Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SPF 100+

Sometimes I meet my NGO to tour a med school at 7:30 a.m. An hour later, we walk all the way back to where I started to tour the school of agriculture, which is right by my house. I was expecting to tour an anatomy lab, but instead I looked at pigs for an hour. When we finally got to the medical school after walking for another 30 minutes, the dean was not aware that we were visiting. Hmmmm....oh the organization. Love it. To top it off, I still got a sunburn through two applications of 100+ sunblock. The African sun definitely does not agree with my skin. It's impossible to keep even waterproof sunscreen on since it's so hot. My host family always says that I look really nice when I get some color, but I keep telling them that red is not the color I want to be lol. I also have a rash on my arm from running into a cactus yesterday...maybe it's just Africa in general that is not good for my skin :).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Who Wants to Be Rich?"

This is the name of a popular game show in Ghana; it's pretty much the same as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in the States but with 80s music and hair. I was watching it with my host family the other night (after the football game, of course!) and was thinking that most of the people here are better off not being rich. People here just don't have much, but I think people here are happier, as a whole, than people in the U.S. I met a 71 year-old American woman at the clinic this morning who has been living here for 11 years-- she retired to Cape Coast. I told her that I could understand wanting to move here since it's a beautiful area and she laughed. She said even though it was a dirty and unhygienic city, she loved the people. I can definitely understand this after spending a few weeks here! Cape Coast is like a city that feels like a small town, because the people are so friendly. I can't go anywhere without seeing students I've taught in the schools now (Madame Sarah! How are you doing???... ha I think it's really funny that they call me Madame). When we're with Lawrence, the Ghanaian ProWorld staff member, he stops to talk to someone he knows at least every 5 minutes. They are just so social! I love it! However, Ghana could definitely benefit from more resources to improve hygiene and some hygiene education. Today on my way to town, the taxi driver just stopped on the side of the road to pee. Not something that would happen in the states lol, but when there aren't any public bathrooms, you've gotta do what you've gotta do I guess. And, even though I think the goats and chickens and pigs that just hang out in the streets are funny, there is a reason that, in developed countries, animals are confined to farms. By the way, I have now learned how to say animal names in Fante now... my host sister is quizzing me tonight! I never stop working here... if I'm not at schools or in the clinic, I'm learning Fante or football or making lesson plans! :) But it's good to be busy!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Coconut Grove

We had a girls weekend at a resort near Elmina called Coconut Grove this weekend. It was pretty amazing. The rooms have warm, running water. The shower was amazing. And our room was right by the beach. I slept so well all weekend with the sound of the ocean (minus the sound of the morning announcements over loudspeaker by my host family's house!). There is also a pool, which is pretty great since the tide is too high to swim much in the ocean. This is by far the cleanest beach I've seen since I've been to Ghana, though. I am also a fan of the free breakfast with coffee :). There was a huge group here from an accounting firm in Nigeria. They were all pretty nice, although I didn't socialize much since I kinda wanted to relax this weekend. Yesterday morning we got up and rode horses on the beach. So fun! I will say, saddles in Africa are not quite like saddles in the U.S....I am pretty sore today haha. But it was worth it! The horse trainer said that he had been working with horses for 15 years. The horse I rode was apparently the fastest runner but the slowest walker, so the trainer kept having to make him trot to keep up with the rest. Ha. At breakfast yesterday morning I also met a really interesting couple from the U.S. The husband is originally from Ghana but teaches at Penn State. He and his wife travel to Africa regularly (their son, an architect, is even building them a house here). The woman writes about African food and is doing research about the nutritional value of traditional dishes. I am really excited to look at her website...I've noticed at the clinic that hypertension is a huge problem here, but it's tough to counsel people on what to eat since I don't know much about the local food. They also opened a university in Nigeria last summer and are spending the last few weeks of the summer teaching there. Anyway, the weekend was really fun, especially since we got to watch the World Cup game on a big screen last night. This is such a great place.. I will definitely remember it if I ever get a chance to come back to Ghana!


