After our longest-ever separation, we were reunited at Accra airport at 11pm on Tuesday 1st November, when Sandie’s flight from London, via Rome and Lagos, finally disgorged her through immigration and customs into Ian’s waiting arms. His trip to the airport had not been simple, taking one and a half hours through the traffic and roadworks on the western edge of Accra. Fortunately the return journey was quicker, and by midnight we were unloading Sandie’s luggage in the flat which is our new home.
During the previous month the facilities in the flat had improved. We now had a wardrobe (delivered the day before Sandie’s arrival by lorry up the steep bumpy dirt road and manhandled into the flat with some difficulty). We had a pump installed (after about three weeks and visits from three different plumbers) which delivered both hot and cold water at sufficient pressure to have a decent shower and wash up dishes. We even had a TV, with a motley collection of channels and no information about what’s on which channel when. But it seemed more like home, and we were delighted to be together there.
After Sandie arrived Ian had a day off helping her settle in, and then we went together to the Omega Schools office for the last two days of the week. There was an inter-schools football tournament for those two days, on the playing field just outside the office, and most people were involved with that. We got positions of honour at the final ceremony, and were even asked to present some of the trophies.
After that we had a 3-day weekend, as it was a public holiday on the Monday. On Sunday we went to a local beach. We first walked down the hill, passing lots of people going to church in their Sunday best. We got a tro-tro (minibus) along the main highway, and then a shared taxi to Kokrobite. We walked through the village to the beach, where we were surprised to find several white people – we hadn’t realised until then that Kokrobite was popular with backpackers and others. At one stage we walked quite some distance along the sand, till we were warned by security men that we were likely to be mugged if we went any further! We spent some time in Big Milly’s Backyard, a sort of resort/bar/restaurant complex which has an elevated cocktail bar with a view over the beach and the fishing boats.
The following day we walked to a nearby town called Weija, where there is a large dam and lake. We also found a bar called Daddy’s Cottage, where we stopped twice for a drink – very welcome in the African heat!
In some ways, life in Ghana is different to anywhere else we have lived. Power cuts are frequent. Last Thursday Ian commented with amazement that there had been no cuts for a whole week. But when we arrived home on Friday the power was off – and remained off until Sunday afternoon!
You cannot drink or cook with tap water, and bottled water is expensive; the local custom is to buy bags (plastic sachets) of purified water. These are normally sold cheaply in bulk, 12 litres a time. It’s heavy to carry, but we’ve found a source of supply (a hairdressers!) only five minutes walk from the flat, and with a rucksack each we can share the load. It’s amazing how quickly you use up 12 litres of water though.
There are some very good points about being in Ghana. People are friendly and most greet us when we pass on our way to or from work. Children in particular will wave or call out to us; some children (and even a few adults) actually ask us to take their photo, and we are always happy to oblige!
The temperature is constantly about 30ºC, and we are really enjoying the sun. Our flat has a large balcony, with a plastic table and chairs, and sitting outside is very pleasant. When we return from work, we have a shower and then a leisurely drink sitting on the balcony watching the sunset. We are definitely getting used to the laid-back Ghanaian lifestyle!