Keeping a smile

Keeping a smile

The value of the dollar has dropped sharply in the last two weeks, causing happiness for some and heartache for others.  Some Ghanaians believe that the stabilizing of the dollar will help with the crazy inflation that has been rampant in the country since before I arrived.  I am not terribly happy about the drop because it means my dollar doesn’t go nearly as far!  Thus, last week I began buying real food at the grocery store.  In other words, instead of purchasing fun stuff like knock-off Oreos, peanut butter, cane sugar, and cool whip, I was on the hunt for reduced price brown rice, parmesan cheese and canned black beans.  When I first saw the huge decrease in the dollar to cedi ratio I gave a long, deep sigh.  I’d been living the good life trying different restaurants and pastry items at bakeries.  But since last week it’s been time to get serious about cooking and finding staples for my kitchen.  And like all things, after I made up my mind to just do it (cook) it really wasn’t that bad.   I also had my first taste of guinea fowl and made new friends over a delicious steaming bowl of spinach soup at a fabulous Indian restaurant.  Here’s a look at my adventures last week.

One of the past Rotary Scholars I connected with told me about her favorite grocery store in Accra.  She raved about how they have some American brands and what a nice atmosphere it has.  Since it was right down the road from me, I figured it couldn’t hurt.  Sure enough, I was impressed with the cleanliness of the store and the American feel it had.  There’s a cute little cafe right in front of the store that sells beautiful pastries, sausage rolls, and fish pies (I haven’t been brave enough to try the fish pie yet).  It was very nice to see Lucky Charms and Special Kay on the breakfast aisle, but I’m sorry-I am not about to pay 45 cedis (about $15) for a box of cereal!  I’ll just admire them from afar.  Instead I opted for some cans of kidney beans, sliced cheese, instant coffee, and other staples.  I had purchased some hamburger about a month ago that I had not yet been brave enough to try.  So when I got back home, I took the thawed out hamburger out of the fridge, added a little bit of this and that, and 30 minutes later, I had American style three-bean chili!  And I was pleasantly surprised at the taste of the hamburger!  It looked a bit peculiar when I pulled it out of the freezer, but after I cooked it and added my ingredients, it was delicious.  I was able to eat it for a few days and then I stored the rest in the freezer.  It may not seem like a big deal, but finding my way around a grocery store in a new country and cooking something that turned out well was a huge accomplishment for me!

Veggies from Maxx Mart, September 24, 2014
The first meal I cooked in Ghana, Three-Bean Chili, September 24, 2014

Another former Rotary Scholar friend put me in touch with an American doctoral student studying at Legon.  We met a couple weeks ago and immediately hit it off.  Last week she invited me out to dinner with two of her friends, also Americans.  We made the ride from Legon to Osu, a trendy little town with some fabulous restaurants.  Her pick was Safron, an upscale Indian restaurant staffed by Ghanaians.  It was by far the nicest restaurant I’ve been to since I arrived in Ghana.  Soft camel colored chairs decorated the dining area.  As soon as we sat down, servers removed our white cloth napkins and placed them in our laps.  I like pampering as much as the next person, but was perfectly happy to pour my own carbonated water for myself!  I’m pleased to say that 90% of the friends I’ve made thus far have been Africans, however, it was really refreshing to chat with other Americans over dinner and hear about their experiences.  By the end of the night none of us could stop laughing and raving about the incredible flavors of bread, rice, spinach, and meat kabobs.  I was so glad we had met for dinner We decided to meet up again soon.

Swanky Safron Restaurant, September 25, 2014
Lovely dining area, September 24, 2014

Delicioso spinach dinner, September 24, 2014

The scents and flavors were amazing!  September 24, 2014
The server brought warm, lime-scented water for each of us to clean our hands after the meal-very nice!  September 24, 2014

Tasty candies for dessert, September 24, 2014
Posing for the camera, September 24, 2014

On Sunday I gave my second presentation to the Rotary Club of Tema-Sakumo.  Tema-Sakumo was started by my host club, Rotary Club of Tema.  The group was small and intimate, but they had plenty of questions for me!  Their questions were challenging and stimulated great conversation.  At the end of my talk, I presented the club with my sponsor club’s banner.  The club president, Kofi Asiedu.  I expected, in return, to receive their club’s banner, however, I was tickled to death to receive a beautiful pattern of fabric from the club.  I’d seen men and women alike wearing beautiful shirts and blouses with Rotary symbols woven into the fabric and I always wondered where they found these beautiful patterns.  Now that I have this lovely fabric, I can’t wait to find a good seamstress to make a dress out of it for me!

Tasty tasty Guinea Fowl.  All this ‘peppa’ is going to be the death of me!  September 28, 2014
Lovely material for an outfit, October 2, 2014
Posing with the Rotary Club of Tema-Sakumo, September 28, 2014

Despite this time of uncertainty with the economy and various disease plaguing African nations, the spirit of the Ghanian people seem to be unshaken.  They remain kind, friendly, are always with a smile, and are curious about foreigners.  It’s very easy to meet new people here and, as I learned today, easy to buy food at the Medina Market!  Next week, I’ll discuss my first real trip to the bustling market of Medina! 

One thought on “Keeping a smile

  1. So sorry to hear about the dollar strengthening there, I know you'll do fine going to the grocery and learing to cook new dishes. Very nice photos and glad you are meeting new friends and visiting another Rotary Club as well.

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