Attah Girl!

Dance Practice

merely explaining why life in Ghana isn’t as easy-peasy as everyone thinks. “Oh, you have household help three days a week, and a guard, and a gardener, and a slew (right kind?) of people fixing your plumbing, etc…Yes we do, and yet…

The only dishwashers are predominantly Jeff and I (yeah, we know, we out to be so much better about getting the girls to do the shit work—we hate it—I can only imagine…) This is an interesting realization. So no electric dishwasher, and only eight glasses, 5 mugs, 6 salad plates, 5 bowls (Sarah broke the bowl, one mug is at work and I’ve lost track if Sarah, Allegra, or I have broke the most glasses—darn tile floors), one sauce pot, one fry pan, and one soup pot. So, any thing you need, basically gets washed right away.

Having a handy plumber or electrician sounds fab—if they were handy. The a/c in the living room says 17 degrees (about 64) which sounds delightfully chilly. Yet the real temperature in there is around 77 degrees. It is the most often used room and the warmest outside of the kitchen—which is pure hell. I sweat a lot less in the LR. The bedrooms all have agreeable a/c’s. (Pls don’t even go to the fans or windows for us—the mosquito netting prevents the fans from turning, and the overhead fan in the living room blows warm air.) Tuesday morning I heard a motorcycle roar up to our front door at 7:30 am. Here to fix the generator. At 8:45 when I left the house, he was sleeping in the most mosquito-infested alcove outside. I came back at 9:45 to make lunches—still sleeping. Left at 10: 15 am, still sleeping. I asked the guard, why is there a man sleeping on our patio? “Waiting for generator part madam.” (I am now on a survey to see if everyone in Africa sleeps, or is it West Africa, or is it Ghana—so far my poll is showing it really is a Ghanaian thing—to just sleep anywhere, any time—at 11:30 Monday, I was in a taxi counting how many vendors were sleeping in or near their shacks—I counted three on one “block” alone.) So the generator man came and went, came and went. I won’t go into water—again. Then there is the plumbing. A toilet gets fixed in the same day you report it broken. (Finished is the expression in Ghana) Great, appreciated too. HOWEVER, it breaks again, or the next one does within two weeks. Seriously. (Toilet order in Friday, repaired by time I came home—5pm, Last night this oozing brown water started pooling in front of the kitchen sink. There is no line coming from anywhere—must be seeping from underneath the cabinet—nice description, eh?) The power has stopped and started at 3 times that I know of today—one load of laundry thus took 4 hours.

Senior Lunch area

Soccer Turney

I love Noeline, our cook/housekeeper (photo coming Tuesday/Wednesday). She makes our home hum with beauty, cleanliness, and calm. I cried on Friday, when I came home to an empty house and there was a note, “Please Mummy, the pizza is in the oven.” OMG—that thing is beautiful. We haven’t had cash, so there was no money for shopping, and that pizza was sitting there in all its elegance despite not adding any groceries. (Plus she had cooked the beans I soaked the previous night, plus the house was sparkly clean.)

Sometimes I admit, I get grumpy leaving lists for shopping and cooking, and you know what, I didn’t leave any note on Friday, except for the pizza one, and still there was a beautiful salad with feta cheese and a bowl of diced fruit in the fridge and freezer.  (Where did she get the money?)

We walk and bike most everywhere, and when we need to, taxi it. I think that is generally pretty easy. Sometimes the girls just plain refuse—it is too hot to go in a taxi! The other day in the taxi I was pooling in sweat. Gross. And sometimes, a taxi is not as easy as others to find. But generally, they are always close at hand. (1.5 hours with taxi driver the other day was $10—we made three stops)

Our house is smallish, and there is little place to “hide” stuff. The walls are plaster, so things meant to hang are leaning on other things. Did I mention we have a shrew of our very own—and ants, micro scopic and those using steroids? NO food can be left anywhere—I mean that is true in CA too, right? But in CA the ants march uniformly, here they skitter, scatter.

And there is another blessing/curse (as can sum up Ghana quite nicely): literally three prepared foods are hydrogenated oil free: Tomato paste, juice, and pita bread. Also, the sizes are very small—to look less expensive, and food spoils so quickly here. It seems like we do a major shop twice per week, fruit and veggies three times per week, and a “convenience” item once or twice. I buy those very white rolls two or three times per week from the ladies in the hood. Food  is pretty much prepared by hand. Hmmm…let’s see, (I know that is true of home too, but no Trader Joe’s to help the “homemade” meal) pizza, cookies, (did I mention no microwave—do you remember how to pop popcorn on a stove?) sauces, chicken, beans, chocolate for cookies, etc.. ( did I mention fresh pumpkin chocolate chip bread and muffins?) No frozen bean and cheese burritos here. Or pizza, or those delicious TJ’s breakfast breads. Or  chocolate chips. All homemade. That certainly is wonderful. (BTW Noeline made a curry chicken to die for last Wednesday.)

Two bikes down this week too—Allegra’s with a flat and mine with a broken chain. Bad news: Getting parts takes a bike ride in 95 degrees and 200% humidity or a taxi ride (same temperature). Good news: It can be really cheap to get someone else to do the repair. Jeff has been trying to book us on a flight for Spring Break. No such thing as paying over the internet, credit cards are not accepted in Ghana because of all the fraud. It is a long and arduous process to get money transferred or go to the airport to pay for the tickets, no one answers the phones and the internet sites are…well, you can’t find a flight schedule on Air Ghana (then again is that the airline you’d want to fly). All transactions, cash. Most cash you get at one time: usually 300-400 cedis (bout $200-250). Average grocery bill: 125 cedis, plus taxi, plus fruit stand, plus phone card top up, plus owing the math teacher for lunch yesterday—200 cedis gone like that—back to the machine!

Please don’t get me wrong. I am NOT complaining. I like my taxi rides, however hot they are, Jeff likes riding his bike to the mall (an extreme sport according to him), okay, no one likes doing the dishes or waking the guard to start up the generator. It is just a different life, that takes more time, even with all the help. I couldn’t imagine our life here without the help. I really couldn’t—unless I didn’t work, but then, I couldn’t imagine that either.

On another note:

Sarah gets out her yearbook from last year upon hearing that we will most likely return to So. Co. next year for good (well, from this place at least). She points to each picture, “WHITE, WHITE, WHITE.” She doesn’t want to go home to the same old, same old no matter how much she misses her friends.  I am very proud of both Allegra and Sarah, they are color blind. (And sexual-orientation blind too).

We had an intra-squad swim meet yesterday. A WAISL middle school soccer tournament and play practice this weekend. I planned out each of my math classes last night because I was in a panic about covering the course topics—no wonder I panicked—30 days of instruction left for each one. Yipes!

Did too many dishes this morn. Need to take a quick 5 minute rejuvenation power nap. Jeff thinks this post is B-O-R-I-N-G, he fell asleep about 10 minutes ago. I am sure he’d send his regards. Promises of pictures of Sarah next time.