Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Children and Merry Christmas

Christmas in Ghana was a wonderful, fun day. We started the day at 7 w/ breakfast (chocolate croissants, omelets, and coffee/Milo/juice) and then went to church.

Upon advice from the fabulous Coconut Grove staff we decided to visit Ridge Church, a combo Anglican/Presbyterian/Methodist church founded in 1936. We didn't know what time church started at, so we arrived at the end of one service and had to wait until 10 for the second service. This was the first church service for all 3 kiddos and they didn't last the first hour of service -- and we hadn't even made it to the scripture readings or sermon yet! As much as I wanted to stay and recharge, it really wasn't good for the kids -- Eddie kept asking if he could go to sleep and Lydia just wanted to lay down on me. So we returned to the hotel for naps and relaxation.

After Eddie slept for 2+ hours, Lydia for 1 hour, and HC for 30 min, we gathered up and headed to the Christmas buffet at the hotel restaurant. Auntie Suzy called to make sure that we were coming for dinner, and it was very nice to see all the staff in their holiday clothes enjoying a meal together. The buffet had goat light soup, salad, beef jollof, yam balls, fried sole, Chinese spaghetti, braised leg of lamb in brown sauce, and roasted turkey. Yummy! Hannah and I were so excited that we got to have turkey, even if the kids were less than impressed

After dinner we headed back to the hotel room to exchange presents. Having not planned to still be in Africa for Christmas, we had not packed presents. I had been hoarding some small items each time we went to the market, and Hannah and I each bought some small items for the kids at Makola marketplace on Christmas eve. The expressions on Eddie and Lydia's faces were just too much. These kids were so excited to have gifts; they didn't even care/realize that they had helped Mommy pick out most of the items during previous market trips.

We played in the room with the new toys, E and L got dressed in their new clothes, and we enjoyed ourselves for a while while waiting for our families to wake up Christmas morning (sometimes this 8 hr difference can be a killer). When it seemed like we weren't going to be doing anything useful while we waited, and before the kiddos rioted from being stuck in the hotel room, we headed out to the courtyard to play football (American soccer). E and L had fun showing off their new stuff and two other children staying at the hotel came out to play with us. E was jealous of my playing with our Nigerian friends, but overall a great time was had by all. HC even yawned more than played before long, and then crawled into bed once he was back in the room.

While it was hard to be away from the rest of our families, I believe Hannah and I made the best of our day together. Here's the photographic evidence:

Eddie, dead to the world. I'm not sure how many times we tried to wake the boy. He zonked hard during rest time.

Lydia and HC romping around the room while Eddie slept. They thought it was too funny that he was asleep and not waking up to their screams/shouts of delight.

Our family together at Christmas dinner

The buffet

The turkey -- with jollof stuffing!

Walking back to the room, Lydia let us know there was an unpleasant odor somewhere (note the food left on her shirt from dinner)

In the room Eddie and Lydia were still not impressed with the stink

The guilty party (this time!)

Tia (Hannah) distributing gifts

HC's first Christmas presents from Mommy

Excited children not sure what they are excited about

Discovery and excitement

Blinged out sunglasses and a light-up squishy ball -- AWESOME!

HC checking out his present

Ooooooh --- lip gloss and blinged out purple sunglasses from Tia!

So happy

Um, think I have a diva in the making?

Happy Boy!

Beautiful, happy children

So cool and so proud

Opening a present from Auntie (me) -- cars!

Ghana slippers!!! Think my boy was happy with this gift from Mommy?

Army men -- or "Peace Fighters" as they are marketed in Ghana

A new Barbie!

Punching balloons (it's amazing what you can find in the street markets here!)

New shirt -- just like Uncle P!

Lydia showing off her loot -- can she hold any more???

Loving her new dress (this girl loooovvveeess clothes!)

Happy with her Christmas presents

Auntie really needs to buy this boy a baby

Happy guy!

So cool

So happy

So cute!

Some last photos: We met these guys at the pool area on the 23rd and they helped me take care of Eddie's burning eyes (silly guy likes to swim underwater with open eyes). The gentleman in the red shirt even gave me his eye drops to help. They checked with us at Christmas dinner to make sure that Eddie's eyes were better. Then they asked to take a photo with us (on their computers). Nothing like obruni (white person) to attract some attention :)

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Going batty

After the airport, the first memory/sensory experience I have of Africa/Ghana is this:

We are driving (crazier driving than in Guatemala!) and I hear what sounds like a flock of birds chirping wildly. Chris and I look out the window and see TONS of birds in the sky. In one part of the street, the sky is almost dark with them and we can hear them over the very loud sounds on the street (topic for another post -- crazy noise levels in Accra). This was the site:

Then our dear coordinator in-country explains that what we are witnessing is not birds, but are in fact BATS!!! Bats, in the daytime! Craziness of all craziness. Once I realize they are bats, I can tell the sound I am hearing is not chirping, but the sound of the bats squeaking/screeching. Then our coordinator says that bat is a delicacy in Accra, "Very delicious." Then I looked closer at the trees in the area and realized that what I thought was dead foliage was in fact, bats hanging. Wow! What a strange sight!!!

Upon doing some research, it seems that these are a unique case of fruit bats. Supposedly they traveled to Ghana with a tribal elder to help him, but then he died and the bats stayed. The military tried to get rid of them by shooting, but bats reproduce at an accelerated rate when facing danger, so all that did was make the colony larger. Now Area 37 of Accra has new permanent residents that make lots of noise and leave guano all over the place. It's still one of my favorite places to drive by in the city :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ice cream adventures

This week has been a week of sitting around and waiting. Our coordinator brought us back from the beach in the hopes that the kids passports would be issued and we could finish some of the paperwork for travel. Unfortunately, no luck. So we stayed at the Regency in Accra (which is a very nice hotel) where we started to feel trapped in a repeating cycle of events. I'll write more about those later (once the kiddos have food in their bellies and are more patient for Mommy on the computer).

Last night we couldn't take it any more and adventured out to "Frankie's" a restaurant in the Osu section of Accra. After a dinner of delicious pizza -- wish I had taken some photos of Edward and Lydia's faces when they realized that was dinner -- we had real ice cream (the hotel stuff has a funny taste, like Parmalat). Here is the photographic evidence of our fun:

Per special request by Daddy, here is a photo of me and the kiddos, just finished shopping at the Global Mamas store -- fair trade goods made by local women. What a great cause to support, and more Christmas shopping (and a dress and necklace for myself) done in the process!