In Ghana, football is serious business. At 4 a.m., you can already find games on the dirt fields by my house. Don't bother asking people what their favorite sport is, because the answer will always be football. Everyone plays, and everyone watches. Last week when Ghana played Germany, I think all of Cape Coast was holding its breath to see if Ghana would advance. After every goal that Ghana scores, there is a group (maybe pack is a better word...) who run from where I live to the market that's over a mile away blowing vuvuzelas and yelling. It's intense. My host mother and sister always sit and watch the opening of the games but then leave the room while Ghana is playing since they get so nervous. Emmanuel  just coaches the team through the TV. He also quizzes me on player names and team strategies after every game (even the ones Ghana doesn't play). I don't watch much soccer in the states, but apparently I will be an expert by the time I get home. In the first rounds he also made me calculate the chances of each team advancing...we had to talk about all of the hypotheticals. So funny. He says that he will bye me a Coke for every game that Ghana wins. I was heckled all last week about the U.S./Ghana game. I have heard at least a hundred times that Ghana beat the U.S. in the last world cup. A taxi driver told me last week that I shouldn't support either team... "if Ghana loses, you can be a lot sad, but if U.S. loses, you can be a little sad. You have to be patriotic." My host family taught me to say I am a Ghanaian in Fante last week..I decided that since I'm Ghanaian for the summer, I have to support Ghana, and, I'll have to admit, I was really excited that they won last night. The other volunteers and I are at the beach for the weekend, so we got to watch it on a projector at the resort. Everyone was going crazy... it was a really exciting game! Emmanuel also told me that he was going to shave my head if U.S. beat Ghana, so I think things worked in my favor :).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Summer Family

My host family is Ghana is so great! We have settled into a daily routine. I wake up between 5 and 6 a.m. every morning and come out to find my host sister ironing clothes. We say good morning (in Fante, now, of course), she and asks if I slept well. Then they warm up my water for a shower and I eat breakfast. Yesterday I got avacado (they call them pears) and yummy! We leave the house around 7. Elizabeth, my host mother, always says, "Sarah! You are looking beautiful today!" Then we walk down the hill to the taxi station, which sometimes takes awhile since we talk to all of the neighbors on the way (the neighbors all call me Efuwa since that is my name in means Friday born). When I return home in the evenings, Elizabeth always says, "You are welcome!" and we talk about our days. She is a kindergarten teacher and has 60 in her class this session... I don't know how she does it! She is retiring next December because she will be 60, but she says she will miss her kids. Then she tells me to go watch soccer with Emmanuel. Last night the third African team was eliminated, so now they are even more nervous about the Ghana game tonight! My host sister, Pat, usually gets home around 8 since she teaches and then works at a shop. She and Emmanuel teach me Fante every night... I'm starting to remember some of it haha. The pronunciation is so hard! Ghanaians don't normally sit together and eat at the table, but they usually bring me my dinner to eat while I was soccer. Elizabeth goes to bed around 8 since she gets up at 3:30 every morning. Then Pat usually goes to bed to work on her lesson plans or read, and Emmanuel always stays up late to watch TV. They are going to teach me how to cook some Ghanaian dishes this weekend when I get back from Coconut Grove. Elizabeth is also having the seamstress come over to take my measurements. Mom, if you're reading this, don't forget that she wants your measurements, too, to have something made for you :). I am having to get used to checking in with someone every time I leave the house, but I'm usually so tired at the end of the day that I don't want to stay out late anyway. Last night Pat was worried that I had walked home in the dark, but I assured her that I had a taxi drop me off at the door. The driver didn't even know the area of town that I lived in (even though he said he did when we waved him down), so I had to direct him all the way to the house... my host fam was really impressed haha. I think I'm good at directions here because everyone goes by landmarks. If the streets are named, no one knows the name of the roads; and people definitely don't use directions (NSEW) here!

I love that there is such an emphasis on family here. Some of that may be from necessity. Most of the people I talk to have never traveled out of Cape Coast. In some of the rural villages, even 30 minutes away, some of the people have never come to the shore or seen the ocean. Children either live with their parents or with their spouses. Pat and Emmanuel are both in their late twenties and live at home, and their sisters and brothers are all married. Most people can't believe that I live by myself away from home. I thought that people just didn't travel because they don't have the resources (which is the case some of the time), but even some of the wealthier people I've met in the community don't travel because they don't have a desire too. Although I guess if I lived right by the coast I might not want to leave either :).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tro-tros, Taxis, & (Ghana) Time

