I have planned to update my blog a few times, but it is difficult for me to figure out exactly what to say… it is almost a writer’s block plagued with apprehension. I remember this when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi. After a few months, things seemed so normal and ‘everyday’ to me that I wasn’t sure what I could share that would create an ‘Ah ha’ or provide an exciting new cultural piece to family and friends. I feel like I am in the same predicament, so bear with me as I trudge ahead (although as you can see once I begin writing, I can’t stop!)!
On a positive note (this became positive after a few emotionally raw and resentment filled weeks) we were able to clear our container through customs, although not without some major financial expense. I am not sure how customs quantifies things nor do I really want to know. For my own sanity, what is left unseen is probably best. We were told anything that was more than 6 months old was considered used and was duty free, which 95% of our things were older than six months and the remainder was virtually impossible to determine. A week and a few days after the container arrived at the Tema port, we were finally told we could begin the clearance process, which happened to fall on a Saturday. Carlos began teaching at a school on Saturdays and I was afraid if an Obroni (white person) showed up there would be more to pay plus I really didn’t want to witness the whole process for the fear of pure and utter frustration. So our friend Barnabas and a friend of Carlos’ sister who has had experience clearing items went on our behalf. Apparently, the entire container (remember this was a 40 ft. high cubed container fully packed) was unloaded and spread along a long cement strip. I am told one was on high guard to ensure onlookers didn’t pilfer through our things, which was a good thing because someone was caught trying to heist one of our CD’s. The contents were then reloaded onto an open air truck (this is the part that I was not so happy about) extremely haphazardly. At this point, the day was gone and our things remained at the port until we could find a way to pay the duty. By Monday, I was ready to move things into high gear; contact customs, bargain the duty, pay a bribe, claim damage on our possessions and drive our belongings away. I was told such attempts would be futile and only leave me more aggravated. We were advised if we didn’t pay the total sum, a fine would be added for each additional day and worse our things may be sold. A battle lost.
Like I said, the first few weeks after the container arrived were filled with some major disappointment, but today I am so grateful for our things. They are just material belongings and nothing a little black paint can’t cover and most importantly, they are the comforts of home! Throughout my disappointment, I felt ashamed and guilty at how upset I was. 1. I should have been more than grateful that the container even arrived after more than eight weeks on a ship from China and 2. I should have been thankful our things were intact. I have heard of owners discovering an empty container upon arrival.
I was beginning to question and really second-guess our move when prayers were answered after uncountable follow ups with several contacts on Carlos’ part and grueling and beyond intimidating interviews. Carlos began working full time on November 1st at one of the private universities in Ghana; Central University. He is helping to develop a leadership institute, which is a great fit to his educational background. He is also an adjunct instructor for two other schools in the evenings and on the weekends. Hence, he is very busy, which I am sure is not a shock to anyone. At the same time, he is working to implement his own leadership institute and continuing to provide scholarships to high school and university students through NAPE Foundation.
I planned a surprise birthday party for Carlos at his family’s home, although we made it to the party way before anyone else. Classic! My attempt at a surprise failed. Ah… African time!
So, Amerley developed a ‘crush’ on K.B.’s son Afriyie. I say developed because it lasted only a few days, thank goodness! I think he was quite relieved when it had blown over as he was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing. She is quite a demanding little lady! I am still wondering how it all happened. She required him to hold her hand, sit with her, walk next to her side of the stroller, help her out of the car (which didn’t go too well), eat with her and play with her.
Palmer is developing his own feistiness! The two can go at it. At least he puts up a fight and doesn’t easily cave at Amerley’s incessant bossiness. Often, Amerley is running away from him!
So, here are a few photos of the house. It is beginning to feel like home. We still have work to do, but it is coming along… little by little (as they say in Ghana).