Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Aluminum Man Part 2

After looking over my last post, I am surprised I was coherent at all. I was pretty tired, even though I didn't participate in the event. Dylan has also pointed out to me that I don't have the permission of all the people pictured to post their picture on the internet and perhaps I should take it down, so I might, but not right now.

Another thing-just as a cute aside-today Toby was coloring with markers (we're trying to do art in relation to Halloween) and he colored all over his hands. So the palms of his hands are blue and yellow and some green where they overlapped. I said, "You need to wash your hands." and he said, "No, it's art." Of course with the way Toby talks it sounds more like "no, sarrrr."

Where did I leave off in the last post? Oh, with the praying mantis. After I woke up and noticed that my univited guest was not where I last saw him, I got up to go to the bathroom. The bathrooms were quite funny too as there was no door, they were just open to the room, and as Dylan later told me, the shower just drained out into the bedroom area. I don't shower away from my home here in Ghana. I don't appreciate standing under a ice cold shower and I still feel dirty anyway, so no need. When I came back to lay down, I noticed that the foam mattress had conformed to my body (sounds like something that people in the States pay a lot for) and I could only lay back down in the exact same position I had been in before. Thankfully, I had awakened at about 5 AM and it was time to get up and get moving for the day anyway. I had no clock or watch in my room, so I just waited until Dylan knocked on the door (he had fallen asleep in the room with the boys). Then we were up and off for the run portion.

They ran 2.5 miles and then jumped in the Volta river. The Volta is rife with schistosomiasis (here's the wiki article). Schisto, as it is commonly called, parasites get under the skin and cause itching. They make their way to the liver and can make you pretty sick. It's rarely fatal though, but still...not interested in having ANYTHING living under my skin. They swam across with Dylan in 3rd on arrival at the other shore. Then it was time to jump on the bikes and head out for the 16 mile bike race. It was a very hilly course. All in all, Dylan did fantastic. He finished last, but not by a heck of a lot, and his bike wasn't nearly as good as everyone else's. At the halfway point the pace biker, traded bikes with him and couldn't believe he'd made it so far on his bike. It's kind of out of repair too.

We had breakfast at the other hotel (the one with A/C and pool), which was really good food and they didn't run out! A plus always! Then we headed back to Accra, made great time and when we got ready to leave the house the next morning...the Explorer would not start! How's that for a blessing? We didn't get stranded in Akosombo, we are now stranded in our own home in Accra! I don't think it gets any better. So we now have a fuel pump on order from the States, hopefully it will be here by next week and then we can have it installed. After that, I don't know what, but most people haven't had trouble if they flush their fuel lines, so perhaps it was only one bad batch of gas.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Aluminum Man Part 1

So this weekend was a full one with the promotion party, the promotion and the Aluminum Man. Dylan's officially a Chief now!

We went to Akosombo to do the Aluminum Man mini triathalon. Dylan ran, swam and biked. It was a good time. However, in true Ghanaian fashion there were anomalies. The hotel we stayed in had no A/C...which makes for an uncomfortable night's sleep. I'm not too into camping so it was like camping with a tin roof that mangos fall on all night. Sounds like you're being bombed. We ordered dinner at about 4 PM and then went to drive the route they'd be taking the next day. When we arrived back at the hotel, well of course the food was not ready. So we all waited patiently and probably 45 min to an hour later, still no food. The concept behind ordering early is that they will have your food when you are actually ready, but that never happens. They don't begin cooking the food until you return. I have yet to see this theory work. It doesn't matter if you order then or at breakfast time. So we wait and wait and finally Joy and Dylan, Pamela, Seth and Toby's food all arrives. Dylan asks about mine and then takes the boys to have a bath. She comes back and says that he didn't order the food for me. See, it's not on the list! They had written everything down and had failed to write down my food. But what had actually happened was that they had written everything down on a notepad and then copied it onto a new sheet of paper and failed to copy that down. So I told her to forget it and went back to the room with Blaise and ate granola bars because you always bring food with you for this very reason. I was joined by a praying mantis who was an uninvited guest in my room and he refused to leave. I made a deal with him that he was to stay on his side of the room and I would stay on my side of the room and we'd be okay. But when I awoke in the morning, he had not kept his side of the bargain. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Avalanche of Penne

Went to the commissary today and when I got to the gate there was already someone waiting to get in. So I put on my left turn signal and waited. Someone pulled up behind me and sat there and then several other people went around him. He apparently got irritated so he pulled up next to me to block me from turning and then was blocking the whole road. He wound up driving off, but it was all a bit weird.

