Monday, August 29, 2005

In the house...

So here we are, and FINALLY we have internet service. Much of the delay was Ted's two week trip back to Texas the day after we moved into the house. Cooper and I were so busy learning how to live in Africa on our own (without the hotel staff to back us up) that we didn't have time to do any of the leg work for peripherals!

The house is a hoot- not a square angle in it anywhere and if you put a marble at my kitchen door it will roll all the way to the sink, some twenty five feet slightly downhill from the door. Ha!

Life in Africa is best described as 'tenuous'. In a very basic way for the natives, and in a more "convenience" way for expats. As I type this my voltage regulator clicks regularly trying to compensate for the wild fluctuations in voltage, and the computer is hooked up to that, a surge protector, and a UPS, in addition to the usual computer stuff. Electric power is not a certainty at any time- we have a diesel generator and 500 gallon fuel tank to power the house when ECG power (Electric Company of Ghana) goes off. Water is also not a given- at any time it simply stops flowing from the main city supply, and we have to switch over to the electric pump (dependent on ECG or our generator to run) that supplies water to the house from an 800 gallon giant black plastic water tank in my back yard. Not that you can drink the water. But we use it to shower, brush our teeth and make any food that will be boiled anyway. :-)

Having said all that, life here is good- and surprisingly easy, thanks to local culture and custom. We have a "houseboy" named Mac. He isn't a boy and we pay him the equivalent of $90 a month. We kept him on to help while Ted was out of the country and figured out that it would be best to just keep him forever. He takes care of the yard and landscaping, and takes great pride in keeping all the outside areas clean- he mops the porch and pool area, washes my windows every week, sweeps the pool, takes care of the garbage, and a million other little things. He is totally self directed and works SO hard.

Cooper (aged 13) has always been the designated dog poop picker upper and it's part of his commitment to having his own dog, but when I told Mac that Coop would be doing that he almost had a stroke. Coop came in the house after the first time I sent him out to do it and said

"I think I got it all, but the guard and Mac kept following me around telling me not to do it!"

I went out to explain and got this:

"Little sir CANNOT do it. That is a job for the houseboy. Please do not let him do that again!"

Heh. You can imagine who Cooper's favorite African is. :-)

We knew when we rented the house back in April that it was directly on the airport flight path, and we decided we didn't care. Turns out we were right- although it was a little hairy to get used to right at the start. The airport is about 2 miles away as the crow flies and there is only one runway, running north/south. All planes land from the north (where our house is) and we are literally in a direct line with the runway, so as the planes come over, they are directly overhead so unless we recognise the paint on their bellies we don't know what airline they are- we can't see the tails until they are way past us. They are about 200-300 feet off the ground as they pass over, and it's loud, but only for about five seconds. Kotoka International gets about 15-20 planes a day, 10-12 of which are jets and the rest turboprops. It's a different way to live, but surprisingly undisturbing. The advantage is that our location is less sought after so the drain on power and water is not as bad as other areas just a mile or so to either side. Ted's Managing Director lives very near us, but has water only one day a week (their tank is 30,000 gallons!) and constant power outages (we still have most of our original generator fuel after more than a month in the house).

Cooper loves his school! It really is kind of neat - it's an international school but run by Americans, so he has the best of both worlds. There are forty nationalities, the top five being, in order, Korea, Ghana, U.S., U.K., and France. Back to school night was last Monday and Ted and I are thrilled with his curriculum and teachers. They are accredited for the International Baccalaureate Program which is recognised by the Universities in Europe and America as superior to whatever he would be getting in a U.S. school, so woohoo! His french teacher is from France, his gym teacher speaks like Princess Diana, and his Math teacher is from Moosejaw Saskatchewan. Ha! He gets out at 1pm every Wednesday which thrills the poop out of him, and his first long holiday break is in October, ditto the poop.