Sounds of Accra:
Bats flitting in the mango tree outside my bedroom window during the night
The call to prayers at dawn and dusk from the nearby mosque
Music blasting from stereos from all different directions – hiphop, Bob Marley, Afro-pop, Christmas caroles
A morning dove cooing
The bells of a vendor walking by the house
The children playing Ampe (a clapping game like rock paper scissors but using your feet)
The beeping of the taxis zipping down the street
Smells of Accra:
A campfire like smell in the morning and evenings from burning trash
Sweet sour smell of waste water in the streets
Spicy, gingery aroma of a tomato sauce cooking
A faint ocean scent carried on the breeze
Sites of Accra:
Women carrying their babies and toddlers on their backs — no strollers here
Vendors walking the streets carrying their goods on their heads: a palette of sunglasses, a large aluminum bowl of corn flower, a basket of vegetables or bananas, yards of folded cloth, a bowl of plastic water pouches
Store signs: “God Will Provide Fashions,” “Jesus Loves You Beauty Salon,” “BP Check Up and Circumcision Clinic,”
Young men playing soccer on the bumpy dirt road
A young woman dressed in tight jeans, high heels, and a hot pink t-shirt with a black Mickey Mouse head printed on it
Sensations of Accra:
Sticky skin from sweating, Deet, and sunscreen combining for a couple of days
Still air in the night that provides no relief from the heat
A cool breeze coming through the window in the morning
Sweating while walking through the midday heat to the Internet café
A fatigue like the undertow of the ocean current pulling on me each afternoon
Restfulness – absolutely no hurry for anything, no schedule – a meal seems to appear whenever I am hungry, an activity presents itself whenever I am read to get going
Playing with the children:
Adjei and Kari arrived weary and floating from the many days of travel. Kari said it was the worst travel experience she’s ever had. Mireku got a stomach bug during the trip and threw up on her a couple times. They were all exhausted after 4 days of travel, and we spent Wednesday just resting.
Wednesday night, the neighborhood children came over – about 12 in all, and played Ambe and a fun “Red Light Green Light” sort of game that goes like this:
The children gather in a circle and clap their hands together rotating the opposite hands from face up to face down alternately and singing:
“Mother in the kitchen, cooking riced with water
Father in the watching room, watching tv
The children are playing, playing Ampe
Amina in the garden, gardening tomatoes
The children are playing, playing, playing.
Please change your style, change your style.
Be like that. Be like that.”
So, when the kids say, “Change your style,” all the children strike a pose. When they say, “Be like that,” the children freeze in place. You’re “out” if you change your style when you’re supposed to “be like that” and vice versa.
The children sang Christmas caroles, and I caught a sweet rendition of the 12 Nights of Christmas on video by a dozen children who, as we all do, forget just want comes after 8 Maids a Milking. They love having their photo taken and seeing themselves on video. They’re quite the hams in front of the camera.