After being in Dakar and Accra back-to-back, this place is feeling even more like a pit. We went to the new mall in Accra that we've heard so much about. Is it amazing? Depends on where you're coming from. I would not really buy anything in any of the stores, which are nice but ridiculously overpriced. When you are a K-Mart/Target/Walmart shopper like me, it's hard to imagine paying more for basically the same quality of items. But the South African grocery store is another story. Yes, the produce is all imported and ridiculously expensive ($9 for a bunch of cherry tomatoes, anyone?) but the dry goods were plentiful, not too pricey, and not full of bugs. It was a marvel just to walk around the place. We didn't get to go to the American-style movie theater, but I'll bet that it's worth the $10 or so they charge for a ticket to see first-run movies.
Here we do have a brand-new supermarket, American/French style. It's been under construction for over a year, and I thought we'd never see it open. We've visited it every day since, just to feel like we are not in such a dumpy post. M has declared it her favorite place here. It has everything: toys, hardware, kitchen stuff, food, wine. It's kind of like a Walmart superstore with overpriced items. Even though you can find almost everything in it at a better price elsewhere, it will probably become our most frequented supermarket here. It's right down the street, and they have a huge parking lot, something which is worth a few extra dollars in my book.
And speaking of extra dollars, I was shocked to learn that President Obama has signed a bill to authorize payment of overseas comparability pay http://www.afsa.org/062509afsanet.cfm. This is huge (and one more reason to love the Prez). For me personally, it will mean roughly an extra $20,000 a year in salary. I'm not making any investments yet, but this is very, very encouraging.