Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 21 - Business Meetings in Accra

Today Whit, Max, Andrew, and I made the pilgrimage to Accra to attend some business meetings. Although Accra is less than 100 kilometers away (see map below), it takes more than 2 hours to get there due to the condition of the roads, traffic, pedestrians, etc.

We first met with HealthKeepers They are an organization that is working to help rural Ghanians prevent several curable diseases and sicknesses including malaria, diarrhea, and sti's. The accomplish this mission by providing a basket of products and services which their "HealthKeepers" take door to door to the rural villagers. This "basket of goods" is literally a basket that they carry on their head. I had heard about these guys from Brad Hales, from the BYU ESR center. I contacted HealthKeepers and made arrangements for us to meet with them today.

The meeting went well. We learned a lot about their organization and discussed how Burro might be able to collaborate / partner with HealthKeepers. It will be interesting to see if we can reach some type of partnership agreement.

So one thing that is fairly common here in Ghana, as I am sure with many other parts of Africa, is to sell items on the side of the road. Sure you can expect to buy fruits, vegteables, and other food items on the side of the road. But how about some of the following items that I saw today:

Desks anyone?

How about a bouncer for your little one?

Ironing boards, we have ironing boards

Can I offer you a pack-n-play?

After our meeting with HealthKeepers, we grabbed some lunch at a great Indian place here in Accra. Can I say that I don't know if Indian has ever tasted so good. Chicken coconut curry, rice, and garlic naan. Yum!!!!!!

Cool doors leading into the restaurant

One of the best Indian meals that I have ever had

Finally, on the way out of Accra, we stopped at the Accra mall. It is the only "mall" in the region. Part of the mall includes the only grocery store. Because of this, a trip to Accra always means a trip to Shoprite to stock up on groceries for the next several weeks, if not longer. Needless to say, we got a lot of great food, including a block of cheese (which I haven't eaten for more than a month now). 

The highlight of the trip was being able to have some time just to talk with Whit about Burro and his vision for the company. The past several weeks he has been pretty swamped with a lot of other items that  need to get done before he leaves the country (he takes off for the US in less than 2 weeks). Whit really has a vision for this company and if it all comes to fruition, it won't be too long before all of you have heard of Burro!!!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 20 - I need your input. What to do about my facial hair

Dear Readership....

I want and need your input. For the past 6 years, I have not have the opportunity to do this. Either I was working in a professional setting where it wouldn't be appropriate, or have been a student at BYU where it is not allowed. Now, I have a little over a month before I get home and need to have it gone (my wife has told me that I will be sleeping on the couch until it gets shaved). Because I have never been in this situation before, I don't quite know what to do. Please take a moment and cast your vote (on the poll to the right) regarding what I should do. The poll will be open through next Sunday, after which time I will do whatever the results indicate.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 19 - Akaa Falls and Boti Falls

So Andrew and I decided to stick around this weekend. Originally it was our plan to work today and get caught up on some stuff, but so far I haven't gotten any work done (and it is now 7:00 PM). This afternoon Andrew and I went out to check some of the local waterfalls that are here in the area. The two that we went  to were Akaa Falls and Boti Falls. Rather than just bloviate with a lot of words, I am going to let this post be mostly pictures (which are worth a thousand words anyways).

Andrew and I are taking advantage of the summer to grow out
the facial hair. Check out an upcoming blog post to vote on
what to do to the facial hair

Thats one tall tree

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 18 - We really do work hard, Housing for $110 USD per month, and Party at Whit's

So let me start this off by making an important statement. Lest you think that all we do is play here at Burro (as evidenced by my blog posts and pictures), we actually do work quite hard. The project that I am working on involves building out Burro's financial model. As exciting as it sounds, it wouldn't make for very interesting blog posts for me to talk about the cool excel formulas and tricks that I used during a given day. I can imagine it now. "Today was awesome. I got to use some conditional formatting and used some self-referencing if then statements. Man, it just blows me away how awesome excel is. I mean, everyday my African experience comes alive as I learn about how powerful excel is. What can be better than vlookups or autofiltering?" As you can see, the posts would be pretty boring. It is for that reason that I have chosen to blog about the more interesting things that happen. There are times when I get out of the office and spend a day in the field. During those days, you will hear me talk about work more often. I will try and share a little more about the work that I do in the office, but will not bore you with any excel details.

