Soo…What is Ghana like?

I’ve received that question a lot. Let me try to show a bit of my experiences. If you haven’t read my last post yet, check it out here for a first impression. Some pictures in this post are taken with my phone btw, so sorry for a bit less quality.

Kpando
Kpando Konda is the village (or town may bring more justice to its actual size) I am staying, which is part of the larger Municipality Kpando (pronounce ‘Pando’) in the Volta region. It is suited near the Volta lake, which is one of the largest man-made lakes (check out the video of its remarkable outlook on facebook). With shops that at least sell few imported products such as mayonaise, cereals and la vache qui rit, plus a lot of cookies and Ghanian ice cream, I survive realy well here.

The rooms are kinda empty, but with a bed to sleep and some place to store your stuff, what more do you need? (Too hot to sit inside anyways). The real challenge is the bucket shower (try washing your hair with literally a bucket of water standing next to you), but we now created our own showerhead by pinching holes in a mini-bucket that we hung up. Major progress.

Making French Toast with Kory and Marianne 🙂

Typical Ghana
What I like about Ghana is that you can buy your goods anywhere, anytime. If not for the many small stores everywhere, lots of people walk through the streets with big bowls, buckets, boxes or other containers filled with foods, candies, prepaid cards, towels, clothing, sunglasses, ice cream and so on. I remember that during the first taxi drive in Accra I told the driver I have so much respect for it and that we do not have this in the Netherlands. He was very genuinly surprised. ‘What do you do if you get thirsty, or hungry?’ Well…we go to a store or worst case a drive-through. He thought that was really stupid, and costs you a lot of time 🙂

Something else typical Ghana, is water and ice cream in small bags. Yes, not from bottles (those are there though), not on sticks or in cans, but in small bags. You just bite the corner off and suck out the content. And to prevent getting sick (the outside might not be that clean), you just wipe it off on your shirt. Good news is: it is r-e-a-l-l-y cheap, and the ice cream is actually very good!

Uhh…good health advice?

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I came across this booklet in Accra, bought it from a street seller, along with three others in my tro-tro. I have no clue how common this is and how much value people attach to the advice. Other side of the story: there are good hospitals and many people that use medical care as well, it is not just “primitive third-world”. Just wanted to share this, because it really struck me people might believe this.

Funerals
Do not get me wrong but, I L-O-V-E the funerals here. I wish I could show you pictures or a video, but instead of acting like a tourist I rather show respect when it happens. When there is a funeral, crowds gather on the streets, their outfits all in the same color, depending on what type of person passed away (white, red, black, for either important, old or young person). Up until now I’ve found them a bit chaotic, but the idea is a march or parade with a marching band, followed by an ambulance with loud sirens, with the deceased person inside. It is so beautiful to see them combine the remorse of losing the person so well with the celebration of his or her life with music and dancing.

Animals
First, meet Charlie:

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Charlie is a monkey that lives on a rope in a tree in the middle of our compound. They saved him when he was little and would probably not be independent enough to live in the wild anymore. They take good care of him 🙂 If he likes you enough (I did not dare to try it yet) he sits on your shoulder and takes fruits from your hands.

Also, apparently we have a turtle (I just found out after four weeks…). I still did not find out where they keep him, but he’s there…
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Then there are the chickens and the goats. It still amazes me how the Ghanaians deal with them. They walk loose. No fence. No rope. Loose. They have differently colored strings around their wings and ears, but they can walk freely. You sometimes even see them on streets where no houses are near. I still have not figured out how people get a hold of this system. It’s amazing…

#justafricanthings
As with the goats and chickens, I am still amazed every day how they do things here, and still get everything to work out. Check out the following examples:

This is some building they are constructing, right next to the volunteer building we are living in. A great example of the African style of building things, is the construction of its staircase. First they made the staircase. Then they wanted to attach the handrail, which should be in the concrete. So they broke the concrete, attached the handrail, and ‘glued’ new concrete around it. Then the measures of the handrail were wrong, it reached further then the platform between the two stairs, which resulted in a gap. So they broke away part of the platform, to reveal the steel skeleton, atached more steel to it to reach the handrail, and ‘glued’ new concrete to it all again. And miraculously, it works. I love it.

While we’re at the whole ‘let’s-fix-things-with-concrete’ anyways, they figured it was time to do some weight lifting, and so they made weights out of two buckets of concrete and a steel bar. No clue how many kilo’s it is, and you cannot build up slowly, but it probably will make do. I cannot lift it, but then again, it was not made for me, I’ll stick to my bags of ice cream… So guess what? They broke the weights (I guess it was to heavy) and yes….smoothened it up by glueing new concrete around it. Need I say more?
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Last incredible thing I saw does not go with a picture unfortunately. Right now we are in the small rainy season, which means generally hot days, but also a lot of rain in between (the kind of rain that creates rivers, the kind of hot that dissolves them within hours). So what do you do in the rain? Exactly, laundry. You just spend a lot of time on washing it (by hand, ladies and gentlemen, by hand), and then you hang it to dry outside. And somehow people still have clean clothes afterwards. Still blows my mind.

Very lovable things
So what do I like most? The fact electricity is gone each three days for like twelve hours? The fact that I ate yams this afternoon I saw being licked by a goat earlier? The fact I cannot even wear shoes one full day, because now my foot has an infection? Or maybe the fact that if you forget a rain jacket all your electronics might die because of unexpected jungle rains? Or that the local ATM just ‘swallowed’ my bank card?

No, all joking aside, there are some very lovable things in Ghana. For example, I can buy fabrics and go to a seamstress to let her make me a dress, for not even €10. If I like (which I do!) I can even design my own! I can let them do my hair in amazing haircuts that cost almost five hours, for not even €15. But one of the things I like most is the childrens home. It is not main part of my internship to be there, and we are only allowed during the afternoon times, but it is superfun to play gmes with the kids.

So what about you? What do you love about the country you are now? And what is less likeable? Or what are the crazy experiences you have? I would love to hear your stories as well!

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