Friday, February 15, 2008

Musings from Lawra- nine months in to our placement: It’s a Paradox!

It’s almost a month since we last had access to the Internet and this is now being sent from Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso, where we are enjoying a long weekend in a hotel escaping work, cooking, and the incredibly busy life we lead - above are some photos of a family we are helping to improve their family home: a paradox!
Jan 24th - It’s been a long day so far; I’m currently sitting (I was 3 weeks ago) on our veranda surveying the scene, witnessing the daily paradoxes of life here and reflecting over the last few days. I am just sitting down with a wonderful glass of Faustino 1 red wine; paradox no 1 (henceforth paradox pdx-2, pdx-3 etc!): donated by a visitor from Ireland; at which point our neighbour’s daughter walks past with one container on her head and another in her hand on her way to pump water from the borehole (pdx-2). My glass rests on a wonky ‘chop table’ -the item off which Ghanaians eat their food, held together with nails; neither screws, nor mortice and tenons, cross-halvings or dovetail joints have found their way into the construction vocabulary of Lawra yet. A huge cheer has just gone up from the far side of the campus, which now, in the dry season, is like a barren moonscape; the students are avidly watching the African cup of nations in their ‘entertainment hall’ – I think Ghana just scored; we do not have a TV (pdx-3)

A ‘Dogs Dinner’ has taken on a completely new meaning since we came to Lawra – in fact I have just seen one walk past, or is it really a pet? It’s very difficult to tell here; anything that has legs constitutes a potential meal, as was brought home to us most surprisingly when we visited Bolgatanga in the Upper East of Ghana last week; there we encountered our first genuine ‘Dog Market’ where what one thought were really quite healthy looking pets, that you would see roaming around, were actually cutely contained in well constructed wicker baskets, being nurtured for sale as potential candidates for ‘sweet and sour dog’ or ‘mongrel moussaka’ (pdx-4).
Yes I am still sitting on the veranda, an egret has just popped by to say hello, a few cows have just meandered by and the local Imam is just winding up with his regular call to prayer – it can be a bit of a pain – especially at 04.00 am! I do not quite see why the Muslim religion has to be quite so intrusive into the lives of everyone who lives within a couple of kilometres of a mosque! Lawra District is predominantly Christian, Animist and Muslim in that order, yet it is the few Muslims whose presence is most heard! (pdx-5). It is now dusk and the main reason that I am still sitting here on this glorious barmy evening is that it is the dry season and the mosquitoes have virtually disappeared; there is no chance of doing this from April through to October. We have even stopped taking our Larium (anti-malaria) tablets until the rains begin again in April-a calculated risk but maybe better than going ‘gaga’ from overdosing on tablets!

Jenny is rattling her cage inside and I am reminded that she has been busy beavering away for most of the day sewing with her new fangled sewing machine that Pippa sent out from Ruthin: a fantastic asset Pippa – I can now go all day without even having to communicate with Jenny, she’s so busy sewing. So what have we made today darling? Well, some gizmos in which to keep maps, books, water bottles etc when travelling in the car, a dozen bean-bags (we’ve loads of beans here! – so we might as well put them into bags!) - Even the odd ‘has been’, I think it’s time I packed up. OK time to tackle that spaghetti bolognaise that I cooked earlier.

Bon soir – I can’t see the key-board now, from dusk to blackness in about 10 minutes at 18.00.
Feb 6th – we have now been in Ghana for nine months!It’s hot, hot, hot – Harmattan (wind and dust season) seems to be have come to a sudden end – 100 deg F inside today