Another day in Cape

I was up late last night catching up with backdating photos for the posts I hadn’t been able to get to the last few days.  Miranda fell asleep long before me, and she was up bright and early this morning to head to the post office, which is apparently a three mile walk.  She mailed a few post cards, mostly as a test to see what would happen, at a cost of $1CEDI per card stamp ($.67).  We had looked many, many times in the states to find the cost of mailing things and never could find the answer, so hopefully that info may help someone.  She inquired as to whether there are drop boxes anywhere else but found out there is simply one postal box/station per city.

Lately I have been observing the differences in infrastructure as well as culture, initially noting the lack of green spaces, benches, etc.  The lack of green space isn’t surprising to me because there are different stages of health and infrastructure development for societies, and although Ghana isn’t as low as the “receding pandemic” stage, it’s certainly not to the “degenerative diseases” stage either, where little bits of quality of life becomes a bigger concern.  There are, of course, outliers to these stages (see Bogota, Colombia, where many people languish in poverty yet dozens (hundreds?) of KM of public roads are opened to only foot and bicycle traffic on the weekends).

Anyway, so I got a chance to talk to Dom about his take on the trash situation.  We have been accumulating some small amount of trash (protein bar wrappers and such) and although vendors seem willing to take it from us, we are curious where it would go, should we assent to that.  Basically Dom’s take was that the lack of public trash facilities relates to the number of people who do not have plumbing (most people here) and to the level of defecation that would take place in rubbish bins, should they be placed in public.  Also, he figured people would steal them.  It does seem that anything in Western Africa, no matter hold old or used or dilapidated, has value to someone.  We passed a shop this morning selling an exercise bike out front.  The type from the 80s that you cannot even give away at garage sales and in Seattle would eventually end up getting dumped on a roundabout in a neighborhood with a “free” sign, where it would languish for weeks before mysteriously disappearing (probably after being picked up by the city).  I have no idea how much this vendor wanted for the bike, but basically everything the “west” does not want will make its way to the second west: Western Africa.  If you know anything about e-waste then this should be no surprise to you.

For those who don’t know, e-waste is electronic waste.  Basically, anytime you go to [giant chain store in the USA] and drop off your old LCD/CRT monitor or modem or whatever for “recycling,” there is a good (better than half, probably better than 90%) chance it is actually just being quasi-legally exported to Ghana or Nigeria or China or India for “recycling” in the form of being melted for the metal.  The problem with the melting is that it is done in open air environments, usually by children or young adults with basically “sticks and fire” and they are exposed to insane levels of PCBs and cadmium and other things that are extremely toxic.  What they don’t breathe ends up leaking into the water table.  For anyone who wants some good info on e-waste there are links below.


Anyway, so a lot of the west’s junk ends up in Ghana (and other parts of Africa).  It’s interesting to see what is for sale in shops here, and what is being used on the street.

I’ll update this store more throughout the day as we accomplish our errands.  We have a meeting on Monday with the founder of the NGO school Dom works at, and we just moved from our beach-side guesthouse ($26CEDI) back to our $12CEDI guesthouse with questionable water and bugs everywhere.  I like this location better since it’s off the “circle” (the main road that comprises the market and touristy area of town) and thus keeps us away from people who say hello only to try to bilk us.  Walking up the hill to our $12CEDI guesthouse, when someone says hello we can reply to them and know we will have a quick exchange of actual pleasantries (sometimes in Twi if we are trying out best with pronunciation.  Oh, and the key to the room is super high-tech.

On the way to the guesthouse we also walked a little further and I got some redred from a booth across the street from where we saw some with Dom last night.  The lady shorted me a bit on the amount she gave me, but it was still delicious.  I was still hungry after my half serving of redred, so I convinced Miranda to accompany me back to the booth we’d been originally looking for (which has a sign that says “REDRED sold here”) and I had a second plate.  Also delicious.  The trick, I now see, is to ask for no gari (this flavorless cream-of-wheat type stuff they make from cassava) and to ask for extra peppers and red sauce or whatever type of spicy sauce they put in it.  If I could eat meat I probably wouldn’t ever want to leave this country, given the orders of magnitude more dishes of tasty food that would be available to me for under a dollar.

Miranda is unpacking our new room and hanging our improvised 550 paracord clothesline.  I love paracord.  My HSDPA stick seems to be working pretty well too, all things considered.  The mosquito net is up, and we bought some “Extra powered formula magnum super Birtox insecticide” to kill all of the random bugs in this room.  Miranda sat on the stuffed chair and hundreds of crawly things emerged haha.  This stuff is kerosene and permethrin though, so it ought to dispense with the various crawlies.  I tried it in the bathroom to start (which is where we found most of the mosquitoes last time).

I should have some big news to post in a few days but it’s not public info yet, so that’s all I can say for now.

Also, when we were at the place I affectionately refer to as the ‘Obruni Cafe’ in Accra (since it’s the first place we saw other white people, and the first time we could sit and have a soda and be at peace for a moment), we sat right near a speaker with local radio on.  The music here is so intriguing — I have heard American country, pop, hiphop, etc.  Simultaneously we also see drumming and dancing and what Dom refers to as “culture” with his tongue firmly planted in cheek.  Musically the best experience I have had is at our current guesthouse, which is on top of a hill in an impoverished area.  I don’t know where the music comes from, but every day here we awaken to beautiful french-sounding wailing or something similar.  I will try to get some audio of it tomorrow.  For now, here’s an audio track of a Gnarls Barkley cover that was playing when we sat down in the Obruni Cafe, something that amused me enough I pulled out the H4N to record it.  (cover of crazy)

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