Archive for July, 2010
Hello from the lab!!! Things in lab have recently taken off because we have acquired a second gel box and a second PCR machine, doubling the number of reactions we can run and process each day. These acquisitions have dramatically increased microbiology lab morale! We now hope to complete data collection on our set of samples within the next couple of weeks.
It is hard to believe that we have only two weeks remaining- time has gone by so quickly!
This upcoming weekend we have reservations at Hans Cottage Botel, a few kilometers from Kakum National Park. Kakum is known for its canopy walk (30m high) and its populations of birds, monkeys, and butterflies. We are excited to visit the rainforest and will post pictures upon our return.
Equally exciting is our lodging for the weekend: The Botel is located on a lagoon containing Nile crocodiles!
We will probably spend our last weekend in Ghana closer to Accra. We are looking into day trips, but there are plenty of places in Accra which we have not yet explored… so much to see!
There is one thing we have been exploring since arriving in Ghana, and that is the food. Fortunately, we all like groundnuts (peanuts) and have experienced many of the groundnut related delicacies available: groundnut soup, groundnut cakes, groundnut paste, etc. We have also tried many of the traditional dishes, including fufu (a ball of mashed cassava or plantain, roughly the texture of bread dough), banku (similar to fufu, but fermented), palava sauce (spicy, cooked spinach with variable other unidentified ingredients), yams (dense, white potato-like starch), and goat kebabs (self-explanatory).
We’ve also enjoyed trying all of the Ghanaian snack foods. Favorites include Choco FanIce, essentially frozen chocolate milk, and “rock pies”, which resemble muffins but taste more like a biscuit with a little nutmeg and pineapple juice.
In the beverage category, we’ve enjoyed Alvaro sodas—one is pineapple flavored and contains malt, as well as pineapple juice with “a hint of ginger”, as the bottle describes.
At our hostel, we typically cook dinner and one of our specialties we have called “orange-orange”, which we like to think is a close cousin of the Ghanaian bean and fried plantain dish with the name “red-red”. We’ll keep the recipe a secret, but will say that its distinct color derives from a can of tomato paste.
Thats all for now! Stay tuned for pictures from the rainforest!
It has been a while since our last post so we wanted to update everyone on our activities in Ghana- both in and out of lab. The past week brought some good news and some bad news regarding our two projects in lab. As for the bad news- sadly, the A6 cell line was not able to survive and it will be another couple weeks before we can get the next shipment of cells. However, the good news is that, so far, we have made great progress with the PCR aspect of our research. We have approximately 260 DNA samples and for each we must run a total of about 6 PCR reactions. Initially, we had a few problems with some of the reactions but, now that most of our troubleshooting is done we are moving right along. The department of Microbiology at the University of Ghana Medical School has been doing an incredible job of making sure we are as comfortable and productive as possible in lab and for this we are very appreciative.
As for life outside of lab we have been busy exploring the capital city of Accra and surrounding areas. Last week we went to an outdoor sports bar to watch Ghana and Uruguay face off in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Unfortunately, Ghana lost to Uruguay in a penalty shoot out but, the match was a great one to watch especially when surrounded by hundreds of die-hard football fans covered from head to toe in Ghana’s red, green, and gold. This past weekend the four of us traveled to Cape Coast which is about 2 hours west of Accra by bus. There, we toured Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle both of which were built by Europeans and used for slave trade during the 18th century.
During the past week we have also visited some notable sites right in Accra. We visited the National Museum and the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, a park and museum dedicated to the 1st President of Ghana. We have also visited the Arts and Cultural center of Accra, an outdoor market where you can buy all traditional African crafts including masks, drums, cloth, carvings, beads and much more.
The end of this week will mark the halfway point of our 6 week stay in Ghana. Laura, who only joined us for 3 weeks, is already back in the US. As for this weekend Nora, Catherine, and I plan to continue exploring Accra and hopefully relax at the beach so we can rest up for yet another productive week in lab beginning on Monday.