Public transportation here is an experience, to say the least. The taxi drivers have a special bond with each other. At the taxi stations, they take turns using signs for the tops of their cars that say where they are going. They also don't mind driving on the side of the road to cut each other off. It's really no big deal if they just give a warning honk. So, if you get a taxi at the station, you have to wait until it fills up before it will leave. If you get a shared taxi on the road, the driver will drive really slowly and honk at people until he finds enough people to fill it up. If you get a drop taxi, you have to negotiate the price, because, if you are white, they will rip you off (unless you're me and keep a list of how much it should cost to go everywhere in town...ha). The taxis are also colorfully decorated. Many of them include stickers on the back about God. My favorite so far if "For Give Me." I'm not really sure if they meant "forgive me" or if they want people to give them something. Probably the second. I've also seen a lot of taxis with golf balls stuck to the window in these suction cupped golf ball holders. Hmmmm. And don't expect to be able to open the door from the inside, because most of the door handles are broken. Perhaps the most surprising thing to me about the taxis is that a lot of them don't know how to drive a stick shift, but they do it for a living! It's an especially bumpy ride when a driver who can't use a stick shift well decides to take a "short cut" through some of the unpaved roads. Sometimes when I tell the driver where to stop he tells me that it's not where I want to go. Example: "Could you stop at the Yes F.M. junction please?" "No, you want to go to Old Site." Sometimes the drivers are frustrating, but I've also had some of my best conversations with taxi drivers (who are, incidentally, all men...I've never seen a woman taxi driver). As interesting as the taxis are, though, the tro-tros are even crazier. They are basically big vans that the drivers and their assistants cram as full of people as possible. However, if a taxi or tro-tro has to pass a police checkpoint, they will make someone get out and then walk or ride in another vehicle across the border so as not to be fined. It's kind of a surprise to see a police checkpoint for the first time. It's basically just guys in camo standing in the middle of the street with massive guns. Anyway, the last tro-tro I rode in had a hole in the floor (probably from all of the off roading). The guy who takes the money was just hanging out the side of the van...he didn't bother to slide the door closed for a few blocks. It's really amazing how fast they can go, too. The redeeming factor: it only costs like twenty cents for a twenty minute trip. So economical!

Ghanaians are not the most timely people I have ever met. Take this morning. I went to a school to teach. I had no idea what I was teaching, because the headmaster and all of the science teachers were out when I went to meet with them last week...twice. Then, I waited an hour to teach a class about respiratory disease before I had another 3 hour break. Nice. The thing is, none of the administrators know the class schedules. Before I left for the day, I made one of them take me to every class and write down the times that I would be teaching...we'll see if that works out. Anyway, since Ghanaians are not exactly punctual, I hear a lot about getting caught in traffic. Since public transportation is so crazy, they all think it's a great excuse. Except that it's never taken me more than 30 minutes to get anywhere in town. Lesson learned: I now keep a book with me at all times so I have something to do while I wait!

Babies and Beaches

Babies and beaches are my two favorite things about this country. The children here are beautiful. Every morning when I walk down the hill to the taxi station I get at least three hugs. Today a girl name Cynthia asked me if we could be friends. Um... of course! I love that the women carry their babies tied to their backs with batik cloth. We went last Saturday to a village to build cement blocks for a school, and there was a woman with a baby on her back in the tro-tro-- he was snoring! So cute! I have no idea how the kids can sleep through all of the noise, but they do. I routinely see babies sleeping while their moms clean or cook. After we were finished working on the school, we had to sit and wait for someone to come pick us up. This group of kids sat on the bench by me. At first they were really shy. This little girl would inch closer to me and eventually worked up the courage to touch my arm. She was trying to rub off my freckles cause she didn't know what they were! Ha it was so cute! After our mini project, we went to Abanze Beach Resort. It was like $40 U.S. dollars to spend a night somewhere on the beach with hot running water, a tv, and three great meals (lobster pasta and fresh squeezed juice...amazing!). It was a really nice break from the noise of the city...and I no one in the house woke up at 3 a.m. to turn the radio on, so I actually slept in until 7.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jesus is Lord Fabric Shop

Ghanaians love Jesus, and the names of all of the businesses definitely reflect it. On the way to my house, I pass "God is Good Pharmacy", "Jesus is Lord Bookshop", and the "Love God Everything Store". My personal favorite so far is "Holy Wood Movies", although I'm pretty sure that was a mistake (and they probably sell porn). They also all ask me if I'm Catholic or Methodist, because those are the two main denominations. My friend Yen made the mistake of telling our N.G.O. that she doesn't attend church in the U.S... he invites her every day now :).There is really no sense of being politically correct here, either. All of the kids ask Yen if she is "a Chinese" and they regularly call my director "the fat one". They call all white people obroni and expect us to call them obibini (black person). It's so great, though, because they don't mean any of it offensively... there is not really racism here.

