Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Rhythm of Living

In my last blog I said we were putting our heads down to get through to the end of June. I don’t think that sums it up well enough though. Our first 3 months here were a bit of an adventure. Everything was fresh, exciting, scary, fun and very different from the world we know. Even when we thought we were living, it was more like “playing house”. So what’s happening now is not as bleak as I made it sound; it is simply real living and it just happens to be in Accra, Ghana. We dread Mondays and live for the weekend, which is not so different from home. We have wonderful times at the pool, the beach, playing soccer, visiting friends, going to school functions and birthday parties, movie night, going out for dinner, going to cultural events at Alliance Francais etc. But each weeknight we still have to walk home from school, do homework, make lunches, cook supper, clean up, brush teeth, and go to bed. Essentially, this is not dissimilar to home, even if there are vast differences in the circumstances and amount of time we have to spend. We have fallen into a rhythm where we find ourselves functioning well in our new life, even if it is no longer all fun and games.

We still have our “blue days”, just like at home, but they seem to be different here. I don’t know if it is the heat, the early mornings, or the weekly Larium drugs we take for Malaria, but I have noticed that when I am down, it is profoundly unique in Ghana, almost like a panic attack. It only lasts a day or two and comes and goes along with certain days where I feel overwhelmingly tired and sleepy, accompanied by guts that aren’t quite right and funny little aches and pains. I see the kids and how they respond to various things and I think they must be having similar reactions although they are not always able to express it in words. Terry too has distinct melancholy times, which is unusual for him even to share. Terry and the kids still have horrible “itchies” from the heat as well. All these odd little days and things have become part of the rhythm of life here in Ghana though, which is beginning to feel like the norm. Just as walking in busy traffic and along sewers is nothing now compared to before when after ten minutes we were ready to hit the shower. We used to feel like we needed to jump in a pool every other day, now when Terry and I suggest the pool, the kids often say they don’t feel like it, they’d rather stay home and relax. 2 hours at Church feels only slightly longer then the 1 hour Masses in Canada. Sleeping with a fan is normal now and we are able to wake up to the alarm instead of the roosters, sweepers, crying babies or the Muslim call to prayer. Twenty six degrees Celsius has us putting on sweaters and blankets in the morning, and cool showers actually feel cold sometimes.

We have a rhythm in boiling and filtering water, cooking with 2 propane burners, losing power/water every other week, going to market once a week, then to the farther grocery store on the other day for milk, meat, cheese and a few “Western Treats”. There is something to be said for routines. Once a week, I get to do yoga under the stars doing sun salutations as the sun goes down with a cool breeze gliding over me as I watch the clouds move and I breathe deep. Terry gets to play tennis once a week at the Alisa hotel where he runs his butt off with young Ghanaian pros. Every Friday after school the kids get out early and we go to the pool excited for the weekend and Friday Movie night. It’s funny too how there are beautiful things here in the busy city of Accra that I never noticed before like some incredibly striking plants and flowers, the layers of tall trees, palms and hills in the city scape, some colorful buildings, interesting architecture and nicely landscaped boulevards. It makes me think of coming into Edmonton from Calgary for the first time and only seeing the industrial ugly landscape. Once you get to know Edmonton and become part of its rhythm, then you see the beauty of the river valley, neighborhood yards teeming with gorgeous flower gardens, snow blanketing the city in white and a prolific arts and culture scene.

One realizes that no matter where you live, you will have adventures and fun times, loving family/friends, sad days, boring days, exciting days, times you wonder what is this all for, times you wonder how you can escape and times you wish you could stay in this life you have built for yourself forever. Terry made a good point recently that he always finds joy when people here (friends and strangers) greet you with the biggest smiles to say “hello” or “how are you”, “how is your family”. It sounds trite, but one will always find happiness in the people they are with or connecting with those that surround them. So this is what we are working towards as we make our way over the next 4 weeks in this Rhythm of Living in Accra, Ghana.