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While we are house sitting in an apartment with a big screen TV, a Blu-Ray player and an Xbox, we wanted to make sure we didn’t turn to these distractions every night as a lazy escape.

So we created Puzzle Night.

Every Monday night we get takeout dinner (making food here is too intensive and consumes a good portion of after-work time) and start work on our puzzle.

While the selection in the Puzzle department wasn’t huge here, we managed to find a difficult 1000 piece set. This rock formation photo from Utah (!) is a challenging mix of blues and reds—in two and a half hours, we managed to complete the frame of the puzzle and the outline of the cliffs.

It’s important for us to maintain a sense of creation and entertainment in the form of keeping the mind active. We know that we won’t have the big screen TV for much longer (once we move, we will be a TV-free household), so we don’t want to get attached. But it’s more than that—Puzzle Night (and Art Night once the puzzle is complete!) is a chance to interact in a meaningful collaborative way and relish in the idea that we don’t need electronics to entertain us (all the time). We’re not quite sure how we got away from this type of entertainment back in the U.S. (games, puzzles, books, crosswords), but we’re happy that we’re reintegrating it back into our lives.

We wish you all a happy Puzzle Night.

 
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Juicy; I never understood this word until I moved to Ghana. Now, everyday between 1 and 2pm, I receive an education about what this word means. Ripe, delicious mango, flush with flavor and refreshment, delivered to our doorstep by an always chipper and non-English speaking woman named Alambra. Alambra climbs our staircase everyday with a platter of mangos resting on her head. For the equivalent of $ 1.00, she dices a mango in less than a minute – the best mango I’ve ever tasted. This small treat in the middle of my work day is possible because in Ghana, the people are entrepreneurial, labor is cheap and the fruit is spectacular.

I once listened to an author read an excerpt from a book about her childhood in India. Her passionate and painstaking description of the joy of eating mango always stuck with me because it seemed so excessive and fantastic. Now that story resonates with me because it seems so realistic and truthful.

Finding advantages to living in Ghana delights me. These daily mangos, as sure as they leave my face covered in sticky sweet nectar and a big goofy grin, are one of Ghana’s great advantages.

--Tim

 
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Who knew Tim and Carole were beach bunnies?
Everyone needs an escape; ours happens to be beaches.

For the second time since moving to Ghana on June 1st, we got out of Accra, the capital city. It was great to get out of the city and, despite police asking for bribes on a few different occasions on the way out ("give some money to support our work here today"/"we will take you to our office if we don't come to an agreement"), we had a stress-free time in the Eastern region.
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Tiny dried fish on palm leaves found during our beach walk. Dinner anyone?
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Fishing net on the beach.
Staying at Meet Me There African Lodge Home close to Ada Foah (where the River Volta meets the Gulf of Guinea), we enjoyed meals in the restaurant's lodge in the lagoon, great sunsets, a beautiful undisturbed beach (sans trash), fun friends, and the discovery of a new not-so-far-away destination for the future.
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Meet Me There African Lodge's restaurant in the middle of the lagoon at sunset.
 
Being in Ghana makes it difficult for us to keep up on Western news, politics, world affairs, trends, music, art, comedy, new TV shows, food, drinks. While we do have an internet connection, access to radio, and a 24-hour news cycle if we go to the Irish bar (which, coincidentally, plays the three same "news" pieces over and over and over again), it's not the same as being "home," seeing and experiencing the trends firsthand.

Don't get us wrong. We enjoy the removal at times, experiencing a new culture. But, we also don't want to be out-of-touch when we do make it back to Europe or the U.S. And Carole needs new bands to listen to. 

So.... go on. Tell us what's happening where you are. What's the big new thing? Are the elections driving you mad? Is a new pop singer all the rage? Cool new indie bands? A good new microbrew? A new flavor of chewing gum? Did a new KFC open across the street from you? A new designer that's turning heads in Milan? A new line of yoga clothes? Digging Google+? What are you excited about?


From West Africa,
Tarole
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As my sister and I discussed our Ghanaian adventures from these past 5 days over a big breakfast (mangoes, bananas and coconut water), I asked her to draw "something African" from our time together.

