Things have been pretty busy and way more exciting around here recently as Aubrey’s sister, Sophie, husband, Dom (Aubrey’s working partner) and two little ones of three and one have moved into our ‘old’ house next door for a year!
It has injected a whole lot more enthusiasm into life for me here, where it was recently very much beginning to fall. It can be pretty isolating especially as our good friends who lived out here with their two kids have now returned to the UK. Now I have someone other than Aubrey to chat to about anything from playdoh to potty training. I think he may be pretty pleased too judging by the ‘interest’ I sometimes get when filling him in on daily events with four busy busy children.
Anyway the kids are also delighted. Our houses must be five meters apart at most and the fence between them fell down in this year’s rainy season (the bamboo rotted), so they just pop through a gap in the bougainvillaea. There is an unspoken open house agreement thing going on for the kids, although our eldest’s visits to next door at 6am may be taking it a bit too far! Often I find myself with their eldest whilst all four of mine have decamped next door. Great for me, not so great for Soph as she ends up with five kids. We do have daily quiet time though from lunch time until 3pm which gives us some respite if things are getting crazy!
Home educating them all is a lot more fun too now that there are two of us bouncing ideas and enthusiasm off each other. Sophie has saved me from my dread of ‘Mummy please can we do painting?’ as she is so much more patient with the painting issue and is also very artistic which is a bonus. What is it about painting and children? I turn into a she devil when the paints come out; it really does try my patience. Maybe because I really hope that everything isn’t going to turn out brown, or on everything other than the paper. Hasn’t happened yet! But somehow Sophie gets them painting like Picasso!
They are still in the settling in mode next door. I remember when I first got here I had quite a lot of low moments, even being in tears whilst reading news from back home. I found it tough, I admit that.
Imagine trying to do anything in a sauna and that will give you an idea of what each day feels like even before things (whether good, bad or just plain frustrating) happen. You then have the everyday stumbling blocks of no water, electricity, lack of food choices, sickness (as you get used to the food/heat etc.), the car breaking down when you are miles from home, the lack of privacy in your own home with people wandering past and into your garden or house, as well as whoever you have helping you being around all day. On top of that you are worrying about your children’s health, happiness and development and as I’ve mentioned before, for me there is the isolation one can feel from not having a support network of friends and family at your fingertips to pop out to or call on when in need.
BUT for all that, the sun here shines, you are warm, you don’t worry about what clothes to wear or whether to take a cardigan (you don’t!), the kids can get as dirty as they like as you can hose them off outside (as long as the pipe is open!), the costs here for us are low; no council tax, cheap rent, cheap car insurance and maintenance, limited food choices means you don’t waste your money on all those ‘goodies’ and for us the recession is just something that happens to people back home. You can watch your children flourish at things you may miss if you sent them to school, Daddy can pop home to swim with the kids in the middle of the day if he likes, you can have a lie in anytime you like (if the kids sleep in!), ‘missing’ bedtime is not a huge stress as there’s no place you have to be in the morning and I have to admit the sound of the tropics is magical (apart from the horny frogs!).
All in all it’s what makes Ghana what it is and this whole experience what it is too. Love it or hate it, and I find I am jumping between the two all the time depending on what is happening at that very moment, I can’t deny that I haven’t had the pleasure of being in a unique environment and I have to remind myself to make and take the most and best of it.
Who knows what will happen this year but I honestly feel I can approach it much more positively due to our new neighbours. Akwaaba!
We have recently been eating: