Thursday, April 18, 2013

A great reason to live in a developing country

Accra has a few restaurants that are pretty good.  Now, pretty good means "tastes okay and doesn't make me sick."  By U.S. standards they are just "okay to go to when everything else is closed".  Needless to say, we don't go out to eat very often, which brings me to one great reason why living in a developing country can be good.....you are forced to cook! 

I have tried more recipes here than every other country we've lived in, put together.  We are limited on resources so you have to really search for things or order off the internet in advance.  For example, we learned that going to ShopRite early Saturday morning almost guarantees that you'll find sour cream.  If you go any other time, they will probably be out.  So I stock up on things and have to use them before they go bad, which forces me to cook.  We have added a TON of recipes to our rotation now.  Thank goodness for Pinterest

We also have a cleaning lady who likes to cook, so I throw the harder, more time consuming recipes at her and she has yet to disappoint!  Plus, she has to make everything Gluten-free and is successful!  I have to say, this is one great bonus of living in a developing country!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Things I'm missing right now

1.  Mexican food.  You can't find anything here.  Well, there is one place that serves mexican food, but I can't pay $20 for 3 small tacos that are sub-par.

2.  People who follow the rules of the road.  If there are rules here, I haven't heard of them nor have I seen anyone following them.

3.  H-E-B.  It's a huge grocery store in TX that carries EVERYTHING!  I really would love to go to one place to buy all of my groceries....and have everything I could ever need available to me.

4.  Target & Kohl's.  Clothes, shoes, random crap, birthday cards, etc.

5.  Real cows milk.  I never liked milk in the first place, but with real cows milk comes real ice cream.

5.  Real ice cream.  The stuff we get comes highly freezer burned.  I can make ice cream here, but it's made with shelf-life milk and doesn't taste right.

6.  Constant power and internet.  We have power outages almost every day.  They are mainly annoying, but we have to make sure all of our electronics are unplugged so they don't get fried once the power comes back on.  Internet has been spotty lately so it'd be nice to have a constant availability, just in case.

Last, but not least, our families.  I wish it didn't cost $2500 per ticket to see our family.  We love living abroad, but it'd be nice to see our families a little more often.  Thank goodness we have Skype!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Internet

I shot myself in the foot yesterday....not literally.  Someone asked me how our internet is in Ghana and I responded with "not as bad as it could be...we've been lucky and haven't had any real issues."  It's gone out for a few hours, but no more than 24 at a time.  That's considered good internet in Ghana.

We had a few issues last night with it going in and out, but I thought it would all be fine in the morning.  WRONG!  We wake up to no internet at all.  I try to reconfigure it, reset, etc and it doesn't work.  I take one of my devices over to a neighbor to see if I can connect to her internet and VOILA, I can.  So that means it's my internet that's having problems.  UGH!

Thankfully, after several hours of frustration, I figured out the issue for 3 of our 4 devices, but man was I annoyed!  The internet is our life-line here.  We have the magic jack that allows us to make and receive phone calls from the U.S.  No internet = no magic jack= grumpy family.  No internet = no amazon ordering = grumpy mommy.  No internet = no mindcraft = grumpy kids.

I'm grateful I was able to get it figured out quickly.  There have been times when our friends have gone without internet for 2+ weeks at a time.  I need to count my blessings....

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The sights around Ghana

We've gone on a few road trips around Ghana since arriving, but I haven't posted any of the pictures.  I thought I'd share a few....


Roadside market.  There were parts of the road where there were stands every 20 yards or so.  They all would try to waive you down.


I wasn't sure if this was a market or a home....or both.


This is the beginning of a very large market that spreads across the highway.  It was not fun going through it because of the traffic and also the worry of hitting someone with your car.


Termite mound....so huge!





We couldn't find any information on this helicopter, but thought it was fun..


Another road side store


The carvings on this tree was awesome and creepy all at the same time.  I can't imagine how long it took someone to do this.  Amazing!
 


Hand made pottery


Part of the city


While on vacation, we watched these men bring in their catch several times a day.  They offered to let the boys help, but they were too shy.  


One of the hand made boats the fishermen used every day.


Transporting coconuts


We went on a canopy walk and this was the view down.  Sadly, we didn't see a single animal.
 


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Animals

Ghana is an interesting place when it comes to pets.  People here don't really have "pets".  They raise chickens and goats, only to eat them later.  There are stray dogs everywhere, but they are so scared of people that they just run from you.  And I have yet to see a "big dog" here.  I think all animals here are malnourished so they don't grow to be very big.  When you go to any open market, you see kittens.  I have yet to see a full grown cat and I found out that it's because Ghanaians eat cat.  This completely upsets me, as I was raised with many cats and am a cat-lover. 

A little over a month ago, we went to a market to look for a few items to send home to our nieces and nephews.  When you go to a market, everyone tries to get your attention so you will buy something from them.  We've become very good an ignorning people since living here....

As we were walking around the market, my youngest spotted a tiny kitten.  He tried to pet it, but it ran away.  He pointed the kitten out to my husband and what happened next SHOCKED me. 

My husband has never really been an animal person.  Every time we went to my parents house, he would barely give any attention to my dog (my parents keep her because my son is allergic.  Plus, she's a good guard dog for them).  My parents have 2 cats and he doesn't pay much attention to them either.  My kids and I, on the other hand, play with them all day!  There is just something special about the kind of love a pet gives you. 

