The good news is, the rain brings cooler temperatures, so when you're stuck inside watching movies and playing board games, you don't have sweat rolling down your back like you normally do. Since three days this week were rainy, we have not been able to do all that we'd planned. Instead, we've been doing lots of this...
That's right, we've been playing lots of board games. Here are some of our favorites and some of the ones we've been playing this week. It's nice to have kids who are old enough to play games that we actually enjoy playing. I do not miss Candyland, Memory, or Pretty, Pretty Princess (though I do miss lots of the delights that go with that age!) The one on the top, Whoonu, is one of my favorite family picks. It's not my personal favorite to play, but it's my favorite for the group dynamics it brings. It works well with a variety of ages and is easy to teach and enjoy. It's easily the most used game in our cabinet. If you have kids and you don't have it, I highly recommend it.
In between board games, we have been trying to get out for at least a few hours each day. On Tuesday, we weren't too annoyed with the rain because we'd planned to go to the movies one day anyway. The theater here is one of the few things that isn't ridiculously expensive. It costs about 35 USD for our family of 7 to go on a weekday. We usually try to see the family movies they bring in. I'd say they average about one every 6-8 weeks, which is just enough for our family. This time, we saw Rio 2. I wouldn't have chosen it, had we had options, but we didn't. Truth be told, I got really cold (which RARELY happens here) and napped through a bit of it. But, the kids liked it and that was good enough for me.
Wednesday, we woke up to more rain. Fortunately, it cleared fairly early. Liz wasn't feeling great, so we decided to stick close to home. We went to the central part of our city and visited the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. It is the site where the first president of Ghana declared independence from Great Britain. It's the site of a colonial polo field, which Ghanians were forbidden to enter when the British ruled. So, Nkrumah thought it was a fitting site to declare independence in 1957. They have since built a small museum and a mausoleum type memorial. The guide gave us a history of the period when Ghana gained her independence and described every 18x20 black and white photo in detail for us. The kids were patient and it was at least moderately interesting. The history was truly fascinating, the presentation was so-so, and the grounds were beautiful. After that, we walked next door to the Arts Center where we told about 100 vendors "No, thank you, " amazed a few of them with our broken Hausa, and purchased a little side table for 16USD. Lizzie eventually cried "uncle" so we headed home, but not before we stopped at KFC, the only western food chain in our city.
Here are 4 of the kids in front of President Nkrumah's statue. He was known for the sentiment that Ghana was not to look to the East or the West, but forward. I think that is why he is shown reaching forward.
Here's his burial site. Interestingly enough, this is his 3rd and final resting place. And yes, Abe did manage to knock one of those cement pillars over. Man, I love that boy and all of the trouble he manages to chase down.
Peacocks wander the park grounds.
Here we are, beating the heat with a water break.
I wanted to include this picture because it's a perfect scene from our city. The rule here is, if it stands still, it ought to be painted red, yellow, and green with a black star. Tree trunks, shacks, walls, you name it, they'll paint it. They are proud of their flag and their football (soccer) team, the Ghana Black Stars.
Thursday it rained all. day. long. We just stayed home. We played games, I napped and read, and we experimented with some sort of brownie which was pretty much a flop, but it got eaten. I think brownie mix is the only baking mix that we still miss. We've got great cake, cookie, waffle, pancake, and muffin recipes. I can't even tolerate canned icing anymore, much preferring the homemade ones we make. But brownies in a box...they are still like crack-cocaine to my sweet tooth.
Friday, the sun finally came out to play. It was a gorgeous day and everyone was feeling great. We drove a little more than an hour to a nature reserve called Shai Hills. There we spent a few hours exploring. This area is a savannah-like ecosystem and has a rich history with the Shai people of Ghana. They require you to hire a guide who rides in your car with you and takes you on walks from various parking spots throughout the park.
The first time we parked, he took us to see a small group of baboons who were hanging out near the ranger camp. We've seen a good number of baboons since moving to Africa, but they continue to fascinate me. I especially love watching the mamas and babies.
Our second parking spot involved a walk into the ancestral cave where the Shai people hid during battle times. Along the way, Abe spotted these millipedes and wanted Ryan to take their picture.
We climbed up into the cave and got close to a bunch of bats while the guide pointed out some different highlights and stories of the humans who once used the cave.
Our next stop was baboon rock, which was an area that was used to train the females of the tribe who were approaching marriage. They, along with the older women who trained them, lived on the rock for 6 months before their rite of passage ceremony. We used ropes to help us climb the rock. Apparently, they didn't have that advantage.
Here's the view from part of the way up the rock. Doesn't it look too pretty to be real?
The girls and their latest picture trend. They have decided to LOVE everywhere we go.
Our guide got this one of our whole family. I know you don't care, but when I see this picture, I remind myself of the promise that I've made to myself that I will not wear a ponytail one single day in America. Seriously, if you see me out in a ponytail, I want you to say, "Girl, whatcha doing with that rattail on yo' head? Save it for hot, steamy Africa where you got no other options. We don't wanna see that mess."
All along the rock, there were these circular indentions in the stone. The guide explained that the girls each made one during their training time because there was this certain rock that they had to grind into powder for their rite of passage. They covered their body in it at some point.
Here I am going down the rock. The kids were making some smart remarks about how they hoped I could make it. I just cheerfully muttered a bunch of remarks about how I'd reeled in a 50+ pound salmon in Alaska, ascended Jamaican waterfalls, hiked in places they couldn't pronounce, and some other smart remarks to which they just rolled their teenage and nearly teenage eyes.
Here are the kids checking out the spot where the women slept during their training time. You can't see Abe because he had crawled way back in there. The inside was super slick, the guard said it was from the pommade they used on their skin. I didn't go inside myself. My older brothers closed me in the kitchen pantry one too many times during my formative years for me to enjoy those kind of tight spaces.
We saw quite a few antelope along the road as we drove. Ryan did a good job of navigating the road, though he did give us one good squeal in an especially vicious mud hole.
Because the guide was paid by the hour, per person, we waited until the clock had stopped to enjoy our lunch. Here we are picnicking before we headed home. You like that fine ride we drive? Many people think it's a taxi, so we often get flagged down along the road. We just wave and smile and folks stare at us in total disbelief. It's quite amusing, actually. Seriously though, we're so thankful for it. We're also thankful to the Ghana police officers who pulled us over and insisted that we purchase those yellow reflective stickers, for safety's sake. Because, you know, we wouldn't want to be unsafe.