Monday, October 25, 2010

18 degrees Celsius is only 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit!!

MY OFFICE BUILIDNG IS FREEZING. You could store meat in this place it is that cold. I checked the various air conditioners and saw that they are all set to 18 degrees Celsius. I grew up using Fahrenheit to measure temperature so I quickly went to my computer to convert it and saw that 18 degrees is 64.4 degrees fahrenheit. People, that is cold!!! I consider that to be jacket weather. Why is the air conditioning set to a level that requires a coat? I keep my office air conditioner on 26 degrees Celsius and am frequently told that my old feels too warm and in comparison to the rest of this Arctic office building my office does feel like a tropical oasis but I need the warmth. I really don’t get this. And this isn’t limited to my office either. I experience this in other offices within Accra, especially banks. Aren’t we hot weather people? This is Ghana, right? I am the one that grew up in the cold but yet seem to be the only one running away from the air conditioning. The funny thing is I’ve seen Ghanaians practically wearing parkas during rainy season and the temperature is probably about 22-25 degrees Celsius but everyone seems to celebrate the intense air conditioning.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Unsung Heroes

I need to give praise, a shoutout, much respect and a heartfelt thanks to the people who decide to get up every day and direct traffic at some of the most congested, traffic light/stop sign needing intersections and tunnels in Accra. If you’ve driven around Accra, you’ve seen these people. Usually they are some young men, who stand all day in the often very intense heat with nothing more than a stick w/a bandana tied to it, or a tree branch in their hands directing traffic. It is my understanding that they are not paid by the government and are not trained to do the work they do. Instead they are just private citizens who get up and do this. So far Ghana is the only country I’ve been in where you can get up, pick up a tree branch and become a traffic conductor but it happens. I know they don’t do it just to be kind, they do beg for money as they are directing traffic but they are doing a service and I gladly donate to their cause. They provide a much needed service. I still am not the most aggressive driver and know that without them I would be stuck waiting at places like the East Legon tunnel, or the bridge to the Abbatoir Road for hours hoping someone would pity me and allow me to pass. Without them those areas would be absolute chaos. Everyone would be trying to force their way through and the already high accident rate would increase. So this post is dedicated to those branch wielding traffic conductors all over Accra. Me dase paaaa!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Run up on me at the light, you could lose your life

That is one of my favorite Jigga lines. It comes from Excuse Me Miss Again (remix). And I was reminded of it last night . . . .

I got lost yesterday. Totally and completely lost. And if you’ve been reading my posts you will know that the vast majority of roads in Ghana don’t have street signs, so whenever I attempted to ask for directions I would hear something like “Go straight, straight, straight, and when you come to a big restaurant go right.” That sounds fine but I think I was so freaked out because I was so completely lost, and it was dark that I wasn’t even paying attention to the landmarks given. It was awful. After I had gone straight for about 2 miles without seeing a restaurant I decided to pull over and ask yet another pedestrian for directions. I saw a young man walking wearing headphones so I lightly tapped my horn to get his attention. I rolled down my window and asked, “Excuse me, how do I get to Tema Beach Road?” He said “Oh, it’s this way” and started to open my car door.

YES, that’s right. Homeboy tried to open my car door. WTF! I said, "NO! THERE IS NO NEED TO ENTER" and peeled off so fast I may have driven over a few of his toes. My heart was racing! I was thinking “Oh my God, dude is about to murder me and throw me into the bushes!” Actually, I know that Ghanaians are super friendly and considerate about giving directions. We all know how difficult it is to get around here given that many places are not well lit and there isn’t a proper address system, HOWEVER, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, try to enter my car to give me directions. Things like that will get you shot in NYC. Hell, I don’t carry a weapon but thought, “Do I need to reverse and hit him so he doesn’t take me out first?” (just joking!) Poor boy, it is very likely he was just trying to offer assistance but I wasn’t taking any chances. Believe that the next person I asked for directions was a woman. And I made sure she was a small woman at that.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In New York, Concrete jungle where dreams are made of

Ahhh! It's good to be in NY!!! For the most part I enjoy my life in Accra but NYC will always be my first love. It was where I was born and raised so how can I feel any differently? I've never been away from the city for more than four months at a time until now. I've been gone for about eight months!!! I missed it so badly I was even looking forward to seeing the graffiti. I have about 48 hours here. I plan on eating tons of Thai and Mexican food, helping out the economy by shopping like a mad woman and of course spending time with family and friends. We will see how much gets accomplished.