Today is the first day, since arriving in Accra, that I haven’t had to go into the office.
I still had some work to do, on one of our two pitch presentations (See Day#6), but when I finished around 15:00 I decide to explore my neighbourhood.
This may sound like a small step for mankind. But it is quite a leap of faith for me, as I have no idea where I live.
And I don’t mean this in the figurative ‘I don’t know Ghana’ kind of way. I mean, I literally do not know my own address.
See, in Ghana, only a few of the streets have names. The rest of the streets are known by a (invisible) system of numbers.
Add to this the fact that no houses are numbered, and you have a recipe for disaster.
I discovered all this when I could not give a taxi driver directions to get me back home. (But that is a whole other story.)
language.vintages.save did not work. They clearly have not hear of #What3Words! https://what3words.com/
I turn left, outside the complex gate, and nochalantly make my way across the dirt road to a vendor stall diagonally across from my building.
There is a broom I have been eyeing from #MyWindow.
I ask the price. He tells me. I have no idea what the price is. I ask the price again. He tells me again. I still have no idea what the price is.
I tell the vendor that I would think about the price while I walk up the road. (Meaning: hoping the price will reveal itself to me.)
I continue past little spaza shops, vendor stalls, building sites, enormous gates in front of luxury homes, shacks, water pumps, open lots, chickens, goats.
About a kilometer up the sand road, the road bends to the right, and from this point, I can no longer see my apartment. And for some reason, it feels a bit like letting go of the side of the pool!
But then I see a little vendor stall at the end of the next road, that I have seen from the car before, and they sell watermelons.
I buy a watermelon.
And, instantly, I am transformed. I am no longer an awkward Oboruni with an iPhone taking pictures of cellphone towers (I saw a swallow).
I am just another Ghanaian, out to buy some necessities. Like a watermelon.
On the way back, people nod as I pass them. Others wave from their front doors.
I buy the broom.
I don’t even ask for the price to be written down (as I was planning to do.) Because I’m now a local.
When I walk away the vendor shouts after me: “See you again soon!”
Jip. Local. Me.
Back at the complex gate, I drop my loot next to the wall (because this is Ghana, it was still there when I got back. See Day#5) and, feeling much braver, head right this time.
Being a Sunday, most of the spaza shops and vendor stalls are closed.
But at the next corner, I ask a girl where I can find a supermarket (as the stalls are called). She starts explaining, but when I nod one time too many, she offers to walk with me.
When we get to the shop, Vivian (the lovely owner) patiently listens to my shopping list: Handy Andy, sponge, can opener, clothes hangers.
She explains that these items are either not available in Ghana, or difficult to find. But she will see what she can source on my behalf.
I buy 4 cans of Ideal Milk (as us locals do). (See Day#8)
Back at home, I sit on the couch for a long time admiring my purchases.
Never before have a watermelon, a broom and 4 cans of Ideal Milk made anyone this happy.
PS I have since learned my address. It goes something like: 6CQX MR3W + 29. Or something like that.
PPS The fridge setting was too cold (to keep the Charlies out. See Day #11), so the watermelon slices froze. What a brilliant discovery. I had watermelon ‘ice-cream’ for dessert every night this week!
PPPS Vivian has made me the proud owner of 1 x (rare) can-opener, and 1 x set of (equally rare) clothes hangers.