Amazing how quickly the new and novel can become the old and familiar. I’m already settling back into the familiar routine of life in Kumasi. Weekends are still somewhat the same, with Nela coming into town to spend the weekend here at the house. Saturday night is for dinner out at one of our favorite haunts, like It’s My Kitchen (wide variety of food, including Chinese, noodles, pasta, and local dishes) or Moti Mahal (fantastic Indian food). Saturday or Sunday during the day is usually laundry day, with the other day often spent at the university pool.
Side story: I was not one of those kids who got a pass to the local pool and spent my days splashing around and catching rays with my friends. But here the university pool makes for both a relaxing afternoon and a way to get some sorely-needed exercise. On my stopover in the Sydney airport, I bought a pair of swim goggles, which makes the experience of swimming in the heavily-chlorinated pool much more acceptable. Swimming laps followed by sitting underneath the shade of an umbrella, sipping on an Alvaro while reading a book on my Kindle… very nice way to spend a lazy Sunday.
While there’s a familiar rhythm to my Kumasi life, there are a couple major changes to the routine of the past three months. Change #1: we have a new cook. Lisa found herself long-term employment managing the kitchen of a small hotel, a much better situation for her from a career standpoint than cooking for us. She quit the job here during the week after Christmas, so I knew that she would not be around when I got back. Since Benee runs a few guesthouses, he already had Dinah lined up to take Lisa’s place when Lisa quit. While I do miss Lisa and her cooking, Dinah is doing a fantastic job. She’s obviously done this for a long time, as evidenced by many little things, from the amount of time she took to reorganize the pots and pans in the storage cabinet to the white chef’s uniform that she often wears when she comes to cook.
Change #2: I am living alone for the first time in my entire life. I knew coming into this program that Steffi and Dorella’s Pulse assignments were set up to do a three-month project in a group of Kumasi hospitals followed by the same three-month project in some Accra hospitals. They moved to Accra while I was on holiday, leaving me to come home to an empty house. Since Benee and Ellie live downstairs and Dinah comes to cook, it’s not like I’m completely without other people around. But I’m the only one living in the upstairs part of the house during the week.
In my life so far, I went from living with family to some great roommates in college and grad school to moving in with my husband. Even during my four months in Australia in grad school I had a flatmate, making me think I might never end up living alone. Strange to think that my first experience living alone is in a culture that I still don’t really understand. Oddly enough, I think I’m more comfortable living alone here than I would be in the US. Ghana is an extremely safe country, especially as it regards violent crime. With regards to petty theft, Akmed does lock his car doors but leaves valuables in plain sight with no concerns that someone would break a window to get them. While I do lock the door to my room at night, it’s more from habit than from any real fear of intruders, something that I can’t say when I’m back home in the US even though we live in a very safe Cary neighborhood.
So we’ll see how living alone goes. I’m guessing (and hoping) it may lead to more involvement with some of the Ghanaians I know, at least if the past few days are any guide. I’ve had longer conversations with Ellie since I got back than at any other point in the last three months, and Dinah has already invited Nela and me to come to her wedding next month. If nothing else, all this solitude will likely give me more time to blog.