Early morning on the rooftop of the Riad Cherrata.
Today we cross the U.S. border for the first time since leaving in June, 2012. We’ll arrive back in the country of our birth tanned, ready and rested albeit a bit jet-lagged from a long day of travel. Our wonderful friends Jason and Haruka will have stocked our refrigerator with produce grown next door on their farm and have invited us for Brunch tomorrow. Happy tears of joy will flow.
Bob, in his infinite wisdom booked us five nights at the Riad Cherrata inside Marrakech’s famed Medina to give us a good rest between dismantling our home in Kumasi and setting up house in North Carolina. At first I couldn’t imagine enjoying a vacation so close to the finish line. At the time Bob bought our return tickets through Morocco I was beyond eager to put Africa behind me. The thought of stopping anywhere along the way seemed like a waste of time, an activity I wouldn’t enjoy.
Turns out he was right. As our departure time drew nearer and we found ourselves overwhelmed by logistics, awash in heart-tugging goodbyes, I began looking forward to some respite. Turns out (who knew?) this was exactly what we needed. So early Monday morning we flew into Casablanca and took the train to Marrakech. Just like in the song.
We are staying inside the walls of the Medina, the oldest part of the city. Our riad is built on a vertical plane as is everything in the Medina. The buildings rise three or more stories above the narrow streets, turning them into quaint tunnels. The walls are constructed of brick and plaster and painted the color of sunset. We sleep on the second level, breakfast on the first and sun ourselves on the rooftop.
This is a glimpse of Africa that I could not have imagined from our vantage point in Ghana. Although the narrow, winding streets of the Medina are reportedly chaotic, they seem orderly compared to Kumasi. The markets are tame compared to Kumasi’s Kejetia market with its narrow tubes of tumbling protoplasm. The Medina’s cobbled streets are wider and cleaner and the wares are of a higher quality. The other day we picked out a pair of beautifully crafted wooden boxes with tiny secret compartments and we’ve found the colorful silken Indian Pashmina scarves irresistible.
Naturally we are captivated by the donkey carts which serve as the engines of the Medina. The streets are too narrow for cars so donkeys haul vegetables in and trash out. Thanks to donkey diapers, we are not wading through piles of donkey poo. There are a few beggars but they sit silently with an outstretched hand. Cats are everywhere but we’ve yet to see one dog. Or anyone peeing against a wall.
Bob at the mouth of the “death trench.”
The streets in the Medina are a pleasant mix of people lingering in beautifully carved doorways sipping sweet mint tea, gaggles of teasing school kids, speeding mopeds, bicycles, tuk tuks and pedestrians. We refer to a short stretch between the riad and our favorite restaurant as the “death trench” because sewer construction has narrowed moped traffic to one hectic lane.
The Djemaa el-Fna square has a different feel. It’s for tourists, a place we venture into to mail postcards or for tall glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice for 4 Dirham or about 50 cents. The square is where horse carts gather to pick up fares for tours around Marrakech. Here is where the snake charmers and monkey handlers hang out. Colorful wares are spread out on blankets. The vendors are more aggressive here but you can sip tea from a terrace and gaze below at the scene.
Back at the riad, the accommodations are so incredibly ideal I find myself tempted to weep. The bed, for starters, is a cloud of joy. I haven’t slept this good in a long time. Food is treated as art, almost too pretty to eat. And here at the Cherrata, the jams, yogurt and bread are home made. Everything is clean. Saadia and Izza bustle about all day doing laundry, cooking and cleaning. We carry no keys. The ladies let us out and welcome us back in and can hear our footsteps on the stairs, often beating us to the door.
The waiters we encounter when dining out are incredibly gracious. They know, without having to shuffle back into the kitchen whether or not a menu offering is unavailable. I’m reminded that wait staff can balance more than one plate in their hands at a time. It delights us to watch them pour a thin stream of hot tea into a tiny glass from two or three feet in the air.
The Marrakech Film Festival is in town and an enormous screen has been set up in the square. Bob read the Martin Scorsese introduced a showing of Hugo the other night. But no movies for us. We go out at five for dinner and walk home through newly darkened streets. Izza smiles as she opens the door to the riad and wishes us “Bon Soir!” as we tumble up the plaster stairs to our lovely four poster bed.
Our short stay in Morocco has served to lift us out of the darkness into the light. It feels more European than African. Genteel even, compared to the harshness of sub-Saharan Africa. Even the Muslim call to prayer seemed toned down compared to what we experienced in Christian Kumasi. Yes, this was exactly what we needed!
Outside our front gate, heading to market
Q. So, how does it feel to be leaving Kumasi?
A. It feels like the end of a play I’ve been acting in, like curtains drawing closed across dirt stage littered in plastic, slowly pinching off the sound of the roosters, taxis, chain saws, crows, bulbuls and Muslims. It feels like a sigh of relief.
Q. Kumasi was that bad, huh?
A. Yes and no. Like any big city, Kumasi was loud, crowded and dirty, although as a friend pointed out the other day, it’s really more of a village than a city. A huge sprawling village of two million people all striving to survive. All outside cooking, sleeping, peeing, laughing, yelling, burning trash, carrying impossible burdens on their heads.
