Posted tagged ‘Bolgatanga’

“There are no such things as curses; only people and their decisions”

October 7, 2017

The sun predicted for today has yet to appear. It is cloudy and damp. I could feel the moisture in the air when Gracie and I went out to get the papers. It made me feel a bit chilly and I wished I had put on a sweatshirt. The house, though, with all the doors and windows closed is warm.

We’re going out today, Gracie and I, to the dump, the market and Agway. My trunk is filled with trash from Thursday’s great cabinet clean-out. Gracie needs canned food and a treat or two, and I need the essentials for life: bread, coffee and cream.

My friends are coming on Tuesday for a couple of days. These are the friends I traveled with to Ghana last year. We first met in 1969 at Peace Corps staging in Philadelphia at the Hotel Sylvania. Staging is the first time the whole group of trainees get together before leaving for in-country training, and it is where we got shots, had interviews and were introduced to PC staff from Ghana. Right away we became friends and co-conspirators. The three of us skipped some of the orientation to tour Philadelphia. It didn’t take a whole lot of convincing. They were supposed to be posted in Tamale, a city 100 miles from Bolga. That would have made us neighbors. Instead, after Peace Corps found out Peg was pregnant, they were posted to New Tafo, in the south. I visited them every time I went south, and we traveled together. Just before our second year, there was an open post at my school. They were willing to join me in Bolga, and the principal agreed to make the request to Peace Corps so we became neighbors living in a duplex on the school compound. Bill had a red motorcycle. I had a grey one. We used to take day trips around Bolga. He’d take Kevin, their son, and I’d take Peg. We had adventures. I remember a couple of picnics during school holidays, one by a watering hole and another in the hills of Tongo where school boys stood and watched us the whole time. It was there an old man threatened us with the gods because he claimed we had desecrated a sacred rock by putting our small charcoal burned on it. The schoolboys said he just wanted money. We decided to take our chances. As we were leaving, Bill’s motorcycle stopped dead. It just quit running. We sort of chuckle and hoped the old man didn’t see us. The motorcycle did start right away, but it gave us pause.

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“And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.”

June 27, 2017

What was a lovely summer morning with a cooling breeze has become a cloudy day with a dark sky, a rain threatening sky. I shut the window behind me as I felt a bit chilly. The breeze has turned cold.

Yesterday I was able to cross everything off my to do list. That doesn’t usually happen. I felt accomplished.

Gracie got her first tick yesterday. I was patting her ears when I found one on the underside of one ear. It was small and hadn’t embedded yet. I hope it can swim.

I can hear the swishing of the leaves on the oak trees. That is the only sound. I wonder where the birds went.

I once raised chickens. My first laying hen was a gift from a Ghanaian friend. The hen was white and hatched 5 chicks. She was a horrible mother and the chicks began to disappear, eaten by one predator or another. Her second hatching was much the same. I ate her for dinner a couple of nights. Such is the fate of a bad mother hen.

I like to shop at farmers’ markets, especially the one in Bass River. Mostly I buy fresh vegetables though I have also bought cheese, local honey, candles, fresh herbs, desserts, jams and jellies and once some lamb. The market is set up in a circle so I do one loop. It is held every Thursday and Saturday.

One of my favorite places in Ghana was the market in Bolga. Every third day was market day. I had gone to my first market during Peace Corps training. It was a disaster. I got sick from the smells, but, by my live-in in Bawku, three weeks into training, I had stopped noticing. I loved my market. I’d bring my woven shepherd’s bags which stretched and fill them with tomatoes, onions, eggs, garden eggs, okra, oranges, bananas and pineapple. A chicken, bound by its feet, I’d slide onto the handle bar of my motorcycle. Sometimes I’d find a surprise. Once it was a watermelon. I could buy cloth, sandals, pots and pans, dishes, glasses and so much more. I always thought of the market as an adventure.

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.”

April 22, 2017

At 7:15 a couple of banging sounds at the window woke me up. It was a bird. It flew at the window a couple of times more then I whacked the window with my hand, and the bird flew away. I tried to go back to sleep, but a robo call at 7:45 was the end of my sleeping. Gracie, though, sighed and went back to sleep. Maddie never even woke up.

