>Kokrobite Beach Vacation

> There’s a beach just west of Accra called Kokrobite that seems so far from my everyday life of metro-boulot-dodo, but in geographical terms is not. This is where I spent this past weekend.

Kokrobite(some native English-speakers spell it Kokrobitey to underline the correct pronunciation, including the “e”) is situated one hour from Tema, 30 minutes from Accra on a good day with little traffic around Mallam junction leading out west from Accra. This backpackers hide-out is complete with cheap accommodation (can wholly recommend Bah’doosh where I stayed this time), Rastafarians, palm trees, cold beer and a beautiful and crowded beach with a glittering and wavy ocean.

Everytime I go, I bring only a pair of flip-flops, a piece of African print that can make a dress or a wrap or a towel or a headgear, a flowy white cotton top to avoid sunburn and my colorful patchwork trousers (bought in Kokrobite last year)- all of which goes with a bikini and some beads around the wrists.

My husband and I also take a long the books we never get to read. In the mornings we have breakfast in the shade reading together, something that is terribly nerdy, I know, but just screams vacation to me. Swedish celebrity blogger Alexandra Pascalidou has made beach life her everyday life in Thailand for a couple of months. It should be possible to do the same in Ghana.

Some people might have ulterior and somewhat more “smokey” reasons to come to Kokrobite, but as for me I just find it relaxing without any additives. It is like I took a plane to vacation land. But I didn’t. Did I say this place is an hour away from home?

Pic: This is how happy I feel on the beach.

>Plantain at Work

> Now you might think I am all about fruits, well, that can’t be helped, because here is my fruit story for the day.

Yesterday afternoon, I was in a meeting. After 30 minutes or so everything comes to a stand still, we are waiting for someone to bring us a document. Bored, I glance out the window and see some green leaves. To be a bit funny, I turn to one of the guys in the room and ask:

– Are you the one growing plantain out there?

With a straight face, he answers me:

– No, it is the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation!

Only in Ghana.

>Smoothie for Breakfast

> The papaya (in Ghana “paw-paw”) in my garden, planted about one year ago, has started to give me ripe fruits every other day, and this is what I most often do with them.

I throw them in the blender, maybe with some juice, and here with some passion fruit. Run for a few minutes and voila, the best breakfast ever.

This post is part of my new tag Food and Drink. Hopefully I will follow up with more of these in 2009.

>Employment in Ghana

> I thought I should share some local job opportunities. Even if I am not looking, I belong to a generation who likes to know the options…

I am on a few mailing lists, and recently a couple of interesting jobs caught my attention. Firstly, African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) is looking for new staff. They are searching for experienced policy experts, but also HR and some other research staff and interestingly offering “competitive international remuneration packages”. More on the organization and the job openings here.

Some of my information I get through the International Development Jobs Newsletter, which lists all kinds of jobs all over the world in the “development industry”. To subscribe visit their webpage. Other jobs come though the site/newsletter Find A Job in Africa.

Last, but not least, there is also the Ghanaian site Jobs in Ghana which lists all kinds of jobs, currently themselves are also hiring.

>Funeral Culture in Ghana

> This years BBC World Service radio play competition had one Ghanaian in the top. Benjamin Kent wrote the play “Funeral Bells” which evolves around the oh-so-common Ghanaian funeral. Loads of people, food and drinks, but often you don’t even know the deceased…

Listen to the play here.

In the pic, my mother-in-law and me at a funeral for someone I’d never met, in a village in Central region, Ghana .

>Cinema Celebrations

> This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting the newly opened Silverbird Cinemas in Accra. I am not the biggest fan of watching films in company of strangers, so bloggers Abena, Maya and Que beat me to it. However, not even having the option to go, makes the cinema love grow…For the longest time – probably since early 1990s when TV-sets and videotapes came to Ghana in bulk – Ghana’s capital Accra has been without a cinema. Ok, there are the dubious “video houses” where you rent a film that comes with a private room for you and your company. The one I went to last year had a sofa bed with a rubber cover, hm, wonder what goes on in there…

However, that is now in the past and Accra has now its own five screen cinema, located in the Accra Mall, a shopping complex put together by Broll Management of South Africa, according to afridigital.net. There is popcorn scent all around, red cosy chairs, people to sell tickets (GHC 10 each) and others to rip them apart and say, “welcome, there is free seating”. There is Bond and College-films, Indian Golmaal and the occasional comedy.

So now, when the sun is just too much, there is an opportunity to go into the dark, heavily air-conditioned cinema hall and be swept away. My tip is, bring a blanket and someone you can wrap your arm around. It was really very cold in there.

Pic borrowed from Abena.

>Ghanaian Food Surprise

> I woke up on Monday to find a kiosk outside our wall, just next to the carport. A blue stall, common for selling Ghanaian fast foods had just appeared over night. Instantly, I felt a bit pissed off: this unauthorized tiny building had been erected right in my reverse turn radius, making getting out in the morning with my car much more difficult.

