The Potato Salad Caper

Women in their bright fabrics with children tied to their backs dodged in and out of the traffic –  both human and vehicle – with fully loaded heads. Why use your hands and arms to carry stuff when you have a perfectly good head that can balance buckets with fish, bananas, glass cases with baked goods, clothes, etc.

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Well, when in Ghana…seriously, did you not read my post about being a klutz?! I will eventually give this a try, but not during work hours when I am chasing down my dream – a potato salad.

Tomorrow (August 21) is a Muslim holiday that celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and God’s intervention.  This got me thinking about the 4th of July. And yes I know, other than they are both in the summer months, they have absolutely NOTHING in common. Other than the requisite feast, of course.

Potato salad came to mind.  It’s easy, totally American, and holiday appropriate.

And I am in Ghana, at an outdoor market that sells everything from mangoes to salt to flip-flops to…you guessed it, potatoes.

My colleagues (2 Advans loan officers I was tagging along with to Nsuwam and its market) assured me they could find me potatoes – sure enough, a bag of 8 dirt encrusted slightely odd-shaped “yellow” potatoes cost me about $.75. I had mayo at home and an onion…what else could I possibly need? Ohhh – EGGS!

I hadn’t touched an egg since my traumatic experience two weeks ago.  It was time I stopped being chicken (  😜 ) and faced my fears.

After quizzing my colleagues about the likelihood of coming across another chick-in-the-egg, and (more) assurances that it NEVER happened to them, I bought 6 eggs for $.80.

Let me clear up the ingredients list issue right now.  No one sells celery, and I was so excited about potatoes I forgot about peppers, which they have plenty of here. I know, I know, I was already on shaky ground for good results.

Things back in my apartment were going fairly well.  Potatoes were cleaned, peeled, chopped and immersed in boiling water. A few minutes later, they were done, and I cooled them off the best I could – lots of running water, finally putting them in my fridge’s little box freezer compartment (no ice cube tray).

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On with the terrifying part – the eggs.

I spun each of them, promising myself if one spun oddly I would pitch it.  They all spun the same odd way, so I went ahead and boiled 4 of them.

Done!  But how to cool them off quickly so they didn’t overcook?  Easy! Put them in the freezer!

You remember what happens to Ralphie in A Christmas Story?  The tongue-on-the- flagpole thing?  Turns out eggs in a freezer compartment react the same way.  They were practically glued down.  I tried water to little effect.  I wound up wrenching them out of the freezer, leaving chunks of egg and shell behind.

Will frozen egg smell up the freezer/fridge? The water I used to try and unfreeze them created a nice layer of ice over the actual egg and shell.

Eager to move past the ridiculousness, I tasted the cooled down potatoes. Hmmm…not bad…but not what I expected from a slightly white/yellow potato.  Ummm…sweet???

Yup.  My good ol’ fashioned potato and egg salad sans anything green was now a sweet potato and egg salad.  I threw in some chili powder, onion, salt, pepper and mayonnaise with an air of desperation.

It’s almost 10pm, and I have decided to do the taste test tomorrow.  That way I can go to bed hopeful.

THE BIG DAY

Let’s not drag this out any longer…it’s edible!!  And not bad, in the grand scheme of things.  The chili powder is a definite plus.  Gumby oversaw my tasting, reminding me to be flexible – just because it isn’t a perfect reproduction of what I wanted doesn’t make it bad, just different.

potato salad-ta da

And as I sit at my table eating sweet potato and egg salad, listening to the sounds of Ghana around me, different seems to be pretty darn good.

A Walk in the Streets

The music being blasted from the truck’s speakers was stunning – as in, if you stood too close you would get stunned. But with 40-50 people between me and the truck, and another 150 or so behind the truck, I figured I was in a pretty darn good spot in the parade. What parade? Why, Advans’ 10th  Anniversary walk/dance through the streets of Accra parade!

My colleagues at Advans informed me everyone would be there on Saturday at 6am for a 7am start.  I set my alarm for 6:15, knowing if I got there by 7 I would still be an hour early.  Sure enough, I got there a couple of minutes before 7am and I was probably the 10th one there.

