First Day in the North and Some Good Food

This morning I sleep in a bit and get up at 06:00. I brush my teeth and feel a strong need to explore the new area. I only saw it in the dark, so I’m anxious to check it out. I walk behind the house and between the two foot tall grass there are a few walking paths. I take the one that goes, let’s say it together… straight! As I’m walking I can’t help but think about stumbling upon a small village that captures me and eats me for my tasty meat. I relax and just enjoy the scenery. I think I would be able to spot a village before I come upon it anyway since I can see much further here than I’m used to from Kumasi. I’m much more used to thick forest surrounding everywhere. This is more like an open savanna. I can literally see for hundreds of yards before the trees start to block out my vision. After about 15 minutes of walking, I realize everything looks exactly the same. There are the same trees and grass out as far as I can see. The diversity of the plants is much less than what I’m used to in Kumasi. I run into one of the other people we’re staying with and he confirms that up the path is just the same thing over and over again. On my way back I see two women farming. Or at least it looks like farming, they have machetes and are cutting the bushes and collecting something.

 

I get back to the house and some people are still asleep so I take it easy on more exploring and catch up on the blog and reading. By about 11:00 the group is ready to go into town for something called market day. Not many cars pass by here, so we start walking down the road. It’s blisteringly hot, much hotter than Kumasi, so we stop under a tree t wait. We continue up the road to a better stop to catch traffic where two roads meet. All the people we pass are speaking some singsongy language called Dogbani and Emily keeps responding to them by bowing and saying “naaaa”. I’m watching the people that se’s talking to and a couple of times I even run into her because she has completely stopped to bend almost at a 90 degree angle. One of the Tro Tros comes by, but it is already full and has people hanging off the top. Emily calls her friend to come pick us up in his motorcade. What ever that means… A few minutes later the people under the tree wit huts bring us all chairs to sit on. Again, showing that the Ghanaian generosity isn’t just in the southern part of the region. Right as the chairs are set down a man come roaring down the road attached to a big square bed, almost like a truck bed. He looks like he’s going straight on the road past us, but then takes a wild last minute turn to our road and when he’s directly in fornt of us he has completely gone off on the other side of the road and is now riding through the bushes. At this point I start to laugh because the man is clearly drunk of insane and he isn’t very good with the vehicle. Then he whips the back of the vehicle around and fishtails into the open dirt road and guns the engine to finally end with a skidding stop right in front of us on our side of the road. All of a sudden the humor of the situation has completely disappeared because I think this is the man Emily called and I think the thing he’s driving is what is known as a motorcade. My suspicion is confirmed when Emily goes up to greet the man and waves us over. Wetting y pants a little bit, I hop into the back of the bed and sit down with my but on the bed. There is maybe a five inch wall that goes up the side and I use that for a little bit of a back rest. I also know from my physics class about inertia and if we are traveling at a high speed and he decides to turn and I’m sitting up on the railing, like everyone else is doing, then I will have no resistance to stop me from continuing going in the straight direction. For once I don’t want to keep going straight! Not that sitting on the bed is much better because if we hit something then half of my back will stay in the vehicle and the other half, that’s not supported, will do something awful. I look around at our friends and don’t see any look of panic on anyone’s face that matches the thoughts of panic and death that are running over and over through my head. I’m clearly a big baby. My fear subsides as he goes much slower back to the market. I think he was either just trying to show off, or it just can’t go any faster with al the added weight. Either way I’m glad to not be an involuntary part of the next X games.

 

When we get out of the vehicle I realize the only breeze was provided by us moving. Unlike Kumasi and the Anota region, this area doesn’t seem to be blessed with the same natural breeze that I have become accustomed to. We quickly walk inside and order the coldest beers we can find. The fan above us isn’t on and I’m now sweating profusely. At least I’m not aslo baking in the sun at the same time. We finally get the fan on and there is a little relief as the warm air is being turned around us making it seem like we’re getting some relief. Right now it would be nice to have one of those fans with the squirty bottle underneath. A big problem with the houses in Ghana is that they are made with materials that have a lot of thermal mass, which gives them a lot of capacity to store and release heat. That type of material is best used in places with large temperature swings, day and night, the a desert. Ghana however, has basically no temperature swings , so it just stores the heat from the previous day and never really cools down. It basically just goes from hot in the day to warm at night. We take the seats outside in the shade and everything feels much better. The combination of cold beer and the shad outside of the heat emitting building is enough to stop the sweating, at least for a little bit.

 

Some of the girls leave to get water for the group. When they come back, they bring some snacks. They have a few bags of sweet potatoe wedges that are more boiled than fried and covered in a delicious peppay (pepper in Ghanaian English) seasoning. There are also a few bags of ground nuts. Now I’m in a snacky mood. We all agree we want a big meal, okay everyone else agrees and I tag along like sheep, and walk down to the seller. I order joleof rice, regular beans, and some different kind of larger beans, of and of course some peppay. We go back to the beer spot to the tables in the nice shade. On our way back to the spot we run into another PCV (peace corps volunteer). I get back and devour the beans and rice in hopes that it will satisfy my eve growing snacky feeling. The big beans are interesting, but nothing too special. The same girls leave to get some fried cheese snack called Wagashie. They could only find the one made with soy mild, instead of real milk, so they got some kosi and some other snack. The kosi was god, but nothing like the stuff I get in Antoa. The other stuff was like a spongy piece of garlic bread. Okay, I’m totally full from the beans still, but now my snacky mood has come back in full. The other PCV we met getting the beans just came back with more snacks. She’s holding a pile of sticks that look like bamboo. Apparently that’s what sugar cane looks like right from the ground. I’m warned to eat with caution because the ends of the stick are very sharp. I take the hard stick and use my teeth to peel back the other shell. There’s a slightly less hard piece in the middle. I bite that part off and chew it in my mouth. It feels clearly too rough to swallow, but I can taste the rush of sugar that I’m able to suck from the fibers of the middle. It’s a really good sugar taste actually. I’m not much of a sugar guy, but this isn’t too overwhelming like most sugar you would find on candy back in the states. The other girls then come back with the wagashie made from real milk. It’s quite amazing with almost the consistency of a spongie keache. Cheese is pretty rare here in Ghana so I try to be polite and not devour the whole plate. I can already tell what I’m going to get when I get back to the states. First, I’m going to head straight for the best pizza pace I can find and order a whole large one for myself.

 

Later that night we take the motorcade back in and play a fun game that involves charades, cranium, and a one word description, all to guess famous people. 

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