Posted tagged ‘Bawku’

“In movies, everyone is always surprised the door is unlocked.”

July 16, 2019

The air is still. The leaves just sort of hang off the branches. It will be hot and the humidity is returning.

Last night we had a wonderful movie night. The air was cooler than it had been. We feasted on cheese and crackers: Kerrygold Cheddar and mango ginger soft cheese on a variety of crackers. We had movie candy and a cake to celebrate opening night. The movie, Capricorn One, was excellent, so was the cake.

In Ghana, I went to the movies. There were two theaters in Accra. The sitting areas were outside. The entries and the refreshment counters were inside. One was close, walking distance, from the Peace Corps hostel. My favorite time was when it rained. We’d move our chairs under the overhang and stay dry. I remember watching Is Paris Burning and West Side Story.

During my live-in in Bawku, I saw a couple of movies. The local theater was owned by my host father. It was outside, right near the house where I lived. I remember a spaghetti western when reel 3 was showed before reel 2. I think I was the only one who noticed.

In Bolga, the Hotel d’ Bull was the entertainment center for the whole town. It had the cold room, one with air-conditioning, and drinks though I didn’t drink liquor because all they had was whiskey and gin. I did have coke with ice, a treat. The hotel showed movies, really bad movies, but I didn’t care. I loved sitting in the expensive seat, on the roof, and eating kabobs and drinking coke. They’d bring a bowl of water before I ate so I could wash my hands. That was common in Ghana as most people used their hands, not utensils, to scoop their food.

Watching a movie on the deck reminds me of those movie nights in Ghana. We often see a really bad science fiction movie. We don’t care. It is the fun of sitting outside in the dark munching candy and laughing with friends.

“Music replays the past memories, awaken our forgotten worlds and make our minds travel.”

December 30, 2017

The deep freeze continues. It is 16˚ and snowy weather is predicted. The sky is grayish white, and the air is still. I have to go out later for the one thing I didn’t know I needed the other day when I shopped, toilet paper, an item as essential as food and water.

My car needed only the oil change. Everything else checked out just fine though I was told to keep an eye on my tires.

In Ghana this time of year I loved the weather. Today in Bolgatanga it was 88˚ but tonight it will be only 68˚, and that’s the way it will continue for the rest of the week, even getting as low as 63˚ at night. That’s one thing I didn’t expect in Ghana, cold weather. I had no clothes to keep me warm. My students every morning were dressed in sweaters on sweaters and layers after layers. I had bare arms and sock-less feet, but I had steaming coffee in a huge mug to get me started, and the mornings warmed quickly.

I watched a movie today which partly took place in Jordan. One scene was of the city of Amman in the early morning light of dawn, and the only sound is the call to prayer. I stayed right near a mosque during my Peace Corps live-in, a three week stay with a family. I was in a town called Bawku which is heavily Moslem. A small mosque was on the street below my room. The pre-dawn call to prayer was live, not recorded. I heard it every morning and still remember so well the beauty of that song. The single voice was clear and powerful. It became familiar. I’d lie there listening then at the end of the song I’d fall back to sleep.

In Marrakesh I also heard the songs to prayers every day coming from a mosque not that far from my riad and also from the Koutoubia Mosque, the largest one in the city which towers over everything. Its minaret is sort of a landmark for the city. I was usually out walking around when I’d hear the afternoon calls. The voice was recorded, but it sounded over everything else and was rhythmic and lovely.

I know smells become familiar and trigger memories. The aroma of burning wood   always brings me back to Ghana, especially the mornings, when breakfast was being cooked over the fire. When I was in Morocco and heard the songs to prayer, I was reminded of Ghana, and that small mosque and the beauty of the single voice singing. It seems sounds too carry memories.

I’m Ghana get you in a taxi, honey

September 18, 2011

I have uploaded all the photos of my trip. My first thought had been to do it in pieces like Ghana I, Ghana II and up to whatever, but I decided just to add to the first batch and keep going. It took a good part of the day! Enjoy!

My Dear Hedley, Watch out!

“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.”

September 13, 2011

The morning comes early when your body is still on a different time. Today it was 5 o’clock when Gracie, Fern and I rolled out of bed. I brewed some coffee and read yesterday’s mail. As you can tell, the daily routine is quickly back into my life. When the papers came, I read them and did all my puzzles. Yup, just a regular day here in South Dennis.

I went to take a shower on my first night in Bolga after all that traveling. There was no hot water so one of the women brought me a bucketful. I had a bucket bath for the first time in 40 years. In the morning I went to have breakfast. It came with the hotel rate. I ordered fried eggs, toast and coffee. The fried eggs were not at all tasty and the coffee came in single cup pouches: instant Nescafe, exactly what I used to drink as there is still no brewed coffee. The milk in the pitcher was evaporated. It could have been my breakfast forty years ago.

