The alarm clock rang at 5:45am, and I staggered to pack the last of my things up before Dan graciously took me to the STC bus station in his car. The house was silent as I got dressed and ready to head out, but as soon as I brought my luggage into the adjoining verandah and entered the main house, I saw Dan emerge from his room. He was ready to offer me breakfast of tea and that amaaaazing bread. Yes.
Becca arose from her slumber, and as we three sat there and chatted quietly over the breakfast table, I gave them my little notes of goodbye. It was getting late, so we quickly packed up their nice land cruiser, and hoped we would be able to meet Big Man at the station in time. That’s the way it goes, goodbyes are always too fast.
As we were approaching the walled lot where all the buses were parked, I saw a tall, bespectacled, familiar frame pass in front of the car. I was so happy to see Big Man again! The sight of him gives me comfort. He’s like my African dad. I gave him a big hug when I got out of the car to greet him. We weren’t late after all, but he was in a big hurry to go–Dan helped me get luggage tags and put my bags in the undercarriage, and I bid both him and Becca a sad goodbye. That was the end of my time in Tamale with those wonderful people. It would be a long time till I would come back.
On the other hand, I was so happy to be back with Big Man again. We talked and talked on the way down to Kumasi; I barely saw the country flash by, and there we were in Kintampo, at that same little egg sandwich stand that I had my first taste of Ghanaian food at. It was even the same man and woman who were making the tea and egg sandwiches. I wonder if they remembered Big Man and me from 10 weeks ago! This time, I scarfed down my sandwich and my tea. I had learned to eat like a Ghanaian, fast, and everything scalding hot! Big Man just laughed at me as I bragged about this. We picked up to bags of mangoes, and I was dashed one!
As we moved South, I saw the landscape change from dry savannah dotted with sporadic green trees to lush jungles dense with underbrush. I counted twelve different types of trees that I knew, and wondered at sprawling cities–all made of the same little wooden shacks with the aluminum roofs as far as the eye could see. There was a Pee Cola sign. Yes, that’s the brand name, but Pee is actually a surname, so don’t worry about the taste.
A little while before we expected, our bus arrived in Kumasi. Kumasi is a choked city! There is just so much traffic, so many people, so many cars and tro-tros and taxis. We stood still in the same spot for almost 10 minutes, waiting for some light to change or someone to move out of our way, I don’t know which. A far cry from little Saboba village, where there is not one taxi to be found, and most people come in by climbing on top of all the goods and hitching a ride on the once-every-six-days market lorry!
Big Man and I stepped off the STC bus at the station to be greeted by his son, Joseph, who is just as big as he is! Joseph drove us home, speaking in Dagbani to his dad and discussing matters of which I knew not. Thankfully, once we got to Big Man’s house, I was able to get to know Joseph a little more! After lunch, we talked about his dreams for the future. He wants to start an NGO that would be basically a network of professional that barter their skills to help each other in whatever needs are present. Even now, he is working on it with his friends and they have started and begun some small projects of this nature. In addition to that, he wants to plant a hospital in a strategic location in the North that would run on a system of rotating volunteers. Yes, these are very big dreams! I heard him speaking about all these things next to me on the couch there, and I immediately began to doubt the feasibility of his plans, but then he reminded me of my other friend Joseph Jidoh who also had great ambitions of starting a clinic, an orphanage, and becoming a doctor after his nurse’s training. And then I remembered what Joseph Jidoh taught me that day–to dream big, and to not doubt what God’s power can do. I remembered how terrible I felt when I realized how all my doubt was discrediting all the amazing work God has done in the past. I didn’t say anything to my new friend except encouraging words after that.
Joseph continued on to tell me about a project that he and his dad are working on now–a preschool in Kumasi that would provide young children with a very strong foundation for future education. They are motivated by the need of young children who are set up for failure in Junior and Senior Secondary Schools because of a lack of a firm foundation. He also spoke about roofing the Kumasi church, building the church in Sang, and going to get his Master’s degree in developmental studies. Big dreams. But these Ghanaian men of faith like Joe and Joe exhibit complete trust in God to accomplish even the greatest tasks. They don’t hesitate to put themselves out there and see what the Lord can do. I want to be like that, not fearful or dependent on my strengths. God help my unbelief.
Big Man and Joseph went off to rest, I retired to my room for the afternoon to work out the rest of my travel budget. Money was running scarce, I barely had enough to make it, so I would only be seeing the Cultural Center in Kumasi and not be able to buy anything. It would normally worry me to run out of money when traveling alone in Africa, but I thought if worse comes to worst, I may just be hungry for a couple days. It wouldn’t hurt me, and I might gain a better perspective on some things about Africa. Even though it probably won’t come down to that, it wouldn’t be the most terrible thing in the world by far.
I wrote journals till suppertime, when Pastor Abel (another visitor to the Alhassan household) and I were called for dinner from the guesthouse. It was TZ and ayoyo soup, made by Owabu, Big Man’s wife whom I’d never met! I was so pleased to see her, after hearing so much about her from Bob and Jean! I was sad that she wouldn’t eat with us, but I thanked her for the food immensely. We were getting some Northern Ghanaian fare tonight! Although, the TZ was not the same, and more like corn starchy lump because the corn had its outer skin removed before it was ground for flour. I already missed Aggie’s TZ, but I still enjoyed this meal.
We all enjoyed black currant tea together, which reminded me of Tabi, who loves all things black currant! We were all joking around about Pastor Big Man liking very strong tea. Pastor Abel said that he couldn’t leave his bag in there long at all, and I told him that sometimes I see Big Man put two tea bags in one cup! He then asked me how I liked my tea, and I took one look at Big Man and said, “The water must be jumpin’,” which is what I heard him say when we first arrived at Bob and Jean’s in Saboba together. Big Man loved that–he just cracked up and continued bellowing until finally he calmed down and said, “There is one lady in Cape Coast that calls me Jumping Water whenever she sees me!! She puts th ekettle on right away because she knows that is what I want as soon as I come from traveling!” He just had the best time with that one, and I was very satisfied to know I had pleased him. J It’s true, though! I copied Big Man’s tea as soon as I got to Saboba–one cup, two bags, just boiling water, lots of sugar, blip of Ideal.
After we talked for a while Big Man sent me back to my room with lovely treats–a box of Lipton Yellow Label, an electric kettle, a jar of sugar, a can of Ideal, and an entire loaf of soft wheat bread. Does he not know that this is a dangerous combination? I will have finished it all even before breakfast tomorrow morning, that is how much I love Ghanaian tea. I think he really wants me to get a fufu belly! It took me some serious restraint to not consume inordinate amounts of bread as I was writing my journals.
The night had some wonderful comforts like this tea and bread, and my first warm bath in the entirety of my stay in Ghana–supplied by the electric kettle. Buuuut, the night also had some very unsettling horrors as well. A cockroach. I saw it crawl under my bed, and my eyes grew wide. What was that? a minute or two later, the large dark form came back out again, and I grabbed my sandal and smacked it down right on top of it. Lift, view smooshed cockroach, almost have a heart attack. It was absolutely disgusting–long antennae and big jointed legs and everything. I had a cow. I had just killed my very own African cockroach. I am almost too legit to quit. Almost, because I didn’t know what to do with the body after that. I just left it sitting there on the floor, and created a virtual wall around it with my imagination, fearing to step within a wide radius of its remains. Can’t believe it took my more than 10 weeks to meet my first African cockroach and kill it, but I did. I feel baller.