It’s been a very busy couple of weeks. After weeks of planning, the acting deputy head of USAID visited Guinea as part of a three-country trip to Ebola-affected countries. He also happens to be the head of the Africa Bureau for USAID, which is where I work. He’s an awesome manager and one of my favorite principals at USAID. Read More
Sorry for the break in posts. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks and the craziness is just getting started. We are expecting a delegation from Washington, D.C. and the planning is getting out of hand. I was excited to leave D.C. to get away from high-level event planning, but it looks like it’s followed me to Conakry!
What a tense week for Africa! In South Africa of all places, locals have killed African immigrants and looted foreigner-owned shops. Despite anti-xenophobia protest, Ghanaians, Nigerians and Tanzanians have been murdered this week in Durban. The locals believe immigrants take their jobs. What is most unfortunate to me is that the locals don’t understand that the immigrants are not their problem. South Africa is the second-largest economy is Africa (it was THE LARGEST until some Nigerians did their voodoo math and declared that Nigeria were the largest)-It can support everyone. But due to extreme discrimination and inequality, the poor are left competing for the scraps. Read More
Living in the United States, one of the things I miss the most about living in Africa is getting days off of work/school for Easter. Growing up in Ghana, we always had Good Friday and Easter Monday off (we also celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha). In the States, even though Easter isn’t an official holiday, I always go all out for Resurrection Sunday. Read More
Lately I’ve been suffering from insomnia. I’m 100% sure it is linked to my anti-Malaria drug and this is precisely why I tried to get away with not taking them on this trip. From 2007 to 2014 I visited this continent over 10 times and never took anti-malarial medicines. In the late 2000’s, whenever I visited Ghana, my parents would send me back to the States with a box of Malaria medicine, just in case I got sick after I returned. Never needed them! Read More
Since arriving in Conakry, I’ve become what some may call a “creature of habit”. Every morning I wake up at 5:50 am (10 minutes before my alarm goes off) and stay in bed until 6:45. I use 30 minutes to shower and get ready and about 10 minutes for breakfast. I’m scheduled to be picked up at 7:30 a.m. every morning, but Hassmiou is always there at least 20 minutes early, and he never minds when I’m late. The drive from my hotel to the office takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on two factors: 1) traffic and 2) route. Read More
Last weekend started with a visit from a new friend named Micky. As in Mickey Mouse. As in a mouse in my room! I spent the entire morning/afternoon packing up all of my things, moving across to the other side of the hotel and unpacking everything again. For context, I brought four suitcases to Guinea! My new suite has a large patio with furniture so I ended up pretty satisfied (thanks Micky!). By the time I finished unpacking it was time to get ready for my evening escapades. Read More
My first week in Guinea was pretty uneventful. I just went from my hotel to the mission and back. I spent the entire weekend in my room, which was actually nice because my hotel room is awesome and I was still jet lagged and pretty much a zombie during the week. Another reason I didn’t go out was because Conakry isn’t pretty. In fact its just plain dirty. Think of Nima as the entire city of Accra-that’s Conakry. You’ve heard of white sandy beaches. Guinea has BLACK sandy beaches. I was in no rush to go gallivanting around this city. Especially not when I have access to Hulu and Netflix and I still have five seasons of the West Wing to watch. However, this weekend I plan on venturing out with my new friend Hassmiou!
Hassmiou is one of two motor pool staff in love with me; the other one is Emmanuel, the dispatcher. Emmanuel is much older, with a pot belly and some missing teeth. LAST weekend, Emmanuel asked if he could show me around Conakry THIS weekend. I gave some non-committal answer with the hope that he forgets, or that I get another offer from someone else. Hassmiou asked Monday morning 🙂
Hassmiou is one of the embassy drivers and has been assigned to pick me up every morning for work (after the first morning he actually went back to the dispatcher and asked to be assigned to me until I leave). He is much younger than Emmanuel and seems like a pretty cool guy. We have an agreement whereby if I help him with English, he’ll help me with French (his English is way better than my French). He’s been driving me around since day one, but this week he got a sudden boost of confidence.
Tuesday morning, he asked if I had had breakfast and I showed him the yogurt cup I had picked up from the hotel (the yogurt here is amazing!). He was not happy with that. At 10:30 a.m. he surprised me in my cubicle with a red pot (like the one your mom probably serves your dad in) filled with the Guinean version of Fufu and Aponkye Nkrakra. I was pretty embarrassed and spent most of the morning trying to figure out what to do with the food. I decided to be a vegetarian while I’m here (I’m only eating fish) and I just wasn’t that interested in eating random food for obvious reasons. All the same I thought the gesture was very sweet, and I didn’t want to offend him. Plus, the food smelled amazing! So I had some of the soup for lunch and threw away the rest. I’m still alive and there are no signs of Ebola yet.
The next morning, I thought it was necessary to break the news to Hassmiou that I am engaged to be married in November. This was especially necessary after he mentioned that he wanted me to go with him to see his mom. At first he appeared a bit heart-broken by the revelation, and wanted to know more about my relationship with my “fiancee”. I am a horrible liar (as you already know) and so I quickly changed the subject, and just hoped that my “little” fib would deter him from bringing me Fufu again. Not quite! Instead he brought the Guinean version of Kelewele that afternoon. This man knows the way to a woman’s heart! Clearly he is not perturb by my “upcoming nuptials”, and as long as he keeps bringing me Kelewele he can remain my bestie!
Something tells me Hassmiou will remain a reoccurring character in The Chronicles of Conakry. Another character to look out for is Amber. She is the Program Assistant in my office. I DON’T LIKE HER! I’ll give you the background on her next week, on The Chronicles of Conakry (yes, every note will end like that:…next week, on The Chronicles of Conakry). 🙂