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Published: December 29th 2013
Rita helped me pick out and model gifts!
I woke up around 630, I think. I was cold, sort of. The overhead fan was blowing like crazy, and I liked the breeze, but I wanted a barrier between me and the air. (I’m just sleeping on a mattress- no top sheet or blankets.) I covered myself with a towel and laid back down
I listened. To Africa. I love that sound. Birds chirped and leaves blew outside as people shuffled around in their flip-flops (slippers). The fan clicked overhead. Chickens clucked, and a dog whined. I smiled and fell back to sleep.
A few hours later, it was time to get up for real. Rosemary made Frank and I porridge- roasted cassava, ground up and cooked in water. It was fine, but not my favorite, mostly because it was really hot.
Alex and Rita saw Frank this morning. They had no idea he was coming and were very surprised. Apparently they just sort of stared at him.
After breakfast, we packed up the kids and took them downtown. We had to find the ministry of social welfare to talk to them about the legal guardianship and whatnot. Unfortunately, nearly everyone was closed because of the
Rita and Alex
holiday time. We’ll have to go back next week. We also went to the army base to see Frank’s uncle, but he wasn’t in either. We drove around a lot and spent a ton of time in traffic.
While Frank was talking to people at the army base, I as talking with the kids. I asked them what sort of tree we were standing under, and they said it was mango. There were no mangos on it, so I told them it must be a different type of tree. They insisted it was mango. One of the trees had a blue football (soccer ball) in it. I told them it was a blue mango, but they said it was a football. I told them footballs don’t grow on trees, so it must be a mango. Again, they said it was a football and didn’t grow there. We went back and forth for a few minutes. When we were in the car, I told Frank that there was a football in the tree but the kids thought it was a blue mango. The kids were listening and giggling, but they never said I was wrong.
The traffic here is
Frank and I
At Independence Sqare
similar to many places in Africa. It’s a fairly large city (6-7 millions people), and it’s bustling with life. Most of the roads, main roads at least, are paved. There are a few traffic lights and lots of roundabouts. There are cars everywhere, and most of them don’t obey any sort of traffic laws (and there aren’t any officials to enforce them anyway.) Cars cut in front of one another, pass in terrible times, get ridiculously close, and honk. All the time. Add to that the zillions of people walking in and around and through the roads, plus goats, plus vendors coming to sell things at every stop, plus taxis stopping in the middle of the goad, plus deep trenches on either side of the road… It’s a madhouse.
To wind down, we went to the art centre. This is where there are lots of shops of arts, carvings, paintings, trinkets, souvenirs… The kids have never been there before, so they were interested to look at all the cool things. We were bombarded by people trying to sell us things, including one who called himself Omar Epps. (Yes, he kinda looked similar. No, I didn’t get a picture.) Frank
For those of you who have traveled with me (Sarah), you know that my suitcase tends to explode. Each day, Frank's sister comes in and tidies up my room and folds all my clothes. I'm trying not to take it as a sign of my terrible housekeeping.
was pretending to be a regular American. He listened and kept his mouth shut as the salesmen spoke in a local language and said things like, “It’s worth 40 cedis. Charge him double.” Then we’d get told the price was 100. He enjoyed this at first, then he was sick of getting the tourist prices.
I played a rhythmic instrument (not very well) called a bakista. Apparently you can look it up on youtube. It was pretty fun.
After a while, both Frank and I were a little overwhelmed with the persistence of the sellers, so we took our leave. We went to Independence Square, but it was closed. So we hit the Black Star Stadium, where they were setting up for a revival on New Year’s Eve.
There were hardly any people there, and it was nice to sort of get away. Alex loved taking pictures with my camera, even though he has never used one before. He started to warm up to me even more. Actually, he started calling me Auntie today. Rita is still shy, but I think she likes me. She’s hard to get a read on. We talked about what they were excited about about coming to America someday. Rita instantly said SNOW.
We headed back to the house for dinner. (On our way, we stopped at an Internet cafe, where I posted the last post and a few pictures.) In true African style, we ate at about 9 or 10 pm. I was wiped. It was a great day though. I took a cold shower, which was refreshing after sweating for 12 hours straight. You know that feeling when you take a shower and get all clean and step out and get dressed and feel refreshed? I can’t wait to get home and feel that. I think the moisture in the air is simply settling on my skin.
On top of the ridiculous amount of humidity, the air never seems quite clear. Frank says it’s fog; I am pretty sure it’s pollution. Everyone is cooking with fires, none of the cars have ever been serviced, let alone had any sort of emissions tested. I’m pretty sure I can feel it settling into my pores.
Today, I learned an important word: obruni. White person. Yes, I hear it on a regular basis, mostly from children. It’s similar to how it was in Uganda and Kenya, but not as frequent. It bothers Frank that people stare at me all the time, but it doesn’t bother me. Especially when it’s kids. They likely haven’t seen a white person before, and it’s different and interesting. And looking is how they learn. I actually had to give Rita and Alex permission to look because we’d be sitting around, and they kept sneaking looks at me, then averting their eyes, like they didn’t want to get caught.
Actually, at the art centre today, some little tiny kids were looking at me, and their dad asked if they could give me a high five. They were very interested. I didn’t mind stopping and greeting them. Again, Frank thought it was weird. If a white kid did that to a black person in America, he said, it would be racism.
Before bed, Rosemary brought out a bag of photographs. There aren’t a lot of pictures from Frank’s life. But it was fun seeing a few dozen pictures of his mom and grandmother, plus some of him and his siblings growing up. There are over 4 years between Frank and Rosemary, who is holder, but shortly before his second birthday, the photo shows them the same size. Yikes!
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