When I got to the DPO (it's inside the commissary) the key wouldn't work in the lock on our box. So we went inside and asked the clerk if there was mail. He said yes, what's your box number. I told him and then watched as he took the mail out of our box and put it back in, took the mail out of the box above ours and put it back in, asked me my last name, then picked up the mail in our box and then the one above ours again. Then finally brought me my mail and asked me if it was mine. You'd think that with as slow and deliberate as they are, they'd get things right. Then I said, are there packages? Oh, yes...he gets me packages and they make us fill out this annoying form for each package. So I took the ones he offered me (they have this interesting system of piles for their packages) and left. I then told Dylan that he should stop by on the way home and try to see if there was at least one missing. There wound up being one more that they didn't give me.

After we took the packages out to the car (one of the things that annoys me here is that everyone wants to help, I don't know why I get annoyed by that, but I can carry my own packages thank you!), we came back in to pick up some food for dinner. I had meant to get penne, but when I realized how late it already was I knew that penne was not going to be for dinner tonight. So I grabbed a bag of penne anyway and some other stuff to throw on. In the meantime, Toby had turned off the freezers (all the outlets here have on/off switches and Toby roamed the commissary turning off the switches). When I got up to the checkout, I heard something fall off the shelf, I looked back and a bag of penne had fallen...and then as I watched, another and another. The penne just avalanched onto the floor. And, unfortunately, when the bags of penne hit the tile floor...they bust open. Now, I hadn't touched the penne in about 5 minutes, but here I am penne falling off the shelf behind me and I'm holding a bag of penne. Um, yes, I suppose I DID cause the penne avalanche, why do you ask?

Tuesday-lack of motivation

I seem to be motivated enough to blog, but not really motivated enough to do anything else. Perhaps I should have more coffee.

Dylan's stressing about our party on Friday. We don't have anything for it yet. The paper goods haven't arrived via DPO (although the wonderful lady from the DPO called me today and said she'll be on the lookout for our stuff:). The beer hasn't made it through customs yet. I'm not that stressed, but then I feel like you don't really need much to make for a good party. Lots of friends and music and we're good.

I'm just going to babble on about personal things today instead of going over fun things about living in Ghana. I figure some of them will spill over into each other anyway. I mean, I live here right? I 've been going back and forth about getting a job. The CLO job is still open, and I liked it the last time I did it. Now I am kind of short, we leave in the summer, but I'm sure they would be happy to have someone for a short time. Then I could not feel so bad about the cost of college and other stuff that I am saving for. I got my tuition bill this morning...guess that's part of my lack of motivation. On the plus side, I still have a 95 in abnormal psych. I didn't get 100 on my last essay, but I am okay with that. I didn't put nearly as much effort into as I had in the last one. I thought school was going to keep me busier than it has been. I still have periods of boredom, and particularly when I look at the clock, like now, and realize that while it seems like it's been a long day...it's only 10:46. Not even time for lunch yet. Maybe I should up my course load.

Seth has a playdate today with Mia. We finally got the day down.

Okay, I got more coffee...When I opened the fridge to get the milk, I saw the olives that Joy had brought me back from the States in there. That was so sweet of her. I told her once that I try olives all the time and they're terrible, but there's something wrong with me because I just keep trying them even though I know they're going to be terrible. I only like Spanish olives, and she brought me back a jar. Isn't it funny how such a small gesture can mean so much.

I was just reading how blogger now has an audio function, so you can make an audio blog, which would be great for my dad-I mean for me to blog and my dad to listen to-but he has no mp3 player. I'll have to read more about it.

