That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel.”

I thought I heard rain this morning, but I just turned over and went back to sleep and slept in. I didn’t wake up until 9:30. I even went to bed early for me last night so this was a where’s my prince sort of deep sleep. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see the Seven Dwarves standing by my bedside. The streets were damp when I went to get the paper so it had rained, and that little rain brought us a cloudy day and thick humidity. The sun is appearing infrequently as if it doesn’t really care one way or the other. The paper predicts a hot day.

Sounds are always muted in the humidity. The thickness of the air drowns everything and brings a sort of lethargy. Even the leaves on the oak trees barely stir. The house is cloudy day dark and the window here does little to lighten the room. It’s morning nap time for Fern, Maddie and Gracie. The loudest noise in the house is the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.

When I lived in Ghana, I had a Honda 70. It was the demure moto, as the Ghanaians call motorcycles, for a woman who always wore a dress. My first year volunteers weren’t allowed motorcycles, but when that changed my second year, I bought one. My first trip, just after learning to ride it, was the hundred miles from Tamale where I bought the bike to Bolga where I lived. I loved that ride. It was a freedom I had never felt in a crowded lorry with every seat taken, people sitting in the middle on small stools and a few chickens and goats along for the ride. That moto gave me the freedom to take back roads leading to the small villages which ringed Bolga. I always brought a canister of extra gas. My friends and I would usually go together; Bill took the baby Kevin safely tied in a backpack and I took Peg his wife on the back of my bike. We’d often bring lunch and stop for a picnic. Those were fun days as we found ourselves in amazing places. Once some guys hauled our bikes across a small pond and we sat by a village watering hole to have lunch. Small boys stood around and watched us. The guys at the pond waited for us to finish as we had given them half a cedi for one way and told them we’d give them the other half if they waited to take the bikes back. That was a lot of money in those days. Another time we went to Tongo. We had brought a small charcoal burner and hot dogs that came in a can to cook almost like at a real barbecue. We set up the burner on a rock. A bit later a man came and yelled at us in FraFra. The small boys in school uniforms who had been standing around and watching us translated. The man wanted money to appease the gods on whose rock we had rested the burner, but the rock had bird poop on it so we didn’t buy his story figuring it was another scam for money. His response was something along the lines of ย misfortunes would follow us, but that too we ignored. We finished and packed up to leave. Not far from the rock, Bill’s bike stopped suddenly for no reason. We looked at each other wondering, but Bill’s bike restarted with no problem. We were just glad the old man hadn’t seen it.

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8 Comments on “That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    We’ve had a very nice day here, strong winds, some sunshine and for a while the temperature went up to 80. I thought that maybe the season for horse flies and our relatives to Your greenhead flies were over, but both Nova and I painfully learned that it wasn’t ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    I would have loved going on trips like that ๐Ÿ™‚ The fun parts is to meet people like that old man that tried to make money on You ๐Ÿ™‚ Not common up here though ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      It sounds like a great day! I hated walking the dog and getting attacked, mostly for the poor dog.

      Not common here either, but in Africa white people are fair game for begging at. Many Ghanaians thought we were rich because we were white. They were so wrong. Peace Corps volunteers never make much money.

  2. Bill S. Says:

    I am indeed that man “Bill” you speak of. What memories! I think it was a Honda 50–yours was grey and mine was red. Did we ever wear our PC-issued helmets? I had a cardboard box secured to
    the back of mine with bungees, to go to market as well as to pick up charcoal for the burner. I’m sure I told you this story before: I was returning to Bolga on the Tamale road with a heavy suitcase full of baby food bought in Accra at a conference. At mile 50 or so I had a puncture, and no place around to fix it–you know that is 100 miles of desolation. I waited a short time until an empty cattle truck came by, picked up the moto and set it in the bed, and delivered me to Bolga. What service!

    Another time I slid sideways on the Bolga market road, narrowly avoiding two kids who ran out into the road. My ankle was pretty banged up, just before we set out for Dahomey (Benin) and Togo. Another time I hit a goat in the road (you never know which way they will run), in front of one of my students’ homes. The goat was fine, but I was pretty banged up again. Speaking of animals–I picked up two chickens in town, and slung them upside down over the handlebars for the ride home. They were barfing on my bare feet (sandals) all the way home.

    On our final day in Bolga Alice Assabia’s husband John came by to pick up my moto–he had bought it–and was doing wheelies in the sand at the college–a recipe for disaster.

    Driving to the Bull Hotel and back under starry skies after some intoxicants–those were good times…

    • Kat Says:

      Yup, yours grey and mine red! No, we never wore those helmets as they didn’t seem to give a whole lot of protection. I dropped mine once, and it dented when it hit on the floor.

      I remember that box on the back of your moto with the bungee cord. I used to carry my stuff in a shepherd’s bag except for chickens which I too would sling over the handlebars. They tried to peck me all the way home.

      The only accident I had was when I stopped to let a herd of goats go by and they changed direction right at me and hit my bike which I then dropped and was burned by the exhaust pipe. It was the oddest scar for a long while.

      You are so right. The best times were those evenings we’d ride into town to buy food from the Hotel d’ Bull or from the women selling along the side of the road. Stars were above us and the lanterns shined in the dark here and there along the road. It was almost magical. I still think that was some of the best food I ever ate!!!

  3. Zoey & Me Says:

    Do they practice voo-doo over there? You squeezed by with the old man. But what a fun adventure. I recall my son and I on a camping trip to nowhere. We just walked the Shennandoah until we got hungry and pitched the tent. We spotted a lake not too far with cool water, even in summer, too cold for a swim. But enjoyed the area we discovered so much we stayed an extra day. The walk back to parking is always the longest.

    • Kat Says:

      We were money targets all the time so no was what we learned early on there.

      I think set itineraries sometimes dampen the fun. It is the joy of the unknown which enlivens a trip. We see thinks unexpected which make the trips memorable.

  4. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    What great adventures!
    It is never wise to ignore place gods. They can be very touchy about their dignity.
    The day is sunny, humid and sometimes rainy all at the same time. Rocky went to doggy daycare to run off some excess energy and I did laundry and went shopping for yarn which I need like a hole in the head but it was pretty.
    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      They were the best adventures. We had realized quickly that we were prime targets for money even though we had none. Even the small boys thought the whole idea ridiculous.

      It poured around 5 and stayed humid all evening. Right now, at 10:40, the thunder has started and I just saw bolts of lightning.

      My friend came over so we could sit on the deck-we sat in theAC of the house and it was wonderful.

      Hope your evening was a great one!

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