So let me give you a quick update on where we are at with the financial model. I have been plugging away to develop the framework for the financial model that I am creating. Essentially, I am building out a set of financial projections that will show what Burro is capable of over the next 3.5 years (until the end of 2013). I will say that it has been somewhat of a unique experience, because I haven't ever built a set of financial models that go to the level of granularity that Burro does. It has been interesting trying to build out a model that clearly captures what Burro is capable of. I am building out the model so that we can forecast how many users and resellers Burro will have. Also trying to build in the opening of additional Burro offices. From there, I am layering in how many Burro batteries the users will use, how many Burro devices they will purchase, etc... It has been a good experience. In the words of Professor Heaton relating to financial projections "the only thing that you get comfortable with is your level of discomfort."

This morning, Whit came and invited us to a party over at his place. He had been talking about this for a little while now, and finally decided that today was the day. After work, nearly all of us from the office headed over to Whit's new place. Whit used to live here at the office, but finally got a place of his own right before us BYU interns came over. (I think it was a good excuse for him). The place where he now lives is pretty nice, comparatively speaking. Lest any of you should have a desire to come and lived in this part of Ghana, here are a few pictures of what you can rent for about GHC 150 (about $110 USD) per month. Granted you may have to do some work inside the house and they generally require that you prepay your rent for three years. (This pictures were taken by Max, Whit's brother. The guy that you see in the pictures is Whit, the founder of Burro)

 Front Entrance

Living Room



Plantain Orchard out back



So know that the scene of the party has been set, here are a few more of the details of the party at Whit's place tonight. Max, Whit's brother, likes to cook and spent a better part of the afternoon making some food for the party. The highlight of the food (at least for me) was the slow cooked shredded pork. It was very tasty!!! Once everyone had some food, the dancing began. At first, it was just one guy, Nat. Nat is one of the drivers for Burro. His job is to go out on "routes" and exchange the fallen (used) batteries with fresh (new) batteries. I kid you not, he kept dancing for like 2 hours straight. Whenever there was a break in the music, he would shout "let the music flow!!!" By the end of the night, he was soaked in sweat. At the night went on, more and more of the other people starting dancing. It probably didn't hurt, however, that most of the people were drinking wine. So I would have to say that is one of the benefits of not drinking. You can sit back and watch how everyone else acts once the alcohol starts to take effect. 

Here are a few other pictures from the evening. Overall, it was fun, even though they did try to get me out on the dance floor several times. They finally succeeded at the very end of the party, but I was only out there for about a minute before they realized just how bad I was.... My wife can attest to the fact that I have two left feet when it comes to dancing!!!! The funniest comment of the night was when they were trying to get David out on the dance floor as well. (David is not a big dancer either). He was talking to Debi and made a comment that if Justin was able to get married without knowing how to dance, there is still hope for me!!!

Andrew, showing Nat how to get his groove on

Even Whit (on the right) was getting the groove on!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 17 - Collections, Marriage Proposal, Strange Animals, and Marriage Advice????

So what started out as an ordinary day, ended up being full of some interesting experiences. I had been up for the day about an hour and had just finished preparing myself breakfast. Doesn't this look good, Katie? My wife Katie got addicted to Milo (pronounced Me low) when were visited Chile last year. Since that time, she has slowly rationed the container of Milo powder that we brought back. Much to her joy, we recently found out that it can be purchased in Provo. Just as I was about to start devouring the food, Ankrah (a Burro employee) came and asked if I could go out in the field with him for the day. He still has his learner's permit and has to drive with someone else for the first three months. I quickly scarfed down the food, got my things together, and off we set.

