I’ve found much of what I was coming to Ghana for—but not much of Ghana itself. I came to read and watch my family read. I came to be with my children before they got away from me. I am treasuring this time immensely. I know the weekends can be difficult when the phone is quiet and yet they seem to fly past anyways. (part of that phenom is just living in Accra, every small endeavor becomes at least a half day affair—today is was riding my bike with a new friend to take her to the vegetable stand and check a few shops I’ve put on my radar as I’ve passed them in a taxi. We got going around 10:30am—the road was roped off—obviously for cars—so we ducked underneath—just to break the plastic tape, so we jumped off and re-tied the plastic—then, because I was distracted, I took us a bit in the wrong direction. We corrected ourselves—and what should have taken 5-10 minutes max—took at least ½ hour because the veggie lady kept getting distracted and needed to recount Elizabeth’s (Gates Foundation NGO for agriculture) take. (pineapples two for 1 gh cedi—about $0.67) (small bananas—a between an American small and those small ones at Fiesta—8 for one cedi) With our backpacks packed we headed back. Found the fabric store I’d been lusting after—I bought 2 pieces of batik—paying way too much—but I didn’t have it in me to bargain after standing in the sun at the veggie stand (and it isn’t even hot yet)—and a piece of kente clothe—two strips thick—about 12 inches wide and one meter long. (Why then and there—haven’t a clue) 30 cedis. Elizabeth was actually looking for clothes for her 14 yr. old who didn’t bring enough “should covering” type shirts. We went into one store that had shoes on the outside, but really had liquor, a few gift baskets, and some wrapping paper. 2 cedis a sheet–$1.50—outrageous! So E. handed the lady a 5 cedi bill and it took minutes upon minutes for the clerk to go out and find three cedis change. (how can you run a shop with no change? (She came back with just the change—so when whomever she borrowed the change from gets two more cedis, I guess she’ll get the rest)). And the one store that looked promising for a few regular items—milk, bread, etc…no refrigeration—only dry goods. (It was very clean and tidy…that was nice.)

When we got home at noon—I needed to lie down. Instead, we drank water, ate cold papaya and pineapple (yum!) and headed back out to the school to catch the last 30 minutes of swim time. Needless to say, when I got home I took a good one hour nap!

Jeff reads books—not internet news and views. That is cool. My whole life has quieted down. I can work on school work in the morning, also do a Ken-ken puzzle (a suduko type puzzle), knit a row or two—and still have energy to make pancakes. I have more energy…not driving is HUGE. Shopping once or twice and having less to choose from is HUGE. (sometimes needing toilet paper or milk is a hassle because you can’t just run out 24/7.) The family staying together after school (Friday—Jeff in Faculty band, Allegra and I at Swim practice and Sarah at Volleyball) is amazing. I love it!!! (Allegra and I even had time to check our email waiting for everyone—I had had an allergy attack of some sort earlier having Jeff take me home at 2pm so I could lie down—but then it was so fast for each of us to get back!!) (oh and I woke up in the middle of the night sneezing and ended up going through an entire twin sheet as my hankie). (I played Solitaire on allegra’s ipod until I got sleepy again—it was fun!

We left the house at 4:00pm (after the nap and scrubbing my feet with a pedi-sand paper thingie) to go to a garden party we were invited to by a couple who works for CARE. A super kind offer. It is weird to age and start to relate to being older than everyone—I thought we were the same age—but everyone has children so much younger than ours…so many kids—all these Canadians and Danes with three kids and toddlers and babies. I ended up seeing one of my neighbors at the party—an older woman who is always walking early in the morning in her Sari and tennis shoes and decided to go over and introduce myself. She is visiting her Son and daughter-in-law from New Delhi (Son and DIL had met and chose to stay in Canada when not in Ethiopia or Sri Lanka or Ghana with Catholic Relief services). We had a lovely chat and she and her son-in-law ended up taking us to a new teeny tienda that sells Indian spices. We managed to get a great taxi driver on the way home (4 cedis—less than three dollars for us to go 8-10 kilometers). Too bad his car was such a P.O.S. (We are really having trouble finding a good driver with a late model car.)

Back to what I have found. We must of done something really selfless in our last lives, like saved babies from a burning house or fed the needy or something in a past life to put in Eden (in Sebastopol) in this life. And for me, I don’t want Sebastopol to be what is preventing me from looking. I find myself saying things like, “when Allegra finishes high school, I want to live in Bainbridge for a year, and try other places too.” I want to just live, meaning to start from nothing and fill in—with a job, furnishing the house, etc…I like making a space home. I like making a neighborhood home. I like the process of building a community around me. Already we are getting a reputation for having “already.” “You already bought bikes? You already know where to buy Indian spices? You already have had clothes made?” This morning, Jeff and I were out walking by 6:50am. Accra already has a hum going. Lots of cooking on open fires (in the city!) Three young adults stopped us to smile at Toby. Each (two men and a woman) were carrying huge (5+ gallons) plastic containers on their heads—that were either currently or once were full of cooking oil. (G-d knows what is in that oil—palm, hydrogenated, cottonseed…) They had big smiles on their faces when we talked about Toby (us of course forgetting that they are caring 30 lbs on their heads) The walk was colored bleak by the overcast sky and the blue staircase to rubble. (Just like India—one house nice, the next lot a rubble heap—as long as it is not in front of “our” house, people can really ignore here.) Also, I think I have mentioned, there is no zoning, so a home is next to an auto dealer, then two houses and across the street, an either unfinished hotel, or an abandoned one, and next to that a preschool (crèche). Odd, odd, odd!

Today is school work, Sarah is going sailing (!), hopefully, Allegra and I will start painting her closet doors, and I want to experiment with the fabric I bought—since I can’t find yarn—I am aiming to rip down the fabric to make my own.

Thanks for reading this long, long, long post. I hope you are reading it with the half and half I miss and the newspaper I’ve been missing for years since we quit our subscription to the Press Democrat Nov. 2000 (Bush elected) and didn’t re-instate when Obama got elected because we knew were leaving soon. Another day for more adventures in food shopping (10 cedis—about $7 for ice cream that no one likes and Dove conditioner that is making me sneeze). Xoxoxo Amy

Oh yeah, and I am writing a lot.

Amy at Aburi Gardens

Amy at Aburi Gardens

Jeff talking to the only thing that will stand still and listen

Jeff talking to the only thing that will stand still and listen

Soft serve for Allegra

Soft serve for Allegra

We paid Sarah big to pretend like she was having fun

We paid Sarah big to pretend like she was having fun

Still looking for the Obama and Michelle head shot fabric...

Still looking for the Obama and Michelle head shot fabric...

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