Posted tagged ‘living in Africa’

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

April 12, 2015

Today is glorious. The sun is bright, the sky a lovely dark blue and it’s warm, in the mid 50’s. The morning is loud with the songs of birds. I stopped out front with papers in hand just to smell the sweet spring scented air. The daffodil buds are bigger, closer to blooming. Purple croci have bloomed in the front. I swear my grass has shoots of green instead of just winter brown. I finally believe in spring.

The Globe had a column this morning in the travel pages about a woman who went to Togo to visit her Peace Corps son. She described where it was in West Africa, that it is a Francophone country and you spend French African francs (CFA). She was struck by the poverty, the trash and the lack of infrastructure. Many of the roads are unpaved red dirt which covers you and everything you’re carrying in red dust when your bush taxi takes you away from the coast. She went to the Grand Marché In Lome and described it just as I remember it. The building is concrete. The cloth market is on an upper floor. On the bottom floors are the food markets. The Grand Marché was always one of my stops during my frequent visits to Togo, an easy bus ride from Accra along the coast. You rode to the border at Aflao, got off the bus and walked across to Togo under an arch which says Bye-Bye Safe Journey. The other side of the arch says Welcome to Ghana.

In Lome I ate ice cream and pastries and rock lobsters from a grill on a hotel’s patio. I ordered bifteck and pomme fries using my halting high school French. I burned the bottoms of my feet running on the hot beach sand. Once I was swimming and a dead pig floated beside me. I took my life into my hands by renting a moped and driving on the crowded city roads. I went up-country on local busses.

I never thought of living in Africa as an adventure. It was home for 27 months, and always felt comfortable. I was never lost but easily found my way from one place to another. My French got better, and I could give or ask for directions, order more than steak and French fries and bargain in the market in French. Without realizing it, I became a traveler. That has held me in good stead all of my life.


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