My visit to region 4 as part of the needs assessment saw yet another interesting tro journey. I was told it would take roughly 1 hour to reach my destination. In reality this turned into around 3 hours. The main reason for this, other than traffic, was because the tro was pulled over by the police - turns out the driver didn't have a license. After around 30 minutes of questioning, lots of 'input' from passengers and a 50 cedi bribe, we were back on our way. The meeting was very good; the journey back not so much. After sitting in the tro station for over an hour waiting for the vehicle to fill up - our 'entertainment' included preaching by a group of children and a man selling various pills in plastic bags - we were finally ready to leave only to discover that the tro wouldn't start. It did start after a push down a hill, and we were on our way. Traffic was extremely heavy and so at one point the driver decided to take a short cut through a very narrow path. We came to a point where there was a broken metal 'bridge' that we had to cross. The cars in front all slowed down to a crawl to take this carefully. Our tro driver decided just to go for it at top speed! There were cries of 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus' in the back of the tro - and then loud applause when we actually made it over. Back in Accra I had yet another tro to sit in to get to Circle, again traffic was murder. As I finally stepped off that Tro, I was followed by a small boy asking for money. I should point out that at this stage I had been awake for around 36 hours (due to an all night church service the previous night - which only got louder as the generators kicked in when the electricity went off!) and it had taken almost 5 hours to get home (a trip that should have taken 1 hour!!) I was in no mood to entertain small boys asking for money...... he's lucky I kept so calm!
That was the last work trip for a while. I was due to visit 4 other regions but, for various reasons, this is now not happening and so the needs assessment will need to be finished via email/questionnaire..... should be interesting!
Fire in Adabraka
I was woken up one night by a series of noises outside. Adabraka is generally very noisy, but these sounds were persistent and different than normal. I finally dragged myself out of bed at 10.30pm to go investigate. I went through to my spare room to see a lot of people standing about outside, but no obvious reason as to why. I then saw the lights on in the landing so went to speak to my neighbours, only to be taken through to Rose's bedroom to see the cause of the noise: the house diagonal to ours was completely alight!! I've never seen anything like it! We ended up packing bags (passport, money, clothes, etc) in case we were evacuated for the night - there was lots of panic as fire spreads so quickly due to most of the buildings being made of wood, and the electricity cables being far too close to everything.
We head outside to find that the building housed a number of families, all of whom managed to get out safely thankfully, and that the fire had been caused by a mosquito coil. We also heard that Adabraka has such a bad reputation for prank calls that the fire service initially refused to turn up. It took my neighbour Peggy phoning for them to take us seriously. What was also interesting was the fact that most people did not know the number for the emergency services, but that's another story.
We sat outside for over 3 hours watching the fire service do their job. What an interesting, and often cringing, sight that was. I don't want to criticise the service because they did their best with the resources that they had, but let's just say it was a very different service to the one we expect at home.... The most surprising thing has to have been the crowd of people who were allowed to stand right up at the house taking pictures - surely that can't have been safe.... Anyway, the fire was finally extinguished after 1am and we were allowed back inside for a reatively sleepless night (noisy street that night and no electricity). I did however manage to make it to work the next morning - I was the only one!!!!
We headed to the beach again at Easter for 3 nights. It is so relaxing and cool at the beach, the sea breeze is lovely and such a change from the humidity of Accra. Sitting by the sea all day reading books, and enjoying a nice meal and good company at night - fab. We even had champagne one night to celebrate one of the volunteers' birthday - very nice! Random highlight of the trip has to have been catching a thief on the way back home. I caught someone trying to get into another volunteer's bag - I shouted at him to stop and he disappeared into the crowd. Turns out if we had shouted 'thief' he would have been physically beaten by everybody around us.....!!!
Random highlight of the month
Motorbikes in Ghana are basically a law unto themselves. They can jump traffic lights, ride the wrong way up one-way streets, ride on pavements - even wheel their bikes through restaurants! But this one shocked me. There is a large cross roads outside my work compound and as I was walking home on afternoon, I saw a drama taking place with a car, a motorbike and a policeman. The policeman was directing traffic (as the lights were out again). The motorbike had decided to just go for it, and had caused a car to swerve that was passing in front of him. The policeman tried to get the motorbike to stop but when he saw it wasn't going to, he leaped on to the rider's back to try to slow him down. This in fact did nothing to slow the rider down, and the policeman ended up being dragged down the street at full speed!! I didn't see what happened next but it didn't look like it was going to end well...
I love this!!!!!! Turns out African dancing is fun, but not quite my thing. Drumming on the other hand is awesome! Hopefully I can take this up on a weekly basis and perhaps get to the stage where I can drum while the others dance :-)
Fire in Adabraka. It was relatively close to being put out at this stage, but you can see just how close the crowds are to the scene. Crazy.
Easter Sunday - quite possibly the best meal in Ghana - BBQ at Ko-Sa.
I hope everybody had a great Easter!