Posted tagged ‘Ougadougou’

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

May 20, 2023

Rain is coming. It is supposed to rain all day, but the rain is welcomed as it is so dry. I have one errand. I have to go the grocery store to get a few items to fill my larder. I’m also thinking a Snickers bar.

Today is Africa day here on Coffee. I am wearing a t-shirt my sister gave me which says, “I don’t need therapy. I just need to go to Ghana.” My house is filled with my treasures from Africa, some I brought back and many I bought on subsequent trips. I have a metal chess set I bought in Ouagadougou, the capital of what was Upper Volta in my day and is now Burkina Faso. It was a weekend getaway destination for me. The station wagon would pick me up at my house which was on the road to Ouga. The road was laterite until close to the city where it was paved. I remember during the rainy season we had to get out of the car so it could pass through places where the road was flooded. In Ouga I stayed in a hotel with air conditioning. It felt like a resort. I dined at L’eau Vive, a wonderful restaurant run by nuns. I shopped at the market which was below street level in the middle of the city. It is no longer there. I really liked the city and went often, but now Burkina Faso is dangerous and violent because of extremists, a great loss.

In Accra, the capital of Ghana, Hausa traders used to sell their wares on High Street. I always stopped there hoping I could get bargain. I spoke enough Hausa to chat so I usually got a good deal which was probably not a good deal but felt that way to me. Accra had many Lebanese restaurants, one Chinese restaurant and a few western type restaurants. I always ate once a trip at the Chinese restaurant. It was a treat, a sort of expensive treat, but mostly I ate Lebanese food. It was cheap and good.

I used to shop at Makola Market, the largest market in Accra. That was where I bought my mosquito net which I never used. On the cloth side of the market, yards of folded cloth were stacked tall. I’d look for neat cloth patterns for dresses. I was usually lucky to find some. I still have some cloth stacked here in the den.

When I walk my house, I see memories everywhere.

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.”

January 2, 2015

Using Gracie as a barometer, I figure the day is a warm one, more inviting than the last few. When she goes out, Gracie stays a good long time. The spit on her face is another indicator. It’s disgusting I know, but it tells me she’s been running, a joyful exercise for her. She hasn’t even had her morning nap yet. She’s back outside.

I started the sad task of putting away Christmas. It was a small first step.

I don’t remember celebrating the New Year my first year in Ghana. Christmas and Thanksgiving I remember and over Easter I traveled, but I’m thinking I was in bed at my usual time on that first New Year’s Eve. The only place in town where I might have gone was the Hotel d’Bull. It was the hot spot and even had a bar with an air-conditioner but you’d never know it, too many people were squeezed into what was called the cold room. The hotel had a courtyard, the scene of many jumps, dances to us. It was an easy walk downhill to the hotel from my house. We used to go see movies there, from the roof seats. The movies were always old or bad or both. I remember there was a jump on Good Friday so I’m guessing there must have been one on New Year’s Eve.

For my second New Year’s Eve I was in Ougadougou in Burkina Faso, called Upper Volta in my time. The ambassador from the US had invited any volunteers in town to his house for a party. The real guests, the diplomats, wore tuxedos or long dresses. Volunteers at that party were easy to recognize. We were the ones wearing dresses or shirts made of native cloth, and we didn’t mingle feeling just a bit out-of-place; regardless, that was the best party I ever attended in Africa. There was champagne, and the servers with white jackets and white gloves never let glasses get empty. The food was unbelievable. It was all the food I had been dreaming about and missing: ham, mashed potatoes, turkey and so many vegetables. I think I filled my plate at least twice, maybe more. I know my glass was never empty.

I have no long-range plans for 2015 except maybe winning the lottery. I just have to start buying tickets.


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