Walking to lunch, Joyce tries to teach me phrases from her local language-from the Volta region. I try, she laughs at my inability to properly pronounce anything. I ask her, how many languages she speaks, she says 5. And, once again, I feel like a dumb American. She asked me, how many I speak. I say, English, and some Spanish. She then asks how to say a few key phrases in Spanish, and immediately commits them to memory. I can say hello now, and respond “good” when asked how I am. I also asked Joyce her favorite beach around Accra (she has lived here 17 years, since high school). She hasn’t been to any. Evidently, she has a slight fear of the ocean-apparently, this is typical. But she was enthusiastic about trying to go to one “now that she has a friend to take her.” I promised that of course, I would accompany her. I am beyond grateful to have made a friend so early on, and has been a great companion. Her ease and joy makes her an absolute pleasure to be around. Later, she took me to lunch and had me try another local dish, red-red. It’s just beans with a chili sauce that you eat with fried plantains that have a ginger-cayenne seasoning. The sweet and spicy is excellent, and the flavor combination is familiar. So far, I’m loving local food. I’ve read many blogs stating how much volunteers disliked the food, and perhaps I’ll tire of it too, but so far, it’s fantastic.
I also picked up a few books from Legon’s library where they have an African Writer’s Series. “A Grain of Wheat” by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and “No Longer at Ease” by the author of “Things Fall Apart”-Chinua Achebe.
All initial apprehensions have faded and I’m falling back into the flow of the country, and am constantly reminded what I love about Africa in general. I can feel tension alleviating as I adjust to “African Flexible Time” once again. You might imagine that the lack of schedule means much time is wasted throughout the day. But, I’m finding that instead the days feel longer. Yes, a trotro ride (minibus) may involve hoping on and waiting-who-knows-how-long to fill up (people, not fuel), then taking off in Accra’s infamous traffic (LA has nothing on it, actually, neither does Lima). But once you relinquish control to the transport powers that be there is a calmness that allows you to bear even the most absurd backups. Today’s favorite may have been the guy who parked his truck on the highway to run into a store for something, yes, in the middle of the highway, and no one seems to notice, other than to honk absurdly at nothing then cut over to the other lane, blocking oncoming traffic to get around. Ah yes, this feels familiar.
This weekend plans involve a trip to Cape Coast, for some beach time, forest canopy walking, street-food exploring, and slave castle visiting. Since James decided to give me tomorrow off, after lunch (lovingly prepared by James’ wife) I caught a trotro north to Koforidua, and then tomorrow, a 4-5 hour trotro to Cape Coast (back on Sunday). A short trip, but absolutely worth it.