Thursday, 12 September 2013

Medicine Balls.

Thursday 29th August – Football’s coming home.

Some kids playing football on the beach.
I hadn’t been well for a couple of days so hadn’t surfed in a couple of days. I woke late and had a late breakfast. I was feeling better so I decided the time had come to brave the surf. It started badly as had been the pattern before I became sick but it improved as the session went on, which was a massive relief. After days of frustrating surfing followed by no surf at all it was a relief to get back to some sort of competency. Maybe things are going the right way after all. Mike was finally out in the surf as all his volunteers had finally left the country and his spirits were high. He hadn’t been able to surf for months despite living right next to the waves due to his organizational responsibilities. It must have been torture. He was laughing and joking all the time he was out. Happy to finally be out in the blue stuff after so long of just standing on the sidelines watching.

After a few hours of good waves and hilarious wipeouts we headed in to the beach and chatted with Abby for a while over coffee. Mike bringing his own imported ground coffee in a craftier, much to all our envy. It’s strange the things you miss. I was meant to be planning a science lesson for the kids but without any books or internet to aid planning I rang Eben and suggested we do sports instead. We played an hour of ultimate frizbee with the kids in the heat of the African sun. Sweaty, I headed back to the beach and was chatting away to Abby when I was drafted in for a game of beach football. Ghana v ROW. Our team consisted of 4 Germans, one Peruvian and one of the local kids, Emmanuel. I introduced myself to the Germans as I hadn’t met them before.

“Where are you from?”

“England. So I’m going to be the best footballer here. You know how England always thrash Germany!”

The Ghanaian style of football is very different to the European style. The skill level is high and so is the physicality but positioning is right out of the window. The goals are small. 2 feet across. That’s 2 human feet not ft. For some inexplicable reason they will work themselves in to a shooting position and then pass it all the way back to the furthet man back and start again.

The Germans were running an efficient and precise mafia at the back and the Peruvian was giving us some flair on the wing to contrast with the German efficiency. I went up top, more by default than anything else determined to put pressure on them every time they passed to the back. The Ghanaians had all the pressure but didn’t really do anything with it, content to just pass the ball around and show of their skill. We played on the break and it paid off with little Emmanuel scoring first. Alan Hansen wouldn’t have been happy “You never win anything with kids” after all. Soon after I doubled out lead with an angled shot between two pairs of legs that somehow got through. The Ghanaians weren’t happy and started applying heavy pressure scoring 20mins later with a left footed effort past the uncharacteristically disorganised German defense. They had a chance to level soon after with a penalty but Abu put it wide. Easily done from 10 yards away, on sand when aiming at a tiny goal.
The game became more open. The physicality of play meant we were down one Peruvian and 1 German who had to be replaced by local kids. Ghana were pressuring from a corner which was quickly cleared by a German head. I brought the ball up towards half way on the left hand side. We were 2 on 2 but there was no one even near the goal. I took a shot at nothing. Curling the shot around Teddy who was bearing down on me. It landed right between the posts. 3-1. I couldn’t repeat the shot if I tried a million times. A Klinsman in to the sea seemed like the only appropriate celebration. The Ghanaians brought it back to 3-2 but couldn’t equalize before the final whistle (the moment everyone decided they were too hot and went to cool off in the sea). A resounding victory.

I sat on the beach for a while before Simon and I decided that another surf was possible. The tide was low but there looked like there were a few nice ones rolling in to the bay. It went ok but the sets disappeared just as it was getting dark and we had to paddle in. Shattered after a very active day I had a shower and an early night.

Saturday 31st August - Hospitality        

A picture of some fishing boats head out - for no real reason.
I still felt rotten when I awoke this morning. Headache, sweaty, mind all over the place and every muscle aching. I was concerned. Time to go and see a doc. I text Eben and he agreed to come with me. The only place to see a doctor around here is at the hospital in Dixcove. I met Eben at the taxi station and we set off for Dixcove.

The distance to the hospital is short but the drive took a while. Eben showed me in to the reception area which contained numerous lines of benches with about 6 people in it, lying and sitting on the benches all watching the TV in the corner which was showing a variety of different children’s cartoons. Under the TV sat a nurse with an array of mediacal paraphanalia in front of her; blood pressure pump, thermometers and other medical devices I couldn’t identify. She sat there staring in to space occasionally resterilising her equipment or checking the blood pressure monitor still worked. In the corner was the reception office where two men sat behind a wire mesh screen with stacks upon stacks of medical records in books that looked like children’s exercise books, filling every shelf and available bit of floor space. Eventually they decided it was time for me to be seen and beckoned me forward. I had to pay 15¢ for a scrap of paper with my name on it, my Ghanaian Medical Card and was told to go and see the bored looking nurse. I passed her my records sheet and card which she noted down in her book. Blood pressure, pulse and temperature were all taken and were all fine so I was shown over to a queue on one of the benches behind 2 women. They quickly went in and out of the consulting room and it was soon time for my turn.

I went in. The doctor was nice and thorough. She asked me about my vaccinations and what malaria medication I was on. She then wrote a form out so I could be tested for malaria (the preventative medication is never 100%). I found the door to the lab and stepped in. The technician sat me down and prepared my finger and made a small prick to draw some blood which she dropped in to the test equipment before adding solution. We were quickly joined by two other women, the doctor and a girl Eben had been chatting to outside. They started laughing and joking with me, asking if I needed a HIV test, teasing me that I had an older girlfreiend (apparently quite rare in Ghana) and asking how I ate Ghanaian food, which I demonstrated much to their amusement. Finally the lab technician wanted her photo taken with me, which I obliged. It is one of the strangest things about being here is that complete strangers always want their photo taken with the Obruni. Often when walking down the street I get stopped and asked for pictures. It’s like being a celebrity but not knowing it. My picture must be adorning the Facebook pages of most of the Western Region by now. Then it was back to the doctors room where I was told the test was negative and prescribed some Ibuprofen before being released back in to Dixcove. I spoke to Zoe on the phone to tell her I was officially Malaria free before Eben turned back up in the taxi with some wine and a girl in tow and we headed back to Busua and me to my bed.

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