Another interesting couple of days. We had an excellent weekend full of mini adventures and then a challenging start to the week.
So we’ll start with the fact that I’ve officially started driving in Accra. I guess the excitement started Friday when our driver Samuel was late to pick us up and it was baptism by fire. It really wasn’t that bad if I’m honest. There isn’t a ton of traffic in the mornings on the way to school, well not going in our direction anyway. The challenge is the somewhat ambiguous rules of the side streets. That tro tro in front of you is going to slow on the narrow little street? It’s ok to pass it as long as you gun it around him and narrowly miss the on coming traffic. Oh, and watch out for the motorcycle behind you who is trying to pass you both at the same time. It’s all a little intimidating, but completely doable. Oh, I forgot to add that I don’t officially have a license yet and the police are notoriously out for a bribe. Layers.
Saturday we had an excellent time at Bojo beach with a group of the new hires and some of the admin staff. It was an absolutely beautiful place. About a thirty minute drive from the school and we were at the beach. The drive was incredible in itself. A major highway (the George W. Bush Highway to be exact) that had everything from fancy gas stations and shops to shanty towns and one “shop” that I swear had at least a thousand refrigerators sitting outside from at least three or four decades. Then through tiny villages where it seemed everyone had a “shop” of some sort. The road was lined with shacks selling everything from phone cards to shoes to drinks and snacks. I’m very curious how the economy of a village like that works.
We pulled up to the resort area, we’ll use that term loosely, where the signs not only required that you bring no food into the resort but also prohibited your consumption of any food in the parking lot! The guard shack had at least seven or eight watermelons that I have to assume we’re confiscated. They weren’t playing around. Of course I managed to smuggle in some snacks rolled up inside my towels deep within my backpack. I mean its for the kids right?
The beach was actually a long skinny island that you had to take a little boat ride across a water way to get too. As we walked to the boat there in the water was a traditional fishing boat with guys throwing out giant cast nets. I mean giant! Just your basic Africa stuff you know. On the island there were fishing boats everywhere that looked like they had seen a lot of action. You could see them out on the ocean as well. Maddox swore they were pirate ships. The ones way out on the ocean had sails up and they really did look piratey.
Of course the kids headed straight to the water that was a little rough, but there was a big stretch of rather shallow water so they had a blast. Maddox and his friends never came out of the water from the time we got there until we packed up to go. They looked happy so I figured I’d join them. I took off running and went in full force, for the kids you know. Now I don’t know what you assumed the water would be like on the coast of Ghana, but I figured it would be warm. Wrongy dongy. I was instantly numb. Wow. And the weather here has actually been a little cool too, with a nice breeze, so all that together made for a chilly experience.
Next we headed to Big Millie’s for some shopping, lunch and drinks. I was a cool little resort, again don’t picture the picture your picturing when I say resort, that had little huts to rent, people camping, a stage for music, a couple bars, a restaurant and a ton of vendors right on the beach. Of course the kids ended up back in the water eventually. We won’t discuss some of the things that Maddox pulled out of the water here. We’ll just say he got a good scrubbing when we got home. The vendors had everything from beads and drums to Bob Marley shirts and Ghanaian clothes. I can’t be certain that everything here was “authentic” but it was cool. In fact we joked that perhaps they had the same supplier as Ikea for a few items. We did make a few purchases. Josie got a couple of little dolls, Maddox got a Ghana bracelet and Robyn got some Ghanaian pants. Secretly I think this is we’re MC Hammer liquidated his wardrobe when he hit bottom. I’ll see if I can get a picture of them at some point.
So we had lunch, which comes on Ghana time. I think they had a game where they waited for everybody in the place to order and then cooked it all at the same time. It took a while and came out to tables in completely random order. It was good though. I had what turned out to be the equivalent of wings and chips. (Fries for you uncultured Americans) Maddox had a Margharita pizza that looked pretty good and Robyn a grilled chicken salad. All of which we completey devoured and approved of. Oh, and Josie had a fruit plate and a little bit of everybody else’s whatever.
Sunday we had an easy morning then headed over to a British family’s flat to pilfer through stuff they were selling as they were moving home. We actually had to stop on the side of the road so Josie could use the bathroom on the way. Don’t worry, it’s completely socially acceptable here. We’ll leave it at that. They were nice and we talked for awhile and bought some towels and a lamp from them which was nice because we had three towels to our name, four if you count the one that has a hood and looks like a butterfly.
