Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Accra takes my breath away!

January 18, 2007

Oh dear, I didn't not want to get out of bed this morning. I slept well but I was still so tired. At 8:20 they called my room to see where I was; we were supposed to meet at 8 in the lobby. I jumped out of bed, got dressed, threw some water on face and brushed my teeth. All done in five minutes. Got downstairs and the tro-tro wasn't even there yet. Took the opportunity to check e-mail. None of us can seem to break that addiction. We're suffering withdrawal from easy, high-speed access.

It turned out to be an "interesting" day. We started out with a nice breakfast and a great chat with a prominent human rights lawyer. She gave us a condensed history of the current human rights situation - a very engaging passionate woman. In future posts, as I get into my work, I'll start talking about specific human rights issues.

Mom: you should probably skip over this part.

In the afternoon, we went on a driving tour of the city and ended up in huge traffic jams - I was choking on the diesel and the humidity and the sand from the desert. Suddenly I could hardly breathe and realized I was having an attack. I popped a Benadryl but it didn't seem to work, so they rushed me off to the hospital! To make a long story short (you'll get the long one later) I was ok in the end but it was really scary at the time. The doctor didn't want to prescribe a puffer today. He said to come back if I was stilling having trouble.

The journey back from the hospital was interesting. We took a tro-tro until we got really tied up traffic - again! Joseph told me to jump out and then led me into a wooded area across the street from this crowded intersection. It tuned out to be a short cut to the next tro-tro station, and we beat the tro-tro by quite a bit - the traffic was that bad. The path through the wooded area cut through people's backyards, and it ran along a polluted swamp - polluted by raw sewage from the area homes. It turned to be a popular short cut for locals. We passed a number of people along the way - no foreigners. I felt strangely privileged because I knew I was seeing something that not many tourists would be exposed to. It reminded me of the open sewers in Saint John, and the creeks that kids walked along that were as polluted as this.

At the end of the path we crossed the main road right into the bus station, which was grubby and crowded. There were little stalls selling food and household goods. I didn't see any foreigners there either; it had that local feel - uninfected (or is that unaffected) by tourists.

We caught another tro-tro from the station - again, lots of slow -moving traffic, and my lungs burned every time I took a deep breath.

Had a wonderful meal to end the night. I was still recovering from the events of the afternoon so didn't head into the city with everyone else for dinner. Sent some e-mails and headed over to a Chinese restaurant near the hotel with Kate, one of the participants. I had spring rolls (which we think had meat in them though we were assured they didn't) and a seafood soup. Yummy!

Back at the hotel now writing in the journal. Going to read, watch the news and go to sleep.

- Mark

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark and Janet,
Now I know how to post a comment with each Blog.
You must have been pretty scared Mark. Thankfully you got to the hospital. Did you ever get a puffer in case this happens to you often given the circumstances you are in. You probably need something.
Take care. I am sure you are glad Janet is with you now. How is She doing with the heat etc. Have a good day. Love, Mummy and Daddy