Posted tagged ‘markets’

“If things are getting easier, maybe you’re headed downhill.”

November 13, 2016

Today is a glorious fall day, sunny and warm. Gracie has been outside most of the morning. She knows a good thing when she sees it. Well, I never did get to that laundry. It is still sitting in front of the cellar door, maybe today, maybe not. I do have to make that dump run as the dump is closed the next two days, and my trunk is filled with trash.

Today I am going to grocery shop from the convenience of my home. My refrigerator is pretty empty. I’m down to having eggs for supper.

When I was in Ghana, the Peace Corps sent us the insert The Week in Review from the Sunday New York Times. I didn’t have a radio to listen to the Voice of America and the Ghanaian papers had mostly local news so that insert was the only current news I ever got about the United States. I did get the whole New York Sunday Times as a gift but the issues came months later in groups of four or five. Usually, I didn’t read the news but devoured the rest of the paper. Though so much was happening at home, I was disconnected. My life revolved around Ghana: teaching my classes, shopping in the market, greeting people and continuing to learn Hausa, traveling on vacations and developing friendships with Ghanaians and my fellow volunteers. The United States was just too far away.

On this last trip to Ghana, I did check the news each morning on my iPad. I kept track of the election but little else. That feeling of disconnection returned, and I didn’t mind. I was back to being involved with Ghana: with the heat, with my former students, with my favorite Ghanaian foods, with my bathroom runs (sort of a pun) and with my friends. I was glad for the respite.

“It’s the unknown that draws people.”

February 14, 2015

When I first woke up, it was 7 o’clock, and I could see sun and blue sky outside my window. I smiled, turned over and went back to sleep. The second time I awakened it was 8:30. The sun was gone as was the blue. Today is now like all the other days: grey and cold and uninviting. The snow will start tonight and come in waves. The biggest wave is due tomorrow.

Now where would I be if I could be somewhere else? Much as I love Ghana, the 100˚+ degrees is just our weather turned inside out. Back to Morocco is a possibility. It is winter there but a sweater is enough. I remember the colors in the spice market, the aromas of meat cooking and glasses of mint tea. Colorful rugs hung from balconies. Cranes nested. Okay, Morocco is definitely on the list, but then again perhaps it should be where I haven’t been. I love exploring new places and being by myself never matters. All of the sights and sounds become fodder for my journal, my hand written journal. The markets are for losing myself, for following unfamiliar paths. They are the places for discovery. That restaurant in Marrakech in a garden at the back of the furniture store is one of favorite finds, but I had help. A small boy led me there.

Asia comes to mind. I want off the beaten path, maybe Laos, Nepal or Myanmar if it gets its act together.

My family worries when I travel alone, but they don’t share that with me. They know I’d pooh-pooh the notion. My brother-in-law was the designated rescuer when I was in Morocco. He would fly there and accompany me and my injuries home. They were thinking broken leg. I didn’t even get a scratch.

I don’t ever mind getting lost as there are discoveries to unearth and I know I’ll always find my way.

“Africa is less a wilderness than a repository of primary and fundamental values, and less a barbaric land than an unfamiliar voice”

May 15, 2012

It’s an acceptable day: not too cool, not hot, and varying between sunny and cloudy. Rain is predicted for this afternoon but right now the sun holds sway. I have a bunch of stuff to do today, a listful, and it’s been a while since I’ve needed a list. A couple of the errands are for tomorrow, but I figured I’d add them anyway while I was listing, so to speak.

I need a little excitement. Over the winter, my life was a bit humdrum. Okay, it was hugely humdrum. I didn’t go anywhere. Even my night out for trivia was sporadic. The one social event I could count on was on Sunday nights when my friends and I had our Amazing Race evening together. We’d play games before hand and eat dinner while watching the race, but that was the sum total of my excitement.

In Ghana, there was little to do at night. The occasional movies were shown at the Hotel d’Bull and many of them were Indian with all the singing that goes with them. It wasn’t Bollywood back then, but all the pieces for it were in place. Mostly we played games, but I was never bored. Life was never humdrum. All around me was Africa with sights and sounds I never knew existed. I couldn’t have dreamt them as I had no idea what Africa was like. I had to experience those sights and sounds, absorb them and etch them into my memory so I could draw on them and bring them back.

I brought them back often. I’d close my eyes and remember. I’d see the road to town and all the stores across from the post office, and I’d remember market day with all the bustle and noise and the stalls filled with fruit and vegetables. I remembered the beautiful colors and patterns of the cloth and how women carried babies on their backs and baskets on their heads. I kept my memories vivid.

Last summer I saw all of those things again. My town was huge compared to forty years earlier, but its essence hadn’t changed. The market is enormous now but still filled with color and with women carrying baskets on their heads and babies on their backs. I heard the sounds of FraFra, the local language, everywhere I went. I greeted people just as I used to but in Hausa, the language the Peace Corps taught me, and the Ghanaians always greeted me back. I didn’t have a TV, and there is no more Hotel d’Bull with its Indian movies, but none of that mattered. Just as before, I wasn’t bored once.


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