We struggled through some breakdowns for much of the afternoon. I think Maddox was just completely exhausted and I’m sure his little brain is running at warp speed pretty much all the time. But, he’s five and he had those in the States too, so, life goes on. After, Josie’s nap we loaded up the car cranked up some Google Maps, which surprisingly is about 87.6% accurate, and headed to the Marina Mall for some groceries and a television. We could have waited a bit and had a friend introduce us to a friend who had some nice off brand televisions for cheap as long as you don’t ask any questions, but we decided it might help deescalate some of the iPad wars if we could let them watch a movie on the big screen. So while Robyn and Josie groceried, Maddox and I bought a television from a nice Lebonese guy in CompUGhana. Or something like that. He completely ignored us for a good while, common here in stores, but then was super nice once we started talking, also common here. Maddox had on his Man U kit and everybody loved that. We also had an interesting conversation about Obama with a security guy. Apparently there are some pretty conservative folks around here. He said he liked him the first time, but not this time because of certain stances he has taken. I politely aged to disagree and moved on. We then had to wait and make small talk with the guy who would put the TV in our car for us, which came with a region 2 DVD player if any of you have a use for it let me know. Talked football, politics, family life and all kinds of stuff. He even offered to hook me up with his cousin for a try out for a “big league team” if I wanted it. I politely declined declaring I was currently suffering from back spasms and would need two to four weeks to return to match fitness.
We finally made our way out to the car where we felt compelled to dash (tip for you continentals) the young security guys, Felix and his friend, who not only helped us park but helped get the kids in the car as we left. We gave them a cedi each and Robyn gave them three quarters which brought giant smiles and wonder. I don’t know if they could use them, but they hustled off to show their friends.
At this time I would like for my parents and Sig to consider not reading beyond this point and if you so choose to continue please don’t freak out, we are fine.
So they have this thing in Ghana called malaria you see. The incubation period for developing malaria is seven to fourteen days. We have been her eight. On the seventh day, no not a creation story, I woke up in the middle of the night with chills and aching. Uh oh. It continued the next morning and it was suggested I get tested. So Samuel drove me to Med Lab where they took some blood and texted me approximately three hours later to say I was negative. Yippee! Right? Well… Felt slightly better this morning, but by lunch time I was hurting again. Chills thru the night as well. Then Robyn started feeling it. Just ridiculous. So she went to a different lab to get tested and it came back positive. Crikeys! However, through out this we were consistently getting varying suggestions from “just take the meds it won’t hurt you and it’s better to be safe”. To “nah, you’re fine don’t worry about it”. And even, “don’t trust Egon Cinic, they get lots of false positives”. All of which was thoroughly appreciated but utterly confusing. So off to Med Lab again for a second opinion for Robyn. She comes home, rests, feels slightly better then another crash and a negative result from Med Lab. You have to be kidding me. So… I’ve had my fever spike again and Robyn is up and down. So we are starting a round of malaria meds tonight. I’ve also deducted from our conversations with staff that we definitely win the prize for contracting malaria the quickest in history of the school. Basically there had to have been a mosquito waiting for us at the airport. Oh well. We’ll be fine, and there is still the chance that its just a virus, but we aren’t going to take the chance. So parental units worry not. Probably half the staff has gone thorough this and they are all still living. We’ll be home for Christmas with all kinds of trinkets, I promise.
Alright. So some of these entries have been and will be pretty long. There’s a lot going on. Don’t worry I won’t be offended if you quit reading half way or skim or just get sick of it. Cause in the end, I’m writing this probably more for us than for you. No disrespect. You’re all just lucky I’m sharing amidst the delerium of psychedelic colors and sounds I’m experieincing from the malaria. Just kidding. Just feels like the flu. I promise Mom, Dad and Sig we are fine. There is a whole school of awesome people who are checking on us and watching out for us.
It’s all part of the adventure right?
That dot is our house. Come on over.
A look across the city from the Head of School’s house. Notice the football game. Maddox really wanted to ask them to play.
The ferry at Bojo
Somebody didn’t follow the rules…
Josie and Rhona (media specialist) flying a kite
Seriously. That’s a good looking boy and a million dollar smile.
Josie and her new friend Kiyo buying bracelets.
That wall hides the men’s room. A different meaning to a room with a view.
Miss Tina carrying Maddox from the car. Turned out he was playing possum. Funny.