Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Good by to Africa

These are appropriate pictures to end our experience in Africa.  It is hard to see the details but Marsha wore out this pair of shoes.

We will be leaving in less than six hours.  It has been an incredible adventure!  There are many experiences still rolling around in my mind, ones that I regret I have not had the time to write about, such as “Goats on bicycles,” “Afternoon siestas,” “Ghanaian favorite expressions,” “How much can you carry on your head?”,  “Name that roundabout,”  “Tough on crime,” “Saturday night baths,” etc.  Perhaps I will write one more entry entitled “Africa, P.S.”  If I don’t you’ll have to come visit us so I can tell you the stories.  You know how I like to tell stories.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 2011

Here it is the last day of May already.  What happened to the month?   I honestly cannot tell you.  I’m sitting here trying to recall the events of the month and I know we have been busy, but I cannot explain how the month slipped by without any kind of a blog entry.  Let me see what I can remember.    

The bats moved out.  The street hawkers are slowly moving back in.  The rains have started.  It is so invigorating to see everything turn green and vibrant after a few days of rain.  The median on Independence Avenue was brown just a few weeks ago.  Now it is green and the grass is six to ten inches tall.

The roundabouts are green.

Unlike last year (I just went back and reviewed what I wrote last May) the rains this season have been occurring most of the time at night.  This is very convenient.   We have had very few day time storms to walk in or drive through.  The rains have brought a little relief from the heat.  However, it is still hot enough in the morning after a nighttime rain, that stepping outside the apartment is like stepping into a wet sauna.  Here are pictures of what is in bloom around the apartment.

This is the Orange Blossom bush outside our stairwell that is so fragrant.

Last Wednesday was Africa Unity Day.  I’m not certain what Africa Unity Day represents, other than another day for Ghanaians to not work.  One Ghanaian said that it was a holiday throughout all of Africa to celebrate the unique heritage of being African.  Another Ghanaian said that it was a day to reconcile Christian and Muslim holidays, a common day for both religions, not that it makes any difference that I can see because the Muslims all take a day off for Christian holidays and the Christians all take a day off for Muslim holidays.  Now they can both take a day off without feeling guilty about Holiday Hopping.  A few Ghanaians were honest enough to indicate they had no idea what it represents.  I didn’t check to see if any other country in Africa celebrated Africa Unity Day.  I’m curious to know the origin of the holiday.  On second thought at this point in my stay in Africa I am really not curious.   I’m only curious to know if the airplanes are flying out of here, holidays or not.

