Day 8 Ghana 2012: Taxi Etiquette and Wooden Lollipops

January 22, 2012 (It appears that I lost a day! It’s Saturday… the 21st, but I wrote that yesterday was the 21st. I guess that’s just what happens when you are on a plane for 22 hours. I hope I find that day later. Wow, I’ve really misplaced 24 hours.)

Lucy insists that she is “fine!” Yesterday, I called her, then our power went out, AND then phone died. Tonight I called and apologized for the abrupt end to our previous conversation and I explained why I was unable to call her back. Her response was, “Mom, it’s okay, it’s Africa!”

Today, our plan was to sleep in a little. Our sleeping intentions were thwarted because power outages have no impact on chainsaws. At 7AM someone with a chainsaw started working and it sure sounded like it was taking place just outside out window. Leah slept like a log, of course, and we all envied her.

Part of our Team went to town and to the Cocoa Farm. The rest of us hung out, wrote in journals, or did homework. It was a HOT-HOT day!

Leah, Aaron, Carissa, Pablo, and I took a taxi to Aburi. Aaron and Leah took the first taxi that stopped because there were already a bunch of people in it and there was only room for two more bodies. Talk about “ride-sharing”! The next taxi saw that there were three of us standing on the side of the road, and he pulled over to pick us up. Here’s the thing, there was already a driver and two passengers in the taxi. The two passengers were in the back, so Pablo took “shot gun” and… wait for it… I got to sit on Carissa’s lap. The driver and the other passengers were waving us in, like this is just no big thing. As we were driving, the teenage boy in the back suggested that he should climb up front and sit on Pablo’s lap so that there would be more room for the ladies! Times like these, all we can do is crack up and the complete absurdity of it all. (This special moment was captured on camera and can be seen on Carissa’s Blog… awesome)

Curry told us that once he took a public tro-tro and the thing was packed so tightly that it was terrible, but what really made him crazy was that someone had brought their goat along and it was under his bench, licking the his calves throughout the entire ride! Can you imagine?

We got to Aburi and walked through town. I guess our seamstress takes Saturdays off, we had hoped to peek in on our dresses. We walked to the wood district.

In the days before leaving for Ghana, I had asked Lucy if there was anything she wanted me to bring home for her. “Yes” she answered, “bring me a carved lollipop.” Ok, truth be told I have been to the wood district once already and have not asked anyone to carve her a lollipop. I thought maybe she was kidding, I mean a wooden lollipop? Last night while on the phone, I asked her again if there was anything special she would like from Ghana and she answered… “Yes! I told you mom, I want someone to carve a wooden lollipop for me.” Today I will ask Alfred if he even knows what a lollipop is. Jen found a Sees lollipop in her bag. I brought it with me as a model, even though it’s square. Curry bought a lollipop in town and gave it to me to take as a model too.

In Aburi, I bought a purse for me and one for Laura. I went to Sammy’s shop and bought some carvings. I bought one of Sammy’s “parent & child” carvings and one of his “lovers” carvings- these will go up on Ebay for the Signing Time Foundation.

Aaron is having something special made for our friends at ProBar, he checked on that and though it’s not yet finished, it looks awesome! I crossed the road and went to Alfred’s shop and ordered the lollipop. I asked Aaron to take a photo of the gas station, because it looks cool!

Jen, Curry, Ronai, and Ellie arrived as we were wrapping up.

Carissa picked up her custom nativity scene and an angel for her mom. We bought bags of water to drink and we walked back to the taxi station. Aaron, Leah, Pablo, Carissa, and I all got into one taxi. This time, Leah sat on my lap.

Joyce is the very sweet, on-site manager of the hotel. She is very quiet. She is continually surprising us with things like telling Carissa to tell Aaron to “stop trying so hard with using his right hand, we have ‘leftys’ here too!” (In Ghana you do not use your left hand to wave at people or during a business transaction. The left hand is considered unclean. Though at the deaf school you can use your left hand for signing. You should see the amount of additional steps Joyce takes in avoiding her left hand when serving us dinner, and opening our sodas and pouring them into glasses.)

