It’s the Little Things

This past Thursday Lesley and I got a little surprise. We found out, unbenkownst to either of us Canadians, that Friday was a public holiday, and consequently we weren’t having school that day. It was a great surprise because we had planned to travel away that weekend to Lake Volta region. Mary’s friend Becky offered us a place to stay, and so we jumped at the chance. Sadly Lauren and Kylie had to stay behind because we’ve adopted two (now one) puppies that were abandoned by their dying mother. They’ve been busy around the clock feeding, pooping, and cleaning the little guys. Sadly, on Sunday one passed away, but the remaining one is going strong! And she opened her eyes for the first time yesterday, which was incredibly exciting! 🙂

So anyways, Friday morning Les and I boarded a tro-tro from Asamankese towards Akosombo. We were told it would be two tro-tros to get there, which didn’t seem bad, but it ended up being three. We arrived in Kofuridua at the lorry station to transfer to another tro, had the worst bathroom experience of life (I took pictures – will never complain about bathrooms back home again), then arrived in a place called Boyng but spelled Kpong. A local was very helpful in flagging down another tro-tro to take us straight to Akosombo, and 15 minutes later we arrived at Becky’s work, the local hospital.

We received a tour of the hospital from one of the nurses who works under Becky (she is the Director of Health Services in Volta Region) named Grace. She was incredibly friendly and excited, and loved showing us around and introducing us to all the patients and workers! It was very different than hospitals back home; a lot older, but still well-maintained. Each wing was separated into separate buildings, and oh the beauty – there was grass! It was lovely.

After our tour, Becky picked us up to take us into Akosombo. The area was incredibly different than where we’ve been so far. The terrain reminded me of Quebec – beautiful rolling hills and lakes and full of vegetation. It was also much cleaner than everywhere we’ve been, and the roads were well maintained (paved! with guardrails!). Becky’s community in which she lived was gated and the houses were all similar to ours with beautiful grass lawns! I am not quite sure why I’ve missed grass lawns so much, but I have and so it was wonderful to feel at home there.

Anyways, Becky, being the director of health services, holds a prominent position in the community. She arranged for a private tour of the Volta Lake dam, the dam which previously provided all of Ghana’s electricity (now there are some thermal plants as well). It was a bit over my head, all of the mechanics of it, but it was really cool to get to go under the river and see the huge turbines, to get to drive and walk across the dam (it’s SO BIG!), and hear about how Hydro Ontario (woop woop!) provided all of the training for the workers there. You have to love every connection to home!

After Becky picked us up, we headed home for a lazy night in. We had a lovely homemade dinner, and then vegged in front of our first TV we’d seen in almost two months. It was wonderful! And to top it all off, I got to have a hot bath. Yes. You don’t need to remind me that I am in Africa, where it’s over 30 degrees every day without the humidex – I love hot baths. It was a huge huge treat! I think Becky must have been amused at my enthusiasm, because she told me, “Angie, if you want you can have a bath here three times a day!” (Don’t worry, I didn’t … or maybe I did … hehe, just kidding!)

Saturday was a busy day for not only us, but Becky as well! Because of her position in the community, she had two events that she had to be at, and so we went along. The first was at the Catholic church. It was a huge celebration for the 51st anniversary of those killed while building the Volta dam. There was fundraising, and unveiling of a memorial, lots of speeches, and of course, dancing. It was interesting – but so incredibly long (and eventually boring) as it lasted for over four hours. But in the end, the wait was worth it – because as Becky’s guests, we got to accompany her and other dignitaries to the fancy Volta Hotel and have lunch. We dined with the ambassador from Italy, the man who designed the dam, a right-hand man to the president of Ghana, tribal chiefs, and other people I can’t quite remember the title of. It was really cool – and the food was great too! Not to mention the views of the hills and dam were spectacular. We took a lot of pictures!

After lunch finished, we made our way to Becky’s next event, which was an olympics-like event called the Volta Lake utility games. Basically it is a bunch of energey companies who compete in events like football (soccer), volleyball, tennis, and of all things, musical chairs. Which is the event we took in when we arrived. Let me tell you, it is incredibly amusing to see grown men arguing over the rules of musical chairs! So after viewing a few matches, getting drawn up into the dance floor in front of a huge crowd (there are videos which will remain tucked away on my computer – so embarassing!), we headed home for a quiet evening.

Sunday we headed home by tro-tro, and got to have a special dinner to commemorate Lesley’s leaving. Belinda made us fufu. It is basically plaintain and cassava ground together into a dough, and then shaped into a ball and put into a bowl of soup. You are supposed to use your hands to scoop the dough and soup into your mouth, but if you guessed I used a spoon, then of course you are right! 🙂 It was delicious though!

Yesterday marked our first day without Lesley here. She spent yesterday and today in Accra, and flies out tonight. I have loved having her here and she will be greatly missed, but I am excited for her to go home and be with her family once again! She has taught me a lot – not just about students and school, but about life in general and I’ve been very blessed to have her here.

I am busy teaching on my own this week. I taught alone last week, but Les was always nearby if I needed help. I’ll definitely share more about how teaching is going, but his blog is long enough, so I will write about teaching later on this week!

Miss you all back home! I hear it is getting colder, but here it seems to be getting hotter and hotter and it remains an impossible challenge to dress without feeling like you’ve enveloped yourself in a sauna! Very thankful for fans and of course our favorite fandangos.

Love to you all,