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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Has it really only been 2 weeks???

The title says it all! :-)

I started work last Monday - what a bizarre week! Let me give you a flavour of what I faced:

2 key questions I was asked that stick out for me are:
1) Have you worked before? (?!?!?!?) (Following further discussion this week, it turns out I look like I've just left school - I'll take the compliment, I think....)
2) Are you offended easily? (No, I don't think so) Oh ok, so if I were to slap you would you be offended? (!?!?!?!)

Following 2 hours of introductions I was then sent home with the view to starting properly on Tuesday. It was agreed that, in order to help me settle in, the driver would take me and my neighbour to the nearest supermarket on Tuesday to buy things I couldn't get locally.

On arrival at the office I was told the driver would be ready at 10.30am. This turned out to be 11.15am in reality. I pop over to my neighbour's office to tell her; when we come back out, 3 (out of 6) colleagues from my office are waiting to come with us. Turns out it's an office road trip! The office car is a pick up truck (I always wanted one of those!!) - just as we're about to get in, I'm told "Rachel, you had better sit in front because of your hips" (?!?!?!?!  what's wrong with my hips??)

Afterwards, the driver stops by the apartments to drop things off - we're followed up the stairs by my office who want a nose; so I end up showing off the apartment and introducing everybody to my other neighbour who happened to be working from home. Then it's back to the office - 3 hours later! Random... :-)

Following that trip it turns out that my apartment is now a local attraction...

Public holiday. I spent the day attempting to clean with minimal water, as it was off. Not an easy task! Carpenter was due to come to the apartment but didn't make it. I was asked to phone back on Thursday to see if he could come then instead - actually, this was relayed through my flatmate as it turns out I still can't understand Ghanaian's on the phone.... the accents are really strong!!

Thursday / Friday / Monday - can't really remember doing much other than reading... Carpenter showed up on Thursday - I was told 4pm; he arrived at 6.30pm - that's how the Ghanain's do it! He did a very impressive job of making my mosquito bed posts though.

Today (Tuesday) I arrived at the office at 8.30am as usual, to be told I was going to attend a press meeting at one of the Ministries. We had to be there at "9am prompt" according to the letter. One taxi ride later, we arrive at the Ministry 10 minutes late. We are shown to a waiting room which starts to fill up over the next hour. 2.5 hours later, a Director arrives to tell us that the Minister is not in the office and is unaware of the meeting; and there is no update to give - sorry for wasting your time, we'll call you.

I return to the office, grab some lunch and then sit down to work when the power goes off - the electricity credit has run out and can't be topped up until tomorrow morning, so I'm sent home for the afternoon.

Tomorrow I am due to attend some training with airport staff about accessibility for disabled passengers. Sounds quite interesting - I'm curious to see the attitudes towards the training, especially after this morning's experience.

Moving away from work, I had a very busy weekend. Two volunteers who are staying outside of Accra came to visit - Vincent and Joesphine. Vincent arrived early on Saturday morning and was staying at my apartment; Josephine was staying elsewhere on Saturday and with me on Sunday. While Vincent and I were waiting to meet up with the others, we went exploring. The most famous street in Ghana is called Oxford Street and is clearly aimed at toursists/ex-pats. To give you an example, I have never walked into a Western Supermarket and been unable to afford anything. It's like Harrods but with groceries. A tub of Hagen Daaz cost over 33 cedis (I'm on a daily budget of 10!) It was so depressing.... The others arrived around 5pm and we went for dinner. We found a Western type place which served (grilled) fish and chips - fantastic!!! The food in Ghana is generally great, but it was so nice to have a taste of home! A few drinks were then had (I won a t-shirt!) before heading back to bed at 9pm (!!!)

Just as well we did - I was awoken at 4.15am on Sunday morning by a man with a whistle, another man with bells, and loads of random guys chanting, singing and jumping about! This went on until around 8am at which point the Church started. We have a church at the back of our apartment - let's just say the Sunday service is very loud, and very long (minimum 5 hours). I've concluded that Sunday is a write-off day when it comes to sleeping. Probably just as well the landlord has a 10pm curfew before he locks the gate (which we discovered earlier that week).

On Sunday we went to the beach for some lunch. It was a fantastic place - so good to see the sea (you forget when you're standing in the middle of a polluted city that it's right on the coast); the breeze was fantastic and the food portions were enormous! We're heading back on Saturday for a leaving do which should be good (although quite sad as a lot of the established volunteers will be leaving between now and December).

My brain is struggling to take in everything that it needs to. Between familiarising myself with the local surroundings, culture, work environment, heat and learning both Twi and sign language, I'm exhausted!!! I feel very lucky to be in the apartment that I'm in as it has almost everything I need, very friendly flatmate/neighbours, is pretty much mosquito free and is secured in a compound. The only downside I have come across so far is the guard dog outside my window which barks at the slightest thing and has recently taking to howling at around 5am. Who needs an alarm clock! I need to work on my daily routine though - as I'm a late bird at home, I'm finding that although I'm waking/getting up early I'm still going to bed at my regular time - that'll need to change.... :-D

Think that's all for now. I'm sure much more has happened but I just can't think. In the meantime, here are some more pics for you to enjoy.

Best Wishes to all

1) The results of a double-apartment cookathon on Thursday night. We had fried plantain, rice, red red, some random veg mix and salad - yum!!

2) Our updated living room (been playing with furniture) - looks less basic!

3) Fantastic job done by the carpenter!

4) Western dinner (look, there's chips!!!!)

5) I don't think my feet will ever be clean again.... :-(

6) The view at osekan.

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