This morning Yen and I had a planning meeting with Nicholas and laid out the rest of our time here. I also have been trying to plan for the next group so it's not so disorganized. Kirsty (our program director) asked me if I needed a job this morning lol. If I didn't have to go to med school, I would definitely stay and work with her! Last night we went to Abanze for dinner. The scenery was great...we were right by the ocean. The food was also amazing. Who knew that a Scottish woman in Ghana could cook amazing Chinese food? We also took some wine with us, which was a nice treat. We are all going back tomorrow night to spend the night in the tiki huts (with running water!!! so excited!). We have a mini project building a school in the morning, but I'm hoping to sleep past 5 a.m. on Sunday! 

Thursday, June 17, 2010


My host family told me this morning that I was too skinny and that they wanted to fatten me up before I went home. Ha! I told them that I need to be able to fit into my pants since I only brought a couple of pairs! I do really love the food here, so I'm sure I'll gain a few pounds. They have toast or oatmeal ready for me every morning by 6 a.m. Then my host mom packs me a "morning snack" of pineapple before I go to work. It's the best pineapple I've ever tasted since it's grown here and bought fresh from street vendors! So good! Then she makes me a different lunch everyday. It's usually rice with chicken or fish and some kind of spicy sauce. I think she uses onion, tomatoes, and red pepper. Delicious! For dinner the other night, my host sister made me spaghetti bolognese, and tomorrow she's making me a special dinner. She went to culinary school for awhile, so she's a great cook. She is supposed to teach me how to make some Ghanaian dishes before I leave. I really want to try some of the street food while I'm here, too, but I don't think I'll push my luck since I'm the only volunteer who hasn't been sick yet (I think it's the probiotics and vitamins :). My host family also brings me a snack of watermelon after I get home to eat while I watch soccer. And then they are surprised when I can't finish my dinner haha. The only thing I really miss from home is dairy since they don't really eat cheese here and only use evaporated milk. Tonight our group is going to a restaurant run by a Scottish woman...she's cooking us Chinese food. I'm pumped!

Work was more productive today. I met with one of the teachers at a school that I'm teaching at next week, and we set a meeting to develop a lesson plan tomorrow. The NGO and I also started organizing for the next group of volunteers since there will be so many. I told him that he needed to be very scheduled to make sure that he makes the best use of their time. I'm coming up with some projects tonight and we will start setting them up tomorrow. Yen and I are only his second group of volunteers. I think he wants me to help organize since he's a little overwhelmed at the thought of working with 6 people at the same time. He has so many contacts in Cape Coast, though, I know he can find something worthwhile for all of them to do while they're here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh work

