Today I thought I would write about the more mundane aspects of our life here, how we spend our time, what day to day life is like.
You can see our week 2 photos
Our first eight days… were spent at the New Coco Beach Resort where the main agenda was to relax by the sea, swim in the pool and eat incredible food, while we adjusted to the six hour difference. We alternated days between going into Accra for an adventure, and relaxing by the water.
The hotel served a breakfast every morning of fresh fruits (pineapple, mango, watermelon), eggs (hard boiled, scrambled, and mixed with peppers and onions), rolls, and beans. Yes, those are port and beans (minus the port). Admittedly a little strange, but by the third day I noted the kids going back for seconds. The breads here have the taste of a memory, one I have not tasted for a long time. They have a slight sweetness and are so white, and almost cake like. Eating them brought back many memories of 1968-9.
After a week of resort life, we were ready to move. The plan was to vacation for 4 days and move into the house Ashesi provides, but these plans fell through (read Suzanne’s Ashesi Thoughts for more details). So we stayed longer until they could move us into Student Housing.
Our temporary apartment…
is a three bedroom apartment is just off Danquar Circle, which is the beginning of Oxford Street. Oxford Street is the open-air market that overwhelmed us so much that fourth day and now living so close to it, and going there daily to buy whatever we need, it makes me smile to see how quickly we’ve adapted. I like having certain vendors to go to for bananas, bread, tomatoes, and the grumpy apple lady (who won’t bargain).
Our 20th Anniversary…
was on Aug. 2 where we went to a highly regarded beach restaurant called “The Next Door”. We has spent the day in town with the kids and had the taxi drop us off. We were the first people there, and so they sat us at the edge of this enormous outside eating area overlooking the beach. We went there for the food, but turned out we were the food. Apparently, we had arrived just before the nightly wave of mosquitoes. Sure, we had bug repellant, and kept reapplying it, but it hardly slowed them down. Even the waiter danced, trying to take our order and swat the mosquitoes away. At one point he brought out bug coils, one for our legs under the table, one for the table. Finally the wave of mosquitoes passed, just as he said they would, and we could enjoy our food, I say could because it wasn’t very good. Looking around we saw that we were the only people there (see picture for details).
Church on Sunday
was at Elim International Family Church, which meets in the well air conditioned conference room of the Kama Industries Building. This five-year-old church serves a large mostly expat. congregation and was recommended by a colleague at Ashesi, and interestingly enough by Andrew Jernigan, one of the Methodist Missionaries here in Ghana. Andrew and I have been in email contact for several months and when he learned that we arrived, he suggested we worship there. I have to laugh at how we got there. We took a taxi, because we didn’t know where it was, and when he asked again where do you want to go? The price he quoted was as if it was clear across town. We got in, he drove a block, and then let us out. You’ve got to admire someone who knows when to make a quick buck (or cedi).
Elim was by far the largest congregation we have worshipped in since we left, and we felt right at home singing praise and worship songs like Ancient of Days, God is Good, and a rather interesting version of Tradin’ My Sorrows. The people were warm and friendly, and we must have stayed a good 45 minutes after the service talking to people, mostly missionaries of one sort or another. Their pastor is away enrolling his children in University, and won’t be back until September.
It was fun to be on the other side the church, and my kids remarked how wonderful it was to be at a church where I wasn’t the pastor. “Dad sitting with us, how strange was that?” It was fun to see a church working the way it is supposed to, where we were greeted at the door, introduced around and after the service watching the youth of the church flock around our kids, inviting them to Youth, to the stables, to the zoo.
Our kids loved the attention, and wanted to decide right then and there that this would be our church. When Suzanne learned that the pastor was away, she nudged me, the sort of way she does when she is suggesting something. Later, when talking to some of the people after worship, Suzanne told them I was a pastor, but quickly added, “This may sound strange, but I’m not sure he is really interested in doing any of the pastor things…” and they said “Oh, we completely understand. This is a church full of missionaries, and believe me, we understand!”
After Church we went to one of the hotels for brunch and a swim at the beach. This was a much nicer beach that the one a Coco Beach, mainly because of the trash. Coco Beach had so much trash in the water, mainly black plastic bags and used water sachets. When the water pulled out, they bags would wrap around your legs, and it felt like something attaching you. The water was clear, mostly, but when sunlight shown through the waves as they were breaking, you saw the bags. From the shore you might think it is seaweed, but in the water, you learn they are not. Still the waves were amazing and so fun to ride as long as you didn’t think about what you were swimming in. After about an hour, I usually had had enough.
At the Market
On Monday we spent the day at Keneshi Market where Grace’s got her hair braided. There are shops that specialize in braiding hair, a room full of women (Suzanne counted 35) waiting to braid. After Grace has selected her style, and they had found the right supplemental hair, five of them descended on Grace, braiding furiously for three hours. Grace was a real trooper. You could tell that it hurt, all these ladies pulling at her hair, tugging it into place. They say that in exchange for a day of pain you’ll have three months of not having to wash or take care of your hair. While they were working on Grace, Fox (AKA Wesley) and Steve explored the market.
Keneshi Market, is the smaller of the really large markets in Accra. There is a crush of people at these places and everyone seems to be selling something, and at times it feels like we’re the only ones buying. The very young kids are so fun, they point at us and say “Hello abruni” or “abruni bye-bye” and laugh at us. It is a family business, and at these markets you can buy most anything you want, but the prices are not as negotiable as we’ve come to expect in other parts of the city and what they lack in variety, they certainly make up for in quantity and the number of shops offering it.
We had come to research bed sheets for the house. Turns out that bed sheets are quite expensive ($35-50/sheet) and so we’ve turned to having them made for us. The materials about $4, the labor, $2, and for less than $10 we have a sheet. This is what you do in Ghana, we’ve learned.