Back to Village Life

​We stuck around in Accra for an extra day because Avy and I both had things that we needed to get done, and we needed wifi do to them. The internet situation in Frankadua is, as you might imagine, somewhat of a nightmare. I have data on my phone, but it’s the slowest speed at best and completely not working at worst. The cell network was down all last week, and I guess the cell phone company’s first priority isn’t fixing coverage issues in the middle-of-nowhere Ghana.

Some of the side of the road chaos on the way out of Accra.

Avy has an interview next week for Teach for America that she wanted to prepare for, and I had a million emails to respond to and some blog work to do. I was happy to be able to respond to emails from a computer rather than having to type them out on my phone or, what I do when I have long ones to send, type them in word on my computer, transfer them to my phone, copy them into emails, and send from there.
We left the hotel around 3:30, took a cab to the Tudu tro station, and got a tro from there to Frankadua. I got to sit in the front seat, but it was actually kind of terrible because I was sitting in the front middle on a high seat that left my head about 2 inches from the ceiling and a head rest digging into the middle of my back (what kind of tiny person did they think was going to be sitting on that seat when they designed the tro?). Our driver was a bit of a maniac and was getting angry that there was so much traffic. He kept attempting to cut around the traffic and took some “shortcuts” that I’m convinced actually slowed us down. On one, we almost got stuck in some mud just to try to get around like 10 cars.

So many people and so much stuff everywhere.

Think about the things that people do on the highway at home when you’re in traffic that really make drivers angry… and now multiply those things by about 1000. There are basically no rules when it comes to driving here. At one point, we were on a one lane exit ramp, and people had formed two lanes of traffic. Another time, we drove next to the road in the equivalent of a strip mall parking lot so that we didn’t have to sit in the slow-moving line of cars next to us. Driving on the shoulder of a road to get around traffic is so normal that the shoulder is basically just another lane with its own traffic.
Anyway, we eventually made it home about 4 ½ hours later. We had really good timing because the other volunteers told us that the power had been out for an entire day and was just turned back on. Apparently there was some issue at the pole near our house, and all of the light bulbs exploded in our house and the houses around us. People’s TVs got fried, and anyone who had something plugged in had their transformers totally destroyed. Eek. That just reinforces my idea that the electrical situation in this country is absolutely terrifying. But now all is well, and I’m glad I missed it!

Besides that, James is sick, and I’m pretty confident that he has malaria. He went to the clinic today, but the guy who does the malaria tests was out, so they couldn’t do a real test for him. He thinks he just has some stomach thing, but I don’t believe it. We’ll see tomorrow when he goes back.

Mall Day!

​Today was awesome!! Avy and I slept in, ate breakfast, and got ready to go to the mall!! We had big plans for the day including seeing a movie, enjoying air conditioning, eating snacks, and going shopping. Before we could do all of those things, first we had to figure out how to actually get to the mall. Hm. We asked at the front desk and the guy told us where to go to get a tro. He said the walk was about 5-10 minutes. Okay, that’s not bad.

Apparently it’s a universal thing that Christmas decorations come out waaay too early. This is the supermarket at the mall.


Ten minutes later, we were still walking and definitely not where we were supposed to be. Every block, we asked another person for directions, and I’m almost positive that they were all sending us to different places. We walked through some tiny, windy streets and finally ended up somewhere with a bunch of tros. Of course though, it wasn’t the right place… we asked someone and they pointed us across the street… which was a divided road with a fence in the middle. So I would say probably 20-25 minutes after leaving the hotel, we FINALLY found a tro that would take us to the mall. We think they overcharged us a little, but they dropped us off right outside so we’re over it.
First stop was the movie theater to check out the movie times and buy our tickets. There weren’t many options, and we picked Storks, some animated movie I’d never heard of (though that’s not surprising because I’m incredibly out of touch with the outside world). We had about two hours to kill before it started, so we had lunch (I had chicken nuggets and an Oreo milkshake! Does it get any better than that??), bought snacks to smuggle into the theater, and walked around the mall until it was time to go.

I can’t even describe how nice it felt to do something “normal”. We bought popcorn and sat in a cold movie theater and I stuffed my face with smuggled gummies and cookies for two hours (okay I didn’t actually eat the ENTIRE time, but that’s just because I ran out of gummies pretty early on). I enjoyed the movie, but honestly I would have been happy no matter what it was.

