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Sunday, 30 October 2011

In Royal Company

What a mixed week it has been. After the disaster of the Accra floods, we have been without water and electricity on/off for 4 days now. 2 nights without a fan is tough!!! Anyway, after the best night's sleep I've had since arriving in Ghana (it's amazing what shock will do for you), I prepared on Thursday to meet Princess Anne, patron of VSO. Interestingly, VSO only invited UK volunteers to attend the event, which was held at the National Service offices. We arrived in our best clothes and joined representatives from various organisations to wait for the arrival. There were multiple TV crews there who just kept filming us!!! (We later found out we'd been on TV the next day, but we don't have access to one...) After a sweep by security (white people look soooo white to us now!), the 'heavies' positioned on the doors and a rearranging of furniture, Princess Anne and her husband were ushered in. She was introduced to us volunteers first and had a brief chat with each of us. Her husband came round afterwards - turns out he used to work in Rosyth so knows Dunfermline! :-)

After a flying visit, we watched the band/dancers that had been hired for the occasion. They loved the fact that some of the volunteers got up to join them and made a point of teaching them the routine. This was then followed by a free lunch, and a trip in to town - this was supposed to be a familiarisation exercise but ended up with us grabbing a drink in a local spot.

That evening, we attended an ex-pat event. There's a website you can sign up to which invites ex-pats to meet in a local hotel/venue for free beer and free food once a month - not going to say no to that! It ended up being a really good evening. The place was buzzing - rooftop bar in a gorgeous Italian boutique hotel, overlooking the pool. We got chatting to a few people, and ended up joining them at a quiz in a local (western) pub. The quiz was horror themed - my speciality! We came third and won GHc20!!!! Result!

On Friday, 3 of us went out for dinner and found a local restaurant that serves the best burgers ever!! Seriously, we were all in heaven!! On Saturday we were invited to a dance performance at my work compound. One of the guys who works in the compound is part of an able-bodied and disabled dance troop which tours internationally. He had put together a performance to try to raise awareness of the abilities of disabled people. They were amazing! The show started with a woman singing gospel, followed by street children dancing, followed by the main group. They really were fantastic - we just really hope that the TV camera captured the performance, as opposed to us 'obrunis'.... After the show we headed back to the apartment to start Halloween preparations - in the dark!!! Thankfully the lights did come back on for a short time, so it wasn't too bad! I think we did not too bad a job considering we'd had less than 24 hours notice of the party and we have very limited resources! We went out for dinner (oh the looks we got were hilarious!) followed by an ex-pat party (another website offer) which turned out to be dreadful (so glad that wasn't our first ex-pat experience). Somehow, we then ended up at a house party of a guy who works at the American Embassy. It was like walking into an American student frat party like you see on TV! Loads of people squashed into a really small space, amazing decorations and costumes, and really bad beer!!! The saddest part is that we wandered into the kitchen and our jaws dropped in amazement at the size of the washer/drier, the fridge, the contents of the fridge - how sad are we! It has given me food for thought though around just how different the experiences of volunteers and embassy/NGO workers are likely to be...

As for this week, I'm not quite sure what's lined up. However, this is Ghana - anything can (and probably will) happen!! :-D

R x

1) Volunteers waiting on the royal arrival
2) and 3) Princess Anne
4) Dancing after the royal visit
5) Halloween!!! Indian Goddess, African Queen of the Damned and zombie tomboy school kid!
6) and 7) Us out for dinner dressed in our Halloween get-up (which Ghanaians don't understand)

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