We’ve had a couple of adventures I need to report.  The first involves an animal other than a cockroach.   About two weeks ago, towards the end of the day as the light was fading, I stepped into the second bedroom that we use as an office and noticed in my peripheral vision a flash of brown on the wall behind the file cabinet.  My first thought was that we had a mouse and I knew how Marsha was going to react to a mouse encounter – screaming equal to or more than a cockroach encounter.  Without announcing the presence of the visitor I stepped over to the file cabinet thinking I might be able to do something about the invader without having to alert Marsha.  I looked behind the file cabinet as best as I could.  I didn’t see anything.  I started to move the file cabinet forward and the brown flash shot across the wall above Marsha’s desk and disappeared behind some stacked notebooks.  It was way too fast to be a mouse.  I pulled the stacked notebooks forward and discovered a brown gecko, about five inches long, two and a half inches of body and an equal length of tail, trying to find a hiding place among the items on Marsha’s desk, as distressed with seeing me as I was distressed with seeing him/her.  How did a gecko this big enter the apartment?  When one is living in a country where being human is just part of the food chain it seems a logical query to ponder such intrusions.   I know that he/she didn’t walk in through the front door.  If a five inch gecko can get into the apartment how safe is the apartment in keeping more dangerous animals out?  What about keeping mosquitoes out?   I called for Marsha.  She came into the office.  I showed her the gecko attempting to hide behind the items on her desk.   I thought the gecko looked pretty cute trying to blend in with the pencil sharpener.  But Marsha was not very pleased with the intruder, probably less upset than she would have been had it been a mouse but more upset than she would have been were it another cockroach encounter, which has become routine enough that the cockroaches don’t uptset her very much these days.    We briefly discussed methods of getting the gecko outside of the apartment.  I thought of the fly swatter – tap the gecko hard enough to stun but not hard enough to kill -- but remembered about a year ago when we tried a similar approach on a smaller gecko in the kitchen and found out that geckos do not have an external skeleton like a cockroach which crunches when smacked, and that a fly swatter to a little gecko results in gecko jam.  We decided not to use the flyswatter.  We briefly considered spraying the gecko with permethrin but decided that bug spray probably wouldn’t work and Marsha didn’t want sticky permethrin all over her desk.  So, we decided to trap the gecko.  I quickly located an empty margarine container and moved into position to place the container over the gecko, whereupon we would slide a piece of paper under the container and transport the gecko to his/her freedom.  Great plan.  I made several attempts to deftly place the margarine container over the gecko but each attempt was unsuccessful because the gecko quickly demonstrated his/her brown flash evasive movement skills and hid behind another item on the desk.  Each miss would be accompanied by a shriek from Marsha who was convinced the gecko was going to become aggressive and attack her.  After a few more attempts I successfully anticipated the gecko’s movement and smacked the container down on the table catching the little guy/gal under the container.  Or at least I thought so.  What we quickly discovered was that I covered his body but cut his tail off with the edge of the margarine container.  And to our utter amazement, this amputated tail started a Mexican jumping bean routine that kept us both shrieking for several minutes.  The two and a half inch tail would lie still for a few seconds and then start convulsing and bouncing around the table.  It eventually bounced off the table, fell to the floor and kept on moving.  I ran to get my video camera but by the time I got the camera, got it turned on, and focused on the tail on the floor the little appendage was disappointingly lethargic compared to its initial jumping performance.  Too bad.  It would have made a great You Tube video.  Add a little musical score and it could have been a Michael Jackson imitation.  Oh, by the way, we did escort the tail less (or should that be “detailed”) gecko outdoors and let him go.  As he took off I’m pretty sure I saw him look over his shoulder at us, probably wondering what kind of cruel creatures would cut his tail off and then laugh at it. 

The second adventure was not quite so humorous.   No animals were involved.  As I mentioned above the rainy season started this month.  A week ago Thursday, in the early hours of the morning, Marsha and I were awakened by thunder.  We listened for probably an hour as the thunder boomed and boomed.  It seemed the storm was right above us with the flash of lightning and the immediate thunder.  And then the rain started.  And it didn’t start gradually.  It slammed the roof, probably as loud as we’ve ever heard it.  When it started getting light we got up and looked out the windows at the rainstorm.  The rain was so heavy that as we looked out our bedroom window we couldn’t see across the street.  At about 6:15 a.m. the apartment phone rang.  (We have a phone in the apartment but it only works to communicate with other apartments or the guard house.)  I answered the phone.  It was the guard house.  Without identifying himself the guard politely, as if he were bothering me, announced “it is flooding.”  I thought he might want to say more but my silence was matched by his silence.  I asked him to tell me again, which he did.  “It is flooding” (a little more emphasis on the flooding.)   I asked him what I needed to do.  He quietly said “please move your car.”   Ha!  Now I understood.  Last fall we had a similar rain and the street gutters in front overflowed and washed down our apartment complex driveway from the front of the complex to the back of the parking lot into a storm drain at the edge of the lot.  Our car is parked right next to the storm drain.  The water at that time had surged to the mid tire level on our car.  After hanging up the phone I looked out the living room window and noticed the flood of brown water again coming under the front gate and coursing down our driveway.  I quickly changed my clothes and went out to the car.  The water was almost up to the level of the passenger side door (upstream side.)  When I opened the driver side door some of the water flowed into the car.  I got in, started the car and drove it through the muddy water and parked it off to the edge of the parking lot away from the water trying to get out the storm drain.  The rain continued for about another half an hour and then stopped.  The pooled water in the parking lot didn’t recede for several hours.  And when it did it left the parking lot covered in a brown sludge that didn’t look good, and didn’t smell good. 

