Posted tagged ‘Bolga’
“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”August 2, 2015
I know it is late for me, so late that I almost thought of taking a mini-vacation, but here I am. Earlier I was out on the deck sitting in the shade of the umbrella. The day is another hot one. Gracie, despite lying in the shade, was panting. She wanted in so we both came inside to the AC. She is now comfy and asleep in her crate.
We’re going to the dump later. That’s the only entry on my dance card.
There is something so strongly compelling about going home. When I go back to my old home town, as I still call it after all these years, I take familiar routes, the ones I used to walk. From St. Pat’s to the project there are many changes. Some of the older houses are gone. The railroad tracks too are gone but there is a wide path where they once were. I am sometimes tempted to park my car and follow the path to see if it looks the same. There was a stream where we stopped for water. I wonder if it is still there. The playground where I spent so many summer days disappeared. Where it was is all overgrown now. My house and street look exactly the same except the bushes on the side of my old house are really tall. I don’t know if there is a limit as to how tall they will get. The tops look a bit spindly to me. I always have the urge to get out of the car and walk into the backyard just to peek to see if the in-ground garbage pail is still there, but I figure it would look a bit odd to the current occupants. I wonder what color the walls are now. In my day the living room was green. I suspect the house will look quite small inside to me now. I know the kitchen seemed small even then. Kid’s voices still fill the air on a nice day.
In Bolga, on my trip back after forty years, the first place I went was to my old school grounds to find my house. It was quite easy to find. It needed paint and the back courtyard could not be seen because the current occupants had added to the fence tops to block the view. I wondered about the four doors around the courtyard. I wondered what color they are. Coincidentally they were green when I lived there.
Home is a fluid place. It is both where you live now and all the places you’ve lived before.
Today is cloudy and chilly. Gracie and I are heading to the dump later. Right now she is having her morning nap and snoring up a storm. Fern is napping beside her on the couch rolled in a ball. Tonight is predicted to be as low as 35˚, sounds like turn on the heat and bundle under the comforter weather to me.
One small item caught my eye in the paper this morning. It seems a teacher from Maine has been put on a 21 day paid leave so she can voluntarily quarantine herself. This was done at the request of some of the school’s parents. It seems the teacher went to a conference in Dallas. The closest she got to the hospital with ebola cases was 10 miles.
My friends are coming tomorrow so Coffee is going on hiatus from today until Thursday. They are friends from my Peace Corps days, and I met them during staging, the first time we were all together, in Philadelphia. They were supposed to be posted 100 miles from me, making them my neighbors, but Peg was pregnant and Peace Corps wanted them close to Accra and the office. I always stopped to visit them on my way home from Accra. They were on the second floor of a house with no water. It was a run to the outhouses in the backyard. I was impressed when Bill used to carry his own water in buckets. During our second year, they transferred to my school and we each lived on one side of a duplex. We had motorcycles and made lots of trips together around Bolga. When we did, I carried Peg on mine and Bill carried Kevin, their son, on his. We had supper together every night and most nights played word or card games and had an ongoing paddle ball championship until the elastic on the red ball broke. We could each paddle well into the hundreds when that happened. We were ready if it ever became an Olympic sport.
We share a love for Ghana and for each other. The memories of our time together are sweet.
It’s still winter. I still live in New England. It’s still cold.
Before I go to bed every night, I send the dog outside to do the last of her night’s business then I shut off lights. Before I went upstairs last night, I pretty much did the same thing, but the light in the kitchen was already off and the dog was back inside so we went to bed. When I came downstairs late this morning, I noticed I had left the back door open all night. Right away I thought of the woman and the raccoon. In yesterday’s paper was the story of a woman who was awakened by a raccoon chewing her lips and face. She managed to throw it to the floor and lock it in the bedroom. The raccoon was captured and found to be rabid. The woman started rabies shots right away and also had to get several stitches on her face. It seems the raccoon got into the house through the cat door. Gracie’s door is even bigger than that so I’m thinking lions and tigers and bears, oh my, but actually I believe we’re safe as the 6 foot back fence will keep out most critters. I do pity the woman those shots. When I first got to Ghana, we had shot day, including a rabies shot. As the vaccine went into my arm, my knees buckled and I think I yelped or even screamed. I’m not sure which. The pain blotted my memory.
I’m going to count yesterday as productive. I did a load of laundry, went to have blood drawn and stopped at two stores. In one I bought doo-dads. I bought some watch faces and can’t tell you why. They were just neat looking.