As for today’s weather, ditto yesterday’s. As for my plans for today, ditto yesterday’s.

I missed the first Earth Day. It happened during my time in Ghana. I read about it when the New York Times Week in Review was sent to me by Peace Corps Ghana. It was their way to keep us connected to what was happening at home. I admit I wasn’t all that interested in Earth Day. My daily life revolved around my students and Bolgatanga, my town, but in retrospect, I realize Ghanaians saved the Earth every day. They repurposed everything. My sandals had soles from old tires. My rice was wrapped in the New York Times compliments of Thomas who worked for me. Tin cans were recycled. My meat from the market was wrapped in leaves. Mammy lorries and buses never left the lorry park until all the seats and even the aisles were full of passengers though that always irritated me, the waiting time.

When I was a kid, we never thought twice about throwing everything in the trash. There were no recycle centers because none of us knew about recycling. The trash was put out on the curb once a week, picked up and willy-nilly thrown into the back of the trash truck. I liked to watch the trash being compacted by the truck. That was my only interest in trash.

My town encourages recycling, and I do my best, but I still feel helpless. So much is way beyond my control. Mr. Trump is not a friend of the Earth. That scares me.

“Colder by the hour, more dead with every breath.”

January 15, 2017

This morning I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It was 9:15 when I first woke up. Considering how late I went to bed, I figured it was too early to get up so I snuggled under the covers and went back to sleep. I slept until 10. Maddie started howling. Gracie was snoring. I decided the bed was too warm and I was too comfy so I went back to sleep. It was easy. I slept another hour so it was close to 11 when I dragged myself out of bed. I have no guilt at sleeping the morning away. I have no obligations, no errands and no chores though I could do a laundry, but I won’t.

Last night I want the Patriots beat the Texans. It wasn’t the Pats best game as Brady was intercepted and sacked, but my Pats prevailed. The game started late, 8:15, and ended late so my friends and I decided to make it an evening. First, we ate Chinese and played Phase 10, our favorite game. I happened to win. Clare and I alternate winning. Tony hasn’t won since last March. We’re planning a gala for his anniversary of one year without a win. He isn’t looking forward to the festivities.

It was cold last night, 24˚, so today at 34˚ feels warmer. The low this evening will be 19˚. When I lived in Ghana, it was hot and dry in January. It was harmattan. Dust blew over everything. The sun was obscured. Rain was months away. My candle melted without being lit. The water was often turned off. I took bucket baths, and I had to take a few before I got the knack. I got good at it.

During Peace Corps staging, a time when we all came together for nearly a week before leaving for Ghana, I was asked if I minded going to the north. My response was to ask why the question. What was it about the north? The psychologist asking the question didn’t know the answer. I told him I didn’t care where in Ghana I was to be posted. That settled it. I went to the far north, the Upper Region. I even knew before I left staging I was going to be in Bolgatanga. The remote posting areas were filled first. That was Bolga. That was the place with a long dry season when days reached 100˚ or more. I think of that this time of year, the coldest time of year here in New England, but if I were given a choice between the two, the hot, hot dry days or the freezing days and nights, I’d chose the cold. I couldn’t escape the heat, but I can always bundle up to escape the cold.

“The month of August had turned into a griddle where the days just lay there and sizzled.”

August 11, 2016

Here I am again, inside the house retreating from the heat. Today will be in the high 80’s on the cape and the 90’s in Boston and north of Boston. My friend Bill sent me the weather from Bolgatanga, Ghana where it will be cooler than here and rainy. What’s with that, cooler in Africa than here?

I could do a couple of errands today, but I won’t. I’m staying housebound by choice. I have food and drink, a semi-full larder, so I’ll be content and cool. I’m even considering baking something.

I hit a wall in watching the Olympics so last night I hunted for something else. It ended up being Cupcake Wars. I traded one boring program for a really boring program, but I’m guessing those cupcakes inspired me to think about baking today. This morning I’ve already watched women’s water polo. That wall is getting closer.

Yesterday I did two loads of laundry. They by themselves are not remarkable, but, for once, I didn’t leave any laundry in the dryer. I am known for leaving laundry in the dryer for up to a week. The clothes come out really wrinkled, but I don’t care.

