Search this site

Places - Ghana

Lome - city of sharks

Cape Coast
Hans Cottage Botel
Kakum Rainforst Park


...back to places Introduction

Monday January 5 2004
Accra, Ghana

I don't think we're in Togo anymore Toto.

Independance square, in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

Arriving in Accra, the capital city of Ghana from Togo feels like:

  • When you stop holding hour breath
  • When you come in from the cold
  • When you rollerblade on pavement after being on the sidewalk
  • When the furnace that you didn't know was keeping you awake turns off.
  • When somebody turns on the light while reading in a dimly lit room
  • Like getting out of a 1 hr traffic jam
  • Like walking into an air-conditioned room after being in the scorching heat all day.
  • Like finally having a TA or teacher at university who can actually speak English.
  • Like finishing exams

What do I mean by all these metaphors? Simply put, Togo is a place where many things just aren't right, but with time you get used to them. At the same time you don't really realize the pressure that building up inside until you experience something "normal" again.

Accra, the capital of Ghana, while nothing spectacular, is the closest I have felt to normal since I got on this continent, and so in the absence of Togo, it feels great.

It has well maintained roads, overpasses, streetlights, stoplights, fast food, hamburgers, pizza, air conditioning, busses that leave at a set time, sidewalks, trees, etc. All very "normal".

It's hard to describe exactly how this feels, but think of how you feel in any of the above situations and I think that is pretty accurate.

Somebody who went to school in Accra from Canada warned her that Accra was tough. Well, it's definitely not when one is used to Togo.

I found myself feeling lighter than I have since I got here, that I could just be, normal (well, as normal as a Yovo can be in Africa).

I spent a few evening at "Busy Cafe". Here, they have an internet cafe that has a relatively good connection, 100 computers with LCD flat monitors, is air, and plays a nice mix of background music and background music sound levels. You see, in Togo, if anybody plays music, it has to be CRANKED UP TO FULL VOLUME AT ALL TIMES SO THAT YOU CAN'T HEAR THE PERSON NEXT TO YOU. Furthermore, it had a small movie theatre that plays recently released DVDs, and next door is a bar and restaurant. I ordered Busy Chicken both nights, which is like KFC. And the meat didn't fight back when I tried to eat it (Togo chicken gets way too much exercise), which actually took me by surprise.

I even had ice cream for desert.

Hey, this is the lap of luxury right? KFC, 3 scoops of ice cream, and a reliable internet connection?

So, I guess it's nothing all that special, but I am now convinced that luxury is a relative, not an absolute thing.

When I get back to Canada, I am sure that I will be in heaven for a few weeks as I settle back in to the way I know things to be, but I suspect that they will very quickly become just "normal" again. After all, who is going to drool over KFC when you can have Swiss Chalet (and almost for the same price these days)?

This leads me to the following hypothesis: "Contentness is generally a differential of satisfaction".

We'll call this "Tim general theory of contentedness"

This is nerdy engineering speak meaning that we are content only in comparison to how content we were the day before. So, let’s say that today I had a satisfaction level of 5. If yesterday my satisfaction level was 3, then today I will be very content. If yesterday my satisfaction level was 7, then today I will not be very content, even though I have the same level of satisfaction as in the previous scenario.

Get it? If you don't, well, read it again.

Taking Tim's theory of general contentedness into account, A person's net contentedness over the course of their life will only be how much more satisfied they were at the end of their lives that at the start.

Well, most babies seem pretty darned content, and allot of old men seem pretty darned grumpy, which is a net negative contentness. That means one must have been uncontent for more of their life than content.

Even if you are more satisfied at the end of your life, you have to be ALOT more satisfied to have a positive net contentness at the end of your life.

All in all, you will probably be content for about 50% of the time, and not content the other 50%... According to Tim's theory of general contentness.

That is, unless you can find something bigger and better for every day of your life. Our means are slightly more finite that that.

So, how do we get around this?

Basically, the solution is to concede that Tim's theory of general contentness is just not true, and CHOOSE to have joy every day despite the circumstances, and be thankful for everything.

I can't believe I just described happiness in terms of math, I'm such a geek.

back to top

On to Aburi...