We first stepped outside saying “It’s really not that hot.” An hour later we fell gratefully back into the air conditioning, dripping wet, shirts stuck to our bodies.
Our neighborhood and the house where we are kindly being hosted are fancy, comparable in size and amenities (air conditioning, flush toilets, hot showers, consistent electricity thanks to a backup generator, and daily clean drinking water delivery) to a house in the US. At the same time, the roads are still only partially paved; the open sewers are deep, in most places; small shops line the streets, clearly catering to the affluent crowd with water bottles rather than the customary bags of water found here. It’s a bit of a different experience than my last in Africa, when I shared three rooms with nine people, shared a bed with a seven year old who played with my hair nightly, shared a hole toilet with the neighbors, and shared a bucket for cleaning myself with the same neighbors.
Out first lunch in Ghana was at the embassy. I was happy that when we met the ambassador, he repeatedly plugged a public health message, “Wear your seatbelts!” We’ve seen the driving here now, and we will. Most of the people we met at the embassy were former or current military, working in Ghana on two-year stints in positions ranging from psychiatrist to managing peace corps to conducting lab research on infectious diseases.