“I hope you have an experience that alters the course of your life because, after Africa, nothing has ever been the same.”

My kitchen floor stayed clean for three days. Today it has been raining so the floor has become a roadmap of dog paw prints. According to the forecast, it will rain again tomorrow so I’ll have to live with paw prints.

It being Peace Corps week, I thought I’d take you through a regular day with me in Bolgatanga, Ghana. I taught English as a second language at Women’s Teacher Training College. I taught second years, 35 students in each of my two classes. They were ages 16 to 32. They sat in the classroom two to a table.

Now to my day!!

I always woke up early to the sounds of students sweeping the dirt in the front of my house. They did chores throughout the school compound before classes. I’d sit outside my house having my first cup of coffee watching the morning unfold. After the sweeping, I could hear water from the taps falling into metal buckets. It was bucket bath time for my students when the chores were finished. Meanwhile, I was finishing my coffee then having my breakfast, the same breakfast every morning: two eggs over and two pieces of toast all cooked on a small wood charcoal burner.

My house was by the back gate across from the school garden. The classrooms were a short walk away. My lessons were divided into reading comprehension, vocabulary, speech and writing. I had to present my plan book every Friday to the principal.

When I had a break in teaching, I’d go home for another cup of coffee. I’d sit on the steps and watch the little ones walk to the elementary school outside the front gate. They would stop, salute and tell me, “Good morning, sir.” They were just learning English starting with greetings.

After I was finished teaching, I had lunch, the same lunch every day: fresh fruit including bananas, mango, pawpaw, pineapple and oranges.

After lunch I’d read or plan lessons, and sometimes I’d walk into town to the market, especially on market day, every third day. I had favorite market sellers. The egg man would hold the eggs up to the light so I could see the egg level and know it was a good egg. I never saw it. I just trusted my egg man. My tomato and onion lady always dashed (gifted) me a few tomatoes. I bought more, things like fruit, filled my bag then started home. I seldom walked home. Someone always stopped to give a ride to the white woman who taught at the school.

Dinner was beef or chicken, usually in a tomato sauce with onions, and yam. One time Thomas cooked beef and the sauce tasted odd. He showed me what he used: cinnamon and nutmeg sent by my mother. He had no idea what they were.

At night I’d read and listen to music. Just before bed, I’d take my cold shower, but if I were quick enough, I’d get some hot water from the pipes which had been heated by the sun. I never dried off so I could air dry and fall asleep.

I found every day exciting. How could it not be living in Africa?

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2 Comments on ““I hope you have an experience that alters the course of your life because, after Africa, nothing has ever been the same.””

  1. Rowen Says:

    I always get a real kick out of reading how you lived during your time in Ghana. How did the exhaust from the stove work? Was it vented in some way or did you have to go outside to use the stove?

    • katry Says:

      It wasn’t a stove. Think of a round hibachi, a small round hibachi. It fit only one pan. The bread for toast had to be leaned against the side so it would toast. I had a gas stove, but my town didn’t have gas for sale. The nearest gas was 100 miles south which took 2 and 1/2 hours to get there. I only got gas for special occasions like Christmas.

      We always cooked outside in the back yard.

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