Dennis, our IAESTE supervisor, wanted to show me Kumasi on Friday, since my internship officially starts on Monday. He had something else to do though, so I went with the other Dennis to my Company. He works there, too, and he is in Kumasi for four weeks already. Any way, having lived here for around two days now, there are definitely things I can write about.
Kumasi is a large city much bigger than Hamburg. There are only a couple of important streets though, and everything happens on and around them. There are small shops everywhere, selling mostly water and food, but also bowls and toilet paper and other things. If there are more shops than usual in a specific area you call it a market. Besides the shops there are also always women selling water and fruits and bread from big baskets they carry on their head. The prices vary from 5 Cedis for some expensive foods (a little more than a Dollar) to only 20 Pesewas for a 0,5l bag of water (around 5 cents). Housing is very different. While lots of poorer people sleep in their shops or in small huts next to them or somewhere else close to the streets, bigger houses are built around smaller roads in far less lively places of the city. Our hostel is built like that and it actually has a gate and a barbed wired wall around it. I don’t think it is necessary though, nobody of us had any kind of unfriendly experiences with the people here.
Mobility is offered by either taxis or tro-tros, the first of which are a lot like taxis at home. The cars are mostly old and a little damaged, but sometimes they even have seatbelts. They cost real money though, up to 20 Cedis depending on how far they take you. Tro-Tros are little vans, usually with up to eleven seats in total. Being operated by a driver and his “mate”, they offer space for around 12 people. The “mate” leans out the window and yells the name of the tro-tros destination, so you know which one to take. At least if you memorize some places in the local language. If somebody is interested in entering or wants to get out, the mate hits the window or side of the car so that the driver knows.
The Foods are all rather spicy but really nice. Most are made out of Vegetables that look a lot like gigantic potatos. I have yet to find out what most foods are made of, and this will probably be worth another article. The most traditional food is fufu, a thick dough of manioc or yams. You should probably read up on it as I can’t really explain it yet (I’m writing this offline right now). It gets served in a bowl of soup and you break pieces from it, form a little bowl, get some soup with it and swallow the whole thing without chewing. The locals have great fun in watching us trying it. I am lucky to not have a beard, fufu gives people a reason to shave!
People here are always friendly and helpful. It is pretty amazing how happy they are with their lives, even and especially the poor ones that don’t have a lot of money. It is important to note, though, that I have not yet seen anybody suffering from hunger here. Everything is relaxed, something like stress doesn’t seem to exist in this country. Everything takes a while and everybody is ok with that. When someone from the bus (the big one that brought me to Kumasi) wanted to buy bread from a woman at the side of the highway, the bus stopped and waited for the guy to get out and buy his bread. Arriving at work on time is possible in between 7 or 8am, or maybe 8:30 because it doesn’t really matter.
Working morale is the only things that worries me a little, because it is my job to analyse and improve some workflows at my company, and these are some real numbers from the plastic department:
- The extruder mixed material for 98 rolls.
- 70 clear rolls were made (double-layered)
- 198 single-layered rolls of half the size were made from them (should have ween 4 times 70 = 280)
- 145 rolls were painted
- 130 rolls were packaged
So 130 plastic rolls were produced when it should have been 392 and material for 392 rolls was used in the process. Why? Because the workers work only as long as you watch them, otherwise they just find other ways of reducing that pile of work in front of them.
Electricity is kind of a problem for me. We don’t have electricity in the hostel most of the time. I connected my phone to a charger yesterday evening, and this morning it is at 45% because there was no electricity most of the time. This also caused the fan to stop, making the night rather unpleasant and hot. Right now it’s working again, which is nice. At work we have electricity most times, and I will probably abuse that and charge my phone there. I have not yet understood all the reasons for the power outages. The ones at work result from some weird city-wide scheduling that switches the electricity off in random parts of the city if there is not enough of it for everybody. It’s usual to have one or two “lights out”s per day. In the hostel it’s some other problem related to money.
Wildlife has fortunately been absent for now. I have seen a nice butterfly yesterday and a centipede that was a little large for european standards (comparable to a large slug). All the windows of the hostel have mosquito nets installed, which is nice. We do sleep under additional, impregnated mosquito nets at night. Some people have been bit a couple of times but not me so far. I’m excited about the trip we do from thursday to sunday. We will travel to the northern parts of Ghana, visit some places and do a safari. Someone said there is a place where you can ride crocodiles, let’s see :)