“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.”

Big surprise: today is hot, already 88˚, and combined with the 70% humidity it feels like 100˚. I was on the deck earlier checking the plants. They have to be watered again, but I’ll wait until later in the day hoping it will be cooler.

When I arrived in Ghana for Peace Corps training, I knew nothing about Africa. The books and mimeographed materials from Peace Corps didn’t do much in helping me understand where I was going. Knowing there were two seasons, rainy and dry, had me picturing what rainy and dry look like here, that was all I had for reference. Descriptions of Ghanaian culture were like excerpts from a geography book. I read about the different tribes and where they lived. The country was divided into regions, a bit like our states.

Before we left Philadelphia for Ghana, I found out I was going to be posted in the Upper Region, only a place on the map to me. The Upper Region spanned all the way across the whole top section of Ghana from east to west. I was to be posted in its capital, Bolgatanga.

When I went to Bolga for a week during training, it was the rainy season when everything is green, and the market is filled with all sorts of fruit and vegetables. I figured that would be Bolga all the time. I was totally wrong.

When training was over, I made my way home, to Bolga. I stopped overnight in Kumasi, about the halfway mark. I always added an overnight so I could visit friends along the way. The trip from Accra to Kumasi was a wonderful train ride. From Kumasi to Bolga was a bus or lorry ride, always hot and always crammed with people.

Bolga was still in the rainy season when I moved into my house. The rains stopped a month or two later. Everything dried. The ground split. Nothing stayed green. My lips and the heels of my feet split. I walked on tiptoes. I learned to take bucket baths. My meals never varied. Breakfast was two eggs cooked in groundnut oil and two pieces of toast. Lunch was fruit. Dinner was beef cooked in tomato broth, a necessity to make the meat tender, or chicken. Yams were the side dish, sometimes in a mash and sometimes cooked with the meat. I always drank water except in the morning when I drank instant coffee with canned milk.

I never minded the same meals or the dry season. I was astonished every day that I was  living in Africa. I loved Bolga whether rainy or dry. My friends and I would often look at the sky and say it looked like rain. That was a joke, and we never got tired of it. We knew the rain was months away. If we found something new in the market, it was cause for celebration. If we didn’t, it didn’t matter.

In about five weeks, I’ll be back home in Bolga.

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9 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. olof1 Says:

    having a hard time making a comment today, i have albin in my lap and tries to comfort him after he got stung by a wasp.
    have a great day!
    christer.

  2. Rick Oztown Says:

    Another long flight across the ocean, eh? I’m here to tell you that the seats probably didn’t get more spacious since the last time…

    • katry Says:

      Rick,
      Another trip of almost 11 hours, and I am traveling with my two best Peace Corps friends. This time the seats will be wide and comfy. We are going first class!

  3. Hedley Says:

    I have gone all Canadian – perhaps the result of an NBC overdose, and maybe because I was interested in the diving and not more ladies volleyball. The track biking is on my iPad that that interferes with surfing

    Mrs MDH and I have slung our names in for tickets for next year’s Kentucky Derby – we have never done that although I went to the real Derby in 1964 when Santa Claus won – I think it was a Wednesday and I have never idea why I wasn’t in school.

  4. Birgit Says:

    Out of curiosity I looked a little bit on YouTube. It looks like this summer’s rain was quite heavy and Bolga was partly flooded. This news video is 3 weeks old, I hope the damage isn’t as bad as it looks here and the situation has improved now.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcCqSwbZPu8

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      I also went looking and saw the flooded area, but I didn’t recognize it. I found an article which mentioned a school which had flooded along the Bolgatanga-Tamale road, but nothing pinpointed the flooding. I hope by now it has receded. Farmers live off of the rainy season crops all dry season.

    • katry Says:

      Gnu,
      I remember when I saw this in the movies. It was long after its release. I was pretty young, and I still remember I was totally taken aback when over the rainbow was color.


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