Ahoy, me maties. Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The sea is ruffled and the sails are billowed. Tis’ a great, grand ship and ye are all welcome aboard. Grab a flask of grog and hear me story.
This is the last of my Ghanaian saga. I spent five days in Bolga and three nights sitting and laughing with my students. One day three of them took me shopping in the market. I just sat while they haggled for my baskets and for the smock I bought. We then visited craft places, and I watched the making of the leather goods. At the dress shop, I picked out the one I wanted and Florence bought it. I protested and she just ignored me. Afterwards, I suggested lunch, and we went to The Diplomat where we all had goat and fried rice. It seems fried rice has become a Ghanaian staple. I treated the bargainers to lunch in thanks for all the money I knew I’d saved. They promised to be back that night, my last night in Bolga.
Six of my students came that night. They drank beer and malt and the table beside us gave us a half bottle of champagne they hadn’t finished. The students brought kelewele, my favorite dish and one I suspect I have mentioned many times. They ordered Guinea fowl without pepper so I could eat it. We all ate with our hands and shared the meal. I didn’t eat the bones, and my students couldn’t understand why. I explained we only ate the meat, and they lectured me about wasting food and they finished off the bones. It was a grand night, and we all shared memories. They did imitations of me in the classroom which were right on target. They were me frustrated about what I was trying to teach, and they repeated exactly what I used to say then roared laughing. They told me how the watchman wasn’t really asleep when I’d come to the school at night and find the gate locked. He was just ignoring me and he told the students how funny he thought it was that the white lady kept yelling, “Watchman, watchman,” and he just didn’t move. Most times I ended up climbing the gate, so much for the security of the watchman. I never did understand how he couldn’t hear me as his dog was barking and barking as I yelled. They remembered the one time I walked out of class as they were not prepared, and how they crammed then begged me to return. I did. They sang me a song they had learned from one of the cassettes I had brought with me. I cried when they sang Leaving on a Jet Plane perfectly. One of them told me she often sings it and always thinks of me when she does. That did me in.
We hugged and kissed and exchanged addresses and phone numbers. Three of them have called me already, and I have called a couple. This time we will not lose touch with one another.
I left Bolga the next morning. Thomas and I made it to Kumasi and we stayed there for the night. When we arrived, one of the students who had completed school before I arrived in Bolga was waiting for us as the principal of my old school lived in Kumasi. The talking drums of cell phones had found her through that graduate who was kind enough to meet us and take us to Madame Intsiful’s school. It was named St. George’s, after her she told me. Her name is Georgina. When I walked into the room, she looked at me and said, “I know you,” but she didn’t remember my name. She is quite old now so I understood and reintroduced myself. We chatted a short while and then she walked us to the car.
My hotel room was on a noisy street, but it was clean and had a shower and air-conditioning and was pretty cheap. I didn’t roam Kumasi as I didn’t know it in my day and certainly didn’t know the large city it had become. When I lived in Ghana, I went there just to visit Ralph and Michelle. I was country mouse visiting city mice.
Thomas and I left the next morning, and I arrived back at the Triple Crown in the early afternoon, welcomed by the staff. For dinner that night, I had Lebanese food. It was in Ghana where I first tasted hummos as Accra used to be filled with small Lebanese restaurants. Tahal’s was a Peace Corps favorite spot. I watched some of the Nigerian soap opera then took a shower, a hot shower, and fell asleep early.
On Friday, my last full day in Ghana, I hired the van and Isaac and I did a bit of riding around Accra while I picked up a few last-minute gifts. I had him take me through Adabraca, the section of Ghana where the PC hostel used to be, but I couldn’t remember where. That night I met another former volunteer for dinner. She was staying on Ghana a bit longer.
The next day I packed and then mostly sat around until it was time to go to the airport. I was sad to leave and wished I had planned a three-week trip instead of a two, but I suppose at the end of three weeks I would have been wishing for a month.
The flight was amazing as I went home first class and had one of those sleeping pods which make you feel a bit like an astronaut. I decided I had been substituted at birth. My real family had money and always traveled first class.
My trip back to Ghana was everything and more than I had hoped. I found my Ghana then met the new one, no less wonderful but a lot bigger and noisier and filled with far more people. The Ghanaians are warm and welcoming. I was greeted everywhere and waved at when we were on the road. I fell in love all over again with what I have always called my other country. I had always promised myself I would go back to Ghana. I finally fulfilled that promise.