I had to travel during the middle of the month.  I escorted a missionary with mental health problems to his home in Melbourne, Australia.  It sounds exciting but it was a painfully long trip (lots of sitting.)  The trip down was 37 ½ hours travel time from Accra to Dubai to Singapore to Melbourne and then to Sydney.  The return trip was 30 ½ hours from Sydney to Dubai to Accra.  I had a day of rest in Sydney.

The Opera House.
Darling harbour.  
One cannot go to Australia without seeing kangaroos and koalas.

Sydney is a beautiful city.  It reminds me of San Francisco with hills, an extensive waterfront, and a harbor bridge.  I would love to return with Marsha and spend more time exploring the city and the surrounds. 

Other events of the month:  the weekly routine visits to the MTC to give shots

and health lectures,

to Ho in the Volta Region for the closing of an LDS Charities Neonatal Resuscitation Program,

to Nsawam with Rebecca Tetteh and her mother to get new shoes for Rebecca,

and several trips to the airport to pick up or deliver travelers. 

Our time here in Ghana is rapidly coming to a close and we will be returning to the states in fifteen days.  The emotions we are feeling about seeing our home appear on the horizon are comparably overwhelming to the ones we felt seventeen months ago as we saw it disappear.   We are trying to remain focused on the work but we find ourselves looking longingly at each airplane that takes off from the airport, knowing that we will soon be on one.

Stay focused!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What happened to April?

It seems like just a day or two ago that I was working on the last blog entry on fabric, fashion, and footwear.  That was the end of March.  And now it is the last day of April.  What happened?  I closed my eyes for a moment and opened them to find that the world declared the month of April as the Royal Wedding month.  Did anything else happen during the month?  Thank goodness the wedding is over.  No marching bands, nor military parades, nor cathedrals for us but we have been busy.     

We traveled to Cape Coast and Axim.

Our accommodations in Axim.

We spent four days in Abuja, Nigeria.

We had a wonderful time with Kim Woodings who came to visit for a week.

Kim and Marsha shopping for batik.

Kim is a dear friend from Boise.  She is an administrator at Boise State University.  She enjoyed being here and was able to purchase some of the BSU football batik shown in the last blog entry.

We spent an evening with Devon Hale, M.D. a professor of medicine at the University of Utah.  He is an infectious disease specialist and probably knows more about the unique diseases of West Africa than most of the African doctors.  He is always a wealth of information.

And we have spent a lot of time taking care of missionaries.  It has been busier than usual, with a lot of unique medical problems this past month. 

The flame trees are in full bloom.  They dominate the green background with their bright red/orange blossoms.  

There is also a second tree blooming right now.  It is a yellow tree, similar in color to the forsythia of home.  It, too, is stunning to see.

The fence around the vacant lot visible from our kitchen window has been painted.

It is a very beautiful blue.  It reminds me of the temporary fencing at Sea World that is erected to close off a part of the complex while a new attraction is being built or remodeled.  It is exciting to imagine that Shamu might be coming to Accra but the reality of local construction is readily seen from our kitchen window with three unfinished projects staring at us across the view of the vacant lot.  No work is being done on any of them:  a Hilton Hotel, 

The sign says "COMING SOON".

a Marriott Hotel, 

and a high rise building named the Marina Mall (where are the boats?)

This is the proposed building that is to be built on the vacant lot.

I doubt that it will ever be constructed as evidenced by this similar advertisement

that has been standing along the Tema Motorway so long that the steel posts holding it up are rusting and will probably break with the next strong wind.  In reality it is a good thing that Shamu is not coming to Accra.  He would probably be eaten shortly after his arrival. 

