Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lessons from Bolga

If you have been lucky enough to be selected to come out to Bolgatanga with IS in nearly two months’ time or you are reading this and thinking about coming to Ghana for more than just a holiday then here are a few lessons that we have learnt about living in this great country.

1. Embrace the food and catering service here with an open mind. If a menu says macaroni and cheese don’t be surprised if its noodles with some kind of milky substance on top. Perhaps one day you’ll have a craving for a Cadbury’s chocolate bar, so you’ll pop into town and spend a fortune on something that will be nothing like Cadbury’s. The point of all this is that you shouldn’t look for the well-known brands from home but look for the great local foods, there is red-red, there is Jollof rice and there are Nutro wafer thin chocolate biscuits amongst a whole host of other great foods.

The almighty red-red

2. A good day depends on the basics. If you have a good internet connection, there is water to have a proper shower and there isn’t a power cut whilst you’re trying to dice a coconut then that has been a successful day. Although little challenges add to the atmosphere and you’ll always remember playing cards with your friends by candlelight.

3. Never judge a bucket shower, it is refreshing and quicker than a normal shower. Yes it’s inconvenient to trek to the outside tap wrapped in your towel whilst the local kids shout out for the ‘white man’, ‘saliminga’ or ‘fresh white’ to come play an energetic game of frisbee with them but it’s a way of life. You get used to it very quickly.

Nasim with our two cutest neighbours

4. Handing out your phone number is similar to opening Pandora’s Box. Some of the folk out here won’t stop ringing you day or night. Be it your preferred cabbie asking if you need a lift or the doctor you’ve met, whilst looking after your friend who was being treated with malaria, asking you to be his wife. What we have learnt is that everyone wants to be your friend and the desire is expressed in a way that’s very different to one that we have been used to.

5. Get cosy. In your down time back at the house there will not be any internet, TV or even much loved board games to spend your evenings with. What there will be is your team leader’s hard drive with a treasure trove of TV series and at some point there will be one too many people in a bed trying to watch Game of Thrones.

6. Get very cosy. A reoccurring event (if you are working with other volunteers) is that at the weekends you’ll most likely want to relax with your mates from other towns and as you go to meet them you’ll probably stay in their bed. It is common place for four people to stay in a single bed, attempts have been made for six to stay in a bed. If you don’t want to share a bed you’ll be stuck with the hard floor. It’s never an easy choice.

These are just some of the experiences we have had so far and hope what we have passed on to you will be helpful to where ever you find yourself.

By Dan

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