Another night Joyce let us know that if a Ghanaian guest is joining you for dinner, you wait for their arrival before you start eating. This is common sense, but we had forgotten what night it was and we had forgotten that a guest was joining us. Joyce helps keep us from making complete fools of ourselves, when she can.

Dinner has been chicken and rice, most of the time. She thinks it’s funny that we order it nightly because, “there are other things to eat.” She found it even funnier when she heard that most of us ordered chicken and rice for dinner, when we spent the night in Cape Coast. Tonight we are having spaghetti with the hot, spicy red sauce. One night we did have vegetable stew and rice. It was cooked cabbage and carrots and onions in the spicy red sauce.

Part of the fee that we each paid in our Ghana expenses was to sponsor some of the deaf children who would otherwise be unable to attend school. We also raised some money for a service project here. The request was that we do some painting and we had been asked to re-paint every chalkboard… they are blackboards and wow, you sure end up with a lot of black smudges all over yourself when you use them. When we arrived at the school, we were told that painting the backboards was no longer necessary, but they wanted us to take the money for the paint and supplies and purchase whiteboards. Curry suggested that they might get more for the money if a Ghanaian made the purchase, rather than if we went to town. (You wouldn’t believe how much some of us have paid for taxis and other things, simply because it’s obvious that we are not local.) The whiteboards should be hung by Monday.

Tomorrow, Marco and Hannah are coming to visit. It will be great to spend some time with them.

Every night we sit here in the common area. We share snacks like licorice and cashews. We talk, laugh, decompress, and sing. The spontaneous singing seems to throw off Carissa. I, for one, think it’s quite normal to burst into song! (Hard to imagine, I’m sure.) Oh, and our bat circles through the common area. Yes, the bat is back, every night.

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About Rachel Coleman

The opinions and late night musings published on this blog are Rachel de Azevedo Coleman's alone, and are not ever intended to represent the opinions and sentiments of any organization or product that Rachel is, was, or will be associated with. Rachel Coleman is the creator and Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time!, the children's American Sign Language vocabulary building series. She is also the creator and host of Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and Rachel & Me. Rachel now serves as the Executive Director of the American Society for Deaf Children, a 501c3 nonprofit established in 1967 by parents of deaf children. ASDC is the American Sign Language organization for families who are raising deaf children. Motivated by her child, Leah's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 18 years creating ASL products to help bridge the communication barrier between hearing and signing communities. In 2006 Rachel founded the Signing Time Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to putting communication in the hands of all children of all abilities. In 2014, the Signing Time Foundation launched a 50-Lesson online ASL curriculum called "Sign It: ASL Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Salt Lake City Utah. They are parents to Leah who was born profoundly deaf, and is now a senior in college at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and recently graduated high school. In 2010 the Colemans were joyfully reunited with Rachel's daughter Laura. Rachel is proud to be Laura's birth mom. Laura was placed for adoption as an infant in 1992 when Rachel was 17 years-old.

5 thoughts on “Day 8 Ghana 2012: Taxi Etiquette and Wooden Lollipops

  1. sounds like a blast was had and you got quite a bit done

    love the gift request a wooden lolipop any particular reason

  2. Spotaneous singing is part of my familys life too. My granddaughter thinks that there are songs for every occaision and it there is not she makes one up!
    Glad to hear that while your taxis were crowded you didn’t have to share with goats.
    Can’t wait to see photos of everyone in their new dresses or skirts.

  3. I found your blog through Julie Hanks facebook.
    I am naturally curious about people and the stories of their lives. Yours is fascinating to say the least. Your family is beautiful.
    It’s wonderful that you are doing so much to help others. It is very inspiring.
    P.S. I have a pet Pygmy Goat. I can absolutely imagine him in a taxi! (My Franklin thinks he is the center of the universe) I got a good laugh out of that.

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