We had a paradigm shift this month.  You know what a paradigm shift is.  It is a change in ones circumstances, due to scientific discovery or personal insight, that makes one look at the world in a different way.  Paradigm shifts occur all of the time, kind of like sub threshold earthquakes.  Most are minor.  But some are big time paradigm shifts such as when Copernicus proved that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the universe.  I have had many paradigm shifts in my life, especially as a young man, when I realized that the world was not made up the way I had thought it was, such as when I discovered that Wonder Bread did not really build strong bodies thirteen ways, and that a little dab of Brylcreem actually didn’t do it.  Here is what a paradigm shift looks like.

The paradigm shift that has occurred here in Accra happened the first week of April when all of the street hawkers disappeared.  To the best we can tell the local government decided that they were hazards to driving and ordered them off the streets.  Probably figured they were getting in the way of the crazy motorcyclists.  We don’t know the details of the punishment but the ban has been pretty effective.  There are only a few brave ones still working the intersections.

This is a real disappointment to me.  I have had to change my perception of Accra.  I have experienced a paradigm shift.  I have to look at Accra in a different way.  Prior to the first week of April when I would conjure up a mental image of Accra I would think first of the myriad numbers of men/women/children walking among the cars selling items such as automotive supplies, food/fruit/drinks, clothing, exercise equipment, household goods, and personal items such as umbrellas, hair trimmers, etc.  I have enjoyed the visual display each day.  Driving up and down Independence Ave has been the equivalent of seeing a Wall Mart walk by your car windows.  Marsha and I have slowly become converted to drive by shopping.  We have purchased food and drink, clothing, household items, and fabric (of course.)  And now it is all gone.  What a disappointment.   I’ve been pondering for several months a blog entry entitled Shopping Comes to You.  But it probably won’t happen now that that the hawkers are gone.

I made another ornithology discovery this past month.  I have previously tried to describe some of the bird sounds we hear on a daily basis.  [blog entry dated 14 August 2010]  One of the sounds I attributed to the “bubble up” bird.  Here is a link to the sound:" scrolling=no frameborder=0 width=340 height=160>  This is the bird that makes the sound. 

On the radio tower outside our window.

It is a Senegal coucal.  These birds are very difficult to observe while making their sounds.  Marsha and I drove into the office complex a couple of weeks ago and heard the “bubble up” sounds as soon as we stepped out of the car.  I started looking around in the trees of the parking lot but couldn’t see anything.  After a few minutes of searching I finally found this bird in the tree right above our car.  He/she was tucked in among the leaves and was minimally visible.  Now that I know what to look for he/she is easier to find when we hear his/her melodic sound. 

I have a follow up comment about the last blog entry.   In describing local fashion I purposefully left out one style seen on a frequent basis.  I want to mention it briefly here.  It is unfortunate, but there are many mentally unstable people who live on the streets of Accra.  They are easily recognized by their behavior and their clothing.  They tend to walk aimlessly among the pedestrians, talking to themselves, shouting, or shaking their fingers or hand at those around them.  And they are always dressed in either black/dark brown rag clothing because the clothing has been worn daily for years and never washed, or no clothing at all.  It is disturbing to observe.  It is an unfortunate reflection of the inadequate mental health facilities here in Ghana.  It is sobering. 

One such man lives about three blocks from us.  He lives under a tree on the side of Independence Avenue and has an area under the tree where he piles all sorts of paper goods and then covers them with palm branches.  He leaves his tree each morning and walks the streets of Accra gathering more items for his pile.  Every month or so someone comes along and burns his paper pile.  But it doesn’t stop him.  He starts his collection again.  Marsha and I have become accustomed to seeing him each day.  In fact, if we miss him for several days we worry about his welfare.   The reason I mention him is because of his iconoclastic fashion.  Unlike the other mentally unstable people on the street he doesn’t wear black/brown rags.  He gives new meaning to organic clothing.  He wears layer upon layer of paper items.  He is a walking paper recycling bin.  I have wanted to photograph him but have not done so out of respect for his mentally unstable world.  He always wears something on his head.  For most of the time we have been here it has been a woman’s hand bag, and a good looking one, such as a Gucci knock off.   Shortly after my last blog entry on fashion we noticed that he had changed his hat.  He had a flat hub cap on his head tied under his chin, kind of a metal sombrero.  (Remember the cartoon Calvin and Hobbes?  They often wore the hubcap hats.)  He has worn it now for a month. 

