Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Things I will NOT miss about Ghana

Okay, so I did my top ten list yesterday of what I will miss...here's what I won't:

  1. THE POWER! We are often on generator power, but that's not the worst. We have lost or damaged more electronics here due to power problems than I care to count.
  2. THE DRY SEASON! During the dry season we are without city water, which means that we have no water coming to our house at all. We have to have the water truck deliver water every other day and that's only what we use for drinking and cleaning. There is no water alloted for watering plants/lawn/or car washing during the dry season. It's only fair as there's lots of people who have no water at all.
  3. INSECTS! I am tired of fighting off ants that don't die. They don't bite either or at least none of them stings like a fire ant. But ants that crawl across the living room floor and are large enough to carry off small children - a bit unnerving.
  4. Never really getting the "real" price. The price you are quoted is always way on the high side and because you are obviously foreign, the price will not come down very low for you.
  5. Western groceries are VERY expensive. If you can live like a Ghanaian you can (maybe, see #3) save money, but if you want to have "luxuries" like milk and eggs and fruits and vegetables other than cassava root and the fruits mentioned in "what I will miss..." you will not be able to save money here.
  6. Perpetual summer. Sometimes you need an excuse to just stay in. And my kids are really wanting to see snow.
  7. The secrets! There's a secretive nature to this society (at least in Accra, it's probably less so in villages). If you try to learn any of the local languauge you will just be laughed at, because of your pronounciation (something that happens in all societies, not to blame Ghanaians) but there will be no help. "Oh, you're pronouncing it wrong." "Well, how do I pronounce it?" then laughter ensues.
  8. The double standard. We sold our bikes and were harrassed incessantly about the price we wanted. Dylan told people who mocked (not just asked the price and decided they didn't want it) that if he went down to where they sell bikes here and tried to buy a used bike (most of which are donated to Western aid organizations and wind up being sold on the street here for a profit) they would charge him AT LEAST $100 for a bike like the one he's trying to sell for $75. We wound up selling his bike to a Ghanaian who was going to spend $100 on a used bike for $40.
  9. The faith lost in people/God/the world in general. It's a hard lesson to learn that much of the money and goods that are donated from the West - from our homes - to the aid of Africa never wind up aiding Africa. The money doesn't go where it's supposed to and the goods that you donate to Goodwill wind up being sold on the streets here and destroying the local economy because free stuff can be sold more cheaply than the goods that are made here. So it puts all those farmers/tailors/bicycle manufacterers out of business.
  10. Malaria and all the other horrible tropical diseases. Worrying about whether or not you or the children have malaria/dengue fever/cholera sucks. Taking malaria prophylaxis is not fun either. Larium makes people psychotic and is disruptive of sleep. I'm not sure if it's the Larium or the lack of sleep that it produces that makes people psychotic though.

I am happy to say that it took me some time to come up with this list and the first list of what I will miss took me a lot less time. I have a more positive outlook on all of Ghana. Tomorrow, I'll list what I have learned.

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