Hi everyone! Sorry it has been a few days since I’ve written. Last week I found myself under the weather … I will spare you the details, but Thursday I spent the day in bed and missed a day of school, and Friday was spent recuperating. I was very thankful to have everyone checking up on me, from Belinda running to the pharmacy to Auntie Jo and Auntie Emma who stopped by to see how I was doing. I am well taken care of over here! No complaints from me 🙂
Thursday night the semester interns, Kylie and Lauren, arrived! It was exciting to have them move in. They’ll be doing the women’s literacy program here at the school twice a week. Since I was feeling sick, we decided to change our plans for the weekend (we had planned to travel to Beyin Beach, which is about six hours away along the coast) and it ended up being a good thing because although I felt better by Friday night, Kylie got sick, so a weekend of travelling wouldn’t have been great for either of us. Instead, Saturday Lesley, Lauren and I boarded a tro-tro for our first trip! Lauren had already been on one earlier on the week, so she instructed and explained! Tro-tros are basically overstuffed vans that can seat about twenty or so people but are incredibly inexpensive to use. It cost us about 3 cedi ($1.50) to take the tro-tro to Accra, which is about a 2 1/2 hour drive. It wasn’t as horrible as I expected – it was just incredibly squished – but I’m glad Lauren knew what she was doing, because it’s hard to navigate here! There are no street signs, if you can believe it, so getting directions (and giving them) is a huge challenge!
After arrive in Accra, we arrived at “central” station. This is basically a central location where there are tro-tros heading all over the city and beyond. There were vendors selling whatever you can imagine and kids and homeless asking for money – it was a bit overwhelming. We found a taxi to drive us to our hotel, where we checked in, then cabbed it to Oxford Station. I was in search of a pharmacy to find new anti-malaria pills to take, and we found one almost right away. Unfortunately, buying malaria pills is extremely costly here – so I am trying to figure out a more cost-effective way of buying the pills. Please keep this in your prayers as I’m hoping to get this figured out as soon as possible. Right now I am trying to be extra cautious in always wearing bug spray and avoiding woody areas.
Our next stop was to find a restaurant for supper, and we had a wonderful treat! We had mochas and pizza!! It was an amazing, Canadian, delicious supper and worth every extra penny we had to pay to get it 🙂 We enjoyed our supper, then walked down the street to Koala Department store. It was the first time I really experienced Accra, and realized how different this city is than any other city I’ve been in before. Open sewers lined the street, and although they were covered at times, you had to be aware always of where you were stepping so that you foot didn’t slip through a hole or broken crate. This also meant there was an undeniable stench to the air as we walked along! By this point night had fallen, so we were able to see vendors with open fires, cooking over them and warming themselves up by the heat. We found the supermarket we were looking for, and discovered a wonderful treat – all imported vegetables and foods and canned goods! For certain things, the prices were atrocious, and other things it wasn’t too bad – we all got a few treats that reminded us of home. I got an Aero chocolate bar, Lays chips, and some shortbread cookies. It’s amazing the cravings you have when things just simply aren’t available!
Afterwards we headed back to our hotel and settled into watch a movie. It’s interesting that back at home we tend to be so picky about the places we stay in – here in Ghana, not so much! As long as you have a clean bed, you can’t be picky if you have hot water (or running water in general – ours lasted one shower and that was it!) or if the garbage wasn’t taken out! But being here has challenged my perspective – I am thankful simply just to have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on, when so many have far less than that. We watched a movie, then Lesley headed to her room and Lauren and I stayed up far too late talking … needless to say we almost napped in the morning while waiting for our ride to church to arrive!
So this morning we had the opportunity to attend an English speaking Ghanian church! The family that Lauren and Kylie stayed with this week in Accra for their orientation goes to this church, so their son, Kofi, picked us up from our hotel and brought us over. It was an interesting experience – lots of shouting, lots of cheering, lots of falling down, and lots of “Can I get an amen?” It was very different than what I am used to but I am glad to have had the experience. Everyone was incredibly welcoming; Lauren and I even had a poor girl forced to say hello to us by her mom, but I think we terrified her because I am pretty sure she’s never seen a white person before and screamed and bawled her eyes out! Afterwards, Kofi’s family invited us over for lunch and cake to celebrate his mom’s birthday. We joined in and I managed to eat the fish stew they served us – which was a HUGE feat considering I don’t like fish very much! But I am trying to be aware of cultural customs, and did not want to be rude by refusing a meal they so graciously offered us even if I didn’t like the taste!
Kofi and his friend Eugene offered to take us to the market, so we made a trip there after lunch. It was a different experience, as the last time we were there we were with Mary, and this time vendors were much more bold. They were incredibly forward with us girls, always touching your arm or complimenting – it gets to the point where you don’t want to buy anything they have to offer, no matter how much you like it because you are so annoyed. We didn’t stay long – Kofi said that they were more forward than usual just because it was a Sunday, and very few people shop on Sundays. So we made a couple more stops, then we headed to Circle station to catch our tro-tro back to Asamankese. And we made it! It was a great experience, a quick weekend that went by very fast! Tomorrow is a market day in Asamankese, so we will head there, I have to stop at the bank, and then we are going to the dressmaker, Doris’ house to hopefully pick out designs for our African dresses! Then Tuesday is another school day. Lauren and Kylie have gone off to bed, and Lesley and I am sure will soon hit the sack as well. It’s funny how travelling can take a lot out of you! 🙂
Miss you all lots!