-Good morning! You must try my waakye!

The lady preparing and selling the fast food looks at me with a bright smile offering me some Ghanaian brown rice cooked with beans, waakye. I smile back. Maybe it is not all that bad having fast food available 10 meters from my front door.

Recipy for waakye here.

In the pic, people in line at another food stand.

>Out of the Wardrobe

>It is like it’s a personal hobby, a favorite pastime, no really, it’s a full-scaled lifestyle. The reinvention of myself and my life. New places, new people, new tasks, new topics. I can’t help myself!

This time it’s a new job involving, not surprisingly, an array of concepts and tasks completely new to me. It is frightening to dive into a world of marketing, revenue, search engine optimization, programming and managerial duties.

But the thing is I love it and I simply thrive. I devour books about my new field (right now fittingly The Search – How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture by John Battelle), schedule meetings with people who know marketing/programming/sales and use my people and meeting skills from my past to glue it all together.

I seem to specialize not in Political Science or any other topic, but in change and along with it adaptation. Judging from recent years’ talks about a globalizing and everchanging world, I guess I am very lucky to swing this way.

Now back to my book.

>Ghana Graduation

> Yesterday I met with my sister-in-law. She is a wonderful, easygoing person and very easy to talk to. We sat down and discussed all different kinds of things; Ghanaian versus Swedish food, what to do in the weekend, how our careers are moving along etc. We laughed together and she vowed to soon come visit me. As I was leaving I wanted to give her some of the fresh corn (in Ghana maize) I was carrying in a big, black shopping bag.

– I got too much, all of this I bought for 1 GHC, so please help me out!

And then it happens. As my sister-in-law picks out a couple of corn cobs she, having lived in this town all her life, asks me, the obroni-new-kid-on-the-block, where I’ve gone to buy so much for so little. Bursting with pride I tell her what corner of the market I went to, feeling like I just graduated with a degree in Ghana Street Smartness.

>Morning Walk

> I leave the house around seven thirty after having waved goodbye to my husband ( he leaves for work around 6.45 ).

I lock my gate with a heart on it and criss-cross through my neighborhood, saying my “goodmornings” to the people I meet. I turn onto Hospital Road and follow it for about 15 minutes. There is a lot of traffic, lotto kiosks, chicks, kids going to school, food being sold, craftsmen lining up their produce like sofas or baskets, and taxis that don’t mind me walking briskly in jogging shoes and stop to ask where I am going. Sometimes, a friend will drive by, like this morning the neighbor in the black pick-up. His window is already down so he just slows down, stopping traffic, and shouts to me across the road

So, you have started your exercise again?

I have. Interestingly, it seems like it is as much an exercise for the mind as for the legs. Walking is really the best way to think. I think about the car I am going to buy, what I will do this weekend and why dragonflies are not considered scary, but beautiful.

My legs move almost automatically.

I stop and become standing for a while trying to cross the busy Hospital Road to get to my destination, a pool. There I will emerge in the water to chill myself, because even though it is just eight in the morning I am sweating. Before I enter the pool premises I pass by the Christian Vertical(!) School. Kids are sweeping the schoolyard, attending to a fire of scraps and rubbish when they suddenly get interrupted by the bell. They line up as I watch them from the dirt road and start to sing.

God bless our homeland Ghana.

In the pic the jogging shoe that does not impress taxi drivers.

>Everyday life

>The wonderful, however non-exciting, everyday pace has reached me here in Ghana. Everyday, I kiss my bf goodbye in the morning, go to work, eat lunch with the same crowd, work a few more hours and then take a taxi home. At night we might do some visits, maybe go out to eat and then – it has of course already been dark for a while – it is time to go to sleep. I dream my vivid dreams (as always) and am awoken by the sun shining into our bedroom around 6 am.

But I mean, there are also stark differences in this “everyday life” compared to the “everyday lives” I have led before. For instance, before I never before saw the green tail of a gecko disappear into my wardrobe when opening my underwear drawer. I did not use to go for lunch to a “chop bar” where most of the customers order goat or snail soup. Nor for that matter meet a (living) goat family everyday on my way to lunch. I never used to celebrate when a supermarket opened in my town, now I do. (That was yesterday, and it just made my week to be able to have salad, hard bread and goat cheese for dinner). I never before used to come home to my own house. Complete with a man. Also, even if I feel I have gotten used to the way things look around here, I do sometimes remember to marvel that the soil is copper red, the nature deep green and whole trees can be covered in flowers, that people do actually carry suitcases (even backpacks) on their heads with ease, that men dress in big colorful prints and it looks good. And that every plant looks different from the Gotlandic nature I knew in my earlier life…

In the picture my favorite Ghanaian grass. Its every strand looks like a bouquet of Swedish “timotej” grass. And yes, I am aware that in my previous life I probably would not have mentioned “goat” three times in a short text like this one.