Friday, May 27, 2011

Things I could live without: mosquitoes, humidity, and traffic


Remember that song I referred to in my last post, Good Life by One Republic? Well, I don’t want you to think that everything here is perfect because it isn’t Don’t get me wrong, I love Ghana. But it is going to take some time to get used to actually living here especially due to the fact that there are some things in Ghana that I really could live without. Mosquitoes and humidity and traffic are at the top of that list. During my first few days here in Ghana, I relied primarily on my bug repellant that I brought from the US to prevent mosquito bites. I quickly learned that the Off! from home was not going to cut it now that I am living in Ghana especially since it is currently the rainy season and mosquitoes love water. Although my legs are currently covered in bites which itch like crazy, I am trying to avoid getting any more. For one thing, this is the first time I am not on malaria medication while in Ghana and honestly, malaria is not something I want to get again. Secondly, mosquito bites itch and hurt A LOT. Thirdly, when I have bug bites all over my legs, I feel that I must wear long pants all the time to avoid questions by the locals about the large red spots on my legs because bug bites are much more evident on white skin than on black skin. Yes, they are large spots because they itch and sometimes it is impossible to resist itching them regardless of how much medicine I put on them and how much Claritin I take. In an attempt to end this mosquito madness, I have already invested in a repellent that I have used to spray the bedroom, bathroom, and hall as well as a citronella candle. In addition, I have decided upon talking to some other expats (foreigners in Ghana) that it is probably best that I do not just hang out outside after 5/6pm. This is not too difficult, as it gets dark by that time anyways. If I have somewhere to go, I will still go there and be sure to spray myself well but otherwise, I am going to try to stay in the house in the evenings. Right now, it is not worth it to me to be outside during the prime mosquito time and allow myself to be a playground for the mosquitoes who wish to suck my blood.  
The humidity here has already put my emotions to the test a few times since I arrived back in the country. I don’t think it is something I can really explain to you but rather something you have to experience to really understand. Just know that the humidity is so extreme here that I am never found without a handkerchief to wipe away sweat. When I arrived, the room that Alex and I are renting only had one fan in the middle of the room and it turned pretty slowly as it was quite old. I quickly decided that something had to be done about this. We purchased two new fans and hired an electrician to install them on opposite sides of the room. The difference is amazing. Whereas with the old fan we had it running on the highest speed at all hours, we now actually turn down the fans because they keep the room cool and quite pleasant.
Traffic. Ha. Traffic is….interesting because driving in Ghana is basically a race to one’s destination with little regard to other drivers, pedestrians, or animals. It is absolutely insane but I am trying to resist freaking out all the time and trust the drivers, which I know, will take some time. As the school I will be working at is about a 30 minute drive from the house, we have already hired a driver to take me to work in the morning and pick me up in the afternoon. I have only driven with him once thus far but I trust his driving and hopefully will learn some Twi (tribal language in Accra) from him as he only speaks English “small small.”
I know this post is full of complaints but I needed to get some of the difficult things about Ghana off my chest and share them. I am trying to learn to deal with these issues but I am sure that it will take some time.

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