As we started driving out of town, we started talking about what our day would consist of. I quickly learned that the purpose of our day was primarily to go around to different villages and try to collect a lot of the credit that was outstanding. As I may have mentioned before, whenever a customer initially purchases a Burro battery, they have to pay a GHC 1.00 deposit. Because of this, some customers have been unable to purchase a battery because of the initial upfront cost. Burro has been experimenting with offering credit to customers. Basically the way that it works is that when we have the initial Gong Gong, it a customer wants to purchase any batteries, a phone charger, or any coupons (for battery exchanges), they only have to pay 50%. The remainder is then due within 30 days, but split up to be be paid back weekly. Because Burro has been adding new clients so rapidly, there hasn't been as much of a focus on credit collections. We are just at an inflection point before Burro plans to rapidly expand here in Koforidua; therefore before that happens, we want to make sure that we have cleaned up a lot of the old outstanding credits.

Our day consisted of going to several villages and working with the resellers to figure out which of their clients still had outstanding credits and how we were going to get them to pay off those credits. Some people have been good about paying back the money that they owe, others not so good. Ankrah and I spent some time talking about some different methods of increasing collection repayments. Some of the methods that we discussed include:

  1. Telling customers that we have other products (including torches and lanterns) that we will be rolling out to the village. But until everyone has paid off their credits, we will not be able to bring it to the village
  2. Explaining to people that if they can't afford to pay back the credit for a small purchase like a battery, how will we be able to give them a bigger loan for an item like a lantern or a torch
  3. Setting up the customers in "credit groups." If one member of the group was late in paying their credit back, then no one in the group would be able to receive any credit. This would help as their would be group peer pressure to pay back the credit. This method is similar to microfinance lending groups, where repayment rates have been as high as 97%.
  4. When doing a gong gong for the first time, we could establish a credit lending group, which would be selected by the villagers themselves. Before anyone would be able to receive any credit, they would have to be approved by this credit lending group. The idea is that the credit lending group would know best which people will pay back the credit and which people won't.
We still need to flesh out some more of these ideas, but I think that we are headed down the right track. We strongly believe that credit is necessary, especially as Burro starts to roll out additional products and services that will be higher priced.

So a few random other items / pictures from today. Especially once you get out in the more rural parts of the country, is is pretty common to see old buses loaded to the hilt with people with cargo on top, like this one.

We were driving along the road, when all of a sudden we passed a dead animal hanging on the side of the road. This is a pretty common occurrence here. People will kill an animal, hang it up on the side of the road, and then wait for someone to come and purchase it. This was an animal that Ankrah had never seen before (nor had I for that matter), so we stopped and walked back to look at it. We weren't sure what it was, but after some additional research (and the response from someone Andrew had emailed), we found out that this is an African Civet. Apparently they have some kind of glands and the musk is used to make perfume. Kind of an interesting looking picture.

As I mentioned in a prior post, the children here can be content with just about anything. For some reason, just seeing an obroni can put the children in a good mood. Ask them if you can take their picture, and they get ecstatic, all fighting to get lined up first.  As we were working in one of the villages today (called Korf), there were a bunch of children running around. I asked them to take their picture and they were more than happy to have me do so. Here are a couple of photos that I snapped.

Funny thing happened while I was talking to these children. Notice the girl on the left in both of the pictures. All of a sudden she started laughing and next thing I know, all of the adults that were there as well started laughing. I turned to Ankrah and asked him what they were laughing about. He said, pointing to the girl, "she says that she will be your wife." I told him to tell them that I was already happily married, and he told them. Don't worry Katie, you have nothing to worry about. I love you.