Books are on the table in front of me as is the TV remote. They represent the day’s diversions, things to keep me busy, things to help the day pass.

When I was a kid, I’d be bored by the middle of August. I had done all the fun things several times, and they had begun to lose their luster. The afternoons were often too hot to do much. I remember being at the park and sitting in the shade. We played some checkers at the table and worked gimp. I remember painting a tray for my mother. We couldn’t play softball. Little kids couldn’t use the slide and seesaw because of the heat. The metal slide would have burned the backs of their legs. August is always hot and humid.

Every month I get a report from my electric company on my usage and how it compares to my neighbors’ usage. My sister in Colorado happened to mention her report to me as her husband, Rod, showed her they were the highest in the neighborhood. I said mine was too. We both decided we didn’t care. We want to live comfortably: cool in summer and warm in winter. I’m sending my next one to Rod so he’ll see they are not alone.

Tonight after midnight the Perseids meteor shower will begin, but the best viewing is after 1 AM or even later. There will be an unusually high number of meteors tonight anywhere from 160 to 200 meteors per hour. The suggestion is to lie on your back and look straight up. Drinking caffein to stay awake was another suggestion. I’m thinking iced coffee.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

March 8, 2016

We have actually hit 50˚ today because there is no wind. The day is bright and the sky is clear of any clouds. I just got back from my library board meeting so I’m done for the day. My outside clothes are going to be replaced by my inside comfy clothes. I brought home three books from the library, and I have yet to read the morning papers. I’m thinking turning pages might just be my only exercise for the day.

Libraries have always been favorite places for me. I used to go at least once a week when I was a kid. The librarian probably didn’t think I was reading all the books because I returned them so quickly. You’d think librarians of all people would understand how books capture you and how difficult it is to put a good book down. I’d sometimes read a book in one day. I’d even read during class by hiding my book inside a textbook. It had to be a big textbook. The best was always geography with history a close second. Not once did I get caught. I’d turned the text book pages to make it all look real. I was adept at concealment.

When I was in Ghana, I read constantly and swear I read most of the books in the Bolga library. We had no radio, no TV and terrible movies shown once in a while in town at the Hotel d’Bull, the hot spot of Bolga back then. Preparing to teach the next day never took long and neither did correcting so with all this time to fill I read. Trips anywhere took what seemed forever so I learned to read while I was on the bus. It used to make me dizzy and sick when I was younger, but I got used to reading on the road in Ghana. Anytime I had a volunteer stay with me, book swapping was part of the visit. We all carried books. When I was in Accra, I’d go to Legon to the main campus of the University of Ghana. It had a book store. I always spent a good bit of money there. Books were almost as important to us as food and water. I don’t think that’s changed.

“When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and leave people wondering how you did it…”

September 26, 2015

The morning is again lovely with a strong breeze and a wonderfully bright sun. When I went to get the papers, I sat on the front steps a while to check out the neighborhood and to let the sun wash over and warm me. The leaves were rustling and the chimes in the backyard were ringing every now and then when the breeze was the strongest. The sound of the chimes is sweet. I finally went back inside drawn by the thought of my first cup of coffee.

We never had fresh orange juice. My mother always bought it frozen in the can. I can still remember how much of an ordeal it was to get the juice to the drinking stage. First you had to open both ends of the can to slide out the glob of frozen juice. The silver hand can opener sometimes cut not just the top but also the sides of the can making it harder to get the tops off. More often than not one of the tops would fall into the pitcher with the frozen juice. When digging it out, you had to be careful as it was easy to cut your finger on the sharp edges. I know from experience. We never had the foresight to take the can out of the freezer and leave it on the counter to let the juice melt. Come to think of it we probably didn’t have the patience either. I remember holding the pitcher under hot water to help along the melting, and we’d use a spoon to smash the glob into smaller pieces so it would melt quicker. When it was finally melted enough by my mother’s standards, we’d run the cold water until it was as cold as it could be from the faucet then make the juice.

We went through a Tang phase for a while because John Glenn and the Gemini astronauts drank it. Besides, it was easy to throw a few teaspoons in water then stir and drink. There was no can opener, waiting or hot water baths before drinking it. The only problem was it really didn’t taste all that good.