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Monday, November 27th, 2006

Dan writes-
So, what is there to do in Accra on weekends? I am sure there is plenty, but since we are newly-wheeled, it seems like it’s time to look around outside of the city. I saw a little ad for the Accra-Tema Yacht Club and I wanted to check it out. Yes, a yacht club. White pants, blue blazers, and lots of blonde people named Biff and Muffy who don’t move their mouths a lot when they speak. Not exactly my scene, but it sounded more interesting than watching tv. In our house, we get the Armed Forces Network. This is a few channels that get beamed to various US military vortexes, vortices? Since it is some kind of cable deal for the military folk, it is blessedly free of commercials! What a concept. We have not seen an ad for Prilosec, Lipitor, Lunestra, Skeletor, Gomora, or any of the rest of the magic pills that made me feel like I needed some kind of medication for something. Lucky for me, I got issued a nice bottle full of anti-malarial pills that make me wonder how bad actually getting malaria could be.In spite of the nausea I have been enjoying from taking anti-malarial pills, I wanted to get my expanding arse off the La-Z-Boy and go for a mini adventure. If you have never known the joys of a reclining chair, be careful. When we first opened the door to our new digs, there it was, right in our living room full of wall-to-wall faux marble tile. I like to think of it as our own little Italian hotel room. If you have ever had the pleasure to visit Italy, you may have noticed a liberal use of marble and tiles. At least that is the case in hotel rooms for “cost sensitive” travelers. Easier to hose them down perhaps, something akin to the back seat of a cop car with the metal plate floor and seat- not that I have been in the back of one. Just saw it from the street. Honest.

The problem with reclining chairs is that as soon as you pull that lever on the right side and lean back, it is ever so difficult to get vertical again. The chair has attacked you on two fronts (instead of commercials, Armed Forces Network has lots of spots about military lingo, life in the military, the history of the military, “why I serve in the military”, the weather at military bases, and other soldier stuff). First, it is actually quite a pleasure to have my feet elevated as I view the tv through my insteps. If I am tired, I can fall asleep in short order. How did I go for decades without appreciating this? Yes, this latest adventure is all about experiencing new things and living life on the edge. The other way this overstuffed, corduroy-clad devil keeeps you stuck is by not having a lever to un-recline the chair. To get out, you have to get some momentum going with your upper body while punching your legs down to push down on the pop-up ottoman part of the chair. Perhaps you scoff at my increasing decrepitude, but I am thinking that getting out of the chair a few times a day could qualify as an exercise regime. At least, that is how it feels for me when on anti-malarials. At least one person was telling me that malaria “is not so bad.” She has never had it, so I guess I shouldn’t give her opinion too much credence.

This weekend was one of the first in a while that anti-malarial pills have not kept me firmly glued in place in a crabby stupor. We hopped into our overkill SUV and drove along the main road heading east out of Accra. After about an hour-and-a-half we arrived in the town of Ada Foah. After driving around in circles a bit, and then driving through what felt like someone’s living room, we finally found the Yacht Club. I say “yacht club” in a very loose sense. Not a single yacht. No white shoes within hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles.

Ada Foah view

For some reason I have always loved junkyards. I think they demonstrate how unproductive it is to covet worldly possessions. Think of the millions of hard-earned dollars that were scrimped together to pay for the shiny metal and steel sitting on the showroom floors. Now, all of those crumbly hulks of steel are picked over for their parts and are often worth less than nothing as a whole. People sometimes pay to have their car towed away. The paint gets so dull that upright citizens would not be caught cruising in a shabby Chevy. Look at the people, usually the young-uns, gush about their new rides on Pimp My Ride (yeah, it is one of my favorite shows, at least conceptually). They scream about how their lives are going to be so much better now that they got a ‘sick ride’ that is painted up nice and has chrome wheels. I am not sure why I like the show so much- maybe it is a graphic portrayal about what is wrong, and what is right in our country, or even our world? Wrong- a new ride, as far as I know, will not change your life so much that you should be jumping up and down and screaming like you are on fire. Right- sometimes you can change your life dramatically and maybe the catalyst is something as tangible as a fetishized object. Don’t get me wrong. I like cars. I like driving a little more than most people. I am constantly amazed that cars can propel us forward without going up in a ball of flames. It’s just that cars are in a constant state of decay. Contrary to the ads, they are not an investment. They are an expense. The more time passes, the closer the car gets to the junkyard. Drive it, it gets used up. Let it sit, it rots. The best you can do is delay its pasture days by taking decent care of it. The junkyard is a reminder of the inevitable. It reminds me to get out and do things like take a nice drive. Take a little sail.

The guys sitting around in the shade among some of the more rotten hulls dragged a little Laser sailboat to the water for us. It was a sleek inverted bathtub of a vessel.

Laser boat

Not exactly spacious for three people, but hey, we’re friends. We quickly got underway thanks to a confident wind that blew in exactly the direction for us to slide down the Volta River. Towards the ocean. The Atlantic Ocean.

more to come when I get some more free time–

Roadside sights

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Here are some sights we saw on the way back from Aburi. First, a rustic gas station. That reddish-orange stuff in the glass container at the top of the post is gas. Perhaps the car in the background actually used some of that gas.

rustic gas station

This big square thing is the storage tank for the gas.

rustic service station

Further down the road, we saw this political mural on the side of a building. It’s a picture of President Kufuor. Interesting motto.

so far so good

Aburi Botanical Gardens and Mampong

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006
On Sunday we visited Aburi Botanical Gardens, located about 35 km north of Accra. What a difference 35 km can make. It was noticeably cooler, the landscape was hilly rather than flat like Accra, and the air was ... [Continue reading this entry]

Local shopping

Friday, November 17th, 2006
We buy our vegetables at a little vegetable stand in our neighborhood. It's next to another little stand where plastic bowls, mops, and wastepaper baskets are sold. African shirts are on offer at yet another stand nearby. [Continue reading this entry]

Household f/x

Thursday, November 16th, 2006
We left DC back in September. Movers packed our household effects into giant crates on September 22. Our understanding was that the crates would then be shipped to Accra. It turns out that our stuff is in... ... [Continue reading this entry]

Tennis, anyone?

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006
No, we still haven't played any tennis in Accra. However, we did have a brush with tennis fame. Serena Williams came to visit Ghana last week. I took pictures at the meet-and-greet reception, but ... [Continue reading this entry]

Wipe out

Monday, November 6th, 2006
Went mountain biking yesterday on some trails near the airport. A friend said motocross riders use these trails sometimes. For maximum sunburn, we left the house at noon. It was hot, and the dirt on the trail ... [Continue reading this entry]