Posted tagged ‘Ghana Peace Corps’

“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.

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”

June 9, 2017

Last night it rained. On my last Gracie trip to the yard, we both got wet. She shook it off. I changed my shirt.

I went to a Peace Corps event last night, a celebration of President Kennedy’s 100th birthday. It was held at the JFK Museum in Hyannis. Several countries were represented, but it was Ghana with the most attendees. We were asked to wear something from our country of service, and each of us Ghanaian RPCV’s wore Ghanaian cloths. After the museum event, we went out to dinner. It was a wonderful evening.

There are no strangers at Peace Corps events. We all share something remarkable in common and right away we start talking as friends. Where did you serve and when are always the first questions we ask each other. Serve is the key word for that’s how we all think of our experiences. All of us talk of our countries as home. That’s how Ghana has always felt to me.

Gracie ate nothing all day yesterday. That worried me as she is a chow hound. I tried chicken and rice, plain chicken, broth and an egg. Today she sniffed the food I offered so I figured she was hungry. We went to the dump this morning, and on the way home, I stopped and bought her a plain burger at Burger King. When we got home, I fed her a small piece. She ate it and the rest of the burger. I decided we’d go back for more burgers. I bought her two. She ate both burgers so I bought her two more. She ate those. I went to the store and bought hamburger to make for her dinner. I also bought myself a cinnamon bun. We both made out pretty well.

“This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.”

December 4, 2015

Today is lovely. The air is still, the sky a light blue and the sun winter bright. It is in the 40’s, colder than yesterday but warmer than last night. It hasn’t yet been winter cold, the sort which takes your breath away. I’m glad for the reprieve.

When I watch TV programs supposedly taking place in winter, I always look for breath. In the one from the other night, a Hallmark Christmas movie, snow was in piles on the ground and the characters were bundled as if for an Arctic expedition but there was no breath. It was a fake, a movie winter, but I wasn’t taken in by the trappings of a Hollywood winter. I know cold.

I remember watching One Magic Christmas, a Disney movie where winter is real. Some key scenes take place at night. When the characters walk, you can hear the sound of crunching snow. Under the shine of the streetlights, you can see their breaths. Everywhere is snow: on the ground, piled on the sides of the road and in front of houses. It is really winter. I appreciated that.

In Bolgatanga, in Ghana, Christmas takes place during the harmattan when winds blow sand from the Sahara, the days are brutally hot and the nights cold. The first year there I was twenty-two and had never been away from home at Christmas. I tried not to think about it. My mother, however, saved the day. She sent me a package by air to guarantee a delivery before Christmas. The postage was a small fortune. My aunt helped fill the package and was nice enough to pay half of the postage. When I opened the box, it was filled with Christmas. I’ll never forget that box. It had a small artificial tree, some new ornaments and some from the family tree, cookie cutters, some sprinkles for the sugar cookies, small  stockings to hang from the fireplace paper also in the package and a few small wrapped presents to put under the tree.

I learned how to make sugar cookies that year. I spent Christmas Eve with friends at my house where we had a small party. We sang Christmas carols, ate Guinea fowl, yam chips, donuts and sweet balls of coconut. The sugar cookies were the big hit. I had even decorated them. That Christmas is one of my all time favorites.

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”

May 3, 2014

Yesterday it was a joy to be out and about doing errands. I think I smiled the whole time. The day was brilliant with a bright sun and a temperature in the high 60’s. Poor Gracie had to be left home as I had too many long stop errands and didn’t want her stuck in the car in the heat. This time of year she comes when I go to the dump or take a ride. She was out in the yard most of the afternoon and spent part of it stretched on the deck enjoying the sun.

For breakfast when I was a kid, I had cocoa, oatmeal or eggs and toast during the winter, and in the summer I had cereal or toast with juice or milk. For lunch it was mostly a bologna sandwich. I was never good at slicing the bologna so my sandwich was always misshapen. Some of the bologna pieces had thick edges on one side and thin on the other. I added hot peppers from a jar and yellow mustard. Dinner was my mother’s choice. She knew what we’d tolerate and served it. Mashed potatoes were almost always part of the meal, and there was at least one vegetable. Hamburger in a variety of dishes was the most common meat. I didn’t realize why until I was older. Hamburger was inexpensive. My mother was creative. She made terrific meatloaves. She also cooked American chop suey without the onions and a Chinese dish with bean sprouts, water chestnuts, hamburger and crispy chow mein sticks on the top. Salisbury steak in gravy was another meal. Just plain hamburgers were mostly summer fare with hotdogs cooked on the grill. Sunday was the big dinner and we never had hamburger. Mostly it was a baked chicken or now and then roast beef. The last Sunday dinner I had before I went into the Peace Corps was roast beef, mashed potatoes and peas.

In Ghana I was still a creature of habit when it came to food. I had two eggs, toast and coffee for breakfast, fruit for lunch and beef and yam for dinner. I’d also have chicken now and then. Sunday was food from a chop bar, a hole in the wall eatery at the lorry park. Mostly it was fufu and soup. After the Christmas package came, Sunday was eat something from home day. Macaroni and cheese was a dish fit for the Gods.

I hadn’t good at making meals. I’m far too lazy. I’d have brie and crackers for dinner or eggs and toast. Lately, though, I’ve been using meat from the freezer and have had real meals: chicken thighs, mashed potatoes and a vegetable. Last night it was my old stand-by, peas, and a baked potato for variety. Dinner was delicious, and I felt accomplished.