It's been a long and frustrating week already. I've only been here a little over a week and am starting to get frustrated at trying to get things done on "Ghana" time. There is just so much lag time in between actually getting work done. It's a cultural thing, so I'm trying to be patient. Yesterday my NGO called me at 5:15 a.m. to make sure I would still make our 7 a.m. meeting (even though I have yet to be late for anything), and then when we got to the beach to do clean-up the environmental organization wasn't there. We stood around trying to get a hold of someone for two hours, and then my NGO dropped us off at one of the schools to "assist" the teachers, which really doesn't fit with doing public health work. The school just really depressed me. There were around 70 three and four year olds in one classroom with one teacher. There was no bathroom, so they all use a bucket outside the classroom door. And they didn't actually learn anything all day, because one teacher cannot teach that many kids at the same time. The teacher also hits the kids as punishment (with belts or a cane or whatever is around), which was just really hard for me to watch. Yen and I let my NGO know that we will not be spending anymore days like that while we're here and that working on a grant or presentation for his health organization would be a much better use of our time. Despite the lack of organization, our hand-washing and HIV talks went really well at the schools this morning. Even the teachers participate and ask questions. It is really great that something as simple as washing hands (and common sense to people in developed nations) can make a difference. Tonight we are doing a community outreach about diabetes. Yen and I will give a lecture/answer questions, and then we'll do blood pressure and weight checks. It will be a long day (we won't finish until 11 or so tonight), but I'm hoping it will go well!
Other than all of the time management issues with my project, I am still really enjoying Ghana! I am even getting used to the smells lol. In town it smells like fish (people carry huge bowls of them on their heads to sell) and urine (since people just pee in the open gutters). I can also always smell car exhaust. I actually saw a car that had a gas leak the other day. Seems really safe... And hygiene is not really a priority here. I'm sure when I open my suitcase when I get home it will not be pleasant :). It's really hard to keep things clean here since it's so humid. I washed my clothes yesterday and don't expect them to be dry for another couple of days. And I had to throw away my toothbrush after a week cause it looked moldy... gross!
One of the other volunteers and I are planning a night away for Saturday, so I'm pretty excited for that! Ghana plays again on Saturday, so we're hoping to go out somewhere to watch the game. Cape Coast went so crazy last week when they won! It was great!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sleep & Kakum

I don't think that anyone in Ghana sleeps. I've been awake before 6 every day since I've been here, and both of my host families told me that I sleep in. Today, my host mom woke up at 3:30 a.m. and started playing music in the kitchen. Insanity. And it's always loud outside. Music, people yelling, roosters, goats, taxis honking. I guess you get used to it if you live here... I thought that people napped since they are all up so early and in bed so late, but my NGO and host family both assure me that Ghanaians don't take naps. Maybe it takes so long to get anything done here because they're all tired all the time lol.

Our group went to Kakum National Park this morning. It was a little touristy, but still really fun. A couple of Canadians built a rope bridge over the forest canopy, so we walked it and then took a walk through the forest. We heard one of the monkeys that the major river in the area was named after (the monkeys make a noise that sounds like "kakum") but didn't see it. The park lets you spend the night in the forest and takes guided night walks through the park to see wildlife, and I'd really like to do it if I have a free night before I leave. As of now it's not looking like I will, though. The park is only about 30 minutes away from where I'm working, Kakumdo (it means "under the river"), although the roads are kind of rough in a tro-tro. On our way back, we stopped at a monkey sanctuary run by this crazy Dutch couple. They let some of the monkeys sleep in the same bed with them. Apparently, they adopt and try to breed some of the baby animals in the area that have lost their parents to hunters/poachers. After the sanctuary we stopped to eat a Hans Cottage Bottle, also run by Dutch people. The food was pretty decent, but I am so sick of rice! The tables are sitting on a boardwalk over a lagoon with crocodiles, but we didn't see any crocodiles today. After I finish doing some research for the diabetes lecture I'm giving on Wednesday night with my NGO, I'm heading home to watch the US play with my host brother, Emmanuel. Hopefully I can stay awake for the entire thing!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


