How to NOT buy a Mattress in Ghana

Last fall we began a journey to buy a new bed frame and mattress and in the process, enacted our own version of the Goldilocks story, minus the three bears, chairs, and porridge, of course. 


It is quite common to see bed frames sold by the side of the road.

After months of investigating carpenters who made bed frames, we found one we both liked and ordered a custom four-poster bed frame.  Then we set about finding a new mattress to put in it.

The First Mattress

Suzanne ordered mattress #1 while I was out of town, a new mattress from Latex Foam Mattress.  When Suzanne ordered it, the salesman argued with her about ordering a soft (turns out he was right).  She figured it would be OK since Ghanaian mattresses have a reputation for being hard (totally deserved).  By hard, I mean their mattresses should come  with a Rockwell Hardness Scale rating.  Think concrete blocks covered with flowery fabric and you have the basic idea of their softness and comfort.  I’m not kidding, laying on a tile floor feels softer.

Then she lay in the first bed, but it was too soft.

True to its name, our first mattress was soft.  Really soft. So soft that over time it developed a memory, making me wonder who thought having a mattress with a memory was a good thing?   I mean this mattress remembered exactly where I had slept the night before, saving an ever deepening indentation compounded by the serial effect of the nights previous.  Wouldn’t forgetfulness be better quality for a mattress;  forgetting where I slept, so that each time I laid down, it was like the first time?

After a few months, we started calling it the bed hammock.  There was a 7” drop from top to bottom on my side.  When the bed hammock could drop no further (i.e. my derrière and bedframe slats were becoming friends) and, Suzanne’s parking space was millimeters from hitting bedrock, we knew it was time to find a different bed mattress.

The Second Mattress

So while Suzanne was out of town, I ordered an Orthopedic mattress, but this time from Ashfoam.  On the Ashfoam website they advertise 10 different degrees of hardness in their mattresses,  but like the menu in a typical Ghanaian restaurant, this Ashfoam list was purely aspirational.  Just like you’ll never find everything on a restaurant menu available (or ever actually been served or prepared), so it was with their list of different types of mattresses.  There have three different models, and the showroom had two for me to field test.


Standard Density – meaning really hard, like max out the Rockwell scale hard.  I later learned they “make” several models that are harder than this one; how is that even physically possible?

Orthopedic – they actually didn’t have this one in stock for me to test, but it was their recommendation.

Comfy – This is the one I tested, but truthfully, I thought I was laying on the Orthopedic model, so that is what I ordered and a week later it showed up.

After our first night on the new mattress, I thought Orthopedic…that must be the Twi word for supernaturally hard like they had put some Juju on it to make it this hard because nothing of this world could be this hard.  We even tried putting a mattress topper on it, and that Orthopedic mattress sucked the softness right out of it.  It was bone cracking, neck paining, hard and the week we tried to adjust, we couldn’t.  Wimps, I thought, and truthfully I’ve slept better on the floor…its softer.  So we went back to the bed hammock and finally,to sleep.

She lay down in the second bed, but it was too hard.

A few calls to the showroom and Ashfoam offered to switch out the Orthopedic for the Comfy if I would pay the difference.  Pay The Difference?!  – I was ready to buy a whole new mattress just to get that Juju between a rock and a hard place mattress out of our house.   $25 to get rid of it and replace it with a softer model?  “Yes Please,” I said wondering how many people had already rejected this particular mattress?

The Third Mattress: 

Strangely, we were both in the country when the third mattress arrived.  Suzanne was still skeptical after that first night (and maybe still is) but I think we have found the mattress for us, here, now.  It was hard, but not too hard; it was softer, but not too much so.  It was just about right.

Then she lay down in the third bed and it was just right.

Goldilocks (Suzanne) fell asleep


One of the many Adrinkra symbols carved into our new bed frame.  This one means unity and human relations, a fitting symbol for our bed, me thinks.



4 thoughts on “How to NOT buy a Mattress in Ghana

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