Afterwards, we went clothes shopping. At home, I generally hate going clothes shopping, but today it was perfect. I know that probably sounds horrible… like I had to buy some things to feel happy or feel like myself again. I don’t know what to say about that, but sometimes when you’re in a place where everything feels unfamiliar, you need to take a break and do something that feels like real life. Today, for me, watching a movie and buying a pair of pants apparently felt like real life.

By the time we finished eating dinner (a burger!), it was dark and we were not really into the idea of trying to figure out a tro to get home. We took a cab back to the hotel, and now I’m completely exhausted. It was a good day though.

Accra

​Avy and I headed to Accra for the weekend yesterday morning because I needed to renew my visa. When you arrive at the airport, they stamp your passport so it’s good for a 60 day stay. If you’re staying longer, you have to go to the immigration office and extend it. I’m here for 80 something days, so I had to extend mine for a month.

Live chickens under a seat in the tro… Because how else are you supposed to transport your chickens?


Randomly last week, Rudolph (our friend who gave us a ride on our way to Ada Foah) was driving by the house and stopped to say hi. He said that he could give us a ride to Accra, and we made some plans to hang out during the weekend. Since our house is pretty far out of his way, Avy and I took a tro to Kpong, and he met us there. We got there about half an hour before he did and went on a search for shade because it was HOT, and the sun was brutal. We were creepily loitering in an alley next to a store for about 5 minutes before some guys came and insisted that we sit inside. We protested that we were fine, but they didn’t really give us a choice. It was really nice of them, so we bought some ice cream from the store to say thank you (and also just because we wanted ice cream).
After Rudolph picked us up, the rest of the trip to Accra was so typical Ghana. It’s like time doesn’t exist here, and there’s no sense of urgency ever. We planned to get to the office around 2, but Rudolph had to stop to pick out some car tires for his friend Phillip, then Phillip got lost on his way there so we had to go find him, then we went back to the shop and got the tires, then finally we were on our way and Rudolph realized that he left his phone charging at the shop, then we stopped and told Phillip to go back and pick it up, and then we actually were on our way. Avy and I probably should have just taken a tro all the way to Accra… We ended up getting there at 4:00 which is about when the office closes, but there was still just enough time to get my form filled out and passport turned in. Phew. Glad that is over with.

We met Phillip at the mall to get Rudolph’s phone back and then went on what felt like a world tour of hostels trying to pick somewhere to stay for the night. Avy said, “this must be what people did before there was the internet”. But TIA (this is Africa), so that’s what we did. It’s a good thing Avy and I had no expectations for the weekend and were happy to just go with the flow. It ended up being pretty fun, though if we were hoping for some big exciting day, it would have been disappointing.

Me and Avy.

That night, Rudolph and Phillip took us out to experience some Accra nightlife. It was fun but weird for two reasons: 1) there were other yevus (white people) around and 2) the nightlife in Frankadua consists of going to this one bar in town, sitting at plastic tables outside, and hanging out while the TV plays very dramatic and poorly executed Ghanaian soap operas. The nightlife in Accra actually resembles something you would experience in a city in the US. I felt like a girl from the village experiencing the big city for the first time. Hello culture shock!

Today we’ve just been recovering from the few hours of sleep we got last night. Avy has been in touch with a past VCO volunteer, Leela, who spends a lot of time in Ghana now, and we relocated to the hostel where she helps out when she’s in town. Guess what the room has? AC AND running water AND a hot shower!!!!

Our room. You can see the lizard dispensing AC unit above the bed.

Don’t worry though, it was impossible to forget that we’re in Africa because when we were laying in bed relaxing, lizard poop (as identified by Avy) fell out of the AC unit and onto Avy’s neck. She handled it incredibly well and just brushed it off and said matter-of-factly, “oh, that’s lizard poop”. Oh yeah, no big deal.

Did you think I was making it up? Photo evidence.

A little later, she was about to get onto the bed and the AC started making a weird noise that lasted maybe 30 seconds before a DEAD LIZARD FELL OUT ONTO THE BED. And Avy said, “I guess that’s the lizard” while meanwhile I was letting out little panic screams every couple seconds. Can I just say this one more time? Avy was about to get into bed, the AC started making noises, and A DEAD LIZARD FELL RIGHT WHERE HER HEAD WAS GOING AND SHE HAD NO REACTION. She’s been here for too long, I think. Needless to say, we pulled the bed away from the wall to avoid any more potential surprises.

Tomorrow, Avy and I have a day of luxury planned (yes, even more luxury than AC and hot showers, and hopefully no lizards). It’s going to be awesome!