On the way home I was talking to Ankrah and we got on the subject of whether he has a girlfriend. He then proceeded to tell me his entire philosophy on women and advice on how to properly select a woman to be your wife. He also had a lot of good thoughts and ideas on how to have a happy marriage once you are married. I shared these with Katie, my wife, and we both agreed that Ankrah is a very wise man for not being married. I won't take the time to share these here, but if you are really interested, let me know and perhaps I can share a few with you. Don't get me wrong, I am very happily married.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 16 - Freak Rain Storm

So one thing that might be interesting to discuss is rain storms. I think it may have briefly been mentioned in an earlier post, but I will try and be more comprehensive in this post. When it rains here in Ghana, it really rains. Sometimes it last for 5 minutes, other times it will last for several hours, knocking out the power along with it. Everything seems to shut down, unless you happen to be out walking around the road, in which case you wil pronany tase like termites.

So as you may have noticed, the last sentence makes absolutely no sense. That is what happens when you decide to try blogging when you are half asleep. Let me finish what I was going to say.

Everyone gets inside when it starts to rain, unless you are out walking along the raise in which case you will get soaked. This morning there was a freak rain storm that came up out of nowhere. I was laying in bed reading, when all of a sudden, it started pouring. Rain started blowing in from the window, getting my bed wet and everything that was sitting on the side table next to my bed (This will make sense when I blog about the layout of our house this weekend). We hurried and shut all of the windows, and watched the rain just pour down. After about 20 minutes, it passed. Once nice thing about the rain is that when it does rain, the rest of the day is pretty nice from a temperature perspective. Here are a few pictures taken from our balcony during and after a rain storm.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 14 & 15 - Homemade cookies and Ghanaian restaurants

So Andrew and I have been craving something sweet. One thing that we have noticed over here is that the Ghanaians are not accustomed to eating food that is super sweet. I brought over a hand crank snow cone machine with me and we made some snow cones for some of the staff that work here in our office. Most of them indicated that it was way too sweet. I ask myself, how can you ever go wrong with pina colada snow cones? Anyways, Andrew and I decided to make some cookies. It ended up being more of a chore than we originally imagined. Andrew found a recipe for oatmeal cookies online, but then the real work began. As there are no grocery stores here in Koforidua, it was necessary to venture out into the local market and see what ingredients we could find and what we would need to improvise.

Flour, check. Eggs, check. One thing that readers may be interested in knowing is that it seems that in most places outside of the US, eggs are not kept refrigerated. At least that was the case in South America. Here is Ghana it is no different. They just keep them outside. Sugar, check. We found sugar, but had to get it in the market. They sell it by the cup. About 1 1/2 cups of sugar runs about 1 Ghana cedi (or about $.70 USD). Not sure how that compares to sugar in the states, as how many times do you purchase sugar by the cup. Margarine, check. It is interesting to buy margarine over here. You can buy it in small containers. You can buy it in plastic envelopes. You can purchase it in huge
plastic tubs. Regardless of how you purchase it, my guess is that is is probably not good for you. Oh well, sacrifice for the cookies. Baking powder, check. Salt, check. Vanilla, check. Chocolate what is that? It seems that our local Kof-town residents haven't fully accepted the finer things of life. After checking out the entire market as well going to all of the larger mom and pop stores, we weren't able to find any chocolate chips. We really weren't able to find any chocolate bars either. We finally found some very very small little chocolate bars, and we got two of those just in case. After throwing all of the ingredients together, then came the real fun. Trying to figure out how to moderate the temperature in the oven was quite the feat. This is a small gas stove, that doesn't really have much of a temperature control. You can either light the light of the oven, or the bottom of the oven, but not both. To make things even more interesting, you have to be careful when shutting the oven door, or it will blow out the flames. Needless to say, despite all of the trials that we had making these, they turned out great. It's safe to assume that this will not be our last time making cookies.