It is a pathetically sad situation, but a humorous one.  Even the mentally unstable can be trend setters.

We have to go to Cape Coast to give a health lecture today.  I am going to close for now. 


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fabric, Fashion, and Footwear, Part One

Warning:  this is a long entry, don't start reading if you've got important things pending, like water on the stove ready to boil, or if your dog needs to go outside to the bathroom.  Sorry.   

batik -- noun
1.  A method of dyeing a fabric by which the parts of the fabric not intended to be dyed are covered with removable wax.
2.  A design that is created by this method.
3.  Fabric dyed by this method.

Before coming to Africa if a mad scientist had put me in a laboratory experiment to measure my response to certain words, a kind of word association test with monitors attached to measure pulse, sweating, pupil dilatation, salivation, gastrointestinal motility, etc., he, or more likely she in this situation, would have seen little physiologic response elicited by the word “batik,” no different from what my response would have been to “corduroy,” or “flannel,” and quite unlike what my response would have been had she said “sawzall,” “hammer” or “drillpress.”    But now, having lived over a year in Ghana, the batik Mecca for fabric pilgrims, things have changed.  I get as excited thinking about batik as I do when I think about woodworking tools.

Let me explain how batik is made in Accra.  The white fabric is first stamped with melted paraffin from a design cut on the surface of a foam block.  These are examples of the blocks.

This is a demonstration of stamping.  The melted paraffin is in a large bowel to this woman's right.  She dips the foam block into the paraffin and then stamps repetitive designs until the paraffin is gone from the block.

The wax is allowed to dry and the fabric is soaked in a dye

which is absorbed into all of the fabric except where the wax is present. The fabric is dried

and then stamped again,

or brushed,

and dyed again.  This process can be repeated up to four colors. The fabric is then boiled to remove the wax,

dried one last time, folded and prepared for market.

A lot of people make batik here in Accra, most of them in their own homes, producing one or two rolls at a time (each roll is about 10 – 12 yards in length.)   These individuals usually sell their rolls in stalls along the roadside.  Other places, like the “batik factory” in the pictures above, are more elaborate with many employees

and large setups, producing as many as 20 – 30 rolls a day.  Some of the batik is quite elementary with one color and a simple design. 

Other batiks are more artistic with multiple colors and intricate designs. 

Most of the time the fabric is very tightly woven, almost like silk.  Occasionally it is very thin and paper like.   It takes a skilled eye to appreciate the colors and designs and a delicate touch to discern the quality. 

In the opinion of many, and I think rightly so, Marsha has become the Accra Queen of Batik.  She knows where the batik is made, the different varieties of batik fabric, the different designs, etc.  She knows where to go to acquire the best.  In short, she has become the African equivalent to the Great White Hunter of fabric safaris, and I, as her gun bearer, or more properly, her money carrier, have learned much from her fabric hunts.  (If you think I jest, two weeks ago a new American senior missionary here in Accra called on my phone and asked if she could talk to Marsha, because this missionary had heard that Marsha was the “Queen of Batik.”  I don’t make this up.) 

Our favorite place for batik is Esther’s.  (There is no name on her store.)

This is Esther.

Esther has been producing batik for over twenty years.  She has an incredible eye for colors and makes about 6 - 8 new prints each week.  She can recall all of the Americans that have been regular visitors to her store.  She makes her batik in her home employing family and friends.  These are some of the choices of batik in her store.

Note the BSU football batik!

