You know you’re back in West Africa when…

Kotoka International Airport, Accra

You are wished ‘God Bless You’ more times in a week than in your first 39 years

You put on bug repellant to go out and night to feed the stray dogs

When respected business men tell you of juju spells that have been cast on them

‘Good morning, how is your family?’ ‘They are very well, and yours?’

Mini goats, mini goats, mini goats. On the roads, perched on walls and market stalls, and eating out of cooking pots

Buildings in the capital wreathed in red and black mourning fabric for a deceased president

Dried fish, fetid drains and the lingering scent of palm oil

No more Estabar, Three Monkeys or One Penny Black for morning coffee; but Start the day with Jesus, Obama’s Spot, the Black Moses Spot, and the Last Supper Fast Food (your last supper or Jesus’s?).

Houses painted, not in muted greys and sophisticated shades of taupe, but brightly emblazoned with mobile phone branding

Children walking along the road to school

Old trucks, struggling up hills, leaving a trail of gut wrenchingly slow traffic behind them

…and corn that really is high as an elephants eye.

The farm, Konongo

The children and I had a wonderful 6 weeks in Australia. Jock experienced the joys of a very special Australian kindergarten (Thanks Mrs T.), and the girls, as did I, slipped back in seamlessly with our friends and school environment. And while we’ve only been gone 7 months, they have been very full and in their way quite life changing. All of our eyes have been pried wide open to the realities of living in, not just travelling or visiting, a poor nation. The children have a much greater sense of how blessed we are to have been born in a wealthy nation, and a strong sense too, of what it feels like to be different.

I hope one day they appreciate that.

Otherwise, we’ll never afford their therapy bills.

A very special thank you to all our friends, family and teachers who made our trip back to Australia so special, so easy, and so much like home. We hope you all appreciate how much you mean to us.

Paradise in spring

3 responses to “You know you’re back in West Africa when…

  1. Hi Chrissie, It was so great to catch up with you in Newey and I always love to hear your news from way over there. Louisa gave birth to a darling little baby girl Bonnie Olivia May on Monday at 4am 3.5kg 19″ long, 3 hr labour. We’re thrilled and Sammy is handling it really well, although when Mumma returns home from hospital today he may be a tad non-plussed about the new invader.time will tell. Keep up the news of your fascinating and ever-changing life. Love, Helen xo


  2. I laughed out loud about the toilets left open and the God Bless you in 60 Things about Ghana….and hey that’s West Africa for you! Believe me its different from Southern Africa where I hail from …but when family ask me when I am coming back home I reply “not anytime soon o!”


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