“You either get the point of Africa or you don’t. What draws me back year after year is that it’s like seeing the world with the lid off.”

A brilliant sunny day with a deep blue sky greeted me this morning, but it is still very cold. The snow, which was soft and fluffy, is now hard and crunchy. When I went to get the papers, the sounds of my footsteps on the snow seemed to echo in the quiet of the early morning. Tomorrow will be in the 30’s, almost summer-like say I with tongue in cheek.

My friends Bill and Peg are coming today for the weekend. We were in the Peace Corps together and were even neighbors my second year. I met Bill and Peg in Philadelphia during staging, the time for finalizing everything before the flight to Africa. We even skipped a few lectures together to do some sightseeing. One of my favorite stories of that time is about Bill. We went to the top of the William Penn Building to see the view of Philadelphia below us. The site is manned by rangers in green uniforms. Bill spoke to one and asked the name of the river to which he was pointing because the name is so difficult to pronounce. Without missing a beat, the ranger looked at him and said,” Del-a-ware.” Peg and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Bill and Peg were to be stationed in Tamale, a hundred miles south of me and the closest town in that direction with volunteers. I knew I’d get to see them often, but it wasn’t to be; instead, they were posted down south in Tafo, closer to Accra, when they found out Peg was pregnant. Peace Corps decided to let them stay anyway as an associate director and his wife were also expecting and weren’t leaving. I visited them as often as I could which wasn’t all that often as they were a distance away. I usually stopped on my way back up north after a visit to Accra. Their house had no running water, and you had to use an outhouse in the yard. On one visit to them I was sitting in the outhouse when I heard a noise below me. I stood up and saw a hand take the bucket and then a face looked up at me and the man said hello or good morning, madame, I don’t exactly remember which being a bit shocked by the circumstances of the greeting. It was the night soil man going about his work. He put the empty bucket back, and I sat down to finish my business.

Before our second year I talked to our principal about asking Bill and Peg to come to Women’s Training College where I taught. The school needed a maths teacher and would get an English teacher in the bargain. The principal, Mrs. Intsiful, agreed and Bill, Peg and Kevin, their son, moved to Bolga. We were neighbors in a duplex.

I have quite a few stories of our adventures, but I’ll save them for the weekend!

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6 Comments on ““You either get the point of Africa or you don’t. What draws me back year after year is that it’s like seeing the world with the lid off.””

  1. Hedley Says:

    Bieber and Marmite. (Vintage Spins and our friends South of the Border)

    While we try to think of ways to return Canada’s number one singer back across the border, our neigbors have now announced that they are banning the sale of Irn Bru, Ovaltine and MARMITE for containing unknown ingredients.

    Wow, so now I feel so bootlegger-prohibition with my super secret supply of Marmite ready to be rolled out at any time. Maybe if Superstar Bieb heads home in an American (not some stupid yellow Lamborghini) sports car, I could have him smuggle a few jars across the border for our friend Marie.

    Canada banned Big Rick, they banned Marmite and they gave us The Bieber – heck I hope they don’t even win the Curling Gold Medal in Sochi

    • katry Says:

      My Dear hedley,
      I’m thinking an underground supply to Canada might just pay for my next trip to Ghana. I’ll have to start buying. I can see me opening my coat saying a little Marmite, cheap.

      We definitely have the bum end of the deal with Bieber!

      • Hedley Says:

        Now I read that those fun loving Canadians have banned Penguin Bars. Could someone explain to these humorless folks that they are not made with real penguin, they are just a tea time chocolate treat.
        I am going to make a fortune satiating the needs of the ex pats over the border.

      • katry Says:

        MDH,
        I do not know Penguin Bars, but by the sounds of their description, I would like them. Chocolate? Who doesn’t love chocolate? Oops, that would be the Canadians.

  2. olof1 Says:

    I ,ove that story about the night soil man 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Cold here too with a nasty wind and I can’t understand how it can blow for weeks and weeks? But I guess it is the wind that keeps the windows on my car ice free so I don’t have to scrape the windows in the morniung so I should perhaps not complain too much 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      It is one of my favorite Ghana stories. I was so shocked to see him wave and say help.

      It is freezing here, no question about it. Tomorrow, though, should be much warmer then the freezing tens will be back. I’m so tired of winter!!


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