This past weekend was the West Africa Retreat – a bi-annual event when all the EWB staff in Ghana and Burkina Faso come together. It was also Thanksgiving – not exactly a popular holiday in Ghana but a favorite of many of the APS, myself definitely included – so we decided we should go all out and prepare a feast.
The day before we headed out to Bolga, about 3 hours north of Tamale, I purchased a turkey from my neighbor. I picked the biggest one could. Still tiny by Canadian standards, it was a decent size and most importantly would allow us to eat turkey on Thanksgiving!!!
There was never any question – this turkey was for consumption. As such, I was determined to leave it unnamed and anonymous. Unfortunately, somehow, the name ‘Arnold’ got into my brain, and before I knew it, I’d accidentally named dinner. So when people ask me why I named the female turkey Arnold, my excuse was I didn’t actually mean to name her at all, and I stand by that.
Here is Arnold in her box. This was shortly before she was loaded into the back of the tro. We were all relieved when she didn’t succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The WAR was a really great time. It’s a weekend of reflection, personal development, and reconnecting with all the other wonderful people on the West Africa team and is a pretty huge boost to energy and motivation levels. This was a particular success, including some fantastic TED talks and a night of slam poetry. Friday and Saturday we devoted to these, on top of just reconnecting, and on Sunday, we cooked.
One of the professional fellows, Dom, recognized early on the challenge associated with feeding 30 people with one (pretty small) turkey. So, he went and found a huge sow, got it butchered, covered it in a glaze of pepper, coffee, tomato sauce, and I don’t know what else, lit a huge fire, and buried the pig in the coals for 7 hours. It was FANTASTIC.
Cooking Arnold was pretty painless. Some of the staff at the Farmer’s Training Center – the beautiful location of our retreat – were kind enough to let us use their oven. They thought the whole production was hilarious. They also helped us out a ton!
The meal was absolutely delicious. I think I can say with confidence that it was the best I’ve had in Ghana. Thanks to the whole West Africa team for an amazing day!
After the WAR, the G&RI team headed into Bolga town for three more days of very intense, very awesome meetings. We’re coming out with a clear sense of what we’re going to be exploring moving forward, and a wicked sense of possibility and unity. We’ve had a lot of transition these past few months, but things – the team – are really coming together, and I’m so, so excited about where we’re going from here.
On that note, I also plan on getting back on the blogging train from here forward. Please all, hold me accountable!