It was raining all morning in Cape Coast today, and it's like the town shut down. Traffic wasn't even that bad on the way to my project (I generally can't even find a taxi that wants to take me there unless I make them go the back way...). The driver told me that he thought people here are lazy cause they all stay home when it rains :). He said he always works since his wife passed away and he has three kids to support... so sad! I keep having to tell myself that I can't help everyone and that development work will make more of a difference than charity. I took his number in case I needed a taxi in the future (it's generally a good idea to get a couple numbers of reliable cab drivers in case you get stuck somewhere). Anyway, we only got to go to one of the schools that we had planned on speaking at today cause so few students showed up at one school that the rest were sent home for the afternoon. We did get to speak to 8 classes at the first school, though, so it was still a busy day! The students were great! They loved the activities that we had planned and listened really well. The younger students were harder to communicate with since they don't understand as much English, so our Ghanaian project members had to do most of the speaking then. They all had such great questions (i.e. "Can you get sick from sharing a drink?" "Can you get HIV from mosquitoes?"). I am impressed by their level of maturity and am looking forward to working with more students in the next few weeks!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I am working with an NGO who has created an organization called HEPENS (Health Protection + Environmental Sanitation). He is so great... completely passionate about what he's doing to help his community. He works all day every day and is the only Ghanaian I have met who is always on time :). The first two weeks that I'm here we're going to schools to teach basic hygiene (hand washing, brushing teeth, etc.). We're using the project budget to put buckets with taps (like water coolers) in schools so that kids wash their hands with running water instead of the existing bowls where all of the kids wash hands in the same, dirty water. We are also using money to place trash bins in the schools and around the community (currently, everyone just throws trash on the ground, and the garbage attracts can always see little kids playing in trash heaps, so it's a massive health problem). We had our first full day in a school today, and it was so much fun! The kids are really receptive, and they catch on really quickly. I think it's really important to educate the youth on how to better protect their health and build a healthier community. The teachers were also very excited to have us there and asked us to come back to the school if we have time. I also had my first Fante lesson this afternoon with one of the national staff. I've also finally gotten a good grip on directions and how much taxis should cost, so that helps a lot (it took me a couple of days to figure out the difference between a drop taxi and a shared taxi, but I think I've finally got it down). We had a group dinner tonight at this restaurant on the beech... the atmosphere was incredible! The tables are outdoors under a gazebo and there are palm trees and flowers all over the place. Unfortunately, all of the nice beech resorts are run by foreigners, so the tourism doesn't do much to help the local economy.
Tomorrow we are splitting up to talk to older kids about HIV prevention. I think it is so great that it can be talked about in schools. I hope it goes well since the kids in these schools are not as proficient in English as the kids who we worked with today!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oh Ghana

Day two in Ghana! I stayed in a hostel in Accra the first night before traveling with the rest of the group to Cape Coast. The traffic outside of Accra was awful (most likely because there are very few traffic rules... we went off-roading to avoid some of it), but it only took around three hours. We had a short orientation in the Proworld office before we took a tour of Cape Coast. I think I've got the directions down for the most part (I was the only person this morning who remembered how to get from my house to town and back :). The city is a really nice size... not small but not huge. The area by the coast is gorgeous but not swimmable because of the strong tides (and pollution and fishing). My host family is really fun, but it's pretty overwhelming because there are so many of them. Some of them don't speak much English, so communication is a bit of a challenge. There are 3 little kids, an uncle, two aunts, three teenagers, and then the house mom. One of the boys asked me if I partied last night and then blew me a kiss before I left the house this morning. I told him definitely not haha. My house mom made me a huge dinner this evening. Then, while I was watching some soccer, one of the aunts in the house brought me outside to dance. They are so fun! Sharing a bathroom with 10 people will be a challenge, but so far so good! I like the other volunteers who are here and am glad to have people to spend some time with after work and on weekends. I start working tomorrow and am so excited! My NGO likes to work early, but I'm happy with that since it's so hot here during the day. I can't believe that this is the cool season!
We toured Cape Coast Castle today. The scenery is beautiful but the history is terrible. Even after reading about cave-holding sites like this one, it was still shocking to see it in person. We also went to the Sunday market. The streets were packed! It's tough to navigate between the cabs and the open sewers without sidewalks haha. I think I would definitely rather get hit by a cab than fall in the sewer though. People just pee in them in the middle of the street. One reason why Ghana is one of the least sanitary countries in Africa! The goats and chickens all over the place don't help the smell much, either. At our hostel yesterday, we thought that someone was trying to get in and then saw hooves under the gate. Pickpockets and thievery is a huge problem here, so everyone keeps locked gates with glass or barbed wire over the top.
I've already experienced "Ghana time" and have barely settled in. Our van driver was an hour late yesterday morning (frustrating since we'd woken up at 5:30 am), and one of the Ghanaian staff was almost an hour late for our tour this morning. Apparently Ghanains are just not worried about's a pretty laid back culture. Nice in some ways, but I could see it being frustrating when you are trying to get something done (i.e. the plumber has been "on his way coming" to fix the toilet in the proworld office for a month now).

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Maybe since I waited so long to pack my I won't take as much stuff that I don't need. All I REALLY need is my passport and plane ticket, right? I can't print my boarding passes online... convenient. I think its because I requested a seat change. Will definitely be worth it if I get the window seat! Total flight time today=13h 30 min. I'm pretty excited to finally have time to get a full 8 hours in. Here's hoping I sit by someone quiet!