were made to try some wine which you "can't find in Cape Coast," although I am not sure if the guide was referring to the wine itself or the dead ants that were floating in it.
When we returned to the village it was lunchtime, and we had been promised a typical Mesomagor meal. After hearing another volunteer's tale of soup which contained fish eyes and scales, I thought it would be wise to say that I didn't eat fish. I couldn't get out of eating plaintain again though. By the time we had finished it was 2.30, and Selete had said he was picking us up at 3. It had taken about an hour and a half to get here, so I figured we would be back home just in time for spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. Selete turned up just before 4, and we didn't actually leave until 4.30. Knowing that dinner would be served by 5, I couldn't face cold spaghetti again so just went straight to the internet cafe and figured I would have to make myself some noodles for dinner. Slightly irritated, I went and bought a big packet of cookies first.

Speak to you soon for my final Ghana blog,

Daniella xxx

Friday, 24 July 2009

Wooden TVs and fish pasties...

Friday 17th July

I get to the TV station at 7am, not quite sure where we are going but anticipating an exciting day. Really, I should have known better by now.
I am told we are going with some students from the University of Cape Coast to visit the factory of an inventor who makes lights which come on when you clap and other such wonders. Not quite what I was hoping for, but still potentially quite interesting. Potentially.
At 7.30 we get to the University of Cape Coast, or U.C.C. for short. After an hour of sitting on the coach, we finally start moving.We have been told the journey is an hour, we left U.C.C at 8.30, so we arrived at... yes, 10.30.
The factory is not the centre of technology I had been expecting, but basically a large shed and a few dusty buildings. Mr Asafo, founder of Kantanka, established the business to prove Africa could be just as technologically advanced as the Western nations. I shall spare you the details of the painfully dull three hour tour, but basically Kantanka has proved Africa's technological credentials by manufacturing TVs out of wood. But what about the lights that come on when you clap and wave? Apparently this 'technology' has so far only been applied to televisions. If you clap really loudly for 10 minutes, the TV may- or may not- come on. You can control the volume by clapping too- unfortunately there is no way of communicating whether you want the volume louder or quieter, so clapping ten times normally means the volume goes up five notches then back down five notches. There's also a TV which turns on and off when you wave your hand, but you have to wave your hand no further than 1cm away from the screen. All in all, it's a bit rubbish. I tried to relieve my boredom by going on a trip to toilet. Unfortunately, when I was presented with the washroom, it was simply a concrete floor with concrete wall. Now I am not talking about concrete floor with, for example, a hole in the middle. It was just a flat concrete floor with nowhere for anything to go. I decided to wait until we returned home.
Desperate to leave, partly due to the desire for an actual toilet but mainly due to boredom, one of the lecturers insists on taking us round the whole factory again so we can 'take more shots.' Just when Barbara and I are hoping we can leave, it turns out we are having snacks first. This is the point in my life where I realised that fish pasties are one of the most revolting things on earth. After being forced to film interviews with practically everyone remotely involved with the trip, we finally got to the coach. Homeward bound at last! After travelling for approximately five minutes, we stop. Apparently we are getting out to eat, as two hours between eating a pasty and arriving home are simply too long to go without food. We get back to Cape Coast at about 4pm, at which point Barbara and I practically run of the coach. Tomorrow, beach!

Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th July

Not much to report to be honest- a nice weekend spent relaxing at two nearby beach resorts! Got a little bit sunburnt, but this has since faded so I do not look like a tomato anymore.

Monday 20th July

Over the course of the weekend I had realised that I had run out of money. Thus, a trip to Barclays to change the last of my traveller's cheques was necessary before I could get to work. Whilst the queue was very long as per usual, today's visit was particularly painful as the man stood in front of me during my 45 minute wait insisted on singing along to the background music in the style of a dying whale.
I finally made it to the television station at 11am, and we headed straight out to film an interview with a local weaving lady who makes Kente cloth. The lady was lovely and the cloth beautiful, although I couldn't imagine how anyone could have the patience to spend three whole days working just to create four yards of cloth. The rest of the morning was spent editing the footage shot last week, and soon I realised that lunchtime was approaching. Anxious to avoid the horrors of Ghanaian food, I went home to grab some notes I had left at home and pointed out I might as well eat whilst I was back. Sadly there was hardly any food in the house so had to settle for toast again.
Back at the station, I wrote and recorded the voiceover for our documentary. Apparently I am now quite skilled at voiceovers, as the newsreader recommended me to someone writing the voiceover for a news item. Confronted with a mass of Ghanaian names, I checked the pronounciations with someone before I started recording. One name which came up quite a lot was Mr Dadze, which apparently should be pronounced 'Dart-zy'. Unfortunately saying this repeatedly proved quite difficult, and I ended up having to re-record my voiceover as I kept saying 'Mr Darcy.'
Back home, there was nothing edible for dinner so I had no choice but to buy some food out. All I want is a nice jacket potato with cheese...

Tuesday 21st July

We were supposed to be leaving the TV station pretty promptly, so I got there at 10am. We left at 10.45. We were going to Cape Coast Castle to film some general shots of the castle and then interview the person who had shown Barack Obama around the castle, which all in all we expected to take approximately two hours. We left Cape Coast Castle at 3.30pm, having arrived at 11. Apparently Mr Blankson, the tour guide, had a large variety of very important things to do including a three hour lunch break.
I got home to find yet another revolting dinner- fried plantain. Fried plantain, for those of you who have not had the joy of trying it, basically tastes like a banana fried in sick.
In dire financial straits, I could not afford to eat out tonight. I set to work on my amazing budget, but was too hungry to really put any effort in to it. Then we discovered chips in the freezer! After enjoying the best chip butty ever, I got to work on my budget. As long as I had no unexpected expenditures, I could still buy plenty of souvenirs and eat out, yay!

Speak soon,