Well, I suppose I should wrap this for now. I know I hate reading really long blogs. Maybe I'm ADD.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday again?

Wow, last week went by fast. We had bad news that Dylan's godmother's son was killed in an ambulance accident. Please keep the family in your prayers.

On that sad note, not a lot happened this past week. Dylan is training for the "Aluminum Man" competition. They're planning on swimming the Volta river, running, and biking. It's a "mini-triathalon". It'll be this coming weekend, after Dylan's promotion party. Hopefully all the contestants don't drink too much at the party. After this promotion Dylan will officially be "Chief".

Blaise is 4 months old and weighs 15 1/2 lbs. He's getting big!

Pamela's off school this week for fall break, but really the weather is no different.

Toby and Seth are being themselves. They're enjoying having Pamela home this week.

We just had our kitchen door removed to keep the boys from slamming it. I just knew that someone's hand was going to get stuck in it one day.

Our Explorer is still giving us a warning that the fuel pump is going to go out. The guy at the dealership says that the gas is bad in Ghana and there's nothing they can do about it except keep replacing them when they go out. He said that there's something in the gas that is making is very sticky and causing problems in newer cars specifically. They've tested it, but the agency that does the testing is owned by the government and says there's nothing wrong with the gas. Our friends' Explorer is still sitting at the dealership awaiting the part. I just don't want it to go out when we're not anywhere close to home. That would bite. We should probably stop going out together just in case it does go out, just so that someone could actually get us if we do break down.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sunday-lost at Max Mart

Actually we weren't lost AT MaxMart, we were lost after leaving MaxMart. Accra is so interesting to see (during the day-NEVER at night). Trying to get back we followed some other cars figuring they knew the shortcut (which they did, but not to where we were going). And wound up in Light Industrial. All the areas or neighborhoods of town are named. We live in North Labone (la Bo nay) and Light Industrial is actually a portion of town we'd never seen before, so it was an interesting tour. We found the Coca Cola bottling plant. We also passed some sort of factory that had a lovely sign at their front entrance "We may not be the best, but we can certainly do better". I have to go back to Light Industrial just to get a picture of that sign.

Then Monday, we had to take the Explorer to the Ford dealership. Our friends here who have a 2005 Explorer have had their car in more than they have had it out over the last 3 months. They've replaced the fuel pump 4 times in their Explorer. Ours is threatening to go out, but hasn't yet. We had to take ours in for the rear a/c because when turned on it makes a horrible thumping noise as though we have someone trapped in the wheel well. The trip there is uneventful, at least as uneventful as it gets living here. But going back was interesting. Dylan went alone and traffic was down to one lane on Ring Road because of a stalled car and tro-tros. The tro-tros stop along the side of the road to pick up travelers and they just block the road while people get on. My favorite is when they actually pull around you and cut you off so that they can stop right in front of you.

Well, the Explorer made it back but we're waiting on a part. They have temporarily fixed it so that there's no noise, but it'll be about 6 weeks before we can have it truly fixed. The guy at the dealership suggests that we sell the Explorer here. Which is what we'll probably do.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Well, Saturday was eventful. We had to try to find Ana's house in the dark. All was well until we got to Kwame Nkrumah circle where they have the road to Achimota blocked off on one side. So we drive into incoming traffic, which is totally normal, and make our way north. They are doing an incredible construction job on this particular road and have been since we got here. It's going to be very nice (for about 2 months) after they get it done, but for now...it's awful!

We made it to where the road is "closed" (which means there are concrete barriers up, but the spaces between them are easily wide enough to fit a car so the road isn't really closed). We continue through, past all the traffic piled up on the left side of the road, until we come to where the road really is closed (by this I mean, it just sort of drops off into oblivion) and there's a way to get in to the left side of the road. Luckily (HAHAHAHA!) there is a traffic cop there directing all the people (it amused me that he's dressed in the black cop's uniform of Ghana, at night with no streetlights and isn't even wearing white gloves or a flourescent vest). Apparently the person in front of us, with Cote D'Ivoire license plates, had royally ticked off the cop because the cops are passive-aggressive here. They don't give you a ticket or anything, they just don't let you ever have a turn to go. He kept yelling at the guy in front of us. Finally though, he did let us go-otherwise I wouldn't be posting this, I'd still be sitting there waiting.

