“When you are at home, your troubles can never defeat you.”

The routine of daily life returns far too quickly. Each morning I am closer to my usual time. This morning it was 6:30 when I woke up; two days ago it was 4:30. Last night I lasted until nearly 10:30 before I dragged my tired self upstairs to bed.

Last year I returned to a different Ghana after forty years away. The cities are huge and filled with crowds of people and with cars caught in constant traffic jams, except for Sundays when the roads are clear. That is church day in Ghana.

I could hear the sounds of car horns everywhere. They blow a second after the traffic lights turn green which I find strange in a country where patience, like food and water, is a necessity of life. Ghana is dirty, mostly in the cities. I partially blame the water sachets, small plastic bags of pure water, sold everywhere then tossed to the ground when empty. After a while, though, I didn’t notice. I just saw Ghana: the people, the animals and the wonderful small villages and towns.

Along the roads are deserted houses made of clay. They fall apart easily when not tended. Other houses in various stages of construction are everywhere. They aren’t abandoned but in process. New houses are build over time, when the owners have money. It often takes years to finish a house.

The roads are filled with tro-tros ferrying riders from one stop to another, from one small village to the next. The driver’s helper sits by the sliding door and yells the destination. Each tro-tro is filled with people crammed elbow to elbow. People don’t seem to mind the heat.

Goats are everywhere. They stand on the shoulders of the road to eat the grass beside the road. Babies stand with their mothers. Pregnant goats waddle. At night, the goats sleep on the same shoulders where they spent the day. I never saw a goat which had been hit by a car. Drivers are careful.

Along the road, villages and small towns appear out of nowhere. Speed bumps are the only indicators. They slow drivers down going into and out of each village, even the smallest. In between the villages I saw women carrying bundles of wood, bicyclists riding along the side of the road and children with buckets both filled and empty. Many times I never saw their destinations and wondered where they were going. I guessed there were isolated compounds somewhere off the road. Hawkers are everywhere. If you stop, they come to the windows hoping for a sale. Off their heads come their trays. Some are filled with oranges or bread, groundnuts, water sachets or dried fish. At toll booths, the hawkers sell wares particular to the region. Near the water were shrimp, octopus and snails. The food I wanted was a sweet donut. When I found some , I bought two. They used to be a roadside staple. Now they are rarer. The other food I miss is toasted coconut balls. They were delicious.

The Ghanaians are wonderful, friendly people. When you speak to them in a local language, they smile from ear to ear and often clap. They say, “You have done well.” If you are lost, a Ghanaian will give you directions or even walk you to your destination. A woman got in our car and directed us to where we wanted to go. They will grab your bundles so you don’t have to carry them. I was offered a bench every time I stopped to take a small rest. Ghana is rich in its people.

Ghana is a country of street food. We used to go into town at night for snacks and buy we’d kabobs, plantain chips or fried yams. The women, the aunties, were set up along the sides of the road behind basins filled with oil boiling over charcoal fires. Lit lanterns sat on their tables. I always liked the sight of the dark street dotted with those lanterns. Mostly that hasn’t changed, but now street food is available starting in the afternoons. I bought tasty sausages and kabobs, often with fried onions. I bought kelewele and yams and bread, delicious butter bread, and rolls for my sausages. Many small kiosks now dot the sides of the streets and sell food. They all have painted names on the front and most boast they are the best: the best meat, the best kenkey and the best of just about everything.

Last year Ghana was new again. This year it was familiar. It felt far more like home, the way it had all those years ago.

Explore posts in the same categories: Musings

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

10 Comments on ““When you are at home, your troubles can never defeat you.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    It really is a different world 🙂 I think I would like it there, especially since I never stress any more 🙂

    Naturally they are the best of everything, I doubt they would get many costumers if they wrote they had the next to best 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I think our countries are a bit too well organized, too many permits, too advanced utensils to have any kind of street food here. Yes we have our hot dog stands but compared to countries south we’re really poor in that way.

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      We now have food trucks which are more advanced street food. They move around the city and offer all sorts of different foods; however, the Cape just has those hot dog trucks you mentioned.

      I think the customers ignore all the best of stuff. They know which are the tastiest places and you can tell by the number of people who eat there. My favorites are still the barbecue meats (some of them unknown) and the kelewele stand ( a plantain dish).

      We are most decidedly too civilized!

  2. Bill S. Says:

    “I never saw a goat that had been hit by a car.” But was there goat meat stew for sale nearby??? In Bolga I hit a goat that ran in front of my moto. We both went down, but the goat got up and ran off. Not me.

    Good description of the country for those who’ve never been to a place like Ghana. I used to like the “greaseballs” sold by the roadside and at lorry parks and train stops. I also remember the loaves of “teabread”, and I had my favorite seller of the best teabread.

    • katry Says:

      The only injury I got from my moto was because of a goat herd. I stopped to let the herd pass and they turned into me. I dropped the moto and the exhaust pipe burned my leg. The goats were just fine and went on their merry way.

      Those donuts were just about greaseless, and I was surprised. They tasted like a Dunkin’ Donut plain. I really wanted one and was shocked there were no sellers. It was in a town where I saw that familiar glass case. They were delicious!

      In Accra the bread comes in cellophane, but not in Bolga, at least not yet. The bread is delicious!

  3. Hedley Says:

    Ok, a whole bunch of Ghana grazing, but lets cut to the chase, how is Gracie’s mood following your return and did she get a run to the dump .

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      Gracie is now sleeping on the couch, her usual position each evening. She is her usual self.

      She didn’t get to the dump but did come to the store with me. The dump trip is a Saturday surprise.

  4. Bob Says:

    There is always culture shock when arriving home from a third world country. Large portions of humanity live a very simple existence and are living happily without most of our so called modern convinces. Indoor plumbing is one of the modern convinces that I would not want to live without.

    When I travel I am very concerned about eating anything purchased from street vendors. I am even careful about the sanitary conditions of resturants. You must either have a very strong constitution or else you left out the part of your trip spent visiting and hugging the porcelain throne after eating tainted food or food containing alien bacteria bought off the street.

    • katry Says:

      I am an expert at using hole in the floor toilets which are the ones usually found on the road. Everywhere I stayed, though, had flush toilets, and I had one when I was in the Peace Corps.

      Nope, no porcelain hugging at all. I had no problem with anything I ate, from the street. As for restaurants, most appeared clean, even flyless, when I stopped in to eat.

      Without street food, you’d starve in Ghana. The alternative is a chop bar, a hole in the wall along the road which usually sells local food like fufu or kenkey.

      I found it easier to grab what the hawkers were selling than stop to eat.

  5. MT C Says:

    Yes, I am here again. Apparently, late, as is usual.

    Good to hear about some of your happy memories you brought back. It is nice to see the new, but so much more inviting the second time.

    That food, like street food everywhere (except the US thanks to the governments interventions) is always remembered as the finest treats. Of all the things that have done in the various countries I’ve been in, street food always stands out as the drawing card.

    Glad to see you are back and have nearly totally recovered (except maybe for the bank account, and that will come back just in time for a return trip.)


    • katry Says:

      This was so much better than last year. I had already connected with students, had a place to stay and a car at my disposal.

      I love street food anywhere. In Ghana you can find food all along the sides of the road, even in a small village. This time, in Bolga, I found those sausages which were wonderfully tasty. The donuts were as great as I remembered, even better as they were almost greaseless.

      I figure two years before I’ll have the money to return. In the meantime, Grace wants to come here to visit me and her sister who lives in Maryland.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: