For those of you who haven’t explored this website, a good read comes from my fairly new friend Mike, you can find his blog by looking up madeinaccra. An expat like myself he is basically the male version of me, similar views on the world of Ghana without the cattiness and the shoes and bags references. So check it out.
The lights went off just as I was preparing to warm the water to have my shower and go to church, smother although insisting we go, had gone back to her room and we silently decided to give it a miss when the lights came back on 20 minutes before mass was about to start. I really did intend to go, got up around 6 and went for a power walk. I drive my car almost everywhere these days, even to the junction where I buy my lucozade, the result being lumps and bumps in all the wrong places and me trying to squeeze into my size 8 Gap skinny jeans when God knows it needs to be upgraded a size or two. Back in my London days I could do a two-week weight watchers programme and get off the train two stops earlier when going to work and I would ping right back into place. Here, even if I did chose to work, thinking about the potholes alone and the fact there is no side walks is enough to make me run back into my car. Added to that, the dust, don’t even think about wearing white footwear in this country. Even from the house to the car, what were white shoes would turn orange in an instant.
This morning, just as I got home, there was a torrential downpour (another reason we thought against leaving the house) and on my part of the estate, they have not tarred the road, they say once they have completed the house next to me this will be done, I’ve heard. In the meantime there is a mini swamp which used to be the road in front of my house. Although it is not as bad as where one of my cousins lives off the Spintex road. On a day like this where it has rained, it can take almost a month before the road dries out, and for those of you who have driven around the hydrofoam estate area you know that this is not an exaggeration. Large puddles form as large as a child’s paddling pool, if you don’t drive a 4×4, don’t even bother yourself. I say that because one day I decided to go visit them and my car got stuck in a mudslide. I tried moving forward, I tried reversing, the only thing that was moving was my petrol gauge towards empty. If it wasn’t for some kind gentleman who helped me push the car out to safety, I would have still been there today. Suffice to say, I love my family but they know where I live if they want to see me.
This leads me to my second point of discussion. I love shoes and bags. When I was in London, I loved it when the sales came around. Back in the day when I was able to save money, I would have something set aside and when the sales came around I would be straight up the Oxford Street on a Thursday after work, and hit the various department stores for a good decent pair of shoes at a knocked down price. Clothes I was never too fussed about, there was always the Primark for everyday where and if something caught my eyes at Debenhams when I had a function or party to go to, but I rarely went out in the first place due to one overbearing now ex which I will not dwell on, but a girl always needs a good pair of shoes. Buying a pair of shoes from nine west or faith meant that although I was a frequent shopper, I didn’t really need to change them. Here, with the roads being so bad and with the dust, I am always in need of a new pair of shoes. I thank the Lord for my brother who bought me a pair on his trip here recently as my luck was beginning to run out.
Here, if you want to buy a pair of shoes (I will not say decent), the best place to go is Accra central. However, be prepared to bargain. The price tags are not on the shoes like it is in Europe and America and often the seller will name a price in accordance with what they think they can get out of you. Your other alternative are the local boutiques. If you have a couple of hundred to spare that is. The same shoes you will find in Accra you will find in these boutiques at 2 or 3 the cost of Accra which is already 3 or 4 times the cost you would get it in Europe. A pair of shoes Made in China I must add that you could get down East Street market for a fiver cost about 50GHS here, it could even go up to 80-150GHS if you are crazy enough to buy it at the mall, I wouldn’t mind so much but in a month you could find yourself walking up a flight of stairs and the heel breaks off (it has happened to me). One lady at my office convinced me to buy a pair of flats from her at 15GHS, it didn’t last a month when I was walking down the road and could feel air between the heel and the ground, the flapping made me realize that it had split. When buying shoes the rules of Caveat Emptor apply (buyer beware), couldn’t go back for a refund so I tried my luck with a stick of super glue, at least I could get another months walk out of it.
Bags pretty much are the same. Overpriced and don’t last. I have a Dior handbag, a present for my 30th birthday which is still packaged neatly in its box in my old room, part of me wants to bring it over, the other part of me doesn’t want it to go through these harsh Ghanaian conditions. A while ago, when I first came here I had cash to splash and thought I’d treat myself to a fake designer bag, it is now in bag heaven, so don’t know if I want to give that same treatment for a real designer. In the meantime, I have my sisters old handbag, made in china, she got it for a couple of quid down the market years ago, I am using that until it finally gives up the ghost (not long to go it seems).
In the meantime, I wait until a visitor from abroad comes over or by some miracle I get the plane fare to go back to UK for a holiday and do my shopping. Two years ago, I took an empty case and did a couple of grands worth of shopping. Smother didn’t understand why I was spending so much, she has been here a couple of months here and she now appreciates that it was a necessity and not just a shopping whim. The clothes and shoes I bought have lasted me 2 years and I haven’t had to endure the pain of buying a primark shirt which was bought for £2 being sold at the equivalent of £30 (somebody at work tried to sell me one at that cost, that’s when I realized that I am now a fully fledged Ghanaian that my colleague forgot that I am from the land of Primark and knew exactly how much it cost, but she gave a good sales pitch, if I didn’t know I may have bought it).
That’s all for today, and there was I thinking this morning that my life has been so dull recently that I would have nothing to talk about.