Salves for the body and mind

Hi there.

We are nearing our first month in Konongo, and the last week has been challenging. It is all part of the adjustment to our new lives, but in the present moment it can feel quite difficult. We are coming to terms with a much quieter and much less social life than we had in Newcastle, and have been having internet difficulties all week, which does make us [me] feel quite isolated, and as we have so few resources, the internet is a godsend for the homeschooling. Some solutions we have arrived at:

:: the swings. Old school, made from tyres. The procurement of the tyres and the cutting of one of them is a blog post in itself. Ask 3 different drivers, over several days where we can get old tyres, yes, we are prepared to pay for them. No result. Puzzled looks as to what we want old tyres for. Driving to Kumasi with a fourth driver, and see masses of old tyres for sale along the road, as the driver if we can get some. Assured, that yes we can get some. But we don’t stop on the side of the road and buy some. Slightly puzzled. Epic trip to Kumasi, forgotten about tyres. We arrive home, driver takes us straight to the vehicle maintenance workshop on the mine, and asks for tyres. Yes, yes, we can have tyres, come back later. Feel quite sure tyres will not arrive, shrug shoulders and forget about them. Hours later leave house and what do I see sitting outside? 3 tyres. Bless his heart. Another lesson in it’s not what you know, but finding the right person to ask.

[no one so far had seen tyre swings before, and some of the local kids who tried them out were quite apprehensive about having a turn!]

:: internet disaster. After procuring my internet dongle during the epic trip to Kumasi, it soon ran out of credit. So I went to the carpentry workshop on the mine to buy more credit (as you do). Only had enough credit for sale for 1 day connection (3 cedi’s. You can technically buy 1 cedi through 20 cedi’s credit. One cedi is about 70c). Damn those small sim card in the iphone, so I need to borrow the carpenters phone to recharge the sim. Yes, all done, and I saw the confirmation sms’s. But, its never that easy, and I put the sim back in the dongle, and now it won’t recognise the sim. Several days of frustration and a trip to Konongo to sort it out. The guy in Konongo was not exactly a techno-wizard, and I’m informed I need a trip to the main office in Kumasi to fix it. Try to use the hotspot off my phone, but while I can make calls off my phone, the data portion of the mobile network is not working…have been trying for 3 days. Aggggghhhhhh……Seems easier to wait till this weekend when we head to Accra!

:: Good conversation with Bill’s boss this am, he is an Australian who has lived in Africa for 20 years. Lets me in on a few logistical secrets…he has 2 mobile phone, 3 internet dongles, and an ipad, connected to as many phone networks as possible. Will try to emulate this weekend in Accra. Thank goodness for Bill’s phone which will allow me to connect, he has just forgotten to take it to work today…surely he didn’t need it???

:: Basil growing super well in garden yesterday. I am excited about the thoughts of fresh pesto soon. Walk through garden this am reveals yesterdays weeding has removed the basil…and left the weeds.Time to plant again.

:: the social gap between us and the people who work around us. The gap goes beyond language difficulties and has its roots in colonialism, but is complicated by many other factors. It is a difficult one, and one that I am still trying to work out.

:: frustration and homesickness for all are not a happy combination. Not many solutions for this one but time, and the distractions of…a weekend in Accra! And most importantly, the emails of friends and family, and the support of my favourite in-laws, expats themselves.

:: cabin fever. We are still adjusting to the heat and humidity, so a fair portion of the day we are inside. The girls of the house have taken to a morning jog a few mornings a week. I hope we can keep it up, as its a great salve. The children have also started tennis lessons with a wonderful young man from IT (on the mine). It’s good to have 1 ‘after-school-activity’.

:: the frustrations that occur throughout the week, which are too numerous, and too trivial to to mention, but if you’re not careful, can wreak havoc with your sanity.

:: Throughout all of this, I am trying to remain mindful of each day’s ‘Golden moment’ (inspired by Jen and Manish), and to celebrate the small victories of each day. This morning a bunch of bananas straight from the tree was delivered to our door from our very kind gardener.

10 responses to “Salves for the body and mind

  1. Wow Chris, what a time you are having of it. Tami and I were talking about your adventures last week. We decided if anybody can not only make it but end up thriving it would be you.
    The ‘golden moment’ of each day is a clever idea.
    Love reading your goings on, keep it up!
    Fi x


  2. Hi Chris,
    Keep smiling – the adventure will be something that you and the family will remember forever! Also noticed that you are on canteen donation list at NEPS next week – not sure if you can manage that one 🙂


  3. Love the post. Embrace the convoluted path, one never knows were it will end up (man I shoudl write bumper stickers!). I expect to see pictures of Swans made out of tyres with your next post.


