Today, I broke a personal record.
I visited not one, not two, not even three, but four, four convents in one day!
That’s what you get for living and traveling with nuns.
Strangely enough, I always forget that they’re nuns. I call them by their nun names - Sister Juliana, Sister Dorothy, Sister Bibi, Sister Anne - but to me, the “sister” prefix is just a part of their name, sort of like calling someone Mary Kate or Jean Claude. I don’t think of myself as living in a convent with nuns... to me, I feel like I live in a house with five older female housemates. The only time I realize I live in a convent is when I’m around other nuns when they come to visit or we visit them.
The funniest was the time I went to a nun birthday party. Yes, a birthday party for a nun. Her name is Sister Germaine. She is the sweetest nun I’ve ever met. I corresponded with her through email all summer as she made all the arrangements for me to come here. She doesn’t live in the same house as me, but she celebrated her birthday on November 4th and insisted that I skip classes and come join in the celebration. I didn’t want to go, because I could picture a nun birthday party in my head: a group of sulky, middle-aged women sitting around a parlor drinking hot tea and quietly nibbling on a mouse-sized piece of frosting-less birthday cake as they talked in solemn voices about the Pope’s health. I really didn’t belong in that picture.
Sister Germaine’s birthday party was nothing like I expected! First of all, there was dancing. Nuns dance? I didn’t believe it at first, but now I do. They were playing Madonna when I first arrived, but later they changed to upbeat Ghanian popular music, which is called “hiplife.” Sister Germaine, the birthday girl, came dancing in, shaking it like a salt shaker. Sister Juliana joined her, of course. Sister Juliana can’t not dance when there’s music, whether it comes from the car radio, a commercial on TV, or a boom-box at a nun birthday party.
Secondly, there was lots of food and lots of alcohol. Mmm-mmm! There was Guinness, red wine, champagne, and even a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream. The kitchen table was filled with all types of Ghanian dishes. For dessert, they served a slice of some type of cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I was also surprised by how many male friends Sister Germaine has. Of course, they were all priests, but they were dressed in normal clothes and they didn’t talk about God at all, so they just seemed normal. I left the party very happy to have indulged in Guinness, Bailey’s, and ice cream and cake. I was so surprised that I had so much fun at a nun birthday party!
Anyway, today, Sister Juliana woke me up early so we could drive back to Obuasi and go to church. Afterwards, she saw some nuns she knew, and they walked us back to their convent and served us hot tea and bread for breakfast. Convent number 1.
We stopped by Sister Juliana’s parents’ house to get our stuff and to say goodbye to her lovely family before driving back to Kumasi. We were to meet Sister Dorothy, who was back from the funeral, so that she could drive with us back to Accra. We had to wait about half an hour, so we hung out in the convent snacking on bread and tea until she arrived. Convent number 2.
We had to pick up some clothes (nun clothes) that were accidentally delivered to the wrong convent in a small town halfway between Kumasi and Accra. We got out and ate the lunch that Sister Juliana’s sister had packed us. Convent number 3.
After leaving convent number 3, we piled back in the car for the long trip back to Haatso. I was tired, hungry, grumpy, etc, every negative thing you feel after being cooped up in the car for over seven hours, so I was quite happy when we reached convent number 4, aka, my house. Dinner was waiting for us when we arrived, so I sat down and ate my fourth convent meal of the day.
Four convents in one day. So basically... my life is a comedy!