Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Funny things.

I was thinking today about all the funny things I see around here. Once I saw a Ghanaian man walking down the street outside our house wearing an Eastern European women's fur hat. Now we live on the Equator (or 4 degrees north to be exact) so what is the need for a fur hat? And a woman's hat?

Then the other day I was at Danquah circle coming back from Koala and there was a cattle car filled with white people. Not only was it filled with white people, but some of the men were shirtless and hanging out the top like the Africans do. It was very odd. I had to look 3 times to be sure I wasn't seeing things. Traffic in the circle was stopped as EVERYONE was staring. Now we're used to cattle cars being filled with Africans, but white people...it was a pretty funny sight. Too bad I don't have a camera phone, then I'd have proof of the weird things I see.

Over the weekend we went to the Tema fish market, which was surprisingly calm considering what we had been told about it. They wanted us to buy fish from them but they were accepting when we said no. It was actually kind of nice. Not dirt cheap, but nice.

seth - Seth is learning to write his name and wanted to add his here. Now he wants to write Toby's name, so pardon the interruption.

tody - his attempt at Toby.

Well, I guess that's it for today. I have to finish up before Seth decides that he wants to type constantly. Oh, for the days that he napped. Next school year he'll be in preschool, insha Allah.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Malaria Dreams

Last week I finished reading Malaria Dreams by Stuart Stevens. A very funny look at West Africa. I have read many reviews where they said that he was unfair to the Africans, but for the most part his experiences have been similar to mine. Just very amusing. Unfortunately now I must concentrate on my philosophy textbooks, which I would rather not.

We're still waiting on our computer. It's taken some time, Dylan is getting worried. I hope it doesn't get rejected. We had one drugstore.com box rejected in NY for size. I have no idea why it was too big to go through the pouch.

I was at Koala again yesterday and the clerk (who was very nice and an asset to the store, she was friendly and efficient - unfortunately I do not have her name), asked if Seth and Toby are twins. I got that in the States this summer too, but now that Seth is 4 he is actually looking a heck of a lot more like a little boy and less like a baby. Seth is significantly taller than Toby - but they were sitting down so I can understand not noticing that. According to his checkup, he is only in the 50% percentile, but there is only one 4 year old here who is taller than him. So perhaps American kids are really tall?

Oh, I bought Chiclets from Lebanon in Koala yesterday. Mastic flavor - since I didn't know what that was and my choices were Mastic, Strawberry and Licorice (I HATE licorice), I picked up some Mastic (to try) and Strawberry. Well, Mastic is carrot flavored gum - ew. So never get the Mastic. But now I know, provided I remember.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A little less negative about Ghana...

Since I have been called out by a fellow blogger in Ghana, I will post that I do shop at MaxMart. I just apparently blog more about Koala. Probably because Koala frustrates me more than MaxMart. MaxMart usually has what I am looking for and they often have chicken. I was actually thinking about going there today, but I have not yet made it and I probably won't now because it is too late to not get stuck in traffic. Maybe tomorrow;).

That said, MaxMart was 2 of 4 times saying there was no chicken today - maybe tomorrow. Now in all fairness there is more than one MaxMart in town and I only went to the same one twice.

And then for fear that I might have started sounding too negative about Ghana in general, some of my observations:

-Much of everyday life here is a hassle to foreigners. It's even harder if you have young children. And the more young children you have the more difficult it is. Now, on the up side you can hire a lot of people to work in your house because labor is cheap, but if you are not the type of person who likes having people around you all day - particularly ones who don't talk to you - then it can be rather frustrating as well.

-Most of my cultural knowledge comes from what I read in books, not what I learn from my everyday dealings with the locals. Most of my dealings are with clerks in stores and my nanny and gardener. I do attend functions where there are Ghanaians, but it's still a mystery. Most of the Ghanaians that I deal with don't like to talk about themselves or their culture and their native language is a complete mystery. I know from Peace Corps volunteers that this is not their experience, so perhaps it's just the reaction I get being "rich". I have never lived in a country where the people were SO unwilling to share their culture. But then, I look at it historically and I can understand why it would come to that.

