Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 9/10 - Ulimate, Expats, and Harmattan

(I have a bunch of pictures I would like to post.  Unfortunately, the internet cafe that I go to is painfully slow.  Its a small miracle I am even able to write this blog post.  Because of these connection issues, I wouldn't be able to share any pictures most likely until I return to the states.  When I return to the lovely USofA, I will update each post previously written with relevant pictures.  I hope you will check back on this and future blog posts again after January 25th to see the pictures.)

I realized on Sunday (Day 9) that the color of my feet at the end of the day is a great indicator of the activities I did that day.  After a work day, they are covered in gray, redish dust.  On Sunday, they were not nearly as covered (I could still see some parts of my skin), and the parts that were covered where darkish instead of the usual shade of gray.  This coloration change marked a day of leisure with some running on a semi-grassy field.

Day 9 (Sunday) was my first day off.  I slept in by my Ghana sleeping schedule not waking up until nearly 10 am.  I spent a lazy morning and afternoon around the PHW house, reading a little and catching up on some much over do journal writing. The highlight of the day (and the inspiration for the title) came in the afternoon.  Susan has become friends through her many trips to Tamale with Iyad, a mid twenties Lebanese businessmen and general contractor.  He invited us to play ultimate frisbee with him and some of his friends on Sunday afternoon.  He came by at 4:30pm and we all loaded into his truck.  We drove for about 20 minutes before arriving at the VRA Clubhouse. The closest Western approximation to the VRA would be a gated community with recreational facilities.  As we entered, we drove past 40 or so houses, before arriving at a few fields, tennis courts, and even a swimming pool.  When we got there, his friends were waiting for us.  They were nearly all expats from various countries around the world - Daniel and Mena were from Canada, Jack was from China, Beth was from Michigan, etc.  We played ultimate for nearly an hour.  By the end, I was parched and exhausted.  My throat felt completely dry from running around breathing in the incredibly dry air.

After the game, we went to dinner at Luxury Catering.  Luxury serves a mixture of Western and Ghanian foods.  By the prices and menus, you can tell it clearly caters to expatriates.  To give a perspective on prices, the entire meal including sodas and beers worked out to about 15 Ghana cedi per person (or about 10 USD).  In my opinion, the meal was worth every penny or pesces (which is the Ghanaian equivalent;  100 pesewa equals a cedi).  The table ordered a bunch of french fries to share.  While the french fries tasted like anything you could get back state side, the sauces that came with it added a local flair.  They provided the staple fry dipping sauce of ketchup (or tomato sauce as they call it here), but there was also white sauce and beef sauce.  While I tried the sauces and they tasted alright, I mainly stuck to ketchup.  For my main course, I ordered a chessburger.  It tasted like a burger I would get back in the states, except for the cheese, which tasted distinctively different then the traditional burger diary topping of Cheddar or American cheese.  While still a yellowish color, it had a bit of a bite.  Others got more traditional meals.  I tried for the first time Guinea Fowl, which is a bird similar to turkey in size that is very common around here.  While I know its a cliche, it indeed tasted like a stringy piece of chicken.  The combination of the leisurely speed of the service (Ghana Maybe Time in action) and the great conversation caused the meal to last nearly 3 hours.

Monday was the first day that Harmattan was really noticeable.  Harmattan is when western winds blow sand from the Sahara causing the area in Ghana, particularly the Northern Region, to become very hazy.  Harmattan is most pronounced in January.  From the time I felt the house, it was noticeably less sunny (and hot).  There was a haze over the entire sky.  On the drive out to factory, visibility was significant reduced.  On a clear (non-Harmattan) day, I can see for miles and miles over the flat terrain.  Yesterday, I could not.  By the end of the day, my throat was drier and more irritated than it has been.  On the plus side, the haze significantly reduces UV rays (one of Susan's previously students calculated by nearly 80%) so sun screen becomes much less necessary to prevent sunburns.


  1. Hi Zac, What an amazing day. A mix of what is familiar and what is foreign. Through you, I am learning about a culture I will never know and a country I will never visit....thank you!
    I so look forward to seeing all of your pictures upon your return.

    Have a fabulous day and continue to share!
    Be safe and be happy,
    Love, Auntie Karen

  2. hey, zac. love catching up with you in blog land. what a trip! thanks for sharing :) xo