Yesterday I received a drumming lesson in exchange for a very poor Spanish lesson and US geography and history lesson. I took place with one of Nii’s friends at his woodworking shop overlooking the ocean. My drumming was very poor but it was very enjoyable. The geography lesson was given using a geography book intended for toddlers. It was a flap book where the states pulled up to revel their names, capital, state bird and state flower.
By the time the lesson ended the sun had set and it was time to close up the shop and we walked through the darkened streets to the house of my drum teacher. The streets in Accra are just a crowded after the sun sets as they are during the day. The street vendors are out and children are playing soccer in the streets. Food sellers light their stands with kerosene lamps and this creates a small and bright halo of light over their table where fish, chicken, and meat pastries are most popular. My new friend’s home was located on the second floor of a colonial building built in the 1700s—colonial buildings located close to the ocean front are the oldest and still some of the biggest in Accra. Inside were three “African Queens” getting ready to take a bath and good to bed; the youngest being 8 months and the oldest 8 years old, with a shy 4 year old in the middle. I received two “howareyou”s and two high fives. But the youngest was unsure of me, being the first white person to visit her. She looked long and hard at me with two big brown eyes but when I tried to hold her she arched away from me and scrambled to get away; however, upon leaving I was rewarded with a laugh and a wave.
After leaving I returned home in taxi solo, my first venture through Accra on my own. I shared my taxi with three other people and a driver who was either unlucky, partially blind, or else just a very bad driver. He would serve to miss potholes but still managed to hit what I imagined to be the largest. This was soon solved by a traffic jam that brought us to a stop. The jam was caused by road works which cause a divided highway to go down to just a single lane of traffic each way. Ghanaian traffic jams are slightly more interesting than American ones because you can watch the roadside, and middle of the road, sellers. Popular items were apples, plantain chips, toilet paper, and bread. After we made it through the jam I had my next challenge; finding my way to Nii’s home.
From the main road it is a twisting route through backyards, school yards, and side alleyways, but I felt ready because I had memorized my turns based on the color of houses. However, my skills were not needed because I ran into Nii’s mother, Mama Shelia, and walked home with her.
Pictures and video to come!