So tonight (tuesday evening) we went out to dinner with Debi and Dave. We had an experience that mirrors one that I have experience several times here in Ghana. So I think that this warrants a post. Imagine yourself going out to a nice restaurant. You get seated, the waitress brings you the menu. After pouring over the menu, you find the menu item that is calling your name. As the waitress comes to take the order, you proudly say "I will have the XXXXX" knowing that it is just the item for you. Imagine to your dismay when the waitress responds, "I'm sorry, we don't have that." Now picture that it happens for three or four items that you ask for. Welcome to restaurants in Ghana, which the menu is only an indication of what the restaurant may have served at one time, but is not indication of what is actually available. Why they don't update their menus, no one knows. But eater beware. Make sure that you have three or four choice in mind when placing your order because if you get your mind set on one item, there is a high probability that you may be disappointed. Sure you may be saying, but maybe they just ran out of the food. I'll give it to you that it is ok when they run out of items like "gizzard skewers", but when you ask for three or four different chicken dishes and they "don't have any" it can be a little bothersome. Its not always bad, however. Last night (Monday) Andrew and I went out to eat at the Capitol View hotel. My first meal choice wasn't available. So I opted for the Chicken American (pictured to the left). It was great. The first full chicken breast that I have seen in Ghana, wrapped in bacon!!!!!

In addition, plan on spending at least two hours, if not more. In some of the restaurants, they don't carry a lot of food on hand. Therefore, once you place your order, they go out and purchase the items that are needed for your meal.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 12 & 13 - District Conference, Wearing Your Religion, and Broken Down Car

Its hard to go back and recreate blog posts several days after the fact, so I will try my best. My wonderful wife Katie is blogging every day so that I know what is going on at home, so I need to make sure that I blog every day, at least for her. I need to try and get caught up and then I will be able to resume my regular daily blog posts.

I am throwing in a few random pictures along the way. Andrew and I tried to make tortillas this weekend. They turned out pretty good, except it was hard to find any good butter / margarine. They were edible enough that we will probably make them again.

This weekend was district conference here in Koforidua. The adult session was on Saturday afternoon from 12:30 to 3:00 and the regular session was Sunday morning. Saturday afternoon wasn’t too well attended, but there were quite a few people there. I don’t know if it was the fact that there had been a priesthood leadership meeting right before it, but there were not very women who attended the adult session.

The overarching theme of the conference was families and their importance. It was really great to be reminded of this important principle, especially at a time when I am so far away from my family.

The Sunday morning session was a great experience. We showed up about ten minutes early, but the place was already almost full. Talk about something that we American latter day saints can learn. The importance of being on time. There was one other thing that they did which I had never seen before. The entire audience was signing hymns in preparation for the conference. It appeared that they had been doing it for at least 5 minutes before we got there if not more. The signing really helped to bring the Spirit into the meeting.

For all of you out there who have ever served in the primary, how many of you know the extra verses of “Pop Corn Popping on the Apricot tree?” I didn’t know that there were any, but apparently there are an extra 3 verses that talk about missionaries, going to seminary, and families. And it didn’t appear to be something that just the primary knew. The entire congregation was singing them, along with the mission president, the temple president, and other local church leaders. If and when I get some time, I will try and upload the lyrics to the "new" three verses.

One other thing that I saw firsthand was the notion of “wearing your religion.” I saw this literally. As Andrew and I were sitting there during the conference, they was a sister sitting a few rows up that had on a very unique dress. The material had pictures of all of the latter day prophets up to Gordon B Hinckley. At first, we thought it was an isolated incident, but after the meeting discovered that it was much more than that. There were at least 6 to 8 women who had on the same dress. Come to find out, that a few years ago there was some type of anniversary (not sure it it was 150 years of the church or something related to the relief society), but they had some cloth made and several of the sisters had dresses made. Come to find out, there was even a similar pattern of cloth made (gold instead of blue) and some of the men had shirts made out of it. I now have a greater appreciation for the phrase “wear your religion!!!!!”

