Saturday, November 19, 2011

Living in the Village

The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

I am beginning to feel more like a resident of the village and getting to know more about it. Many of the folks live in these type homes. I am told built 60-100 years ago from the same type earth it is standing on. That soil is a granular clay that is hard as rock when sun baked, but can turn to red talcum powder by wheeled and tracked vehicles, and into red soup of various thicknesses when wet. The walls are 8-10 inches thick and built up layer by layer with no type of reinforcing in the mud. The right consistency was provided by placing the soil in a shallow pit, adding the proper amount of water and working it with the feet until ready to be put in place. Originally these building had thatched roofs which made them much cooler than today's corrugated tin. However you can see the erosion at the bottom of the building and the cracking so many are in need of repair. Available material, cooler inside and reasonably durable accounts for the many I see as I walk through the village. I have seen none under construction. The house I live in is newer and built using concrete blocks made at the work site. The outside of the house looks a little like a Florida ranch style, but the inside is just partially finished. I could easily have sufficient material to build one of the earthen homes from the soil in the front yard. Fortunately farms up in the hills that surround the village have dark, fertile soil in most places.

The rainy season is over. The storms just stopped, and although the mornings and evenings are still cool, the mid day is hot, hot. Many Ghanians just get inside. I am told it gets hotter and the soon the Hamattan winds will start blowing off the Sahara to the north. The Sahara is a good distance away, so not sure what to expect. Rainy season begins in March-April.

I look forward to the days ahead.

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