Archive for February, 2010

Public Transportation in Accra vs USA

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

In Accra, the main city transportation consists of tro-tros.  These are small independently owned and operated 10-20 seat vans. A driver will have a certain route that he covers, and there are certain known stops where people wait.  So, you as a passenger go to the stop and wait for a tro-tro for your destination.  When they are full, the driver only stops when people need to get off.  During busy times, the tro-tros run quite frequently.

They are rarely more than 50 cents to get from one side of town to the other. Granted, they are very old and frequently uncomfortable.

But compare this to urban public transportation in America.  If there is no metro or tram, we use large buses.  Instead of small vans that run often, we have buses that are plush and come infrequently.  Usually run (or heavily subsidized) by the local govt., we always hear about how it is too expensive to run.  In Palo Alto and Boston, the buses were often mostly empty.

Could more, small buses work in the US? Would this decrease waiting time and travel time (with less frequent stops)?  Could each one be privately owned and driven?  Would this make public transportation cheaper for the passenger and the taxpayer?  Or would insurance and liability issues make this impossible?

Any public transportation experts out there want to explain it all to me?

quick update from Mrs Balebako!

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Yes, I’m married and it is wonderful.

Here are pictures of the ceremony, which was beautiful and so much fun.  I even told Eric again that I would love to do it again. 

We had our honeymoon for 3 days in the Volta region.  We walked from through the mountains, going between villages and staying the nights at guesthouses with beautiful views.   We saw a waterfall, lots of butterflies, beautiful birds, and even a python that thought he was hiding from us.  (We only looked from a distance).  And Eric shook some avocados from a wild avocado tree.  It was a fantastic time.

Now we are back to regular life, which seems like kind of a let down after the wedding and the honeymoon!  Ahh… if all of life could be the honeymoon stage.

Wedding Complications

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Organizing a wedding is difficult.  Organizing a wedding in a foreign country where organization is not a strong point is even more difficult.
Two weeks ago we went to register for our wedding license.  They told us to come back on Feb 1 with 50 cedis to pay and confirm the date.  So yesterday I put 60 cedis in my pocket, and we walked to the register general – about one hour in the hot African sun. Upon arrival, we filled out forms and waited in line.  Finally, we were informed that the fee had changed “last week” to 100 cedis.  They only accept cash, and the told us to bring half the fee.  They assured us that we weren’t the only people who were troubled by the change.

We can’t just nip out to the closest ATM.  So we were obliged to go home to get more money, which took another couple hours.
My seamstress also promised me I could come in yesterday for a final fitting for the wedding dress.   When I called, the owner of the store said she was in the police station getting her national identity card.  She had been in line since 2:30am since the entire nation is trying to get these new cards, and they are only available for a few days.
In any case, the owner said the younger seamstress was at the workshop making my dress.  So I decided to walk to the workshop to see.  A girl that I don’t know was there, whose English was pitiable, and who assured me I could come back at 1pm.  I explained that I would rather wait another day than come back again if it wasn’t ready.  She said she was sure it would be ready at 1pm.
Why do I still believe?  I went back at 1pm with a friend and the girl was still there, alone.  No, the seamstress wasn’t back.  No, she hadn’t called her to tell her I was coming.  No, she didn’t see why this would bother me.  No, I couldn’t see the dress anyway.