Monday, November 7, 2011

Abomosu Here We Come!

As promised ... I'll catch you up on my trip to Africa after telling you what I've been up to.


I had the wonderful opportunity of flying to Oregon and being with Natalie while she gave birth to her first boy, Jacob Doc Peton. Doc is a family name on the Peton side and I think it's an adorable name so I just may call him Doc instead of Jacob! It was a fabulous week getting to spend time with the girls while Natalie took care of the baby. I think my lot in life is being a mother. That's ALL I ever wanted in life. I loved every minute I spent taking care of the family.

I participated in another Half Marathon last Saturday in Provo, Utah, the Halloween Half Marathon. Words of advice ... don't participate in a Marathon without training first! There were several of us who dressed alike, "Where's Waldo", and we were VERY easy to find in the crowd of 4,000! A grateful thank you to my daughter Angie, and niece Eden, who stuck with me the entire time and helped me limp across the finish line because of leg and toe cramps! We had to leave the house at 4:30 a.m. to catch the bus in Provo at 5:30 a.m. The most exciting time of the race was riding on the bus up the canyon, which caught fire and we had to evacuate, in the dark, cold, and windy morning. It was FREEZING! Fire trucks, police, and ambulance arrived to make sure we were fine. It was pretty exciting!

Then yesterday we participated in the blessing of Margaret Rita Martineau. What a gorgeous little grand baby girl! Lindsey and Ryan provided a delicious luncheon for all, after Sacrament meeting. It was a great day being with family. I LOVE the Martineau family!

Back to Africa ... I was warned that I would be swarmed with people begging to take my luggage at the airport so they could receive a tip. No one bothered me in the airport and I was feeling pretty smug until I arrived at the van which would transport us to Abomosu. We were swarmed with many men trying to take our suitcases and place them in the van. I handed a tip to our driver and told him to disperse it to whom he thought was helping the best. It was sooo hard to ignore their pleas for money. But, I couldn't pay everyone, so had to tell them that Yaw would disperse the tip. There was a lot of grumbling and I had to just ignore it.

I was very worried that we wouldn't be able to get everyone's luggage into the van. Thankfully Teri, who has been a luggage handler for an airline was able to offer her expert advise and all luggage was soon packed tightly and neatly into the van. We piled into the van, with Granny in the front with the driver, and off we headed into the busy streets of Accra. Yes, it was a shock at first, to see all of the vendors coming up to the van as we stopped at the traffic lights, begging us to buy their wares. We were warned not to buy anything but a specific brand of bottled water or we would become sick. The breads and fruits and vegetables looked delicious, but once again, we couldn't eat the raw items without treating them with bleach first.

Our first stop was at the Accra LDS Temple. The grounds were beautiful and we were able to take some gorgeous pictures there. We didn't look too bad for having traveled 1 1/2 days without a shower!

We had many stops that we needed to make before driving to the village. The traffic was horrendous and crossing the streets on foot was literally taking our life in our hands! We had to buy some minutes for our international phone as well as internet time for our computer. Then it was off to the market to shop for our groceries.

The mall was very nice and modern with a very nice grocery store. All of the foods were imported from various countries so the prices were extremely high! We divided and conquered by splitting up in two's and shopped for our items. Total bill was over 900 Cedis. I'll never forget how frightened and vulnerable I felt while pulling out and counting 900 Cedis, in small bills, from my sweaty money belt!

Now the big challenge was getting ALL of the food into the van. Luckily I had brought a collapsible cooler which we placed our frozen foods into. We shoved groceries EVERYWHERE in the van, pockets, under seats, on laps, in between seats, you name it ... we stored it. And we made it fit. It was getting dark and our driver was nervous about making the trip into the jungle during the night, but we had no choice. We were ALL tired and hungry so ate at the mall. There was a nice chicken place and pizza place which we enjoyed. We were told that we didn't have to worry about eating the food there and we shouldn't get sick. And none of us got sick our entire trip! We were really blessed.

Finally we were on the road to Abomosu. It was dark, dusty, and extremely hard to see. What an experience! It took forever to get out of the city of Accra. And just when we thought the roads were clear and there would be a break in traffic, everything came to a screeching halt. The road would literally end and cars would be dodging pot holes, each other, people, and there was no rhyme or reason to where everyone was driving. It was a nightmare! There was no sleep for me! We had now been up for 2 days and a night!

It took us over 4 hours to drive 90 miles. We pulled into the little jungle village of Abomosu just after 11:00 p.m. The village was asleep with a few goats wandering around. We were excited to see our new home which would house us for the next 10 days. We pulled up to a gated structure and within minutes Brother Abu came to greet us and open the gates. The house looked wonderful compared to the other structures in the village. We quickly entered the home and were met with extreme heat! The windows had been shut and the fans weren't on so it was extremely hot and stifling. The appliances were much smaller than American standard and I was worried that not all of our perishables would fit in the fridge. The fridge wasn't working but we were able to run an extension cord into another outlet to get it to work.

Our party quickly spread out in the home to claim their beds. I was assigned to the bunk bed room. It had (4) sets of bunk beds and there were (4) of us sleeping in that room, so we each got our own bunk bed. While I took care of the groceries my sweet companions made up the beds for us. The pillows and linen weren't quite what we were expecting. The pillows felt like bricks under our heads. I learned to sleep better without one!

I thought it may be cooler sleeping up top closer to the fan, but it was extremely hard for me to climb to the top without a ladder, and the fan was making such a rackity noise, and my head was so close to the fan ... I thought it would chop off my head ... I decided to sleep in the bottom bunk. Because of sooo many high bunk beds in the room there wasn't much air circulation so my first night of sleep was next to nil. In the night I could hear something munching in the corner of the room. I was too tired to care so didn't worry about it.

We were all anxious for morning to arrive so we could see our surroundings in the daylight. I got up bright and early to see if the internet connection would work and post an e-mail to my family to tell them I had arrived safe and sound. Internet was too slow so decided to start cooking breakfast for the crew. When I went into the kitchen I was met with a 'slew' of bugs on the countertops. Although the windows were screened the tiny bugs could still fit through the screens. There was no hot water in the home so water had to be heated for dishes as well as treated with bleach. Even the egg shells had to be treated before cracking them into our food! Food prep took a lot more time because of the precautions that had to be taken.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and it was amazing to watch the villagers walking back and forth in front of our home, with Plantains and water buckets on top of their heads. The children were dressed in their school uniforms, fetching water for their homes before heading to school. I could hear the bleating of the goats, roosters crowing, strange animal sounds that I had never heard before, and smell the fires burning used to cook the villager's breakfast. The village was coming alive and my companions were still slumbering in their beds! I couldn't wait to get started for the day.

More to follow on my Africa trip .... Have a wonderful day!