Sunday, 6 February 2011
*Sit Together And Relax*
Kelewele...fried plantain in spices. Delicious and naughty snack
Air conditioning in the office is definitely rather hit and miss (though of course we're lucky to have it) and in our own little office is really more of a hot air fan. We generally keep the curtains closed to try to stay out of the sun whilst working, but develop a lovely sheen to our faces as the morning goes on, which by the afternoon may be slightly less lovely.
Shiny forehead alert!
On Friday night we headed for some Indian food at Koh-I-Noor, just a couple of streets away from our apartment, to uphold a British Friday night tradition just a little farther towards the Equator. The Indian dishes on the menu were comfortingly familiar, as were the misspellings I always look forward to. "Spinish" this time was a common offering. Perhaps a missed marketing opportunity for those wishing to promote a Popeye-muscle-inducing substance without the bother of steaming? A blackout during dinner added more spice to the occasion, but the food was rather good. Keema samosa, garlic nan, pilau rice and chicken Makhani all served with little ceremony but lots of flavour, accompanied by local beer.
The end of the week brought more settling in activities. We've joined a gym called Pippa's Health Centre, the original branch (one of three) situated around the corner from our apartment and the office. On Saturday morning I ventured out at 6am (gulp) to take part in a power walk for an hour, hoping to meet some of the regulars and make new friends. Three foolhardy gym-goers had dragged themselves out of bed for the walk, but for our efforts we were greeted by delighted, smiling gym staff and given Pippa's Gym t-shirts for making it to the walk. More delight on my part, when it transpired that one of the gym staff turned out to be none other than Pippa herself.
A Canadian national who has lived in Ghana for the last thirty years, Pippa and her husband settled in Accra for her husband's work, and after giving birth to their fourth child, Pippa decided that she wanted a new challenge and made use of her degree in health science and her background running fitness programmes to capitalise on a gap in the market by setting up the first of her gyms. (If I see Pippa again I'll definitely get a photo...maybe even one featuring me wearing my Pippa's gym t-shirt!) Pippa and her staff advise me about running in Accra, where the traffic and pollution are both very heavy after 7, I've noticed. "Ideally you want to finish your run at 6.30 am," Pippa suggests, "...as after that the pollution is really bad and the traffic busy." Gulp again. I wonder if I will manage to get up so early - and on a week day, even - to see for myself. The Malarone is giving me very odd dreams and I'm sleeping fitfully and restlessly at the moment so a 5am start is not the most attractive idea.
After the exertions of the walk followed by a good thirty minutes of abs exercises I'm feeling keenly, Amanda and I head for a quieter day out at La Palm Hotel, Labadi Beach. This is an oasis for those who want to pay for the privilege to stay here and lounge around being served drinks and using the free wifi around the pools, or, as we chose, to hang out at one of the beach-side tables and read, eat and relax. It's a place where you're free to go if (like us) you're not so rich, luckily, to use the facilities without having to fork out hundreds of cedi for a room.
We make another friend here - Theresa, who brings us beer and Kelewele (ginger and sweet spice-fried plantain pieces. Completely delicious and almost certainly VERY bad for one). Theresa explains how to make Jollof rice, Kelewele and we discuss Red Red in more detail. Time to get cooking...perhaps future postings will include photos of my first efforts at concocting Ghanaian dishes.
A STAR by Labadi Beach, Saturday, a beer popularly known as "Sit Together And Relax"
Planning a lazy Sunday as we are being picked up at 4.30am on Monday morning to travel to Accra airport and fly at 6am to Tamale, the third largest city in Ghana. One of CARE Ghana's major field projects is out there - so we shall meet the program and project managers and spend the day with them, returning early to the office on Tuesday morning. I'm hoping at last to understand what it means to do a 'field' visit, and will be packing - all being well - to be dressed appropriately, whatever it turns out to mean!