So Andrew, the BYU grad that I am here with, has been working on a potential business idea. When he first got here, he noticed how many people walk along side the roads at night. There are no streetlights on most of the roads and the people blend in with the side of the road. Andrew found a report showing that people dying in car accidents kill more people in Africa than Aids. A portion of these people dying in accidents are pedestrians getting hit because the driver didn’t see them. Andrew has the idea of selling some type of reflective slap bracelet as a way to help drivers see these people better.  Saturday evening we went out to a local village to sell some bracelets and conduct some research on how well they might sell. We took with us Chris who is a local member of one of the LDS branches here in Koforidua. In the space of a little over an hour, he was able to see 14 bracelets.

So the past few days one of Burro's cars has been having some trouble. One of the rear tires was making a weird sounds as we drove. It sounded like it might be some bearings. Andrew and I drove it all weekend, without any major problems. There was one time, however, where were were driving slowly and all of a sudden we couldn't move forward. One of the tires had locked up. We were able to put it in reverse and after backing up a little bit, the problem temporarily resolved itself and we were able to continue on. On Sunday evening we had to go pick up our laundry from a sister in one of the branches. We made it to her house ok (although the tire was making a lot of noise), but when we went to drive off, the tire was locked. We tried backing up, but to no avail. We ended up leaving the car there for the night. The next morning, the mechanic went out to fix the tire. One interesting side note. Here in Ghana, the mechanic goes out to your car. Tow trucks don't exist, or don't seem to be used. According to the mechanic, the seal on the axle was broken, and all of the grease leaked out and sand and dirt got in, causing the bearings to freeze. Of all of the places that it could have stopped, this was the best. Had it been at the office, it probably would have been taken out to the village and who knows where it would have been broken down.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 11 - The Important Things of Life

While we were having dinner thursday night, it was awesome to hear some of the comments that Max made about Africa. Somehow, we got on the topic of things that people like about Africa. Max made some comments that were very spot on. He spoke about how the thing that he has liked best about Africa is seeing how happy the people are despite the fact that they don't have anything. He went on to clarify that they don't have any material possessions, but that material possessions are not the things that bring happiness in this life. How true it is. As I have been up in some of the villages, you see individuals who truly have very little. For example, take a look at this guy to the left. The picture of this guy was taken at a village called Sutapong. We were up there for a Gong Gong and he came up and started talking to us. He was truly happy despite the lack of material "things" Sure they have a roof and four walls, but it is not even close to what we are accustomed to in the U.S.  Yes they have clothing (or at least most of them do), but it may be a couple of shirts and a pair of pants that they wear for days at a time. Yes, the kids have toys, but more often than not it is an old tire from the side of the road or some very small item whose cost is less than the cost of a one meal at McDonalds. But they are happy with what they have. They have realized that it is not the things of life that make us happy, but the moments of life. How much joy the kids get from running after our truck, or getting their picture taken with an "obroni." There is a lot that we can learn from these humble people. Many times us as Americans worry about having the newest car or the next big screen, while our brothers and sisters are wondering where their next meal will come from. Let's all take a moment to reflect on the important things of life and be grateful for what we have.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 10 - Superglue anyone, Kof-town Bead Market, and Dinner at the Capital View Hotel


So if any of you were like me as a child, I can remember staying up late after the news to watch M.A.S.H. I can still hear the theme song running through my head. "Do do do do do do do, do do do do do do do, do do do do do do do, do do, do do, do do do do, do...." I would have to say that watching M.A.S.H. is my earliest recollection of seeing doctors on t.v. You always wondered if in real life the OR is handled like it was on t.v. where the doctor turns to his nurse and asks for certain items "Scalpel. scapel. Gauze. gauze..." While it may not happen that way in real OR's, it certainly happens here in Koforidua, Ghana. As was mentioned in a previous post, Whit's brother Max is here for a few weeks, getting some material for a book that he is writing about Burro. This morning, Max was trying to fix the antennae on his cell phone which had broken off. After locating some super glue, he managed to find a small pointed object to pierce open the tube (you gotta wonder why they don't make them easier to open). Anyways, next thing you know, Max is screaming and screaming. As I got up and went to see what the problem was, Whit is escorting Max down to the kitchen, saying as he is passing "Max just got superglue in his eye." 