20180818_085301 The rest of the Advans employees from around the Greater Accra Region – about 180 I would guess – trickled in by 7:30, and we were off by 7:45am.

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Banners, music, dancing, handing out flyers, a police escort to manage the traffic (we were under police orders to say on street and off the sidewalk – go figure), a truck with massive speakers, a DJ and support vehicles – made up the 2 hour walk around Accra under fairly cloudy skies – thank god!

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DSC00121Our band of merry-makers drew quite a crowd of onlookers, who were eage to take the flyers.  We finished up back at HQ for more water and of course, aerobics! Yup, because 2 miles walking wasn’t enough, now that the sun was out and merciless, it was time for some real sweating-to-the-beat! I took some pictures, but was quickly called in to join the ‘fun’.  I lasted about 15 minutes, and then made a beeline for the water and shade. I definitely made a better cheerleader than participant!!

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Aerobics post walk

Once the jumping, swaying, flailing and good times came to an end, next on the agenda was kenkay and fried fish. I grabbed my driver, who had been ecstatic to be invited to join in the walk (I think it was all about the t-shirt), and declared it was time to leave.

I may be embracing my new adventure, but really, too many adventures in one day…hmmm, will have to come up with an ending for that!  Any ideas anyone??

 

Why to NOT bring your computer to work

Maybe I set myself up for this by even thinking about it.  My computer has everything in my life on it (should I be admitting that online??), but I can be a klutz.  It’s a disease I am managing, this klutziness.  I keep a sharp eye out for possible pitfalls, like uneven sidewalks, things sticking out from car roofs, posts that tempt me to walk into them…Over the years I have even trained myself not to catch a falling knife or put my hand in a running garbage disposal (the last is from personal experience…).

So lugging a computer back and forth from my apartment in Accra, Ghana to an Uber, into the office and back again, seemed fraught with danger.  But worse was the idea of having it stolen.  Lugging won.

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Streets of Accra

And then I dropped it.  On the second day.  In my apartment.  And I treated it like a knife – no stopping it.  I waited to assess the damage until I got to work, as it was tucked into my backpack-really, how bad could it be??

Great news, screen was intact and my computer started.  Bad news – the opening hinge was broken and it was pulling up the corner of my laptop.  CRAP!

By Thursday I knew the computer and I couldn’t go on like this. I confided in my next-desk seat mate, Kubra, who told me to go to IT (the org I am partnered with, Advans Savings and Loan, has all the mod cons). With trepidation and sweaty palms, I carefully took by wonky computer to them.  “Oh, we can’t fix that.” Crap. “But we can send it to a shop that can.”  YAY!   Wait, NO!!!    That’s got my life in it!!  Send it to some computer shop in Ghana?  Seriously?  I might be a klutz, but I am not stupid.

I handed over the computer, begging for its safe return.  Friday I would be visiting cashew farmers in the Volta Region, so I would pick it up on Saturday.  I started to hyperventilate.  Everyone chuckled in commiseration – at least, that’s how I decided to view it.

Saturday morning finally came – managing my anxiety levels over the past 36 hours had almost been effective –  and I made my way to Advans, hopeful that IT (whom I was assured would be there) had my fixed and unviolated computer.

The super nice security guard lady led me into the bank, informing me with a lovely smile that of course IT was not in today.  Whipping out my phone I called my contact and lifeline at Advans, Samuel, who knew all about this stuff.  I gave the phone to the Advans bank teller, and lots of conversation ensued. She closed her window (much to the dismay of the other clients) and led me to the back office. To a desk that had a hidden key that unlocked a secret cupboard.  And my computer!!

I started it up to make sure it really WAS my computer and functioned – YAY! Hinge fixed, and seemingly unviolated, I silently sent apologies to everyone everywhere for my doubts and anxiety. A well-deserved coffee was in my very near future, and I headed out with the backpack confined to my back with both straps.

I will be looking for a secret cupboard of my own on Monday.

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