Saturday Night At a Fancy Accra Hotel Restaraunt

Posted on May 23rd, 2010 by rahunt. Filed in Ghana life.
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Eric and I decided to splurge and go out for a Margarita last night.  There is a hotel-restaurant nearby that claims to serve them.  The hotel has several restaurants; unfortunately it turned out that the place that makes Margaritas was charging 20 cedis to get in. (All you can drink Saturday!)

We decided to just go to one of the other restaurants in the same hotel, where we know we can order a cheap bottle of wine (9 cedis).  We enjoyed sitting in the traditionally decorated patio and watching the people pass through.  Groups of very young Americans trooped through on their way to All-You-Can-Drink, looking slightly guilty and scared to be leaving their cultural exchange experience or volunteer program to go get some underage (for American) intoxication.

Three very beautiful, young, and sexily dressed ladies sat quietly at a table across from me.  They didn’t talk to each other, and they didn’t order a drink.  They studiously ignored the 70 year old infirm white man leering at them, perhaps hoping for a younger, richer client.  It was a quiet night, and there weren’t many options.  In fact, 2 of the 6 tables of people seemed to be women waiting for money-making opportunities.

Behind us sat a group of Lebanese men.  Live Lebanese music started in the third restaurant in the hotel complex; we could see the singer through the window and hear the music.  The singer was impressive; I don’t consider Arabic a language that soothes the ears, but he rendered it into something nice.  From our perspective, it looked like the restaurant was full of white men, clapping along to the music and laughing.

I heard the group behind me call out something to us, and understood that we were being nicknamed by the bottle of wine we had in front of us (Baron D’Argnoniac).  I turned to the older, thicker Lebanese man as he encouraged us to  enjoy the music. He clapped his hands in rhythm in the air.   “You need to enjoy life”, he said. I said he should show us how.  He didn’t require any armtwisting, and immediately stood up and danced.  “Now you should!” he said to me.  I said I would give the floor to my husband first.

Eric didn’t take any convincing either, and was suddenly up dancing with the Lebanese, trying to imitate his moves.  Suddenly, everyone in the restaurant, from the prostitutes to the ex-pat family,  was clapping along and smiling as the two men danced in front of me to an Arabic song in the next restaurant.

The Accra Mall

Posted on May 7th, 2010 by rahunt. Filed in Ghana life.
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There is an American style mall in Accra.  It is large, air-conditioned, has a movie theater, and Apple store, a food court, a grocery store, a number of small clothing stores, and a book store.  It is the place to go and be seen on Saturdays if you are a teenager in Accra.

In fact, everyone tries to look nice when they go to the mall.  If you enjoy people watching you will see the mixture of traditional and new styles.  Men with woven cloth, attached on such a way that one shoulder is bare, walk past groups of teenage boys with Fro-Hawks, skinny jeans, and chunky silver chain necklaces.  Young girls look awkward in their secondhand mini skirts, while older women look elegant in the floor length skirts in bright patterns with matching tops and head scarves.

The stores tend to be empty; people mostly wander the mall hallway.  Except for the grocery store bags, it is rare to see people caring bags of purchases.  I don’t envy the store owners in the mall; I can’t imagine they make a profit.

Five Degrees North

Posted on April 17th, 2010 by rahunt. Filed in Ghana life.
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Accra is 5 degrees N of the equator.  One result is that days don’t vary much in length (they tend to be equal near the equator).  In December or in June, the days are about 12 hours.  The sun rises at about 6am and sets at about 6pm.

This means that there is not a lot one can do outdoors after work ends at 6pm.  No biking, or quick frisbee games or other fun activities.  Streets aren’t always lit, so even jogging after work becomes a dark pursuit.  At least in the warm spring days of northern america, we can take advantage of BBQ’s other sunny activities until 9pm.

But there is a benefit; only in extremely rare circumstances do I need to get up before the sun rises.  I don’t have to haul myself out of bed while it is still dark, get ready under the too-bright glare of lightbulbs, and then make my way into work just as the sun is rising.

If you are interested in looking up sunrise and sunset times around the world, look here

Carnegie Mellon in the fall!

Posted on April 17th, 2010 by rahunt. Filed in Personal Reflections.
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I’ll be going to Carnegie Mellon University in the fall to start a PhD program in Engineering and Public Policy.  I really like school and am looking forward to being a full time student again!  I’m also thrilled to be doing a research program, in which we learn to solve “big messy” problems that are interdisciplinary.

The program should take about 4.5 years.  Yes, this means several more of the northern winters I keep trying to flee.  I guess I’ve had 6 years of reprieve in CA and in Africa, so I shouldn’t complain.  but I will.

in America for a few weeks

Posted on March 24th, 2010 by rahunt. Filed in Personal Reflections.
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I’m back in CA, trying to stock up on all the things I will want when I go back.  It is a bit overwhelming to shop for 6 months in a few weeks.  The main items I’m looking for are dried berries, spices, skin care, etc.  I like food that can last and will remind me of home.  It’s funny how a couple dried cranberries on my oatmeal in the morning really feels luxurious in Accra.
I will start the visa process for Eric soon; we are trying to get the “bona fides of marital relationship”.  That is, we need proof that we are in a real marriage.  This means letters from people who know us, or a lease together (we don’t have that), or proof of sharing finances (don’t have that either, since Ghana is so cash-based).  But we are working on it, and we do not know how long it will take.