Under the raw sun. Sweat. Dust. Bags of water are perfect for squirting people with.
Your face has changed, they said when I came back from my trip. It's the sun I said, I am not made for this climate you see.
I'm sitting in my tv room with a bowl of rice with tomato stew- it is not too late, but dark outside, getting mentally prepared for heading back to school after a week off. My sisters, of a sudden, jump up and run out... i listen... it is raining- oh, for joy, i love the rain, I remember days of JCSchool when we would hear the rain and ditch class and feel it on our skin- oh, and my sisters, oh they love it too, i'll follow them outside and dance with them. I go out. The rain is gentler than it sounded in the house. My sisters have dissapeared. Halfheartedly I look up... then notice my sisters have gone to hustle in the laundry that was drying. They readily dodge out of the water, armfulls of sun-stiff cloth, back toward shelter. So I walk over, the pulse of my excitement as washed away like the rain, and I grab the rest of the clothes.... and they are already back by the tv, and I can still hear the lullaby sound of plinking on metal.
This is an allegory. when there are two different wave lengths, I am so often on the Other One.
Hands. When I see my hands I am reminded that I am different. Yes, sometimes i don't notice, i forget I am white, forget they stare because of my skin, forget how oil and water act in a confined container... then I see my hands and... well... But too, they get the brunt of the action, and they are good hands- if soft, soft compared to the hands I am shaking. One night I am grinding tomato stew for dinner- we are making boiled yam which you dip in this hot pepper/tomato sauce and eat with sardines or other fish. I knick the tips off the peppers, small peppers, hot peppers, one of them is not good, so I break it in half, rinse it in the bowl of water that the vegetables are sitting in, some of the seeds come out, the bad part is gone, I toss the rest in and move on to the next pepper. Maybe a few of them were half bad, so I have opened a few, the juice mixing invisibly with the water, and I grind- something I am getting better at- add onions and then tomatoes, soon I am finished. Then I feel a tingling in my hands, my fingers, my thumb. It intensifies, a burning, a stinging, an inescapable heat in all of my fingers... I remember the peppers. oh god, it was the juice, now seeping into my pores, unwashable, intolerable, and yet... waddaya gonna do 'bout it? The feeling went away by morning...
Yesterday, Fufu time came and I offered to pound it. So I pounded and pounded and pounded, I am getting better at it though still find it... just somehow strange, and yes, hard. When I was finished, my sister came and took over, I looked at my hands and there were three ripe and red blisters, the skin hanging off, stinging at the touch of night air. I have not had true blisters since doing the monkey bars in 2 grade! Then and hour later my sister was out doing laundry, I was sitting with her thinking my hands hurt too much to touch water... then she said how oh she had blisters too from the fufu and how they stung stung stung. Realizing that she had no choice in her suffering, and I was just sitting there, I took over the rinse bucket, and you know, it hurt for the first few shirts, and then the pain just went away, but you know how far the gesture will go. I realized that it will be nights like that, after a good work we sat down to eat freshly killed and roasted pork (my dad was having a party and so it was for them but there was soooooooo much we all had our fill) and playing pool with my brothers- I am getting better at it- almost won a few times- that these were things I would remember and miss.
Generally life is just slower here. People are not focused on doing things, going places, accomplishment, action in the same way that I never thought I was but and am realizing that i am, as a product of western culture. Obviously I can't generalize all Ghanaians, but from what I've observed, apart from school, and work, things are laid back. And honestly sometimes I can't stand it, but have realized that that is something I am learning about.
Ok down to the real stuff- the week off.
So all AFS exchangers- 5 German volunteers, 6 Belgin students, 6 Americans (students and one volunteer) and one Dane in a bus. Driving through Ghana. What did we do? We sang some good old Lion King, gave the truckers behind us a good puppet show with some socks Adam had in his bag (and little faces Sharpied on). Then I sprayed him with my water- perfect timing, he was telling a story or something, you know, with people's attention, and was taking a breath and BAM- right in the face. I had been having urges ever since I started drinking that sachet, so they all knew someone was gonna get it.... but justice was made- the next day at the breakfast table no less, Silka casually saunters behind me and, pulling my shirt away just totally soaks my back. In exactly the sort of way that looks like you've been sweating for all the pigs that can't.
Watched a fetish priest- this old withered woman all powdered in white dust and wearing some cloth that sometimes didn't really stay up and there was some sort of red liquid on her... was it her own blood? Was it the blood of the other woman dancing with her? No, I later found out it was the blood of a SACRIFICED CAT. TIA right? We saw how beads are made, saw how shea butter goes from fruit to nut to butter (and our sweet Dane, Sophie, bless her, dips her finger in with everyone else, but instead of rubbing in on her skin she ate it thinking it was butter, you know, butter, that stuff I dream about sometimes). We thrashed rice, and I tell you, I know why people invented combine harvesters. That was actually one of my favorite parts becasue I have reallly always wondered how rice is harvested. we saw wild monkeys, on the "safari", ate PIZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA at this really nice break from life here- a resturant owned by a Belgian dude, and it was damn good. So, if you ever find yourself in Tamale, stop by Sparkels, and if it is on a monday or a tuesday you'll even get a scoop of free ice cream (unfortunately our group was toooooo big... yes it was a VERY sad moment).
saw how kente cloth is made... got really sunburned... drove wayyyyyy too much...on those bumpy potholey unpredictable impossible for sleeping on roads that make you say TIA every time you are lifted off your seat- stood behind a waterfall- I mean at the last moment realized it was something I couldn't miss, got one of the Belguins to join me in stripping down and climbing behind under the downpour of white water. There was this one seat, directly in the falls and sitting there the world becomes nothing but the cold pounding on your head, the water in your eyes, blurred images of trees and people waving that we have to go but nothing matters when it is just you in the element, laughing at the feeling of being crushed but not diminished, laughing at being released from the hot, sweaty predictability of the bus, at being in Ghana, at being free and alive and the water seeps into your skin, mouth, eyes, refreshing and cleansing, and then you slip down to the shallows and retrieve the garments that almost kept the whole experience from happening and follow everyone back to the car.
The clouds, oh my, the clouds sometimes when the sun is low and there is lightening flashing- enormous white and orange pillows in the sky, towering and softly melting, shifting and flowing into some other shape, shade... Somehow the clouds are truly majestic here.
I will try to stay more consistent with my posts, sorry it took me so incredibly long.
Best hope and wishes and love to all and, of course, thanks for reading. If anyone has specific questions they would like to have addressed in my posts, please just leave me a comment requesting so.