Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Life in Ghana

with 2 comments

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy…

Prior to arrival in Tamale, we both had difficulties imagining what our living accommodation was going to be like.  However, we did get a slight inkling of things to come, as we met Fred in Accra briefly;   Fred was the outgoing volunteer who had previously been living at what will become “our” residence.  He was kind enough to suggest we’d need curtains as a matter of priority, as the previous ones had been made into Bermuda shorts for himself as a leaving gift!   Right.  Put curtains on the list.  Other volunteers who have been based in Tamale for a while also provided clues.  The signs were subtle; slightly raised, alarmed looking eyebrows (when told where we were going to be staying), and sharp intakes of breath.  Most very kindly told us that it was quite a “boy’s house”, and that perhaps the housekeeping standard was not stellar.  Right.  Cleaning material also on the list. 

 However, nothing quite prepared us for our first glimpse of where we will be calling home for the next few years.   On the plus side – the house is huge, on a corner block with a huge yard / swamp, surrounded by a two metre high fence / brick wall.  Overall, security is quite OK.  The house itself is what is known as a VSO house; and it is the emergency evacuation house for the volunteers in the North, should that ever become necessary.  (NB:  quite strategically located residence near the airport for presumably quick getaways). 

 The house itself is far larger than our humble abode in Perth.  It has five bedrooms, a HUGE lounge area, a tiny kitchen, and a second bathroom as well as an ensuite (off our claimed master bedroom).  The “garden” needs work, but it may be an ongoing challenge, as the clay soil is probably unsuitable for growing anything, other than the profusion of weeds which currently are happily ensconced with us in the compound….

 Workmen had been at the house, and the house itself was in a pretty sad state when we arrived.  Debris was everywhere, it was utterly filthy, and the previous tenants had not bothered to empty drawers, etc….   What was a “near despair” moment was helped along as a few hours after our arrival, the landlord did show up with two cleaners who did help us sweep floors, dust windows and generally get the place to a far better standard in one afternoon than we could have done in a week.

 Ah, but the mouse.   Prior to the cleaner’s arriving – we had decided to tackle the bedroom, as we were without electricity (more on this later), and we only had a few hours of daylight before we would need to bed down for the night.  So…  the bedroom it was.   Project #1.  Upon moving a bedside table, we disturbed a mouse who had been resident occupant of the master bedroom up to that point.   Ah, but no more, Mr. Mouse.  WE are moving in, and this room ain’t big enough for the three of us.   Of course, being the good Buddhist I am, no killing of Mickey was permitted, so Mark was assigned the task of moving furniture, while I chased Mickey with a bucket.  The intent was to capture Mickey in said bucket, and take him outside to be free….  However, just in time the cleaners arrived – and bingo, bango – before we could say “cheese”, the cleaner had grabbed Mickey with bare hands, and was taking him outside to his new place of residence.  Fantastic.  We shudder to think how long OUR method would have taken….

On the plus side, Ghanaians have been incredibly warm and welcoming to us.  Particularly our next door neighbor Grace, who also works at the local pub across the road – called here in Ghana – a “spot”.  This one is known as the “Hygiene Spot” because it is located across the road from the School of Hygiene.  Don’t ask.


Written by Mar(k)

October 5, 2009 at 4:03 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I take my hat off to you both for what you’re doing. Onya. And I despair of ever catching the mouse in our kitchen here with anything at all, hands, bucket or other!

    Best wishes,
    Henry (soon to be ex-BHP) 🙂


    January 28, 2010 at 5:56 am

    • thanks Henry! great to see you’re reading “us”… all the best, and good luck with your own Mickey! : \

      Mar Knox

      January 28, 2010 at 9:30 am

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