Wednesday, May 14, 2008

March and a bit of April 08...

Life here in Ghana is much more exciting now we have actually started construction!

The first six –eight months of my time here saw the site mobilising – it was a real experience to see how much there is to do to get a job going here, but I think everyone was ready to start seeing something actually happening. The team is growing now too, we are taking along a lot of local staff and also we have a student engineer out for the summer from the UK – my new housemate. At the moment we are excavating a 40m diameter, 6m deep ‘hole’ in which we will be building the first of the water treatment modules. This one is a Clariflocculator, in which particles clump together and then sink to the bottom where they are scraped off and taken away, and the clean water allowed to trickle off at the top of the structure. It is nothing like what I have done before... I have been known to whisper several times “never building another house as long as I live...”!

However, starting the work has coincided with the hottest time of the year! It is sweltering; we try and get as much of the work on site done first thing because by ten o clock you are sweating from bits you didn’t even know sweated! It sounds like I will be getting a tan, but unfortunately I am developing a bit of a Builders Tan... arms, face, v shape at the neck! Nice. Stripey.

Easter was a bit of a non-event as I couldn’t find raisins to make hot cross buns, couldn’t find any Easter eggs, and had to work all weekend anyway! We did get Sunday off though – and I went to an amazing service at 7.00am (favourite worship lyrics... “It is such fun to see, such fun to see, Satan Lose... It is such fun to see, such fun to see, Satan Lose... Cos Jesus is the Winnerman, the Winnerman, the Winnerman”... but the overheads actually read “...such fun to see Satan Loose”... which kind of changes the whole meaning...!), and then to Lake Bosomtwe with our design engineer from site. This is a naturally-occurring lake, created when a meteorite hit goodness knows how many thousands of years ago. It is my favourite place to just go and relax, the forest scenery creates an amazing backdrop and makes it so quiet and peaceful!

We got a long weekend the following weekend instead, Friday I spent in my pyjamas all day (a rare luxury!); then a couple of friends from Accra were travelling in the area on the Sunday and Monday, so I met them at a Butterfly reserve just outside Kumasi. We explored some of the old fetish shrines and then Kejetia Market – allegedly the biggest market in the whole of West Africa! I love it, for all it’s smells, colours, people, noise, chickens, cows stomachs, cloth, beads, shoes... infact, I am sure you can buy almost anything you may imagine in that place!

My new housemate and I had a Bacon Buttie on Saturday morning with the last of the Waitrose bacon I smuggled back from the UK at Christmas! For me, it was spoilt by the quality of bread that you get here in Kumasi. I find it sweet, dry, and goes stale the same day! This brings me on to one of the most exciting things that has happened to me recently... (Africa changes one’s expectations...) I Found A Bakery! I had heard rumours of a ‘food court’ style place, similar to one they have in Accra, but never had time to really explore. On Saturday though, I was showing the new guy around a bit so I thought we may as well have a look.

I think my reaction would have been funny to see. There was a pizza place, a fried chicken place, a Nando’s style chicken place, a bakery which sells real bread, and an Ice Cream Parlour. I stood gaping at the array on offer for about ten minutes. The grin on my face didn’t go for about two hours. I never thought I would be so excited about finding an ice cream shop. I couldn’t decide what to have!

It’s actually quite nice to get such joy from such simple things. I’ve noticed it too when I have been able to go to Accra, the excitement I get from bacon and avocado sandwiches with an iced mocha is crazy! It has definitely taught me how much I take for granted back in the UK, but also has taught me that we can all cope without the little luxuries that we think we ‘deserve’ after a tricky day at work!

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