She drew me with a coconut.
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Carole and Coconut: Watercolor Pencils. 2011. TML. Not for Sale.
Wishing Miss Lundgren and all of our faithful readers exciting new adventures, whether they be local or far from home. 
--Carole
 
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Just like the Andrews sisters' song.
Yes, it’s been a few days since the last blog post. Carole’s sister (and Tim’s new little sis), Teresa, has been in town and we’ve been trying our hand at playing tour guide. So far so good, right, Teresa?

We had a house party to celebrate Teresa’s arrival and show our friends our new temporary pad. Guests were impressed with our pina coladas, served in real coconuts with fresh coconut water and pineapple juice (can’t go wrong with the local tropical fruits). Using Cuban rum, which is almost impossible to get in the U.S., the drinks went down quite smoothly.

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If you like pina coladas, then you'd love these ones in real coconuts.
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Trekking through the Market in the morning.
Yesterday, getting up at the crack of dawn when the roosters are crowing, we made our way to Makola Market where you can buy just about anything, whether you need it or not. Since not all the vendors were set up yet, we flew under the radar as obrunis and were able to take in the sights and smells without being hassled. Tim got a handmade wooden spoon for the equivalent of $.60 and a big bag of hot red peppers for $.30, while Teresa got a lot of pictures.

It’s been lovely to have Teresa in town, not just because we enjoy her company, but it’s also given us an excuse compile a list of activities, friends and restaurants that we’ve come to enjoy here and share those with someone who hasn’t experienced them yet.

Teresa heads back to Dubai on Thursday. You can read about her adventures on her own blog, Miss Lundgren Abroad.

 
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Vodka and pineapple, preparing to be separated.
10 days ago, I did a little experiment. Using fresh Ghanaian pineapple, I infused vodka made out of Washington state apples. 

After more than a week of sitting, I have the results:
SEATTLE AND GHANA LOVE EACHOTHER.


Soft Tail vodka (from Woodinville, WA) is probably the smoothest vodka we’ve ever tasted. No alcoholic edge, no burning in the back of your throat. So I started with something very high quality to begin with. When the pineapple was soaked for 10 days, though, the results were even more amazing that I could have hoped for. Taking off the lid of the infusion container, I got a blast of fragrant natural pineapple.  The taste is equally as fruity as the smell.

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Sifting out the sediment.
Poured over coconut water ice cubes, this pineapple vodka is perfect for a hot, muggy, tropical day. And that’s how we enjoyed it on our patio. Cheers!
-Carole
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Pure pineapple-infused vodka on the left. Vodka-soaked pineapple on the right. Notice the color changes for both vodka and pineapple!
 
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On Sunday, we went to our first home-cooked Ghanaian dinner.

Our hosts for Sunday dinner were Esther and Afrane. We had not met these two Colorado State University students until we arrived in Accra. Introduced to us by a former classmate, Esther and Afrane are currently completing the same MBA program where we (Carole & Tim) met. As a program requirement, students must research a potential social enterprise. These two Ghanaians, Esther and Afrane, started an education-based venture and are back in Accra discovering the market opportunity for their business. We were lucky enough to connect with them a few times before they leave back to Fort Collins and not only discuss their MBA experience, but learn more  about Ghanaian customs, traditions, and perfectly-spiced food.

Making unique connections in Ghana, though, seems to be the norm. We met Esther and Afrane here, and hadn’t previously in the U.S. We’ve been to dinner with Tim’s former Seattle boss three times. We’ve had drinks with a former MBA professor. We ate Indian food with a co-worker of former co-worker. We met a University of Denver alum for the first time who, coincidentally, ran the newspaper a few years after Carole started it. Connections are strange, but no need to be a stranger. We appreciate the “random” encounters with those we’ve never met until in West Africa, and we’re learning that personal and professional friends-of-friends-of-friends are valuable.

So keep the connections coming, friends and family.

Though the mountains divide 
And the oceans are wide 
It's a small world after all.

So true, monotonous Disney song. So true.

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Everyone needs a silly photo.