While talking to Bev the other day I must have mentioned something about the water satchets. She was quite intrigued and it reminded me that I probably haven’t mentioned these before so here goes.
There are two options for potable water. The first is bottled, just like any you would buy at home. I drank this water for a few days here, but was quite embarrassed by how quickly my trash piled up. One or two bottles a day might not seem like much at home but even after a week I had a lot and I can’t imagine how much plastic I would have added to the environment in Jirapa by the time I left if I kept drinking like this. So I moved on to satchet water, which is what most people here drink (if they don’t drink the tap water). These are little plastic bags that are filled with 500 ml of filtered water. You can buy them just about anywhere and only cost 5 cents as opposed to the dollar for a liter of bottled water. The only trick was learning how to drink from a bag. It sounds easy. Rip a bit of the corner with your teeth and drink away. It’s not so easy, or at least I know I spent more than a few days with a considerable amount of water down my front. The first trouble is ripping off the corner…..don’t be too hasty, patience, patience. I actually am finding it best now to just pry pull open a small hole so then I won’t have to spit the little chunk on the ground. Secondly, you can’t drink from it like a glass or pour into your mouth (I liked how sanitary this was but very little actually made it in me). So you have to suck the water out just like a juice box all the while not thinking of the many hands that have touched this satchet or the places it has been stored. Na, one of the men in my workshop yesterday, kindly let me take a couple pictures of him demonstrating proper satchet technique so I could pass this on to you.
I also realized while talking to Bev that I haven’t been all that clear about what you can and cannot buy here as far as food goes. I was mentioning that I had finally transported a bit of butter from Wa so I could make Kraft Dinner (it was delicious!). There is no milk here, not goat or anything as far as I can find. We use powdered milk for anything that needs it in cooking and I don’t drink it at the best of times anyway. Butter is available in Wa, but is worth an arm and a leg,$4 for half a pound, and you have to remember that you it is 30 degrees out and the bus ride is an hour and a half. In Jirapa you can buy tomatoes, onions, garlic, garden eggs (somewhat like a zuccini but egg shaped), oranges, tomatoe paste, spaghetti, bread, juice, oil, yam (not like sweet potatoe, more like a really dry potato). Hmmmm, that’s about it I think, except for the various powders that end up as fufu, kenke, banku, etc. So basically this is what I eat. On Sundays we have market day and there are a few more things, some bananas, pineapple, watermelon this past week, maybe a carrot or green pepper although not for the past couple of weeks. Otherwise it is pretty limited. I shop most weeks in Wa where I am guaranteed to get carrots and green peppers, plus maybe a cucumber or some green beens and apples. There is Ghanaian peanut butter (ground nut paste) in a bag but I am still working on the Kraft I brought from home. And tuna. Lots of tuna. I am torn between reducing the mercury in my body and getting some protein. Since last week was the first time I ate beef and I am starting to tire of chicken, bring on the mercury I guess. There is also an awesome shop that sells butter, cheese, Pringles (!), and an assortment of biscuits at exorbitant prices to people like me who are desperate for variety. We really are spoiled with how many different kinds of food we have at home…..it’s great!