Ants, Misadventures, & Marriage Proposals

Tonight Lauren and I sat at our kitchen table and played a game of owari, a traditional Ghanaian game. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward game, involving pebbles and holes in a piece of board, but I was struck by how our lives are falling into somewhat of a routine; a busy day out, followed by a night of playing games or watching Friends (I got the whole series for $15 in Accra!). Things are starting to feel familiar here, from greeting Auntie Jo when we arrive from our adventures and laughing with Belinda over the events of the day. Today was the first day that I found myself lost in the craziness of the day, not finding myself very homesick until night fell … and even then, it didn’t seem too bad. So I am incredibly encouraged today!

Yesterday was a regular school day, but we are finding the challenges of teaching from a western perspective in an African setting to be a constant learning experience. From arriving in the morning and discovering that the builders who are working on the cabinets had deposited every little item onto the children’s tables, to trying to teach the students that the toys are precious and hard to come by and therefore must be taken care of … each day I think we all learn just as much, if not more than our students. But that’s a good thing – life is a journey of learning after all! Last night we found ourselves exhausted, but I managed to do a little painting, which was incredibly nice and left me feeling a bit more grounded and myself. I climbed into bed rather early by my standards, but little did I know an exciting surprise would await. That exciting surprise would be …

Ants.

Here there are ants everywhere – we have been trying to combat them with talcum powder around the feet of the tables and chairs, and it does seem to help a lot. But little did I know that leaving crumbs in my bed after a few hours of watching Friends would tempt those little ants to find a new home … and consequently be a huge pest until 1:30 in the morning when I finally stripped off my sheets, shook them until the little critters were gone, and was finally able to get a good rest, however short it may have been.

I was up early to meet Evans, the school’s groundskeeper and general go-to guy, to go over tuition payments and receipts. The night before he had stopped by to set up a time to meet, and this was our conversation:

Evans: So we should meet tomorrow to go over the tuition payments and get everything sorted out.
Me: That sounds great! Although we’ll have to do it a bit early since the girls and I are going into Accra for the day.
Evans: Okay, so I’ll be here at six?

I haven’t quite mastered the art of getting up at sunrise like every other African has apparently – early in my books was 9 a.m.! Everyone laughed as I explained to him, “No, early Canadian time – how about 9?”

Anyways, Evans didn’t end up showing up as something came up at the school, so the girls and I headed into Accra around 10:30 to meet our friend Kofi for his birthday and also to pick up a few things. We tro-troed it, just as we had on the weekend, but this time we had a bit of a mix-up and missed our stop. So we ended up farther downtown than planned, and started wandering the streets asking for directions to the mall. There were so many different vendors along the street, and so many people! At one point, I felt a hand grab my shoulder, and thinking it was Kylie grabbing onto me not to lose me, I reached back – and then realized it was indeed not a female hand, rather a male hand asking for my own hand in marriage! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to how forward every guy is here!

Even though we were lost, it was a lot of fun getting caught up in the hustle and bustle. We asked for directions from multiple people where the Accra mall was, and everyone kept pointing down the street and telling us to keep walking. Finally we asked another overly friendly male vendor, who gave us a slightly different directions. It’s incredibly hard to understand directions here because there are no street names. Can you imagine? It’s so frustrating! Finally we called Kofi, who confirmed how lost we were, and so we ended up taking a taxi to the mall. One person we asked said that it was close enough to walk to – ah, no. It took us almost half an hour in the taxi to arrive at the mall. Going in the opposite direction than everyone was telling us to go.

So, we ended up at the mall at 1:30 after getting lost, which cut down on our time to actually be in Accra, because Mary had warned us not to travel after dark as tro-tros are unreliable and there aren’t many street lights between Accra and Asamankese. So we stopped at the pharmacy for me to pick up new malaria medication, went to Shoprite for some odds and ends, and met Kofi for a late lunch in the food court. It was a lot of fun, and then we tro-troed our way back to Circle Station, where we caught a tro-tro to Asamankese. All in all it was a crazy but fun day!

A lot of my friends have been encouraging me as I adjust to keep a gratitude and praise journal, and although I haven’t started writing it down, I’ve been trying to be more aware of things I am thankful for as I walk through my day. Today I am incredibly thankful for Lauren and Kylie, who in all their craziness make me laugh so much! They are awesome, and I’m excited to spend the next three months with them exploring this country!