“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.”

If I were given the chance to choose my weather, I’d chose a day like today. The sun is so bright I could barely see when I went to get the paper. A few leaves flutter at the ends of branches until a stronger every now and then breeze blows even the topmost leaves of the oak trees. It is a warm day. The high will be 77˚, but the humidity is gone, at least for today, so the day is lovely. I’m glad for my errands

Jack, my cat, has a gate across the door of his room so he can come and go, and it keeps the dogs out or it did until this morning. Miss Nala, the consummate thief, broke into the room three times. I adjusted the gate the first two times, but she found a way in around the side of the gate. On her third foray, I heard the rustling of paper and ran upstairs. She was caught. She couldn’t get out the way she had gotten in through the gate because it held. Miss Nala was standing inside by the gate looking guilty and for good reason. I could see paper and empty cat food cans on the floor. When I got inside the room, I saw the dry food dish was empty, but I stopped Nala from eating all the canned food. I let her out at the gate, went inside and cleaned up the trash, one of my favorite things to do before my second cup of coffee.

I know Ghana is often the subject of my musings. Some days it feels closer than other days, but it is always with me. Most returned Peace Corps volunteers will tell you that their two years were life affirming.

I was twenty-one when I arrived in Ghana. I remember my first ride through Accra from the airport. It was jaw-dropping. I could see kiosks along the sides of the roads and women selling just about everything. They were dressed in beautiful cloths. People selling foodstuffs wove in and out of traffic trying to sell their goods to cars before the light changed. I don’t remember the rest of the ride. I fell asleep.

Our first stop for a couple of weeks was Winneba. My room was on the second floor of one of the dorms. I remember standing outside my room on the balcony and seeing Winneba from up high. I could see greenery, it being the rainy season, and the rusted roofs of houses. During these two weeks we had language every day, intense lessons, shots and lectures about Ghana. I was learning Hausa. One day we all walked through town to go greet the chief. It is customary. At night, we’d go to the spot, the bar, across the street from the school. We’d play cards and drink warm Coke. I remember playing hearts. I also remember being really nervous for the next phase of training. We would live for three weeks with Ghanaian families in an area where they spoke the languages we were learning. I went to Bawku. During those three weeks, we taught in middle schools, met for lunch every day and had language lessons. I wandered Bawku. I felt comfortable, safe. On the fourth week, we made our ways to our schools. It was the first time I traveled without a guide. I had been in Ghana five weeks.

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4 Comments on ““I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.””

  1. William Says:

    Our live-in in Tamale was with Salamatu Al hassan’s mother. Didn’t speak any English. Sala was a policewoman in Tamale and spoke fluent English. They had no water in the house and an outhouse. I don’t remember where we bathed but we must have during those three weeks…

    • katry Says:

      I remember the Stoicas stayed with Lawal’s (our language instructor’s)family. They had one room for bucket baths and another for an outhouse. My house had electricity and a bathroom inside but I used it for bucket baths as there was no running water.

      Are you sure you bathed?

  2. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Everything is wonderful and exciting when you are 21. 🙂 Regardless of your age, the Peace Corps must have been a fabulous experience. Thanks for sharing your memories and memories of your return visits to Ghana. We, your coffee family enjoy them very much. Today, here in the desert of North Texas, we might top out at 103° as we did yesterday. 🙁 Thank god for air conditioning.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      The first people left training after one night. I can’t even fathom that. The next group left before our three week live-in with our Ghanaian families. After that, one or two left each week during the rest of training. One of my friends left before Christmas and a group left after one year. I think young didn’t count so much here. I remember going into the women’s dorm room the 7th or 8th week of training and saying I hated it and I was packing. About 5 or 6 women said they’d go with me. We laughed. Crisis averted.

      It was the most amazing experience living in a different country with such a wholly different culture. I worry sometimes that I might be overdoing my Ghana stories. I’m glad to know the family enjoys them. I don’t have the money, but I do wish with all my might I could go back one more time.

      It was 77˚ here today. Right now it is 67˚. I just shut the window behind me.

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