Posted tagged ‘savannah grassland’

“Never forsake your motherland.”

May 8, 2023

Today is lovely, bright and warm. The sky is so blue it almost defies description. It is 65° and will get warmer as the day gets older. My windows are open. It is time to blow away the winter and fill the house with the sweet smells of spring. I am glad for today as tomorrow will be cooler.

When I lived in Ghana, my home, Bolgatanga, was almost as far away from the capital as you could get. I knew before I left staging in Philadelphia where I would be posted because the remote postings were the first filled. If you stayed in Accra for a while and then you were taken to Bolga, you’d think you were in a different country. The lush green of southern Ghana had disappeared and been replaced by the open savannah grasslands of the north. Bolga had one rainy season, a magical time when the brown fields came alive with green shoots and grasses, when the dusty roads were hardened by the rain. During the dry season, my lips chapped and my heels split from the dryness. The water was rationed, often turned off for a day or two so I took bucket baths. My students cleaned the school compound every morning regardless of the season then spent the day in classes. At night, they often visited me.

I was closest to my FraFra students. I sometimes think it was because they were from Bolga and were as resilient as the fields. The dry season for them was just another part of life to be endured while the rainy season was to be celebrated. The FraFra dances were exuberant, energetic, with quick movements filled with joy. Women traditionally danced the pogne with moving arms and stepping legs. Often the dancers were accompanied by clapping and singing. I tried a few times and almost fell over each time.

I knew, on my first trip back to Bolga in 40 years, I’d find my FraFra students, and I did on my first night back to Bolga. The word was spread that I had returned and students came to my hotel. I recognized them all. The only two missing were Franciska Issaka who was living here and Grace Awae who was in Accra. I was so sorry to miss both of them. When I got home, Grace called me, and we reconnected. It was the same with Franciska, and she came to visit. It was amazing to me that one of my students was in my house.

On the next visit, a year later, Grace met me at the airport, and we spent every day together. It was the same on the third visit, the one with Bill and Peg. Grace and Bea Issaka sat with us every night at our hotel. It all seemed so natural sitting at a table in Bolga chatting with friends.

I felt at home in Bolga each time I returned. My feelings, my love for Bolga and for my students, had never left me. They flooded my heart. I always think I got the best posting in the country among the most amazing people.

“Adventures do occur, but not punctually.”

August 22, 2013

The humidity is so thick I can almost see it in the air so the slight breeze has little effect. The sun bobs in and out, but all it does is highlight the haze. The last two days the AC was on so this morning I turned it off and opened the doors and windows to freshen the air in the house. Gracie likes the back door open because she is able to go in and out her dog door, but once the panting starts, Gracie is in and the air conditioner is on.

Last night, a red fox darted across the road in front of my car. Luckily it was quick as I wouldn’t have been able to slam on my brakes in time had it been just a touch slower. The fox was small, probably young. I haven’t seen a fox in a while, but the Cape has many. Come to find out, it also has bobcats for the first time since Colonial days. An iPhone film of one was taken by a man who saw the bobcat in his yard. He highlighted it in his headlights, and the bobcat stood long enough to be filmed. Wildlife experts have confirmed that it was indeed a bobcat, Lynx rufus. They are common in other parts of the state but were designated rare to absent here. The experts figure the cat probably walked across the bridge. They think this one is a juvenile because of its size. Last year it was bear; now we have bobcats again.

I have probably told my story before, but the sighting of a bobcat reminded me of my wild animal sighting in Ghana, and it’s a great story, worth the retelling. It was mid-morning, and I was on my motorcycle riding on a dirt   on my way to a small village to visit a friend for the weekend. The road is so untraveled that the only car I saw stopped to ask me if I was lost. I guess a white woman on a motorcycle is as rare a sighting there as the bobcat was here. I told them where I was going and they said I was on the right road. That kind of made me chuckle as it was the only road. I kept riding until I saw what I first thought were men crossing road, but I stopped to get a better view and noticed these were hairy men on all fours. I knew right away they were baboons; there were about five or six of them. I was totally enthralled by the sight. I mean, really, in Africa riding on a motorcycle on a dirt road and seeing baboons would make anyone fascinated. I watched them crossing the road and was, I thought, far enough away, but one of them stopped, turned and looked at me. I didn’t move but immediately formulated an escape plan just in case it became a bit more than curious. It didn’t. The baboon joined the others and all of them left across the grassland and out of sight.

That is one of my favorite memories of Ghana. I knew there were wild animals, even elephants, still roaming the savannah grasslands  of the Upper Region and around Bolga where I lived, but I never expected to see any of them. I often rode my motorcycle on the dirt roads just for the ride, but I never saw any animals close to where I lived. That was an adventure, an unexpected wonderful adventure.

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