On Mondays and Tuesdays I wake up before the sun. I dash my coffee with a spoon of local cocoa powder. I love that. : ) Breakfast. Some prayer. Then I usually take a walk over to the Aya Centre, where I take classes, and get online for a bit. After I muster up the courage to emerge back into the African heat, I head to work.
My tro-tro stop, “Okponglo,” is across the motorway. In the morning the traffic is so bad that it’s usually packed, at a stand-still, all the way up to my stop. I head to another bus stop about just two or three miles away, and somehow it takes 40 minutes. Yay for city traffic! On the tro-tro ride I have a wide choice of entertainment available from my window. Women and men walk up and down the aisles of traffic selling gum, newspapers, plantain chips and fried dough from their heads. One time I saw a man selling dog collars and mirrors. How convenient.
By this time the sun starts beaming down rays of torturous heat, and the air-condition-free tro-tros seem to be a death sentence. Until they start to move. The tro-tro windows don’t close. Ever. Sometimes there are even holes in the side of the vehicles. I’m not sure if they are purposeful holes or not, but either way, I like them. Air circulation is a good thing.
After I get off at the bus stop “Shangrila,” I walk down the busy motorway and to a quaint side street, where I catch another tro-tro going into Nima, the slum I teach in. The ride into work is anything but boring. It starts off in a pretty little community called “Nyaho,” where big, colorful houses dot the spotless streets, lined by fruit trees and various palms.
After barreling around several corners, the scenery makes an abrupt switch. Palm trees become sewage gutters. The streets quickly fill with people. The dirt picks up, coating life in an orange, grimy film. By this time the day has turned brutally hot. No fans. No air conditioning. You’re at the mercy of the African sun.
The tro-tro ride home is one of the happiest feelings. I live for that- the mixture of relief and accomplishment. A fresh breeze and a joyful heart.
Home. My lime tree, the fruit just sweet enough to eat plain and raw, but still accompanied by a good kick. A fan and shade to retreat from the rest of the world. It is a beautiful thing.
Our guard, George, has let me take his bike out a few times. Riding down the streets and back roads of my neighborhood, I get some stares, a few laughs and a lot of happiness. His bike is the epitome of a 70s child’s dream: sloping lines, a thick, duct-taped seat, a basket and a bell.
But on my last trip it was completely falling apart, hopefully not at my fault. Coming down our street, it brutally jolted to a stop and I nearly flew off. “Oh! Sorry!” said every Ghanaian within 10 feet of me. They always do that here- apologize even when it is something completely unrelated to their actions. I find that so endearing. After regaining composure, I was off again, when a random metal object fell from the bike into the street. I stopped and picked it up, figuring it was probably important.
Once I entered our gates, I frantically informed George of the mishap.
“Um.. George…. I am SO sorry, but this thing just popped off! I have no idea why or how.. but..”
“Oh! Yes. That happens much. Okay. No problem!” he interjects.
And yes, that was it. Just another example of the attitude of these people: No worries. We’re safe, healthy and alive. It’s just stuff. These are just things.
Just things. : )
Life is good. Another day, another adventure. Always.