On that first full day in Bolgatanga, Thomas and I went to Bawku. During training in July 1969 we spent three weeks there living with a Ghanaian family who spoke the language we were learning. I stayed in the house of Imora Sanda, a wealthy, respected man. His house was the only one with lights as he had a generator for his house and the movie theater. I use movie theater loosely as you stepped through a door to the outside and sat on benches; no popcorn anywhere. Mostly they showed spaghetti westerns with the strange-sounding dialogue and odd music. One time they showed the ending of the film in the middle and the middle reel at the end. Well, back to now: the road to Bawku was horrible. It was mostly hard-packed dirt and pot holes big enough to eat a car whole. Along the way were small villages and cows, lots of cows, as the north is where they raise almost all of the cows in the country. Bawku was small when I was there; it is now sprawling and like most larger towns and villages it is filled with people walking, sitting, talking and riding bicycles and motorcycles. There are far fewer cars in the north than the south as it is a poorer part of the country with no cash crop so fewer expensive cars. We rode around a bit as I tried to find my bearings. We stopped and asked a group of young men if they knew the home of Imoru Sanda. One of them said yes, and he would get the son of Imoru Sanda to come.

When he came, I introduced myself: sun na Ladi. My name is Ladi in Hausa: a girl born on Sunday. I then explained who I was, and he took me right to his father’s house. I knew it immediately, and I knew the movie theater two houses down the dirt road. We walked inside the house and started to walk upstairs. I said my room is the second on the left. There it was exactly as I remembered it in my mind’s eye. There is a door to a porch at the other end of the room, and I said below the porch is a tree on the left, a dirt road and a small mosque on the right. It was exactly the same, and I swear the same men were sitting under that tree as they had in my day. Imora, named after his father, said his mother is still alive, and we walked to the family’s house. In 1969 it was a compound, and I used to walk between compounds to get there. Always were small children around the house and something cooking on the fire, usually my dinner. When I got to the house, Imora called his mother. I told her my name, and she repeated it then gave me a giant hug and told me how I used to visit her and the other wives, two of whom have died and the other, the youngest, in here in the US. We spoke a while then I went back to the open part of the house where dinner was cooking and kids were milling. One cried-I always used to make the toddlers cry simply by the color of my skin. I took a picture of the whole family then they took one with me. I had found my Ghanaian family after 42 years away. Imora Sanda had died a very old man in 1990. I always thought he was old when I knew him. They gave me a picture of my Ghanaian father to take home with me.

That night, back in Bolga, I sat and finished dinner. No longer do the Ghanaians use talking drums to communicate. They use cell phones and four students, learning I was in town, arrived that night to visit, the one I had met the night before and three more including Lillian who is married to the Bolga-naba, the chief and is his third of four wives, Francisca and Florence. We laughed and remembered for a long time. We had all kept our memories close and they were easy to find.

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

July 7, 2011

The day is already hot; yesterday was hot. I am inside right now with the air conditioner on and am quite comfortable, but, because the back door has to be shut, Gracie is driving me crazy. She rings her doggie bells to go out and a couple of minutes later flaps the dog door to come back inside. I think it’s a test. Either that or she’s out to drive me crazy. After I finish here, I’ll join her on the deck while there is still a breeze.

This morning I got my yellow fever shot for Ghana and a lecture from the doctor. He told me to wear cotton socks and sneakers: New Balance was his suggestion, and he thought two pairs of socks a day would be best, and I should travel with large zip-lock bags so I can store my muddy sneakers. Never wear sandals is what he said. Your feet could get horribly sunburned, and there is danger of rocks getting between your feet and the bottom of your sandals which could cause cuts which would lead to infections. He didn’t mention possible amputation from wide-spread infection, but I thought that’s where he was heading. Avoiding packs of dogs was another suggestion. I never once saw a pack of dogs; herds of goats is as close as I got. He said he assumed I was going economy so he was giving me a series of exercises to avoid blood clots. I took the paper and didn’t correct him. I figured with my t-shirt having a hole or two and my wearing rubber flip flops the assumption made sense. He gave me a pamphlet warning me about armed robbery, war in the north and the poor quality of hotels in Ghana. I just thanked him and left. I didn’t tell him I won’t be bringing socks or sneakers, and up north is exactly where I want to go, including Bawku which had had gunfire a year ago between robbers and police.

If I listen to the doctor, I can imagine what my new packing list will look like: sunscreen for my feet, pairs and pairs of old socks (old because the doctor suggested I could just throw them away after wearing them), sneakers, a bullet proof vest and one of those wrist locks connecting me and my suitcase. I just hope no one thanks of chopping off my wrist. It could get infected.

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