Thursday, April 03, 2008

High-Tech Trash

Here is something to think about from National Geographic. All credit to NG.

High Tech Trash or

I've seen the kids pushing carts of discarded electronics across Accra town. Smelled the wretched burning as I was riding here and there. I didn't really understand what they were doing or where they were going with their haul.
Thinking that you're doing the right thing by recycling is getting more and more complicated.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mangos in moderation

I’m not sure this really this qualifies as a locally acquired taste since there is evidence of my appreciation of mangoes prior to arriving in Ghana.

Here I am somewhere in Australia delighting in mango ice-cream next to the world’s largest mango. Oooh that was good.

Even before that though, I was making a concoction I called mango salsa. It included (duh) mango, red and green pepper, cilantro, onion and a liberal dash of tequila. Batches varied wildly from what might be described as “a nice balance” to “who put the mango in my tequila?” Perhaps not always intended for the kiddies, but it was generally a hit at the office.

Fast forward a few years when my office setting did not quite allow for mid-day communal munching. Trader Joes filled the void with pre-packaged, sliced, dried and very sweet mango chunks. A few of these babies could send my blood sugar sky rocketing. They made (and still are) a great mid-ride treat when legs are flagging.

Ok, now onto Ghana – a country up to its ears in tropical fruits – pineapples, coconuts, papaya, oranges, bananas, plantains and, of course, mangoes. At least two varieties of mangoes even. Big juicy mangos are my favourite. Apparently they are not native to West Africa, but do well enough economically. The smaller, stringier variety is native, I’m told, but is really not worth all the teeth cleaning effort involved to really enjoy it. So…

Almost every outing included at least a quick glance at the road side fruit-n-veggie stands to check supplies. Sometimes they were perfect to be eaten now. Others needed to wait a day or two to ripen. I’m still not sure how to tell the difference. There was usually room in my bag for a mango or two.



Mixed with yogurt, ice, milk and other fruit.

Always a mess to prepare.

Unfortunately, after several months of eating mangoes, I seemed to develop some sort of allergy. Not right away as would be ideal. No, I would continue to eat plate after plate of mango. A few days later my lips would become almost chapped lasting for two weeks. I will spare you the pictures. We weren’t certain if the allergy was caused by ingesting too many mangoes, or handling the sappy ones right from the tree. At least twice this happened – the last being in May 2007. It was pretty frustrating, but I swore off mangos for a while.

Now March 2008, and it appears that I still have a slight allergy. This only after SJD carefully did all the washing and slicing. All I did was admire the bright color and have one little bite. Mmmmm…so good, but so bad too.

Now, I'm afraid that mangos are just out to get me. There are a number of fruit bearing trees on my project site - including mangos. Most of the fruit has been picked by passersby for personal consumption or perhaps resale at the tro-tro stop. It is just the way things work around here.
The project site gate keeper swings open the gate in the morning when I arrive for work on my bike. The larges mango tree is litterally a few feet beyond the gate. A few months ago during prime growing season, the branches were hanging quite low full of fruit. Only after riding head on into a low hanging mango a couple dozen times, the mangoes disappeared.

A coworker still, every now and then, surprises me with a plate of freshly cut fruit. Mostly pineapple, papaya or bananas now. And not just one banana either. Sometimes as many as five of the tiny variety.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pharaohs v Indomitable Lions

As Marta mentioned, Ghana was host the African Cup of Nations for the past three weeks. An event much more exciting that my sock sorting for sure...
Millions of spectators were expected to swarm to newly constructed or refurbished stadiums in Accra, Tamale, Secondi and Kumasi. Ghana's Black Stars promised to keep the cup in Ghana. While neither expectation nor promise materialized quite as planned, the pride and spirit felt on the streets of Accra was hard to ignore. Businesses closed early. Night guards huddled around grainy TV's or transistor radios.
I managed to catch three games in Accra. Ghana defeating Morocco. Cameroon eliminating Ghana. Egypt winning the cup by beating Cameroon in the finale.

SJD waving the flag for Cameroon in Sunday's finale versus Egypt.

A not quite filled stadium in Accra moments before kick off. Most seats were filled once the game started.

Ghana's Black Stars defeated Ivory Coast's Elephants to take 3rd place in the 16 team tournament.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Sooner or later all that was new and interesting becomes old and ordinary. I include myself in that analysis of course, although SJD, diplomat that she is, would likely conjure up a statement to the contrary. I hope at least. Right hon?

So we've settled into a bit of a routine here. Already eh? Yup, eighteen months in and we don't have anything new and/or exciting to report covering the past eight weeks apparently. Note the date of the previous post.

Why just today I was contemplating organizing my sock drawer, when it dawned on me that, today being Friday, I have all day Saturday to complete said task. I could do it then. Then an even more ingenious realization entered my mind. I've worn socks perhaps ten times in the past eight weeks. Finding an appropriate pair shouldn't be too much of a problem really. Barring any mood swings of Mother Nature, this open toe trend is likely to maintain its current path.

Sort neck ties darkest to lightest? Puuuuuulleeeezze.....

Well, looks like Saturday's plans are wide open.

Friday, February 01, 2008

So here we are in February already. While many of you shoveled snow or braved ice slickened trails to get in some winter riding, I washed the harmattan dust off the car and rode the stationary trainer indoors...again. Yup, we've just come through the "cold" season here. Our very polite and diligent guard, Godsway, battled the evening chill with a trench coat. Babies were bundled up with blankets and hats. Moto couriers fought the biting chill with with appropriate gear. We obronis simply enjoyed the respite from sweating the moment we stepped outdoors.

Sure the trees lose their leaves and exercise outdoors usually concludes with a hacking fit and blurry vision. In spite of the dust, we quite enjoyed the harmattan break from normal heat and humidity. The dust blown down from the Sahara lays a thick haze over Ghana. You can stare directly at the sun without going blind. Not sure why you would want to do that, but you can... And did I mention that every outing does not produce 4 gallons of sweat? Alas, the harmattan has passed and heat and humidity are back with a vengeance. The haze is still here. And to make it even worse, the Black Stars lost to Cameroon in the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nation Soccer tournament.