Thursday, March 8, 2012

Water: Liquid Life

So, one of the things that we have to take care of on the airfield is water.  Water for washing, water for drinking, water for construction, etc.  There are also three types of water that we use: pure water, tap water, and river water.  Pure water is used for drinking and sometimes cooking.  It comes in bags and is about 1 cedi ($0.60) for 15 500ml bags.  Tap water is clean enough to drink but is more used for cooking and washing (dishes, clothes, and bodies).  River water is a gamble and mostly used in construction.  Do not drink the river water unless you're craving the runs or other random digestive issue.

Bob's Road
Right now, we are very close to connecting up a pipe water supply, but until then we have to get our tap water from a neighbor who has main water access.  His name is Bob.  Now, I've been to Bob's place probably about close to 10 times now on water runs, but it didn't hit me until I nearly missed the road to his house that there was a great movie quote looming.  For those of you who know me, I love movie quotes and working them into everyday situations.  So, without further ado, please enjoy this twister reference:

First I gotta find this road...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Public Transportation

So, despite having 2 cars on site, we still have situations where public transportation is best.  Unless you are going long distances, need to transport stuff, or are finicky about driving yourself, it is often more economical to take public transportation.  The only thing's a little different here than it is in the states.  Let's go through the options:

Taxis are available pretty much anywhere.  You can identify them by their yellow quarter panels.  Unlike some taxis in the states, every taxi here is owned by the person who drives it.  You won't see any "Washington Flyer"-like taxis coming to and from the airport.  Who you get is who you get.  The other "interesting" thing about taxis is that you negotiate the price of where you are going before you even get in.  That's right, no automated ticker on the dash telling you how much time, how far, how many people, or how much luggage you have in the car.  Flag one down, barter on the amount, and off you go.  For comparison's sake though, to go across the city of Accra (which is a little larger than Atlanta sprawl wise), it's gonna cost you about 10-15 Ghana cedis to make the trip (a little less than 10 bucks).  Not bad.

Tro Tro
These are basically mini buses that hold anywhere between 10-20 folks (sometimes you can pack more in if it's a long trip - they even let you ride on top sometimes!).  Unlike taxis, these vehicles will follow (more or less) a route to a certain destination that's predetermined.  The tro tro operates with a two-man team including a driver and a "mate".  The mate will open and close the door (usually when the vehicle is still moving), yell out the window what the destination is, and handle the payments.  A tro tro from one part of the city to another is normally 1-3 cedis ($1-$2).  Tro tro's can also be used as transportation to the suburbs of the city or (for a price) used to haul wood or other materials if you don't have an appropriate vehicle.  My favorite was the 1 hour tro tro ride when we had to basically sit on half frozen fish (mmm...not).

Regional Buses
These are the least interesting of the options because it is most like what we have in the US.  Pack in 50 folks,  and get taken from one city to the next at a predetermined rate and route.  While these may seem like they're the most comfortable, they often break down on the rough roads.  I try to avoid these guys if I have a car.

One thing that I thought was really interesting about basically any mode of transportation here is the type of stickers people put on their cars (especially the taxis and tro tros).  As you can see in the pictures above, pretty much 75% of all the pub trans vehicles contain some type of phrase or reference to God, safety, or common sense quote.  You can see "thy will be done" or "Psalm: 27" in the pictures but other examples are "don't rush", "don't drive tired", or "honor your wife".  Some of them are quite comical.

Stay tuned for more bloggage here and on the Medicine on the Move blog site!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Hat: Electrician

I have added a new hat recently: electrician.  You can see below that the living room and bedroom are wired with double sockets on 2 phase 220V (one socket is 3 phase for lights, air conditioning, and refrigerator).   For those of you who don't know, there are normally 3 lines coming into the socket: live, neutral, and ground (they call it "earth" here).  In the picture, the live is red, neutral is black, and "earth" is green/yellow.  I learned though that international standard is usually neutral is either blue or black, live is red or brown, and earth/ground is green or yellow.   In addition to wiring most of the sockets myself, I assisted in running the wire for the overhead lights/switches, as well as assisted in connecting the main supply line for the house to the junction for the whole compound.

The house is wired well, but on a budget.  To avoid paying a lot for wire, we decided to go with a linear bus configuration that carries a live current throughout the whole house from a 20 kba generator across the airfield to a supply junction just outside the house, and finally through the house circuits.  While it is economical, let's just hope we don't have a problem in the wire at the beginning of the line because that means no power beyond that point.  The ceilings and roof are well built so that means it's very unlikely we'll have things influencing their integrity.  At any rate, it was a cool experience knowing exactly how my house's "nerves" work.

Stay tuned for more bloggage here and on the Medicine on the Move blog!