We are pretty much back in the swing of things after a much needed winter break. We had a wonderful visit to North Carolina full of family time, mountain creeks, walks in the woods and even five minutes of real snow.
But that’s not the story I want to tell tonight. It might get a bit long, but I think its one worth telling and there’s a pile of pictures waiting at the end for you to catch up on all the rest. I’ll wait a minute if you want to grab a drink, or just get a bit more comfortable.
Last weekend we loaded up the whole family to head out to Kokrobite for an afternoon at the beach. Maddox was pumped to try out his new surfboard and it would mean we had snowboarded and surfed on two different continents in the same week. (i was kind of geekishly pumped about that) As it turned out, it just wasn’t in the cards.
Our car had been making some funny sounds, but I was trying to chalk it up to being parked for several weeks and had put off a checkup until Monday. So we’re headed down the George Bush Highway (seriously) and as usual we are having to stop at each junction and watch the vendors wander by as the traffic piles up around us and the lights take their merry time to change.
And then it happens. A little shudder. Every light on the dashboard lights up. Everything goes black. Nothing. I put it in park to try to crank it back up and it won’t even turn over. We’ll just say this isn’t the best of situations. Traffic is thick and fast and if you weren’t aware, its pretty freakin hot around two o’clock on a Sunday in Ghana. I get offers to help push the car out of traffic from some of the street vendors, but I can’t even get it out of park. “ooh, chaley” they say and shake their heads.
Then, a couple of guys in a jeep pull up next to us and ask if we’re okay. Uhm, no. The driver tells us he works for the British High Commission and his passenger is a mechanic. Cha-ching! He does something magical so that we can push the car out of the center lane of traffic to the median to relative safety. They then proceed to check everything they can think of under the hood and I stand by confidently nodding and pointing (i was raised in the south. i’ve done this before) as they discuss things in a mix of English and Twi alternatively filling me in and laughing at me for not having any tools or knowing anything about my car. (i was raised in the south. everyone else knew all of this)
Eventually they figure out that its the battery or something and they decide they need an electrician. Can’t get him on the phone though. They decide to drive to the mechanics shop and get him.
Crucial plot moment #1.
- Will they return?
- Do we split up and Robyn and Josie take a taxi home while Maddox and I hope they can fix us up and we can head on to surf a bit?
- Do we need a coconut, plantains, shoes or a FanDango from the traffic island we’re parked next to at this junction?
- Turns out, just two FanDangos
Miraculously they return, with an electrician who immediately gets to work. However, it is around this time that things begin to fall apart. Plan B had involved a pool for Josie and Robyn while Maddox still grasped onto the hopes of surfing. As each of those became less likely, the tears began to fall. (as all you parents out there know, that just makes every situation a little bit more fun and oh so much easier to deal with) In the meantime, our new friends have realized our alternator has been draining our battery instead of charging it. Yeh, that’s not going to be an easy afternoon fix. We start weighing options, none of which sound that great, but have to make a decision. Oh, and none of them involve surfing. Yikes.
Its decided that we’ll all pile back in the car and take it to the mechanic’s shop. (at this point I feel I should add some names as these guys have now spent at least an hour helping us out. Frimpong is our mechanic and Emanuel is the driver. never heard the electrician’s name) They swap the batteries between our cars, wait for my battery to charge a bit in Emanuel’s car and then we drive like the president headed to a top level cabinet meeting to Frimpong’s shop.
Crucial plot moment #2
- Frimpong’s shop is a dirt parking lot with a couple of taxis up on blocks that look like they could have been there awhile. Definitely not Rice Toyota.
- They tell us it will be 450 GHC to replace the alternator
- You can’t get an alternator on Sunday
- Oh, and I’m only mildly aware of where we are, but quite certain I couldn’t find it again
A little further conversation that includes a few, “do you know this guy that works at the BHC”s and we decide the only thing we can do is trust them. So I hand three guys, actually as would be true of any auto shop around the world I assume, there are four, maybe five guys looking under the hood now, a wad of cash and my car key with a promise that the car will be delivered in ship shape to us at Lincoln around lunch time on Monday. We take the surfboard and pile in a taxi they helped hail and we head back to Accra.
In the meantime, we’ve managed to dry up the tears with another of Robyn’s Mentos fresh ideas of pool time for Josie and FIFA for Maddox with our buddies Jon and Nisse. (thanks again guys for letting us roll up in there on short notice. oh and i’ll let you have a rematch anytime Jon) We manage some smiles and good times and there’s only a half a knot in my tummy as I lie down to sleep that night.
Sure enough though, after a bit of nervousness and several bug eyed responses from friends as we tell them our situation, our car is delivered at approximately 1:26 pm as I’m teaching my class. We’ve been driving without a problem all week long.
People in Ghana are good.