Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hot Pepper Soup

All right, so two things are apparent after six months at my site. First; my life here is in many respects best described as a hilarious cartoon. Second; I am an idiot, thus providing frequent comedy for said cartoon. With that introduction, please enjoy a brief, all too common, snippet of my life in Ghana.

I do a fair amount of labor here, certainly nothing like the amount done by the average Ghanaian, but more than I did back home. The farm is coming up quite well, but that has meant hoeing dirt into hills for the yam mounds, chopping weeds with my cutlass, and punching holes in the ground to transplant my trees. In addition, there are other types of work that I try to help out with when I see people doing them, like shelling ground nuts or corn kernels, the kinds of activities that are rough on the hands when you do them for a while. What I'm trying to say is that often I'll get finished and my hands will be pretty ripped up. They callous over time, but its amazing how many different places on your hands can get rubbed raw, thanks to my progressively growing collection of farm tools.

I eat dinner in the evenings with my counterpart's family, or sometimes with friends in my town. In my area, people typically eat either boiled yams (ampesie) or pounded yam dough (fufu) dipped in a flavorful stew for their meals. The flavor comes from vegetables, small meat, seasonings, and hot peppers. Lots of hot peppers.

So I get finished with the day's work, whatever that happens to be, exhausted from the sun and the work, and sit down gratefully to a bowl of fufu and stew. Tear off a piece of fufu, dip it into the soup, and hurriedly shove it into my mouth blinking back tears. Because people in Ghana eat with their hands, no cutlery, and as the peppers in the stew begin to work their magic on my ripped up fingers and palms I'll usually be silently yelling something along the lines of:

"Why must everything in this country involve me being in agonizing pain?"


Anonymous said...


Hot peppers...sounds like mom's kind of place.

Mom and I went to a union-sponsored retirement planning seminar for state employees. The amount of a state employee's pension is directly proportional to the length of time worked, and we learned that service in the Peace Corps is counted as creditable service. That gave her an economic argument to persuade me that the two of us should volunteer after we stop working. Once she read the photo-journals that Marian and Alan Ruge sent us, she was ready to apply right then and there! - Dad

Anonymous said...

Dad however wasn't so sure he could live in such a rural setting (and I think their journal sounds like they are much less isolated than you are). We need to go somewhere where I can give immunizations or something equally useful and he can work on/teach computers--think it's feasible??

I know hot peppers hurt when you cut them up or rub your eyes as the cook, but eating them usually only gets the mouth! Should we send work gloves or more sporks?? Mom

Catelin Lindsay said...

Hey Sam,
Loved the continued update, never thought of soup as a painful expierence. Sounds like your doing alot of good there. I think I am going to go research that tree, I wonder if we have anything like that here? Be well, Catelin

Anonymous said...

You own a cutlass??? Like a pirate??? Aaron will think that's so cool!
Love you,
Aunt Debbie
P.S. I love reading your posts!

löki gale said...

Peppers and pain...once my sitemate rubbed his eyes after cutting up some peppers. He proceeded to empty my water tank after that debacle...