After even more time in Ghana, I have started to become accustomed to more cute [at times] quirks that I have encountered here. These are different from what you expect in Canada or things that have surprised me in my time here.
• There is no such thing as sarcasm here. I find myself apologizing. A lot.
• The next time someone complains about the pot holes in Winnipeg, I am going to start laughing.
• Most of the taxis [at least in Accra] have biblical sayings on the back window. They are all in the same writing. I have also never really seen a phrase twice. I guess there are many ways to say “God Bless”.
• Many taxi drivers will also accept to take you to a location when they have no clue how to get there. No matter how many times you ask, “Do you know it?” and they say “Yes”, you will still end up driving in circles for a while until you notice. Or of course ask for directions.
• Asking for directions is usually the only way to get where you want to go. Street signs are limited and usually locals don’t know them by name. Signs to a business only sometimes lead you in the right direction. And you always have to ask more that one person. If you ask a person and they don’t know, they will ‘save face’ and lie, and you will be even more lost.
• They have club beer here too [for those aggie boys]
• I feel there is a disconnect with distance here. When I ask “How far is it?”, the answer is usually just some random number. And “Can I walk there?”, usually ends with “no” [even though it is only 15 minute walk].
• Ghana has an open sewer system — which means that people use the open sewer at all times during the day. It is a daily occurrence to simply pass people peeing on the street at all hours of the day. It is also my worst fear to fall into them.
• Besides peeing everywhere, there is also trash everyone. And as you might of guesses, a lack of public trash cans.
• People here eat the bones from their meat. The first time I saw someone doing it, I was shocked. But apparently it is a good way to get calcium… Some spit the bones out after chewing them, for about 15 mins. Others fully eat the bones. They especially love chicken & fish bones.
• HOT SEX is the way that sex of any kind is explained in the newspaper. At first I thought it meant like sex not meant for.. well… making babies and just enjoyment. But I was told it is to sell papers. For an example, when an instance of rape was called “forced hot sex” in a local paper.
• Countryfest Ghana? Yes, country music is big here. I spent my whole trip to Ampain Refugee Camp listening to Brad Paisley. My small time hick-town mind was shocked. I asked a co-worker about why it was so popular, and his answer made me feel very stupid that I didn’t recognize it before. He told me that he liked it because it talked about important things like faith, family, love/marriage and God. These are all things that are very important to people in Ghana – so why wouldn’t they like country music??
And everyone else listens to this:
[Everyone always ask me, “Alyssa, do you know ‘that thing'” and think its so funny. & The other day, I was standing with two colleagues, one who is pregnant. The one opposite asked me “Do you know why she is pregnant?” and then finished the sentence with “She likes ‘that thing'”. I laughed for like 20 mins.]
• I have 4 channels at home and they all play soap operas… like continuously. Now here is the interesting part: these are not Ghanaian or even Nigerian soap operas. These are the famed Spanish soap operas that are duped in English for Ghanaians. Comedy is not big here – people love their drama.
• No matter if you are in the middle of a meeting, church, an interview or a show, people answer their phones. There is an urgency to talk to that person right now. I think that this is directly related to the fact that there is no voicemail here.
• When it rains, Takoradi stops. Appointments get cancelled. Plans fall through. I guess people don’t like the rain…
• People have multiple names here. There are traditional names based on whether you are a girl/boy and the day you were born. I know a lot of people with the name Kojo or Adjoa or at least that is part of their name. Then, they have their “English” names, which is usually biblical names like Joseph, Peter, etc. This is the name people usually tell me.
• My traditional name is Afua because I am a girl born on Friday, but only Grandma calls me that. Also, when men are yelling at your from the streets, they just start naming Ghanaian names hoping that one of them will be yours and you will turn. Not many yell Afua tho…
• The pronunciation of my name here is also different because of the accent. Instead of A-LYS-A, I am A-Leez-A.
• When people are part of a club, a church, a group, an organization… you know… then, they get matching print made. Then all the people get their own style of dresses made. Check out the matching:
• O and have I told you about ‘Ghanaian time’ yet? No one is on time. Like ever. If a Ghanaian tells you they will leave at nine, you will be leaving at 11:30. Which is good because the person you were meeting will also be two hours late.