Sunday, March 04, 2012

It Has Been A While

That seems to be a fairly standard title for a post among Peace Corps Volunteers, especially those who are coming around the bend a bit, making their way to the conclusion of their service. As the months pass by, you tend to feel less impelled to tell the loyal readers about what the goats did outside your door, or what someone yelled to you on the way to town. In all honesty, what happened to you during the training aspect was so dutifully documented that it could just as well apply to every day thereafter and you have a good idea of the experience as a whole.

Still, posts start to decline, you talk and email to your close friends and keep them abreast of what you are up to, and then months pass by and you say to yourself, "Wait, do I still know the password to my blog?"

So it is here. The days crept by a bit slowly at first and then it wasn't days, it was weeks. I will do my best to capture the essence of 30 days or so and see how I do.

Generally speaking, it has been quiet on the campus. Last year I am certain we had adult students descend upon the grounds to continue their studies but this year the campus remained vacant between the first and second semester. That meant that my return trips from the computer lab late at night had nary a soul to chime, "Fo Kwaku" in order to say goodnight. In truth, I have gotten to greet the security guards a bit more since they are the only men who are awake with me after 11 at night.

Right on Valentine's Day I had a visitor from America arrive and we did some of the usual tourist things in the Volta region. We generally stayed around town and did small things here or there to get the flavor of life in Ghana. He was quite impressed by the hospitality and the friendliness of everyone (less so the vegetable sellers who were vehement that he not snap their pictures with his cameras), and we had a good time. During that stretch my roommate here on campus was out so we had the place to ourselves. I would say about mid-way through his stay I got a case of the intestinal blues (too much eating out or something) and we had to stay a bit closer to home for a day or two. Eventually we did make it to the waterfalls at Wli, and that in and of itself is a fun story.

My friend is an avid amateur botanist. He loved to photograph the fauna here and was always wanting to know plant species. "What's this one Dave?" he would say, ignoring the prior 48 answers I had given him to the same question: "I have no clue what that might be." Still, the walk to the falls at Wli was filled with such plants and it made for a bit of slow going. Normally I see tons of people on the path to the falls but this day we didn't see a soul except for a few locals who were going about their business. The walk itself should take about 45 minutes, but that day it was more like an hour and a half to get to our destination. Had it only been 45 minutes, we would have had the falls to ourselves completely. It would have been the first time I had experienced it in silence and I may have enjoined my friend to take the moment to quietly meditate on the beauty of nature (Ok, that is just me making stuff up, I would have just fallen asleep on a bench or something).

But at the precise moment where I told him that the falls were just ahead, three boys came running up the trail dressed in school uniforms. They greeted us and sprinted past. Four more went racing by and then even more. A high school from Hohoe had made a field trip to the falls and no sooner could we hear the rushing water then we could also hear the screams of the students shouting in merriment. Most Ghanaians have heard that if you yell and shout, more water will come over the cliff. I have no idea who started that novel idea, but I was aghast that our silent quasi-meditative state was lost. Now we had to share.

I took maybe five minutes to be upset and then several of the students came up to the both of us and started to ask us questions. It was great again, and the happiness started to flow. For the first time I decided to hop into the water and join the kids under the falls. The water was chilly and the laughter never stopped. It was incredibly fun and after I left the falls, every student it seemed wanted to have their photo taken with me in my t-shirt and swimming trunks. I felt more like a TV star than a PCV. Sometimes life has a way of making a good situation out of a bad one without you having to do anything to mess it up.

That was a good memory to take away from that day. Sometimes life has a way of saying, "Here, try this change on for size and see if it fits." I am just happy that I have said, "Sure," on several of those occasions.

After my friend left I had about two days where the house was empty until more fun ensued. My roommate Taka asked to have a going away party for one of his fellow volunteers and it seemed like a great excuse to have a whole bunch of people over. Let me tell you one thing: the Japanese know how to have a great time anywhere. It was a barbeque of out-sized proportions and we all had a great time. All the cooking and logistics were handled by his friends and all I had to do was accept having 12 strangers stay in the house for 24 hours; the perfect entertainment combination. Several PCVs showed up as well, and we all had a good time sending Jun (pronounced like the month) off on his merry way. It would be great to have other parties just like that in the future, but we shall see how the timing works out.

Everyone is gone now though, and the rains (remember it was dry season when I last wrote) are coming down in buckets. Thunder is rumbling away and I can hear the water cascading off the roof and into the cement channels around the perimeter of the house's foundation. Everything has turned green in the past two weeks too which makes the land look so much better - there were far too many burned-out patches on the ground from fires set to clear brush and leaves and trash. It definitely has the feel of the tropics again.

I am going to promise more posts in the very near future, but as for now, Ghana is still here and so am I.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was good to read your update, David! We could use some photos of the waterfall, and such...! --jen