    • Hey EJ. Those swan people are artisans! Cutting into those steel radial tyres are a nightmare! Hope all is well with you guys. C x

      Sent from my iPhone


  4. Such an amazing experience that you’re all having. Thanks for sharing with us and good luck in overcoming those challenges! Just goes to show, you can never trust a Sim ;O)


  5. Go down to the corner shop and buy some concrete, Chris, put it into a glass and you know what to do. What’s that? There is no corner shop? Then I guess you’ll just have to drink more gin. You will find the moments all look a little bit golden after a few glasses. After all, with all those drivers you don’t have to worry about being done DUI so I can’t see why you don’t have a little heart starter with breakfast, just after your jog. Once you are in an alcoholic daze the children can run free and teach themselves, just like at school… Give them a copy of the bible to read – King James version preferably- I’m sure there’s a few knocking around from the good ol’ missionary days. If they can read that by the time they come home they’ll be doing better than half the uni students around these days. Bored kids and the absence of electronic devices make for interesting adults – look at Cadel Evans riding bikes endlessly by himself because he had no friends on that mission he grew up on. Didn’t do him any harm except for a tendency to introspective media comments and a very long eyebrow. And what famous author/artist/mathemetician have you heard interviewed about their middle class childhood in The Hill? The kids will appreciate it in the end, and will eventually be able to look after you when you need to check into the Betty Ford clinic, as you wlll surely need to do if you follow any of my advice.
    All very easy to say from the comfort of the lounge room….

    Seriously, now, we are all missing y’all terribly and hope you don’t take too long to establish a new rhythm to life. We enjoy reading the blog, and feel free to describe those trivial frustrations as you may find writing about them for the diversion of your fathful followers quite enjoyable. I certainly always get a lot of pleasure hearing about the suffering of others….guess thats why I am in the job I’m in. If it’s all about how wonderful life is and how well the kids are doing like in those dreadful Christmas newsletters I sometimes receive then I will just get envious and disappointed at my own mean stay-at-home spirit and ability to throw a tantrum just because the printer isn’t working again.

    As for the cultural divide…man it took me 6 months in Scotland to even understand the language, and then I realised they didn’t like me very much anyway so I went off on my own….. but you guys have such a natural warmth that I am sure it will all gel eventually. Well at least that is how I see it, but would be very interested to know more about your perceptions of the details of this divide, and whether your presence as part of a pool of expert overseas visitors in an ex colonial setting makes it harder or easier than just being a tourist.

    All the best, adrian.


  6. Hi Chris

    I hope you had a nice weekend in Accra. I’m in Auckland at the moment. A gorgeous room overlooking the harbour. Very rainy today, but lovely watching the harbour disappear into the rain clouds. Wandered around Auckland a bit today which was nice. Off to hang out with the Auckland geographers tomorrow.

    Evie will be delighted to talk to you and Lill again (& Jock, Cec and Bill too!) when you guys have things working again. 3/4E are doing a bush dance on Wednesday for Harmony Day and she says Lill would have the perfect costume (if she was here). I don’t think I’ll be doing the canteen donation thing this week either…..the canteen may have to cope with being short of pineapple rings this week.



  7. Hi Chrissie, We had our ‘ girlie ‘ lunch yesterday ( Helen couldn’t make it ) and your names came up as they always do. We are all thinking of you, and I reckon you deserve an award for bravery !!!.
    Love reading of your adventures , and I hope that this will be a life experience that you and all the kids will remember with fond memories.
    Lotsa Love Ann


  8. Hi Chrissie,
    I remember the day to day stuff sometimes really got me down in PNG but it was worth it for the amazing moments and you will have amazing moments and make memories that will last a life time. Love, hugs and kisses from Bella, Luci, Anna, Josh and Jane


    • Thanks Jane.

      It’s feels really validating to hear you experienced guys say that. I’ve been battling a low level fever for a few days and feel fairly rotten at present. But things are on the up, all round I think. Planning on visiting some friends from Aus in paris is june, and then heading to Greece for a couple of weeks. Its always good to have things to look forward to. Also, by then school will have started, so our lives will probably get down to some sort of ‘normality’ by then. How are you all going? So pleased the girls liked the crowns, seems a million miles away making them. Can’t wait for the sea container to arrive, and the serious making can begin again. It’s been tough having so few resources, but it’s all a good learning experience. God, it must be the middle of the night there, what are you doing awake???

      I hope you get this message as it bounced back from the .ihug address.

      lots of love

      C xx


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