Thursday, December 18, 2008

Traffic makes me sad

New favorite store names:
I am Collections
George Bush Way Chop Bar (chop Bar = restaurant)

And now, may I present the story of the 8-hour journey to and from the Accra Post Office. The main characters are myself, and traffic. The trip to the post office involved 3 separate tro-tro rides. Traffic was unusually heavy (usually it's just heavy), and by the 3rd tro-tro I was so fed up with traffic that I alighted (to use the local phrase) and walked 30 minutes until I found the post office [elapsed time: 2.5 hrs]. It took me three tries to find the correct service counter, and once I did I was directed to another window that was currently vacant. Luckily after 10 minutes of waiting a man appeared, and was friendly and helpful [elapsed time: 3 hrs]. However, the post office didn't have the package I was looking for (joy of joys!), and they directed me to another post office. Since it was about 4pm I didn't think I had enough time to make it to this other post office, so I decided to go home.

I left the post office and decided to forgo another tro-tro ride since traffic was ridiculous. As I walked on a street towards my destination, I had the feeling I was marching in a parade: tons of people crowded the street, a few vehicles were playing music that people danced to, and cars trying to get through the gridlock were horning (to use the local phrase) like crazy. After walking to an area of less traffic I picked (to use the local phrase) a tro-tro and got the station, and boarded another tro-tro (remember, I still need to take 2 more to get home). This time, traffic was so bad that I literally moved 20 feet in an hour [elapsed time: 4.5 hrs]. I was so frustrated that I got out of the car and walked to eat some food and kill some time. I figured by 7pm traffic would settle down.

After eating and relaxing a bit, I walked to the station hoping that things had cleared. I was dead wrong...traffic was still horrendous. Even more exciting was the crowd of about 200 people trying to board any tro-tro that came by. As each car came every 2 or 3 minutes, 20 or 30 people mobbed it (even before they knew where it was going), pushing and shoving their way to the front so that if the car was the right one they could get in. It was crazy. Apparently the concept of forming a line hadn't crossed anyone's mind. And apparently this happens every day as the commuters leave Accra to travel back to their homes. I've experienced this once before but it wasn't quite as crowded. I decided to give up after about 30-40 minutes, I was too overwhelmed and didn't feel like fighting people for a spot. [elapsed time: 6+ hrs].

I killed an hour and a half at a nearby internet cafe and made sure to come back late, around 9pm, when I knew traffic would be clear. It took me less than 45 minutes to get back, but I was frustrated and exhausted [elapsed time: 8+ hrs]. The End.

Moral of the story: Traffic will get you down. It may suck life from you, as it has special powers. It may drive you to despair. So live in the countryside or buy a custom jetpack with wings so you can fly.

Other: I am getting better at drumming little by little. I'm not getting better at handwashing (I need to find out WHO invented the washing machine, as they are my new hero). I took a trip to a nice beach (sorry, no pictures as the package in question contains a replacement camera). And according to my neighbor, who lived for 30 years in Canada, I will cry on Christmas day here. Because it's just not the same - hot weather, terrible reggae versions of X-mas songs, only a few decorations, and people typically don't share a nice meal together. So I'll let you know how many tears I shed. Shed a tear for me please, as I'm very homesick. But I'm really looking forward to some travels. Take care.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Important Announcement

Just wanted to post a quick update. Forgot to mention last week that I saw a really well produced play at the University of Legon. There were about 60 people in the cast (!) decked out in dazzling costumes. Traditional music and choreographed dancing occurred throughout. The story detailed the history of an 18th Century war between the Ashanti (from central Ghana) and the British colonials. It was somewhat comical as the "obrunis" (white foreign exchange students) acted the parts of various British colonials, a.k.a. the bad guys. I have to admit I felt a little awkward when the audience cheered the defeat of the "obrunis" (who ran off the stage doing the British high-step), but it was a pretty powerful experience nonetheless. And it started on time and the lighting worked uninterupted.

On Sunday I got another crack at playing "Kinka" and also "Slow Adbadza" with my society. Two of their main drummers were away near Lake Volta, so I got to play a lot. It was pretty awesome. Nothing much else is new - haven't had power for 2 days.

I'd now like to announce:


That's right, you can submit that burning question(s) you had about Africa. Many Ghanaians I talk to want to know what Americans think about Ghana (at least two people I talked to are worried that Americans think they live in trees). So I'd like to tell you *how it really is*, at least to the extent that I know. You can hit me up with questions in any of the following ways:

1) Post it as a comment for this blog
2) Email
3) Message me on Facebook

I'll select the best questions and provide brilliant, witty, insightful responses, and the best question winner will receive a Viking Range, a new Sealy mattress, an all-expenses paid trip to the Azores OR Sri Lanka (your choice) AND travel in style in a BRAND ... NEW ... CAR!!!

Peace out. PS: One thing I look forward to when I return: flushing a toilet (it's been 3 months)