I arrived here a few hours ago, on British Airways Flight 81, after an uneventful 22-hour trip. At the airport, I was met by a slender young man named Eddie, who bargained with the taxi driver who had instantly attached himself to me and got me from the airport for a mere $10. (Normally it would have been $20.)
Ghana is indeed warm and humid – at 9pm, not too uncomfortably so, but definitely more than San Francisco. It must be blazing hot during the day. Time to bring lots of water with me. I wish I hadn’t left the Platypus 1-liter water bottle at home.
On the way to Aba House, we passed prosperous-looking concrete houses, and quite a few little shacks that looked like they’d been thrown hastily together and not maintained since. Most of them seem to be small roadside businesses, often with names like “Jesus Saves Automotive” or “God is All Cafe” (definitely a religious theme here) – I’m not sure if people live in them or not, although I suspect they also do.
After we got back to Aba House, I talked a bit with Eddie, and also with Talk True, who I think is the cook (I’m not sure yet). I haven’t yet asked Talk True how he got such an interesting name – or maybe this is standard for Ghanaians – but I plan to.
(Then again, since my name translates (according to mom) as “Heaven Made Suitable”, perhaps I shouldn’t throw stones.)
Eddie, it transpires, is a potter and sculptor with Aba House, and also dabbles in screen printing. I look forward to talking to him more, and seeing his work.
Ghanaian language is interesting. Most people here speak three or four different languages – English is a foreign language for most of them, though schools are taught in English so everyone does speak pretty good English. They speak with such a heavy accent, though, as to be very difficult to understand (I don’t think I got more than 2 words in 3 of what Eddie was saying.) Of course, from their point of view, I have a strong and almost incomprehensible American accent, so it works both ways. I think communication may be slightly more difficult than I expected.
After Talk True showed me my room, he nonchalantly mentioned that the water in the room was out, and if I wanted a shower I’d have to take one downstairs. This is not the sort of news one wants after a 22-hour journey, mostly spent sleeping in one’s clothes on the plane. I was already feeling dirty and grungy and sweaty (the heat and humidity didn’t help), and the prospect of more of the same wasn’t encouraging. Especially since I (being unused to the accent) wasn’t quite able to communicate to Talk True that I wanted a shower NOW. But they’re hoping to have water in the room by tomorrow. Apparently the city only turns on the water main every so often, and when they do, you have to fill cisterns to ensure your water supply. With more people staying at Aba House than usual, they’d run out of water on the top floor, but still had some left on the ground floor.
So here I am in Ghana, sweaty, icky, and unable to take a shower (or flush the toilet, though Talk True said he’d bring up a bucket of water later). The room itself is warm and humid, with only a fan to keep it cool. (Thankfully, the room does have electricity.) I’m jet-lagged, so I’m still wide awake despite its being midnight- I took some melatonin, but am updating my blog before it kicks in. (No, there is no Internet at Aba House, but there is an internet cafe nearby, and I plan to take the text file there with me.)
I’m pleased, despite (or perhaps because of) the discomforts. One of the reasons I travel to foreign countries is precisely to get away from the culture at home, and be somewhere that’s markedly different. Ghana clearly has less infrastructure than the U.S., and it’s pleasing (albeit somewhat uncomfortable) to be living temporarily in a place that does things differently. I mean, I could stay in a Western-style, air-conditioned hotel and take taxis everywhere, but what would be the point? I might as well still be at home. This way I get to experience a bit of Ghanian life, and it makes a nice change. (I’d still like a shower, though.)
Tomorrow’s plan is to acclimate myself to Accra, and have Eddie show me around. There’s inevitably some culture shock associated with going someplace radically new, and between that and the jet lag, I want a guide for the day. Aba (Ellie, the woman who runs Aba Tours) negotiated a price of $20/day, which seems fair based on the few prices I’ve seen so far. I’ll probably go to the curio market (but not buy anything), visit a kente weaver, and stop by the goldsmith. It’s sunday, so it’s doubtful anything will be open, but perhaps I can set something up for Monday.
Finished knitting the bottom border and the base triangles for my travel shawl on the plane, and have started the first square. I have seriously underestimated the size of the bottom border (that’s what I get for not swatching) and it now appears that the shawl will be a minimum of 40″ wide (more after blocking). I’m not sure what to do now – it may be too large for wearing as a rectangular shawl, so I may have to make it a square shawl. Whatever the result, I’m sure it will be pretty.
More tomorrow morning – the melatonin is starting to kick in, so it’s time to go to bed. Good night.