As any person would do these days, I immediately jumped online to see what to do. Based on the information obtained, it was decided that we should try and flush his eye with a 3% sodium bicarbonate solution and then wrap it. Luckily we had some sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda), but Andrew, I, nor anyone else had any gauze and tape. We ran across to the street to a small pharmacy and grabbed the necessary items for the procedure. By the time that we returned, Debi was flushing Max's eye with the bi-carbonate solution. Andrew and I prepared for the procedure. It first started with Andrew rounding up the necessary items: surgical scissors, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, etc... After sanitizing my hands, I proceeded to sanitize the surgical scissors. At this point, I was able to relive my dream (ok, not really, but let's just pretend for a moment) of being in an OR. With the help of my assistant, I proceeded to cut the gauze, prepare the bandage, cut the tape, and secure the dressing on our patient. f

So an interesting update to this story. Whit took Max to a local eye specialist to have his eye looked at. To make a long story short, after flushing his eye a lot, the pulled open the eyelid, while Max was held down on a gurney. Sounds likes a lot of fun. But here is the funny part. There is a deaf guy here in town that goes around selling daily newspapers. Last week when we were at lunch, he walked in the restaurant and start trying to sell news papers to all of those eating. Apparently while Max and Whit were in the operating room, this guy just walks right in. He took one look at Max and said, why is he on the gurney? He immediately turned to Whit and said "wanna buy a newspaper?" So much for health privacy laws, eh?

As mentioned in yesterdays post, I am ready to eat more variety of food. Today was the first experiment. Beans, rice, bananas, and rolls. Turned out pretty tasty, although I need to find some way to flavor the beans a little more. Only thing that I had to use today was a little bit of beef jerky and some seasonings. If you have any recommendations on how to flavor beans without the use of meat, please let me know.
So today is thursday and what does that mean? Bead market day in Koforidua. Koforidua or Kof-town as it is often called, has the biggest bead market in West Africa (or at least they claim). People will come from all over Ghana and other parts to sell their beads. In addition to beads made from Ghana, there are beads from other parts of West Africa including Nigeria, Cameroon, etc... We wandered around for a couple of hours looking at the different types of beads that were being sold. After a while, however, everything starts looking the same. I ended up making a purchase from a nice old guy. He was very funny. Everytime I would pick up a necklace or a bracelet, he would say "very old, very old." The old beads are the most valuable. I'm sure that we will visit the bead market again, but beads are not really my thing. Perhaps if I was a girl. The more interesting thing was the old coins that some of these guys were selling. At least 3 or 4 of the people selling beads also sold old coins from around West Africa. We found some as old as 1924. If I go back to the market again, I will make sure to visit those guys. While we were walking through the market, we met several nursing students from BYU. They are out here for a three week project working with a village about 90 minutes away from Kof-town. They had heard about the bead market and decide to come and give it a try. 

On the way home form the bead market, we came across a big group of people in the street outside the only department like store here in Kof-town, Melcom. There was some guy all dressed up and talking into a microphone. Everyone was having a good old time. As we walked by, things got more entertaining. He was talking in twi, which is one of the local dialects here. We couldn't really understand what he was saying, but we caught one word "obroni" Everyone started laughing and it was pretty obvious who they were talking about. I was with Debi and her son Dave, and we just all turned around and starting waving towards the group, and they laughed some more. Nice to know that we recognized as we walk down the street!!!
Tonight several us went to the Capital View hotel to have dinner. It is by far the nicest place to stay or eat in Koforidua. It is the first place that I have seen in Ghana where they give you ice for your drink. Also, their menu was fairly standard cuisine for a restaurant. Steak, chicken, chinese, etc... I decided to go ahead with the chicken cordon blu with fried yams. It was might tasty. Instead of ham in the middle, they used what they call sausage. It ended up being something similar to a hot dog. But it was great.