-Ghana is a place that I would come back to when my boys are teenagers or grown. When I have more freedom to explore and don't have to worry so much about what I am going to do with the children for entertainment and that because I have so many young children I am a slow moving target of opportunity.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

No chicken today - tomorrow.

So today is the third or fourth day I have gone looking for chicken and have not found any. At Koala they told me "no chicken today, tomorrow." Yes, they have said this for 4 days in a row now. I don't believe them, not that I ever did.

So I bought some ostrich sausage, 'cause it looked interesting.

I also picked up a couple of ice cream cones for the boys and a little cup of "surprise" ice cream for me. Seriously, that's what it's called. It comes in a blue yogurt type container and it's called FanGold Surprise. Usually I wouldn't pick up anything in Ghana that was billed as a surprise, but this time I did and it's okay. It like vanilla with English toffee in it. Not bad. It could be much worse, like fish with seashells in it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Harmattan is here!

Sounds exciting but it's not. Harmattan literally is "...an ill wind that blows nobody good...". It's dusty and dry and everyone is coughing and sneezing. Last year it was pretty mild, only the sun got a little dull...it kind of looked like there were clouds covering it. This year, I don't think it's terrible - yet - but it sure is messing with my sinuses and it looks like it's always foggy outside. I hope it doesn't last long. Due to the louvered windows in our home, the dust comes right inside, like it belongs here. Kind of like the ants that think this is their home too. I am okay with insects living outside, but the house is mine and I don't like to share with them.

Went to Koala again today. It's always a painful experience. We should become vegetarians. The vegetable lady just walks right up to your car and you tell her what you want. She doesn't have everything - but then neither do the grocery stores - but at least you don't have to get out of the car. It's a drive thru! Maybe the States wouldn't have obesity problems if they had drive thrus like we do here:). Not a single fast food place, but you can get a refill card for your phone or produce or even t-shirts drive thru here.

This weekend we switched the playroom and the office, so now the office is upstairs and the playroom is downstairs. While I liked the office being downstairs, after Toby's fall I decided I didn't really want the boys running up and down the stairs. Now I need to actually get everything organized (and find the key to the old playroom, so that the boys don't go in there and got through my scrapbook stuff, like they did today when I was trying to get Blaise down for a nap). I tell everyone, Rose and Pamela (she goes back to school next week) that I am going up to put Blaise down and that the boys have ABSOLUTELY no reason to be upstairs and still I am shooing kids out of the room while I try to get the baby down. Then I find out that the boys were in the office. So having people to "help" me is almost useless.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Koala shopping on a holiday?

As I read the title of my post I realize I must explain. Koala is the name of a grocery store here in Accra - although I am amused at the visualization of a koala shopping on a holiday.

So today is a Muslim holiday - although I am not entirely sure of that, often holidays (particularly Muslim ones in a mostly Christian country that knows that they get to take off Muslim holidays too) are moved to the most convenient day. Such as the 2nd of January. Sunday is typically a holiday, and then Jan 1st is a holiday, so why not make 2 Jan a Muslim holiday? Who's going to know?

So anyway, we wake up to the absence of Mr. Richard's sweeping the yard. Mr. Richard has been on holiday for the past week, which was okay, except that technically he got his month off in June, so he asked for the week between Christmas and New Year off. Okay, no problem. But then on January 2nd, no Mr. Richard. I think he knows it's a holiday - we weren't told it was a holiday for the embassy until Friday. So now we're wondering if he's coming back tomorrow.

Then we go to Koala for weekly grocery shopping and can't find carrots. It's just slightly irritating to me that I can't get everything that I am looking for when I want it. I shouldn't get too upset, but little minor things like carrots...it's just the supply is so inconsistent. Next week when I go they'll probably have loads of carrots. I just don't like having to drive all over town to get what I am looking for when it's such - or what I consider to be - a common item.