Having been with Marsha looking for batik many, many times (we have been to Esther's enough that she has started kissing me on the cheek like a relative) I now start salivating, my pupils dilate, and my heart rate picks up when Marsha says “lets go look for batik.”

A successful batik outing!  Marsha has washed the fabric and it is drying.

I need to write something about kente cloth, a traditional cloth associated with Ghanaian tribal weavers, but I do not have enough information to present an accurate description.  There is more history about kente cloth than I have been able to discover.  We have visited the weaving villages three times.  Here is a photograph of our most recent visit.

The villages continue traditional weaving and teach the techniques to the younger generations.  All of the village weavers do a variety of designs but each village usually has one or two designs that have been a part of that village for many years.   In the past kente cloth was associated with the ruling chiefs and their families. In one of the museums here in Accra there are samples of kente cloth over a hundred years old.

Enough of fabric.  Let me say a few things about fashion and footwear.

I would characterize the fashion of Accra, in general, as being either Daily Casual, which I would describe as American Goodwill (I would venture to say that most of the t-shirts, button shirts/blouses, pants and skirts worn here are American donations),

A rare single car accident without a light post involved.

Makola market

or Sunday Best, which I would describe as Fabric on Display (none of which is American donation.)

Batik dress and head wrap; kente cloth on the shoulder.

The exceptions to these two styles are the children and teenagers who are required to wear uniforms to school,

and the Muslim women, who always have their heads covered (see blog entry dated 31 January 2011.)  In regards to Daily Casual, both men and women tend to wear clothing that is modest: t-shirts or button up shirts/blouses with long pants, knee length shorts, or dresses.  They will occasionally wear muscle shirts/tank tops, but, for the most part, there is very little skin exposed.  Even when the men are working hard they tend to keep their shirts on.

Many of the t-shirts are reminders of American culture of the 80's/90's and the early 00's.  I have seen a lot of Chicago Bulls and Miami Dolphins tops, reflecting the immense popularity of these two teams when they were winning, and the quick donation of tops to Goodwill when the teams started losing.  I have seen t-shirts advertising high school proms and family reunions, athletic events -- a lot of 5K and 10K runs, popular foods and drinks, and charitable events such as a t-shirt this week with "Kid's Food Basket" on the front, and "Attacking hunger in Grand Rapids" on the back.  I am very confident that the Ghanaians understand the meaning of the shirts as little as I would understand a shirt advertising African tribal traditions.  

In contrast to the Monday through Saturday casual dress, which is pretty homogeneous, and quite truthfully, monotonous, the Sunday dress is a visual feast.  On Sunday all of the businesses shut down and everyone goes to church.  Because a large part of the residents of Accra do not drive private vehicles (hard to believe when one looks at the crowded roads) the Sunday pedestrian traffic is a walkway for Ghanaian fashion. All of the women are dressed in their best outfits.  And they are all stunning.

They wear colors that look OK on a white person -- fuscia, orange, pink, lime green, red, etc. -- but, as Marsha describes it, against the African's skin these colors "pop."  The men frequently wear traditional tribal clothing which consists of a long sleeve pajama type pullover made of brightly colored fabric with matching pants.  

Kathy Froerer and Marcus Ogbonna

If the men are not wearing traditional tribal clothing on Sunday they wear white shirts and dress pants.  They like long sleeve shirts (I cannot understand why the long sleeves, I am uncomfortably hot in short sleeves) with cuff links.  I would dare say, again, that all of the white shirts are American donations because of the frequent number of Ghanaian men I have seen wearing tuxedo shirts, proudly displaying their cuff links but totally unaware of why there are multiple folds on the front of their shirts.

I am very impressed that the Sunday dress for both men and women is spotlessly clean, disproportionately so for the amount of dirt and debris that one has to navigate through on a daily basis.  I can hardly go to work and back each day without coming home with dirt or a stain somewhere on me.  I don't know how the Ghanaians keep their Sunday best so clean.   And it is hard to understand why this Sunday dress can be so immaculate when the daily casual dress often appears to be one week overdue for laundry.  The Ghanaians obviously love their Sundays and the clothing they wear on that day.  

