Thursday, November 02, 2006

Strange days

The day started out normal...for being in Ghana. Breakfast and coffee at 6:30 AM. Checked the tire pressure on the bike. Downloaded some NPR podcasts.

SJD had asked me to do some ironing since her week had been very busy at the office. No problem. Might as well get it out of the way before considering a bike ride or plans for the rest of the day. Recall our extra large house? I went to the Ironing Board Room and plugged in the iron. The IBR is next to the Room Without a Purpose Room. Anyway, I'm ironing away just fine. As I hang the first garment, I notice something small plop onto the floor, but don't pay much attention to it. After two or three more items, I'm done. I unplug the iron. Voila! Done. I catch a closer look at the something small that went plop on the floor and realize I've ironed one of our house geckos. Yes, less than two inches long and grey-green with four toes. Kinda like the commercials without the schmarmy sales pitch. Cute little guys, or girls. They wander around the corners and ceilings of the house silently and efficiently eating bothersome insects. We don't ask or invite them to do it. They just take it upon themselves to keep our place tidy. So now we're down one gecko. I guess he was hiding in SJD's shirt and didn't think to scurry out out when things got hot. To make amends to the remaining geckos, I stirred up the ants nest on the front porch in hopes of providing a special treat.

All chores complete and evidence of the ironing mishap disposed, I headed downtown for lunch. Nothing too weird there, except for the quicker than normal service.

Next stop, the Mapping and Survey Department for another map. You may recall from earlier posts that maps of Ghana leave a bit to the imagination. Somehow, the Canadians have managed to map Ghana in great detail. Sure the maps were original in 1974, and are not exactly sized for easy transport, but the roads and villages seem to jive with reality - something KLM maps (depsite all the tech available to fly planes) doesn't quite seem able to pull off. Michelin, for whatever reason, isn't even a player in the map business here. So, thanks Canada! I purchased another great big map for adventures another day. The guys at the MSD always seem to have exactly what I'm looking for right at hand. So the day takes a strange twist after that. I mapped out a short route to the near northwest side of Accra. Main arterial roads with wide shoulders. One or two turns to remember. I was headed to the gate of the Achimoto Forest Preserve since our guide book suggested it might be a viable place to ride bikes without having to deal with much/any traffic. Getting there is easy enough. There is a gate with people streaming in and out. A kiosk to the side lists hours, but has the fees scratched off, so I ride on through. As far as forests go, Achimoto is a bit underwhelming. Trees do not seem to grow higher than 15', but the vegetation is extremely dense. Several people are carrying books and plastic patio chairs and exiting the park on foot via dirt roads laid out on a perfect grid. Something isn't right. It seems as though people were making Achimoto home, and I didn't want to surprise anyone. Hey, folks call Rock Creek Park and streets all over DC home too, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this. I give it few more minutes before deciding that I'd come back another day with someone who has been here.

As I'm back-tracking my ride back into town, I pass a car and truck stopped at a busy intersection. Two Ghana Police and a few other people are standing on the island gesturing and talking on cell phones. Figuring it is just another minor fender bender it doesn't really catch my attention. Another glance over my shoulder, and I realize I know the woman (AKA Jane)involved, and I circle back around to ask if things are okay with her. Physically everyone is fine, even if clearly frustrated. Cars sustained only minor damage. The GP are directing both drivers to move cars from the turn lane. Jane snaps a few digital photos. With some reluctance, both drivers move the vehicles. (Where is the cop car? The badges? The radios? Back up? In DC, this would surely mobilize three or four squad cars.) In Ghana, well.....let's see... A call to the local station eventually got the attention of a dispatcher who recommended Jane call a cab to deliver two officers to the scene. No, squad cars are not very plentiful, but taxis are everywhere. Cops are on the scene, although I'm not really sure how they got there - doesn't really matter at this point. A minute or two later, the officer allows the truck to leave the scene. We ask the cop what is going on, but there is no answer. One officer is producing a nice sketch, but there are none of the normal exchanges of name/insurance/address/license. The other officer is growing impatient. More waiting... The cop launches into an exhaustive and wandering diatribe accussing the US and Jane of being arrogant, imprisoning the innocent, obruni this, obruni that... Finally, the officer instructs Jane that the investigation will occur back at the local sub-station, and that in fact that is where the other truck would be found (doubtful). Well, why didn't he say that 20 minutes ago? Of course, they need to hitch a ride back to the sub-station in a passing pick-up truck. Throughout the mini-drama, the street vendors continued to try to sell belts, dog leashes, plantains and other miscellaneous items to the cops and Jane .

As if the gecko, Achimoto and the police were not enough, I almost tripped over a sleeping night guard while taking out the garbage -- it must have been a friend of our guard, who was dutifully awake. That is enough for one day.

1 comment:

camps said...

great stuff here,
your house,
and your experience sounds amazing,
keep at the soccer while racing with the national team. you'll be unstoppable