So my husband sees this cat and his heart completely goes out to it.  This cat is tiny, dirty and malnourished.  There were areas on the cat where the fur wasn't growing.  He was shocked at the state this animal was in and didn't want it to continue.  One of the men at the market noticed my son and husband taking an interest in the kitten and told them it had a twin.  My husband asked to see the twin, so they ran off and found it.  This one looked even worse than the other.  It was smaller than it's twin and it had an eye infection.  My hubby couldn't stand it and neither could my kids.  The boys ran over to where I was and told me all about it.  I had seen kittens all over the city so I knew the kind of state they would be in.  I have wanted to rescue some of those kittens before, but thought my hubby would kill me if I brought one home so this blew me away.

When I reached my husband and saw the kittens, my heart fell.  I couldn't believe how terrible they looked and how scared they seemed.  We were now surrounded by 5-6 men, all of them saying the cats belonged to them but they would sell them to us.  They were completely taking advantage of the situation.  Here they weren't taking care of these kittens at all, but they wouldn't let us walk off with them.  So I argued with the head guy and pointed out how the kittens were in terrible shape and there is no way they were being taken care off.  He offered to sell them to me for 75 cedi, which is equal to about $40.  I pointed out the kitten with the eye infection and told him I'd have to take it to the vet to get medicine and that would cost me more money.  He then offered 65 cedi.  I asked if they had their shots already and the guy looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language.  I explained that I'd have to take them to the vet to get shots for rabies and that would cost me a lot of money.  He offered us 60 cedi.  I argued with him some more about how terrible these kittens were treated, etc and told him I'd give him 50 cedi for both of them and then he would no longer have to "feed them".  Yes, I know he wasn't feeding them at all but he claimed he was.  The man agreed and then asked for a few more cedi to find a carrier to put them in.  I reminded him again that I was taking these two kittens off of his hands and that he could go find a box to put them in.

We finished our shopping and came back to 6 men trying to keep the kittens in a small, beat up box.  They were shoving them so hard into the box and when the kittens jumped out, they would grab them by the head and throw them back in.  I was sick at how they were treating them so I just grabbed the box and kept my hand over the top so the kittens wouldn't jump out.  We paid the head guy and ran for the car.

For about a minute, the kittens tried to get out of that box.  I'm sure they were terrified!  All they knew was that humans were not good.  Poor things!!  They finally settled down and snuggled together on the side of the box.  We took them to the vet and they both weighed under 1 pound, even though they were about 8-10 weeks old.  They were too malnourished to get their shots so they just got a flea and de-worming treatment.  We also got eye drops for the one with the infection.

When we brought them home, they were so frightened.  I put a basket on the floor sideways and put a soft pillow inside of it.  The kittens immediately curled up and went to sleep.  We gave them food and water, but they weren't interested.  I was so worried about them!  I wasn't sure if the smaller one would make it past a week. 

Long story short, it's been over a month since we rescued them and they have each gained over 2 pounds and are becoming happy, playful kittens.  Turns out that they are a boy and girl and we named them George and Obruni, but we call Obruni "Sissy".  They have been a great addition to our family and have completely changed my hubby's heart towards cats.  These kittens follow him around everywhere.  They are living in our garage for now, but are slowly venturing outside.  They are so much fun!!!!

 The kittens the first day we brought them home.

 
Day two, they didn't want us to pet them, but they were fine laying with us.  Sissy didn't let us pet her for the first two weeks.
 

The kittens now.....loving the attention.  They are so sweet!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas in Ghana...

...consisted of:

1. Opening presents
2. Eating breakfast
3. Playing with new toys
4. Drink Hot Chocolate
5. Going SWIMMING!  (It truly was awesome to go swimming on Christmas day)
6. Playing with new toys again
7. Skyping with friends and family

Christmas was great!  I feel so blessed to have a wonderful family who can adjust to any situation that is thrown at them.  Moving to Africa wasn't easy, but it sure is getting better and better.


I'm so grateful for modern technology that allows us to see our family from THOUSANDS of miles away!  It makes Christmas much sweeter.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Working together

I was fingerprinting people today when I witnessed something that really warmed my heart.  There was a man who came in with his newborn baby.  Really, that baby could not have been more than a month old.  He was carrying the baby on his shoulder and the baby was asleep.  Since I needed to fingerprint him, he needed to put the baby down.  Instead of setting the baby down by the window, he turned to the stranger behind him, didn't say a word, and just handed his newborn over.  The lady didn't say anything in return and just took the baby and held him while his daddy was busy.

The amazing part of this is that those two adults did not know each other at all.  He was in need and she was willing to help out.  He was not worried that she would run off with his baby or harm him in any way.  It was a complete "I trust you to hold my baby" even though he didn't know her.  I was absolutely amazed.  I made sure to work quickly with the gentleman so he could get his baby and made sure to thank the random lady standing behind him for assisting.  She acted like it was no big deal, as if she's done this for many people before.  The trust there was fantastic.

This is not something we would see in the states, and I think that is what saddens me now.  We are always so worried that someone might take our kids or run off with our belongings that there isn't 100% trust there.  I understand why things are that way, but it is still a little sad.

Watching that interaction today completely made my day....it was only 2 minutes of my day, but it put a smile on my face.  I need to be more proactive in helping others!  What a great example they were.