Accra Ghana Temple

Accra Ghana Temple
Accra Ghana Temple

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I love you like a Mango

In case you haven't heard this catchy tune, it's for real and our granddaughters can sing it for you upon request.  Seriously, the fruit in Ghana is too wonderful for words.  We love the Cape Coast pineapples, the tiny sweet bananas, and the glorious mangos that grow on the big tree in our backyard. 

When I hold one of these mangos you can't see my hand underneath because it is that big.  If I could eat a mango every day of my life I would die a very happy woman.  Since we will not be making strawberry jam here any time soon, I promised to make Gregg some mango jam in Africa.  Well, it is mango season and I gave it a first attempt.  Luckily, I brought Sure Jell from America because I won't be finding that in Accra.  Because our tree is tall, picking the mangos can be a challenge.  We even employed the pool skimmer as a "catch basket" and it works!  Each mango grows at the very end of a branch.    

The young banana tree in our backyard had 3 leaves when we arrived in July.  It now has 9 leaves and we hope to live here long enough to experience a harvest like our neighbors.  We've also become plantain fans.   Our favorite is fried plantains; some people prefer boiled.   

This cocoa bean tree was intriguing to watch as the pods grow right out of the trunk.  Ghana is the #2 exporter of Cocoa beans in the world.  Valentine's day here is National Chocolate Day in celebration of that fact.  There is a whole science to drying and roasting the cocoa beans.  Their chocolate bars remind me of baking chocolate.

The Cape Coast pineapples are white inside and the core is so soft that you eat it too.  They are tall, thin and delicious.  I can no longer imagine our kitchen table without a pineapple ripening in the fruit bowl.       

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Harmattan Winds Have Arrived

The harmattan has arrived in West Africa!  We had heard about it, but we had not personally experienced it until now.  The Harmattan is a dry and dusty trade wind. It blows south from the Sahara into the Gulf of Guinea, off and on, between the end of November and the middle of March.  On its passage over the desert it picks up fine dust particles and carries them to our doorstep.  It reminds us of a bad air inversion day in Salt Lake City.

The word "harmattan" comes from the Twi dialect which is widely spoken in West Africa.  As early as 1671 English adventurers spoke of the harmattan.  And it is one of the few words of Twi that have entered the English vocabulary.

At its worst, the heavy airborn dust can severely limit visibility and block the sun for several days, comparable to a heavy fog. The effect caused by the dust and sand stirred by these winds is known as "harmattan haze."  On bad days it can costs airlines millions of dollars in cancelled and diverted flights.

Humidity drops very low during the harmattan and locals can experience nosebleeds, as they are used to humidty in the 90% range.  Now we know why we brought lotion and chapstick! 

Some people say that men and animals become increasingly irritable when this wind has been blowing for a while, giving it a bad reputation. However, some feel the cool wind brings relief from the oppressive heat, which is why the harmattan, in some places, has earned the nickname "The Doctor." 

So far, it has been a mild harmattan season.  When we flew into Accra Jan. 14, the haze was almost eerie and we didn't see the sun for days.  Temperatures were cooler and the humidity was lower.  We even got goose bumps when we went swimming.  However, most of February has been clear, warm and humid.