Sometimes it is snippets of conversations that show the soul of a country:
- My Advans driver was taking me from Ho, the regional capital of Volta Region, to Hohoe – about 47 miles, a 2 hour drive. The road went through some mountains, offering beautiful views into the Volta plains. As we crested one mountain and looked at the vista below he got quite serious and asked “Does the sun shine like this where you live?” Think about it. I did and was humbled.
- Getting quizzed by 3 Advans loan officers while driving crazy bad roads from Jasikan to Hohoe (30 miles, 1.5 hours) – “Why don’t you have children?” “We decided not to have children – it was our choice,” I answered, kind of dreading where the conversation would go. The guys were obviously shocked by my answer. “When you get married you have a baby in 9 months-you have to have kids, it is what you do when you get married!” All three agreed, and I could feel the pressure for me to change my mind growing and to start having kids at 54. I decided to try and turn the tables. “Are any of you married?” That brought lots of laughter. “No! But soon,” was the response. I decided to push a bit, “So what are you waiting for?” “Because of what happens after you get married” “And what’s that?”I asked. “Kids!” I couldn’t help but laugh so hard I snorted. I am sure anyone driving by would have wondered why everyone in our truck was rolling with laughter.
- Electricity went out for the entire town of Hohoe just before 7pm. It was already pitch black outside as Ghana is close to the equator. I like to think of equator meaning equal – equal day to night, about 12 hours of sun to almost 12 hours of darkness. There was no light to eat my Cliff bar by, and more importantly, no fan or a/c. I went outside my motel room and just stared at the stars, marveling at the Milky Way. Sadly, the lights came back on after a couple of hours.
It’s been awhile, and I am afraid I will start forgetting all the fine, wonderful, wacky things that are making up my current life. You get to help me keep the memories and share in a laugh and a nod.
- Exploding curry powder – it wasn’t the curry powders’ fault, it was the ants. Of course, I blame the ants. They were converging en masse in my kitchen, and I had to move my recently bought spices, cans of tuna fish, and top ramen aside quickly so I could kill the tiny buggers. And the bottle of curry powder dropped to the floor – a glass bottle. It absolutely shattered. A haze of orange filled the kitchen, and I thought for a moment I was in the best Indian restaurant ever. But I wasn’t, I was in my kitchen on a Saturday morning, not even having a cup of coffee yet.
Do you have any idea how invasive curry powder is? Let me just say I was finding orange particles for 3 days, hiding in cracks and crevices I had cleaned only an hour before.
The great news is that my whole apartment smelled fantastic for about 48 hours.
- I really was going to buy a dark backpack last weekend. I somehow got sidetracked while shopping the streets of Osu (area with nice shops, bars, restaurants – a bit of an obroni hangout) and found myself buying yards of fabric from Woodin. My new goal was to hunt down a wonderful tailor named Esther who made me a dress 3 years ago (also from Woodin fabric). She was around here somewhere…
After wandering the streets of Osu for about 30 minutes (no mean feat, it’s not that big, but dodging cars and open sewers was a bit exciting), I heard a “Hello Madam!” Sure enough, there was Esther welcoming me back to her shop that I had just walked by +3 years!
After exchanging greetings and catching up a little, we got down to business of fitting me for my new wardrobe: two dresses, a skirt and a simple short-sleeved jacket.
Reconnecting with a lovely lady: Priceless
Stay tuned for photos!!
- Same theme – fashion: I wore my dress to work last Monday. The one that Esther had made me 3 years ago. It created a bit of a stir; everyone was quite excited I had something with Ghana fabric. Three of the Loan Officers I knew demanded photos with me.
Can’t wait to see what happens when I wear my new collection!
- The picture of me doing aerobics for Advans’ 10th Anniversary Walk is showing up on various office powerpoints…I am choosing to be flattered, although hand-covering-eyes was the first reaction.
- Toe kicks are an interesting thing. I don’t have any in my kitchen. The lower cabinets have doors that I now call ‘toe scrapers’
- I can get my 2-room apartment cleaned and sheets and towels washed for $4.50. I wanted to get it done every 4-5 days, but management asked me to keep it to every 2 weeks. Some concern about water consumption, and the comment “This is Africa after all”.
I have compromised to every 10 days.
- I have found a place to stay in Tamale, my next 2-month stop on my Kiva Fellowship. I had lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago (okay, a Facebook Friend whom I had actually never met in person) at a local restaurant. He lived for a while in the US, and understands the hopes of comfort an obroni has. Since he spends a lot of time in Tamale, I asked if he could help find me something, preferably a house-sharing situation.
Turns out he has a friend who is going to be out of town for several months – and a housemate willing to share the empty space! With hot water and A/C! AND A COFFEE GRINDER!!
- About the coffee grinder…a sweet friend from Pfizer days was in town (really – she was here visiting another friend from her Global Health Fellowship days and I was a bonus). She had just finished a safari trip to Tanzania, and was travelling home with some coffee beans. I didn’t know about the beans when I exclaimed over her luck in visiting a country with good coffee. She promptly made me a gift of a pound of delicious Tanzanian coffee beans.
I have been searching off and on for a coffee grinder ever since.
My finding the house in Tamale is obviously a God-wink. Must be doing something right!
- There is a mosque not that far from my apartment. I can hear the muezzin calling the Muslim for prayers. It is quite beautiful and haunting, and I know I will miss it.
- Hitting the road for all of next week, back for the weekend, then out for the following week. See MAP in Photos for locations, and keep good thoughts!
- What I am hearing: dogs barking, cars honking , a soprano singing opera, the beat and bass of dance music, the muezzin, a radio talk show…but nothing while I am writing.
Every so often there is so much happening that I want to share little bits – snippets!
- My chicken will be delivered on Wednesday
- Seems that to get fresh chicken (dead and cleaned), you have to order it and get it delivered to your door
- I wipe down my floors every morning. Then I close my windows. By evening when I get home there is a film of black dirt on everything. My feet are gross!
- Took me almost two weeks to figure out to stop going barefoot and put on shoes – now it doesn’t bother me.
- I do wipe down all surfaces again when I get back from work!
- Ask an Uber driver about his car and he will say “It is a Pay to Buy”. In other words, rent to own. Can take more than 2 years to accomplish. One go-getter said it took him only 10 months.
- Made me wonder what else he was transporting!
- I was happily making an omelet in my little kitchen (more later) when the last egg I cracked into the bowl dispelled a baby chick. I haven’t eaten an egg since.
- It is even more traumatic than it sounds.
- I threw out the 2 hardboiled eggs I had made the day before.
- I had dinner in a DC-10 that was turned into a restaurant. Pretty neat!
- Best Friday morning text EVER? My landlord asked if I would be interested in having a trained therapeutic masseuse come to my apartment Sunday morning – 30 minutes for $9.00! OMG YES!!!
- I hate ants. In Ghana, I am trying to be more compassionate. I figure they keep me honest. Did I empty the trash at night? Did I wash the dishes and put them away? Did I wipe down the counters after a meal/snack/any activity food-related?
- If any answer is “no”, the ants will let me know.
- Then I kill them.
- And I make sure there are all “yesses” to the above questions.
- It’s generally just fine …but the height of the single burner is amusingly problematic.
Thanks for reading – have a fun day!