Saturday, April 28, 2007

From the "it works!" dept.

I popped into work this (Saturday) morning hoping against hope that the interNOT was working. You can imagine my joy when I plugged my laptop into the router and it worked!

I am now in the process of downloading Open Office, as my MS Office is now asking for my install disks all the time. Like I have those! And the rate is decent: about 20 kb/s. I'm also trying to download a couple of episodes of My Name is Earl. Not much luck there, though.

While I wait for Open Office to finish downloading, I thought I'd write a short update on life here.


Last week I travelled with Christian, one of SKYY's reporters, to several small towns and villages outside of Takoradi in search of news stories. We found four. They were:

1. After a rash of thefts from their boats, fishermen in one community have started to store their fuel in their homes. Traditional leaders are worried that this is an accident waiting to happen as many fishermen smoke their catch at their homes. Given that most homes in the village are made of wood, the leaders issued an edict telling fishermen that they had to keep their fuel with their boats. The fishermen are upset because they fear their fuel will be stolen and are either ignoring the order or trying to get it reversed.

2. In the same village there is a problem with sewage. A public toilet (an 8-holer!) that was set up in the community is plugged and no one will clean the septic tank. Lots of finger pointing surrounding this story. In the meantime, the toilet has been offline for more than a year forcing some residents to relieve themselves outdoors.

Just down the road from the toilet is a sewer canal project. Construction on the project stopped several years ago for no known reason. The old part of the canal is little more than a ditch filled with stinky standing water. In addition to being a physical hazard, mosquitoes are breeding in the water. Erosion of the canals banks during heavy rains is also threatening nearby buildings.

3. Visitors to another community must now register with the village's traditional authorities. The reason given was so that the authorities could contact the visitors in case of an emergency. Most people feel this is an invasion of privacy.

4. Our final story comes from Christian's home village. It focused on how traditional beliefs are beginning to fade with time. In this case: dogs.

It seems in the old days dogs were not welcome in town because the God that protects the community was not a dog lover. Today, things have changed considerably. Dogs are now welcome in town as pets and also as food. Dog meat is a delicacy and is often used to make what I'm told is a delicious soup. And while I don't doubt it, I decided to take a pass.

I took the opportunity to ask about the feeling towards cats. Christian laughed and told me that cat meat is also a delicacy -- lots of people eat cat and raise them to either sell or eat. Hmmm.


Meanwhile, life continues to be good here in Takoradi, though occasionally frustrating.

I ran out of mosquito spray and it took several visits to town and many, many shops to find more. The good stuff with 48% DEET used to be available everywhere. Then it suddenly disappeared and was replaced by a lame cream containing only 12% DEET.

I tried the cream and was eaten alive. Thus began my mission to find the old stuff. After much searching I finally discovered four dusty bottles of Equatorial Body Spray at a chemist near Market Circle. I nabbed them all. My booty should last for at least a month, giving me time to find more with out the threat of contracting malaria.

I didn't do so well in trying to find a book -- any book. I've tried searching in vain for a bookstore. Most shops labeled bookstores actually sell schoolbooks and stationary. I specifically wanted a book on Ghana's former president Jerry Rawlings. I came up empty.

It seems there is no bookstore in the entire metropolis -- or if there is, it is well hidden. On my next trip to Accra I plan to load up on books as I've finished the three I brought back from my last visit.


I finally picked up some cloth to have shirts custom made. I'm tired of wearing the same old Old Navy crap. Last week I found fabric with two cool patterns for about $15. There are hundreds and hundreds of patterns available -- and it was difficult to pick only two.

On Thursday I handed the material over to Kojo, SKYY's driver, who said he knew a good tailor. I also gave him one of my Old Navy shirts as a sample of my girth -- this high-carb diet is not helping my waistline!

This morning, Kojo dropped off the finished shirts at my home and apologized for taking so long. I was shocked! I was even more shocked when I discovered the price: about $15.

To sum up: two cool custom made shirts, ready with in 48 hours for only $30. I love Ghana! I also love my cool new shirts!

One final note: as I type this, SKYY TV is running a Bollywood movie. For a second I felt like I was back in Vancouver. Sniff!

That's it for now. Apologies for the grammar and spelling errors!

And Go Canucks!

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