Dylan then impressively found his way back to Ana's street, where we promptly fell off the road into the concrete ditch when turning too close (there was a taxi blocking the entrance to the street). I have never seen Ghanaians move so fast as they did when we just came right up out of that ditch in the direction of the chop bar on the corner. Dylan's a great defensive driver so we didn't hit anyone, but it was scary for those he was headed for at first.

We dropped Ana off and went a different way home, which was easier and mostly uneventful until we almost hit a dog that ran across the street not too far from our house, but that happens everywhere, not just Africa.

I think that's probably enough excitement for one post. I'll have to save Sunday's adventure for tomorrow:)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Finding Our Way

Today's adventure consists of finding Ana from Ghana's house, or at least where Ana is staying while her house is being built. For those who don't know Ana from Ghana is a girl that Pamela went to Kindergarten and 1st grade with back in Syria. Now, as amazed as we were, Ana is back in Ghana. Seeing as she's Ana from Ghana it's not really all that surprising...but she's in Pamela's class at school.

We start off first with Pamela talking to Ana on the phone while I was trying to get Toby down for his nap. Toby's nap time consists of 4 books (mostly Sandra Boynton) and then an adult lying down with him until he goes to sleep. Seth usually sits for the books, but will not have anything to do with the nap and is out the door after the 4th book. So Pamela goes to give me the phone so that Ana's mom can tell me how to get to where she's staying at the precise moment that Seth pulls down a plastic container filled with art supplies from the closet that I not moments before had asked him if he had been getting into (he said no) and told him that he was not allowed in that closet. Chaos ensued...and Pamela had to go find Dylan to get the directions.

Dylan's story is that Ana's mom (we don't remember her name, unfortunately we'll just continue to call her "Ana's mom") gave him 2 landmarks he'd never heard of in a part of town that on the map is about half of Accra. They go 'round and 'round until finally they agree to meet at the school and Dylan will follow from there. It's 7 minutes from the school, she tells him. Apparently that's 7 GHANAIAN minutes-which actually translates to about half an hour. His recount then gets amusing..."we go down a windy road and then on a main freeway, we immediately get off the freeway then go under it, through a small river, and around a corner. We turn right at the Total station. Afterwards, Ana's mom says, you'll know where to turn by the Total station. Dylan was like...yeah, THAT'S where I'd have trouble. Oh, did I mention that very few streets have signs and the ones that do have names that not one single Ghanaian actually knows? For instance, our street is Aborlebu and Rose laughed at me when I gave someone directions. She told me after, "I don't think they call it Aborlebu." I said, then what do they call it? She told me she didn't know. I am under the impression that they call it "Ugly White Person street".

Anyway, after all that we have to find our way back to where Ana is staying in the dark...that should be fun and an interesting post for tomorrow.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday...hey I don't know any songs with Thursday in the title:(

So it's Thursday...not much happening in Sunny Accra.

I'm having an "I'm really sick of having a nanny!" day. It pretty much started yesterday when Toby came inside from having been outside and he had a big red mark on his head. I asked Seth what happened because Toby is not that good with the words yet and Seth told me that he was pushing Toby on the skateboard (which, by the way, I have told Pamela about 100 times to keep in the garage so that the boys don't get hurt on it) and Toby fell and hit his head on the concrete. He even showed me where it happened. So I came inside and said, "Toby fell off the skateboard" and I handed Pamela the skateboard and said, "Put this away!" Rose looked at me and said, "Please Madame, Seth hit Toby." I said, "No, Toby fell." Anyway, long story short, Rose was insistant that Seth had hit Toby with the skateboard. So Seth went to time out and I asked Pamela (because she was in the room with Rose) did Rose see this happen? Pamela says, "No, she went out after it happened." So now I am really frustrated with Rose. Yes, Seth COULD have hit Toby, but I really don't believe that he did. Especially because Toby's forehead has that "skinned knee" look to it, as though he scraped it against something.

