“He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home”
I made it: I’m finally home! Gracie was crazy, and the cats head-bonked me and purred. I greeted them and then went upstairs to take a nap. I left my luggage in the middle of the floor and dragged my tired body upstairs. After, I came down to unpack a bit. Right now the laundry and two empty suitcases are sitting in front of the cellar door. I’m hoping the laundry elves will get busy and a pile of clean, folded clothes will be there to surprise me.
The rides home were unspectacular: no missing flights, on-time arrival and departures and pure exhaustion after nearly eleven hours from Accra to New York. I then had to haul my bags through customs and down to the ongoing flight luggage counter. I waited three hours for my flight to Boston which felt like a minute long after the first flight. I got the bus and was home by 12:40, seventeen hours after the first take-off.
I need to tell you about my last few days in Ghana. I was back in Accra for one night then went down to Cape Coast. It is a beautiful city. Many of the buildings are old and have wooden second floors with shuttered windows. The houses are brightly colored with pink being popular. The streets are narrow and crowded with market stalls on each side which makes travel slow. As you approach Cape Coast you can see the ocean, the palm trees and fishing boats not far from shore. The easiest building to see is Cape Coast Castle on a buff right on the water. It is painted a brilliant white. The castle is on the Historic Register. It is where you’ll find the famous Door of No Return through which the slaves, chained together, walked on their way to the ships which were headed to the Caribbean and the coast of America. The tour guide was excellent. She took us to the male and female dungeons, the quarters of the British captain who ran the fort, the punishment cell where slaves who resisted were left without food, water or light and finally to the ramparts where we saw the look-out tower across the way and the cannons lined up facing the ocean. Next to the male dungeon is a plaque commemorating the visit of the Obamas. Grace, my former student, asked if the Obamas had to pay. The guide laughed. It was hot and I had beads of sweat down my face, my constant condition in Ghana.
We stayed at a guesthouse on a hill overlooking the city. It was the most expensive of any lodgings I had had in Ghana. Each room was fifty cedis ($25.00), and I had to pay for three: mine, Grace’s and the driver’s, but the room were enormous and Grace was overwhelmed. She wanted pictures of the room. Breakfast was part of the room price. It was the usual breakfast: eggs cooked as almost an omelet but browned rather than fluffy usually with onions and sometimes also green peppers. It is eaten in a toast sandwich. Those egg sandwiches are delicious and available all over Ghana. This breakfast also included pieces of sweet paw paw (papaya) and bananas.
We hit the road after breakfast and went further down coast to the village of Beyin. The road was mostly unpaved, but the scenery was gorgeous with the ocean not far off. The waves had white caps and the beaches were crowded with palm trees. We stayed at the Beyin Beach Resort, a fancy name for the thatched roofed bungalows and two chalets. The bungalows had two single beds, each covered my mosquito netting, and shared bathrooms. The hot water was welcomed. Breakfast was extra but worth it. I had real brewed coffee and real milk. I also got a chocolate croissant and shared with Grace and Tankwo, the driver. They loved the chocolate.
We left right after breakfast and drove next door to get tickets to see the stilt village of Nzueleo. We then walked down the street to where we took the boats, more like canoes. Each had two paddlers, one at each end. Grace had never been on a boat before. She and the driver wore life jackets. The woman who gave us the tickets said non-Ghanaians never take the jackets but Ghanaians always do. Few of them know how to swim. Unless they live by the ocean, there are few safe places to swim without the threat of schistosomiasis (bilharzia), trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), onchocerciasis (river blindness), and, until recently, dracontiasis (guinea worm) which Ghana feels has been eradicated.
The guides paddled us through marshland to Nzulezo. The trip took about 45 minutes and was beautiful. We saw all sorts of birds and flowers. We reached the village which is on stilts and located on one side of Lake Tadane. We left the boat for the wooden walkway through the village. The houses are wooden and most have thatched roofs. We were told that the number in the village is somewhere between 300-500 but no one is sure. I couldn’t take pictures of adults without permission, but I could snap the children. The village has a bar, two churches and a school. Most houses had a TV. When I asked why they lived in that village, I was told that their ancestors were fleeing from enemies and were guided to this spot by a snail. The villagers make money by brewing and selling akpateshie, a local gin. They load containers on boats and paddle to the village to sell their Akpateshie. We stayed in the village for a small while, had a cold drink then went back to the boat for the return trip. Two other boats were paddled by us, both filled with “obrunis” or white people. They waved. We got to the car and drove most of the day to Accra and my last two nights in Ghana.
I spent Saturday doing last-minute shopping and packing. My bags were really heavy, especially the carry-on as it had two pieces of pottery, heavy thick pottery bowls in which to grind things like ginger, peppers or even onions. One bowl was for me and the other a gift. On Sunday Grace and her husband took me out to a farewell lunch. They chose a Chinese restaurant which I had pointed out to Grace while we were shopping. Neither had ever eaten Chinese food before. They both liked my choices and Grace thought she would bring her son there in October for his birthday. Her husband was surprised the bill was not too large but we had shared the dishes: curried chicken fried rice, vegetable tempura and beef with cashews. The vegetables weren’t hot so both Grace and her husband used the hot sauce brought with the meal. I tried just a bit and even my lips were burning.
I went to the airport early and hugged Grace and her husband good-bye. Grace says she’ll come here for a visit and we’ll see each other soon. I checked in early and went to the Adinkra lounge with its free drinks, food and wi-fi. I had a three-hour wait but in the comfort of air-conditioning. At 9:30 I boarded my flight, which left at 10:10 and arrived in NY at 5:30. My flight for Boston left at 8:30; I took the 10:45 bus from Logan to Hyannis and was home by one. My friends had me to dinner. I came home and went to bed around 10, which was 2am my body time. This morning I woke up at 4:30 which is why you are reading this extended travelog.
I am enjoying my second cup of coffee and will go shortly to the drive-way for my papers, the first ones in over three weeks. It seems so strange to be wearing a sweatshirt as the morning is cold. Where are the roosters?Explore posts in the same categories: Musings comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.