Footwear is an easy description.  This is a photograph of the footwear of the day, worn by most of the Ghanaians on the street.

We have seen these open toe sandals so thin, especially the flip flops, that they would better be described as cardboard sandals.  And we have frequently seen these sandals repaired with tape to get a few more months of wear.  The street hawkers all wear them.  Marsha and I cringe as we watch these street hawkers move in and out of traffic while dodging the motorcyclists who are driving between the cars, all the time oblivious to the fact that their feet are in constant danger of being run over.  Last week we observed a woman sitting on the sidewalk in Tema sobbing and holding one foot, we assume because it had been run over by traffic.  We are amazed that we don't see it each day.  Here is one of the many places to buy open toe sandals. I think the boxes are where one sits when trying on the shoes.

The other style of shoe seen occasionally on the streets, but most of the time in businesses and at church, is a closed toe shoe.  Both the open toe and closed toe shoes are second hand donations.  When you buy these shoes you don't ask for a size, say 8 1/2 B, instead you choose the style/color and look to see how much the shoes are worn.  Here is another place where one can buy shoes.

I honestly do not think that one can purchase new shoes, those that come in a box with tissue paper wrapped around them, anywhere in Ghana.  Even the biggest shoe store in the Accra mall carries only used shoes.  Just like any shoe store in the USA this store has the shoes on display on racks.  However, only one of the pair of shoes will be on the rack.  If you are interested in the shoe the clerk will obtain the second one and you can examine the pair closely and try them on assuming you don't mind wearing someone else's shoes.  We  found some Ferragamo shoes in a smaller store in the mall one time, and they looked like new ones, but they didn't come in a box which means they were still second hand, or we suppose, surplus.

We have recently noticed a shoe style worn by the Ghanaian men that we hope is not fashionable in the states.  I call the shoe a Pinocchio shoe, something that one would imagine an elf, or a leprechaun, or some other imaginary creature would wear, which, just like Pinocchio's nose, looks like the front of the shoe has grown out of proportion to the main part .  I recently stood next to a man and glanced down at his feet and noted this style of shoe with the tip of each shoe at least four inches beyond where his toes would have been with a central line of small, sequin type shiny stones from the top of the shoe to the tip of the toe.  I wanted so badly to discretely take my camera out and photograph these shoes but I knew it might have been perceived as being rude.  I should have commented on how stylish his shoes were and asked if I could take a picture in order to find similar ones, but by the time I had decided to follow this line of reasoning we had parted.  This is a picture of similar shoes, just not quite as long and pointed.  Look carefully at the man in the middle.

So much for fabric, fashion, and footwear.  If you're still reading this I hope your water hasn't boiled over, or your dog hasn't made a mess in the house.

I have invited Marsha to write Fabric, Fashion and Footwear, Part Two.   She is working on it.

Final comment.  We are still occasionally asked what we do here in Ghana.  One would think that it is obvious that a physician in Africa would do doctor type things.  But some who read this blog think I am a photographer (that's a joke as evidenced by the quality of the pictures) and/or a writer (another joke.)   I am not.  What I write in these entries represents what we observe while going about our full time doctor work.  For the majority of each day I am on the phone or the computer dealing with missionaries throughout West Africa having  medical problems.  Because of confidentiality issues I cannot write about most of that doctor work.  I can write about what I observe in our travels.  My time spent on writing blog entries occurs at off hours --  night time and on the weekends.  And most of the time the entries are random thoughts prompted by observations made during the previous weeks, nothing which requires a lot of thinking, this current entry being the exception, where I have had to work really hard on a topic I would have not otherwise written about.

It's Sunday night and I'm tired.  And the new week begins in the morning.  With only twelve weeks of time remaining on our mission I am going to have to be selective about entries.  There is so much more I would like to write about than I have time.

I don't know if I'll get to the four levels of sweat.