One week ago we moved (via TroTro) from the guest house to the house we have rented. It is much closer to Matt’s office.
Addresses and maps are not relevant forms of information here. Areas of town and landmarks are entirely more reliable forms of communication- but if you are new to the city (like we are) you can imagine how difficult that is. After moving our boxes we went to lunch at a restaurant that was halfway to the mattress store that we needed to go to – so we could have beds to sleep on that night. As we were waiting for our food we got a call from the appliance delivery man that he was on our street but couldn’t find the house. Matt tried for 30 minutes to describe the house and direct the man, even putting one of the Ghanaian servers on the phone to describe it in the local language. It did no good. Matt & Peter eventually got into a taxi and came back to the house – only to the find the delivery man parked in his truck ONE house down from ours.
Nothing is simple or straightforward. We eventually all met up again at the mattress store only to discover that the bed frames that came with our house were not standard sizes – either by Ghanian or US standards. Special mattresses could be made but then how could we get sheets for them? So we decided to buy bunk beds for the girls’ room and standard size mattresses to match. Matt is so tall that the longest bed in Ghanaian sizes is exactly how tall he is (190cm). – so we bought a bed and quickly told our carpenter we would have to turn the bed frame so the width (it was wider than it was long) could become the length! All that out of the way, we loaded the mattresses and bunk beds on to the back of a truck. Feeling triumphant we began the drive home.
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever – if it can at all be avoided drive across town between 5 and 7pm. The traffic is HORRIBLE! And this statement is brought to you by an LA girl who knows the 110 and 405 freeways. People were getting out of the TroTros and walking 10 times the speed we were moving. There were no accidents, this is apparently just normal traffic. I do not think it was more than 3miles we had to travel when we hit traffic. And for the next 2 hours, the windows of the taxi were rolled down (it was crazy hot, no AC) and we were breathing in diesel fumes. Bleh!!
Do not assume the electricity will work. After all of this, we came home and turned the lights on – only to find the lights didn’t turn on. The few that did had a strange orange glow. Huh? When we turned them on the day before they were just fine. And then we were told we were experiencing low current. Ugh! At least we could get one AC in the girls room to turn on and one AC upstairs in the guest room to turn on. So the five of us squeezed into the girls room (Abby shared her new bed with Peter and Matt & I put our new mattress on the floor, which was crazy dirty but what can you do? At least there was some plastic to put under it.) Since this time we have had another day of low current and two days of no current at all. The generator that came with the house does not seem to be working properly.
Do not count on workers coming when they say they will come. We have waited day after day after day for an electrician, a plumber, an internet installation team. This is a HUGE adjustment for us coming from the United States where generally if someone says they will come 75% of the time they come. Here it is only about 10% of the time. This is a very difficult lesson in patience when none of the bathrooms work properly, the washing machine needs to be hooked up, the sink is backed up, there is no electricity and the generator does not work. It is difficult to sit around the house and wait and no one comes.
On the upside we have found a wonderful welder named Sam who is putting in more burglar proofing for us (this is a whole other area of learning for us, but I think I will let Matt write about that). Sam calls and shows up when he says he will. Also because we have been so in need of a plumber – he brought one with him today – who fixed all the leaks and stoppages! Hurray!!
I think that is all the learning I will share for today – maybe you are feeling just a bit of the overwhelmingness we have!
On a light note – this is how we test burglar proofing in Ghana. We decided to try to send our 6 year old through the bars. 😉