More Accra snapshots

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Oh, the joy of the rainy season! Amazing what a few degrees temperature drop means in terms of ambling around town actually being pleasant. Rather than Ubering, I have been walking and exploring new streets in our area of Accra.

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Walking to Osu one day: goats! Small but glossy. I have a work trip coming up and wanted to get some Ghanaian chocolate as gifts for the hosts: Niche has a new multipack, good for sharing.  I was quite pleased to see this new coffee in Shoprite: still robusta coffee, but the packaging is very Accra, with the the Jamestown lighthouse. Definitely need to get some to try. 37 cedi is about … 7 USD.

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New street explored, new food place to try when open.

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Food for the soul as well: they do like religious events here. Prophets, apostles: there are always posters for past and upcoming encounters.

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Some modern skyline for you, at the African Union roundabout.

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And some outfits in the gorgeous local fabric: here, you can wear this every day. The longer I am here, the colorful my wardrobe gets.

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Accra and water sachets

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Water sachets: you see these everywhere in Accra. 20-30 cedi for one, about 5 cents, often the cheapest way to get water around town. You bite off the corner, and drink. The sachets are made of  high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a non-biodegradable material. Street vendors have big bowls with water sachets, and you see them being delivered around town, like on this small truck here. Many households do not have regular basic water and sanitation services.

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Once used, sachet wrappers are often discarded on streets and in gutters, creating an environmental sanitation problem. Walking to work, I often pass these chickens foraging among burnt rubbish and water discarded water sachets. Not as bad as some areas, like Agbogbloshie, but not optimal. (Note: Accra is also glossy new buildings, lovely people, modern shops and trendy restaurants, this is just a more ground-level post, after two weeks of walking a lot.)

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In the rainy season Accra sometimes floods, partially due to the gutters being clogged with dirt, debris and plastic waste. Then it rains, the waste washes out to sea, and becomes a problem for fishermen and marine life. Accra beaches are generally pretty grim. The city is trying to improve the situation, but a ban on plastics like Rwanda and Kenya seems far away. And people still need access to clean drinking water.

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The water is mean to be clean, and fortunately most water sachet producers maintain acceptable quality levels. Last week we were warned about the risk of a cholera outbreak, due to the rainy season and poor sanitary conditions, and that both piped water sources and sachet may not be safe for drinking and should be boiled. I am lucky that I can afford to have drinking water delivered to my flat, big 20 litre containers. I still use tap water for cooking pasta and such, I just make sure the water boils for a minute or two before I add the food. Many Accra inhabitants do not have that luxury.

Fortunately Trashy Bags does some great work in using discarded water sachets, which are otherwise often just discarded. Highly recommended. There is some plastic recycling here, but mainly hard plastic waste.

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Tro-tro (minibus taxi) of the week: less religion, more American imagery.

Saturday: grocery run to Osu

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Another action-packed weekend in Accra  (ha……) with laundry and a grocery run to Osu, where the closest supermarket is. Here’s the fruit stand opposite Koala, at the top of Oxford Street, which has expanded and has a quite good selection. I still haven’t found the nearby lady with green zucchini.

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Uber-ing down Oxford Street: phone cards, sunglasses, football shirts, fabric, phone, cards, what do you need? With no car, and my deep dislike of haggling with taxi drivers (“It’s always 20 cedi to Osu!”), Uber makes it so easy to get around town.

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Oh no! Shoprite already has Christmas trees! And tinsel on all vertical areas! Well, we are still preparing to leave Accra in 4-5 weeks, though paperwork is pending, and our lease is cancelled, so we just needed milk (UHT or powdered…) and vegetables to help keep the pantry challenge going. It’s getting easier to find “Product of Ghana” vegetables in the supermarket, like beetroot, green beans, pumpkin, cabbage, chilis, eggplant. Nice, also as it is getting too hot for market shopping.

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Waiting for our ride home again: Though you cannot see it, the Shoprite guard in the yellow vest is trying to shoo out a hen with chicks who are under the grey car. The car driver is trying not to run over the chickens, who would refused to budge  – it all went well in the end.

Funeral

On the way home, we passed this funeral gathering (obvious from red and black tents) for a female professor. Funerals are often huge events here. The red and black are colours of mourning, whereas white and black are colours to celebrate someone’s life. Apparently the owner of the bakery next door just died, and they are starting a week to commemorate her from tomorrow: hence the white and black decorations.

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Sunday afternoon update: the week of commemorative celebrations has begun next door. Lots of people gathered under canopies, big turnout, with religious music and hymns on the sound system all day, interspersed by speeches and sermons. All very loud. Our friends in Tamale had a church next door, with services and music every night  – their windows kept neither mosquitoes nor shouted sermons no tinny gospel out, much more invasive, so we really cannot complain over one day of noise here. Normally we only hear fragments from the nearby churches and mosques on the wind. Time to make Thai chickpea curry with coconut meat and green beans.