Ants and flaming taxis

I must be settling in to this house – I’ve gone from killing the ants that constantly patrol the kitchen sink to trying to engage them in conversation. Living in a tropical climate means sharing your home with things that scurry. Outside, lizards scatter at your every move. Inside, cockroaches and ants seem to know they’re unwelcome, they move so fast. The scrawny house geckos are a welcome sight but they aren’t doing a good enough job of eating the mosquitoes. There’s an entire food chain going on in this house that we’re not part of unless we accidentally stir ants into the tea because they invaded the sugar cubes again.

It took a while to get into the house, our home until we leave, an echoing place with an abundance of space and all the character of an aircraft hangar. Previously occupied by people who had let it deteriorate (it practically looked like a squat), it needed a lick of paint, a good clean, and some repairs. We hung around in Kumasi every weekend waiting for the place to be ready, staying in a cheapo guest house, hiding out in nicer hotels to drink coffee and read. Finally we moved in a couple of weeks ago, nearly a third of the way through our time here. Ghana Maybe Time strikes again. We’ve got a new person in the house now as well.

We’re lucky enough to have some good shops nearby. Daniel runs a corner stall and sells basic groceries. His dad Pele is a great barber. Slightly further away is a shop that sells all manner of wonderful things to make a feeble obruni feel at home – Heinz baked beans and tomato ketchup, lovely cleaning products, pain au chocolate and Chilean Merlot for crying out loud.

So with our shiny new house sorted (well, I say sorted, the boiler needs looking at, and we haven’t got telly, and that door upstairs won’t lock), five of us headed out to Lake Bosomtwe, a nearby meteor crater lake, last weekend. After hastily arranging taxis at a nearby hotel we were off. Then, less than halfway to the lake, we were stopped by the police. Roadblocks are common. The policewoman who stopped us asked the driver for his license, so he handed her a wallet with a screwed-up 1 Cedi note in it. She handed the money back and instructed us to get out of the car; the driver didn’t have a license. We were ushered to the car behind and continued our journey. We were staying at Rainbow Garden Village, 4.5km down a diabolical rocky track outside Abono, a small lakeside town carpeted in litter. The taxi driver cursed and complained all the way down the track until finally pulling to a stop outside the guest house, his car audibly wheezing. After an argument about money (which happens with about every third taxi driver), we slumped at the bar and enjoyed a short weekend of peace, sleep, kittens, gardens, lake and hills. The girls went horseriding with Elodie, an awesome French lady with a rasta hat and a laid back attitude. Nick and I played the funniest game of table tennis I have ever played.

When we left Lake Bosomtwe, our taxi ride home was no smoother. The driver, complaining again about the rocky road from the guest house, finally pulled his rattling motor up in a nearby town and opened the bonnet. At this point, the door of the car caught fire. He was so busy staring at his engine that he didn’t realise his door was on fire until we’d exited the taxi shouting “YOUR DOOR IS ON FIRE”. We were then transferred to our fourth taxi of the weekend which finally returned us safe to Kumasi after completing an overtaking manoeuvre that had me convinced we were in a Final Destination sequel.

Next time we go back (Elodie wants to get me on a horse), we’re going in a 4×4. The road from Abono kills cars.