You Can Call Me Mama Esi GooGoo

Arrival in Ghana was a blur. We took a red eye and got in at 5am so were grateful to see Alex who came to fetch us at the airport.  We spent most of our first day sleeping but not after we got a tour of Alex’s palace of an apartment, complete with 24 hour guard service, an electric fence, a swimming pool, and an employee who cooks and cleans for him five days a week. We’re living large.  Alex is back at work so we kind of felt like his children, waiting patiently for daddy to come home from work and hang out with us.  We call him Papa Papp.

On our second night here, Alex took us to a bar down the street. This bar is extra local. You walk through an apartment building parking lot, and there’s a shipping container behind the building… and inside is a bar! This particular bar had one fridge to store the beer, a nice woman bartending, and a few minors dancing in the corner.  By minors I mean they were 8 years old and younger.  Alex asked them to show us some Azanto dancing which is a form of dance that’s popular here in Ghana. So three kids started dancing and I joined them to try and learn how. At one point I turned around and noticed that Alex and Cale had disappeared. At this point the room was full of more kids and a couple adults, watching the crazy lady try and dance. I got a couple high fives before I went sheepishly to find my buddies.

They were sitting outside with a group of 3 men who work as government employees in Accra.  Alex knew one of them from visiting the bar previously and so struck up a conversation. They soon found out that Cale and I were pretty green to Ghana- it was our second night in town.  Alex knows several phrases in Twi (one of the many local languages) and Cale and I knew… absolutely nothing. So the men taught us a couple quick and useful phrases in Twi, which I promptly forgot.

At one point they asked us our names. But our names weren’t acceptable. They wanted to know our Ghanaian names. Of course, Cale and I had no idea what they were talking about. Alex answered immediately with his, saying “I’m Tobe Kofi.”

Apparently in Ghana, babies are named after the day of the week on which they were born, as well as their order in the family. We had to look up our birthdays to figure it out, but I was born on a Sunday. “Sunday born!” the men exclaimed. That’s very special. “And first born too!” Even more good luck. The female Sunday-born name is Esi, and first born is GooGoo. Then they added Mama to the name. So my name is Mama Esi GooGoo which basically means the best queen boss ever.  Cale is Tobe Kwame (Saturday born).  Our three new friends promised to meet us at the bar again tomorrow (which doesn’t actually mean ‘tomorrow’, it just means ‘sometime in the future,’ which had me thoroughly confused) to teach us more Twi and more about Ghanaian culture. They were so full of warmth and laughter, and the whole evening was a wonderful welcoming experience for our time in Accra.

We are in Ghana for just under a month and it feels good to slow down for a while.  I spent the first week being sick, and Cale took his real estate renewal exam in case he needs a job again :). We found an awesome gig volunteering to fill our time, which I’ll write about soon.

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View from our bedroom window

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