My student Grace called this morning. She is trying to finish her house in Bolga. In Ghana houses are finished a bit at a time when money is available. Her house only needs a roof for the outside to be finished. Grace said when I next come to Bolga I have to stay with her. I said I would if she made jollof rice, Guinea fowl and kelewele. She laughed and said she would. I’m hoping I can go back in 2015 so I need to start saving money: no more doo-dads and no more shopping. The trip is expensive so austerity is my new life-style.
Okay, I just re-read this to check for errors. I have decided my life is boring when laundry is part of the conversation.
Boston is officially suffering through a heat wave. We aren’t because the cape is a few degrees cooler. Today will be 88˚, but the humidity is making the weather even more unbearable. Walk around outside and it smothers you, draws the life right out of your body. I, however, will never suffer that fate. I have become a hermit in the comfort of my air-conditioned home. Yesterday I went out about three times to the deck. The first time was to water the plants and the other two times were to warm up my feet. Yup, the AC forced me to put on socks. I felt sort of silly.
Gracie loves being in the cool house. She goes outside and squats then runs right back to the door to be let inside. The cats, however, have a different take on the AC. They find sun spots on the floor from the windows and sit there taking in the warmth. Fern, especially, misses the warmth. Usually in the morning she would lie in the sun streaming through the front door and sleep so deeply I could hear her small snores. The poor babies will have to wait a bit before it is cool enough to turn off the AC and open doors and windows.
Where I lived in Ghana was about as far from the ocean as you could get and still be in Ghana. The only fish you could find in the Bolga market was smoked and dried and looked disgusting, almost leathery. I didn’t even try it. It always seemed a bit strange to me that many Ghanaians actually preferred the dried fish to fresh. I used to think it was because they didn’t get fresh fish, but Grace, who lives in Accra, which is right on the ocean, buys dried fish. She won’t eat it fresh, thought the whole idea was a bit disgusting, but for those of us who love fish the Ghanaian seaside is like paradise. Some of the best fish dinners can be bought at small thatched huts along the shore. The huts have a few tables with benches, always a bit unsteady on the sand, and brightly colored umbrellas with beer logos to shield diners from the hot sun. The owners, who are generally the cooks, buy the fish right off the boats. The fish is usually wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over charcoal. The taste is amazing. Red snapper is my favorite.
In Togo, a country bordering Ghana, I had my first taste of barbecued lobster. It was dinner on the patio of a fairly large, sort of posh hotel, where we could never afford to stay but eating on the patio was within the budget of a Peace Corps volunteer: translation-it was inexpensive, maybe even cheap. My friend Ralph and I sat under an umbrella and watched as the lobster was cut down the middle then cooked. It was delicious.
Our mid-tour conference was at Dixcove, a neat little fishing village down the coast from Accra. We stayed in small cottages right on the ocean. I don’t remember anything about the technical parts of the conference, but I remember the rock lobster. We’d went to the village and paid a few guys small money to dive for the rock lobsters then we paid to have them cooked. Eating them was a divine experience I’ll never forget.
Today being the last day of the year and all I took a leisurely morning. First of all I woke up late, we’re talking 9:45 late, took my shower and then had an extra cup of coffee while reading the papers. I watched the birds from the window. It was like a convention of birds. One feeder had five goldfinches while other birds hovered just outside of it waiting for their seats at the counter. I felt bad for the doves as I had nothing for them. I have to go to Agway later to get Gracie food, sunflower seeds and thistle so I’ll also pick up a bag of assorted seeds to throw down for the doves. I’m so glad I filled the feeders the other day as the birds aren’t likely to find anything to eat with the snow.
Nope, I haven’t made a single resolution. Last year was a great year, and I didn’t make any resolutions then either. I’ll just let my life meander. That seems to work just fine.
I would like a trip this new year, but I have to go somewhere close and cheap. The last two Ghana trips depleted my savings, and I need some time to rebuild. Also, I’d like one more trip to Ghana, probably my last, in a couple of years, and that’s another reason for close and cheap. My friends Bill and Peg are going back to Ghana and Bolga in the fall. They mentioned that Duane, another volunteer with us from way back, would also like to go Ghana but he hasn’t yet planned the when. He was posted about 100 miles from us in Tamale, and I used to see him on my trips there, to the “big” city. He’ll have a bit of culture shock when he sees how big Tamale has gotten. It even has a store which sells real cheese.
I have no plans for tonight. My sister and I were laughing about that. In the old days, neither one of us would have been caught dead at home on New Year’s Eve. We’d be partying some place or many places, and we’d be wearing those silly hats and blowing horns. Tonight I’ll celebrate at home and be quite content. I’m thinking a bit of champagne and maybe even some shrimp. Just because I’m home doesn’t mean I can’t spoil myself!
Happy New Year, my friends. May this year be the best year!