It's like that a lot. Rose met Toby when he was 8 months old, still a baby, and she can't see him any other way. Even when he obviously instigates Seth. Not that either of them are angels, but I am tired of hearing "Seth what did you do?" everytime Toby starts to cry. Not to mention that Toby has figured that's a fantastic way to get his brother in trouble.

So today, I've just been really agitated with her. And Toby's throwing fits because he wants his way and Rose tries to give him whatever he wants to stop him from crying. It doesn't matter how many times we tell her not to do this, she still does. So frustrating. Pamela asked me yesterday if we were taking Rose with us and I said firmly "No! We're going to hire a nanny in Poland (maybe) who will not defer to us and will keep our rules."

I had a Halloween meeting and that was about useless. Although we did convince the Marine in charge not to invite everyone on the planet. And I'm working on my paper for abnormal psych and the essays that are due this week. Keeping busy...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday, Monday

I just finished reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, which if you haven't read it you should. It's a very good book. If you've been to Africa and you haven't read it-you most definitely should. I learned so much from this book about this place that I have lived for over a year. It's just amazing. So much of it was just like a lightbulb going on "Oh, So THAT'S why...". Really a good book. It's an incredible story if you've never been to Africa too, it's just that it makes you really think about Africa if you have been there.

Now I have to track down a copy of one of my required reading books for Abnormal Psyc...this should be interesting. They are most likely unavailable in the local bookstores, although I bet if I wanted to brave Makola I could find it. I'll keep you posted on whether or not I get that desperate.

Yes, there was no need to brave Makola! I found 2 books in the CLO library! Now I have my choice...do I want to reread a 900 page book or a 150 page book and do a 10 page analysis of which one? I'm thinking the 900 pager because I actually understood that one better the first time I read it.

Got the most wonderful note from a person who visited about a month ago saying how impressed he was with our kids. In particular with Pamela. That was so nice to hear. He made my day. It's rare that people have nice things to say, most people just criticize.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Before Pic

Here's the before pic from Toby's tumbu flies. This was actually taken while he was at the doctor and yes, he does have plastic on him. To remove the flies you have to put Vaseline (or some other thick substance) over them and/or cover them with plastic. This forces their heads out because they can't breathe and then you can grab them. Posted by Picasa

After Pic

This is the after photo for Toby. There are 6 pictured here and he actually had 4 more. One on his side and 3 on his inner thighs. Still disturbing... Posted by Picasa

Another pleasant valley Sunday

Well, I think I have discovered the nature of Toby's Tumbu fly infestation (I previously posted it as tumba, but the correct spelling is tumbu). We visted Cape Coast about 3 weeks ago, and it had rained and the cushions in the restaurant were damp - which is the environment these insects like. It seems as though his infestation was just dumb bad luck.

Last night we went to Oktoberfest. They had beer on tap and lots of VERY LOUD music. But it was a fun time. Dylan had a blast, I talked to one person the whole time, but in fairness I hadn't seen her in some time and we were catching up. But Toby's tumbu fly infestation is such a hot topic here. Even the people who have had a tumbu fly have had only one at a time. It's amusing that with all of the deadly diseases we have the opportunity to get, tumbu flies are the most talked about thing.

Went to church this morning...uneventful. But this afternoon I went to Koala (the local grocery store) and couldn't find a parking place. That's not at all unusual. I had a guard trying to guide me into a spot too small. Never take driving instructions from someone who doesn't know how to drive. So I left. That's one of the biggest problems for me here. The frustration level is so high I rarely get anything accomplished.

I'm still working on the sheets and bedding from when I stripped Toby's bed, fearing that he had bed bugs or something like that. It takes so long for stuff to dry here, even in the dryer. And I think our washer leaks, but I can't prove it and I don't want to call GSO out to fix it since they mostly think we are just whiny foreigners who are just too picky. I think they're right, but I'd really like to not have a huge wet dirty area right below my dryer so that whenever you open the dryer door something falls into the mud and then has to be rewashed. Whiny...I know...when Rose washes her clothes in a big sink with bar soap and hangs them on the line out back to dry.