Each time I walked outside our compound gate onto the rutted dirt road I felt as if I were stepping into the pages of National Geographic. It was fascinating and often an affront to all of my senses. I was intrigued by the childlike innocence I saw in nearly everyone, a strong desire to please, to see the bright side of life, a prayer on their lips for someone bigger and stronger to hold their hand and walk them over to the good life.
Q. Do you think your African experience would have been different if you had lived away from town?
A. Definitely, yes. After living in a small farming community for nearly five years, we found Kumasi a bit outside our comfort zone. It helped that Bob had grown up in Accra when it was roughly the size of Kumasi and that we had lived both abroad and in cities with populations well over two million.
Q. Why did you agree to the move?
A. I have been keen to visit Africa since I was a young girl. When the opportunity presented itself, I encouraged Bob to take the job. I don’t think we would have moved to Africa had the job been anywhere other than Ghana. I had long wanted to experience the place of Bob’s childhood with him. Also, the pay was sufficient for us to pay off our debt and put a little savings in the bank. We hoped to share the adventure with our daughters and so connect them to their father’s African experience. In addition the project – research involving sanitation – fit our values.
Q. Are you glad you went?
A. Yes, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Bob and I experienced Ghana together, topped up our bank account and shared five months with daughter Amy. Not to mention we saw wild African elephants!
Q. Why are you leaving Ghana?
A. The project goals have been accomplished, Bob’s contract is finished and our house, property, friends, family and neighbors await our return.
The street outside our house and our next door neighbors.
Q. What will you miss about your life in Kumasi?
A. I think I will miss life without A/C which was reminiscent of my childhood growing up in New Jersey without air conditioning. When the windows are open the sounds of an active neighborhood make me feel connected and alive in a way that sealing myself up in a quiet house does not.
I’m definitely going to miss my friends. Expats bond quickly, forming fast friendships based on need and circumstances. Adrift in a culture that often seems incomprehensible, I reached out to a great variety of individuals and was welcomed into the fold without reservation. We all joke that we probably wouldn’t be friends if we met in our native countries. Like war, the act of surviving adversity in a strange world creates strong bonds between a wide range of individuals.
Predictably some of those alliances blossomed into deep friendships with people we may never see again. Which hurts. Fortunately we have the technology to stay in touch.
Kat and Camille with Kat and Agye’s Land Rover. Camille, Elodie and BJ whipping up a pre-Alliance Francaise movie meal.
Q. How will you describe Ghana to your friends back home?
A. Ghana is essentially a nation of five-year-olds, irrepressibly eager, happy, playful, rough around the edges, irresponsible, unruly, naive and often deceitful. The culture is the product of Colonialism, Christianity, corruption and tropical malaise. Ghanaians or at least the majority of people we interacted with in Kumasi are not problem solvers. The educational system encourages submission and suppresses independent thought. We see that most Ghanaians are happy to make do, not adverse to taking hand outs, have difficulty saying no, and often miss commitments.
Religion is so important that they eagerly attend all night services at the cost of their day time performance. Many are convinced that their big financial breakthrough is right around the corner as long as they continue making the church their priority. Many go to church several times a week, to services in which the collection plate is passed several times.
Q. What were the highlights of your stay?
A. Our trip to Mole National Park with Amy was highly rewarding. I really enjoyed the walking safaris, seeing elephants and other animals in their natural habitat and learning about the diverse ecosystem. We made enough trips to the beach, Lake Bosumtwi and to parks and botanical gardens with enormous old growth trees to balance out our time at home in Kumasi.
I also enjoyed tending to our home, compound grounds and gardens, walking to market for food and cooking in our windowed kitchen. I loved looking out at our neighbors and listening to them throughout the day. We lived in a quiet neighborhood a few blocks from a busy road with an eclectic mix of people. I settled into a quiet rhythm of writing, yard work, walking around greeting people in Twi and housework.
Q. Do you have any advice for others headed to Kumasi to live and work?
A. Yes. Don’t expect too much! Get out of town on a regular basis. Start a garden and a compost pile, it will keep you grounded. Walk to market at least once a week. Join the facebook group, Kumasi Expats or find another way to connect with other expatriates. Get used to living with ants. Learn enough Twi to show you care about the people and their culture. Don’t touch people with your left hand. Keep antibiotics and a regime of malaria treatment in the house. They are cheap, easily purchased over the counter from any chemist. Check out Alliance Francaise near Ahodwo Roundabout. Embrace the adventure!
Bob leaving Lapetite Chemists with a bag of over-the-counter antibiotics. Amy with the elephants.
Last week I found myself trapped in a conversation with a young Ghanaian who wanted to know if I had accepted Jesus into my life. This sort of thing happens frequently in Kumasi and as always, I have to decide whether to engage or walk away.
Religion is not the taboo conversational topic here that it is in the States. Ironically, it’s the Ghanaians preaching Christianity to the White Folk these days whereas 50 years ago the country was overflowing with White Missionaries hell bent on converting heathen Africans into sainted Jesus freaks. Obviously, they did a real good job.
Bob, BJ and I had gone to Kumasi’s Cultural Center to buy a few more African mementos to take home. As we left one vendor’s stall to mosey over to the next, the artist siphoned me off and herded me in the other direction to look at some more of his stuff. Since I was essentially done shopping and not so invested in following Bob and BJ, I politely followed him.
“Do you go to church?” he asked and my chest tightened. I should have seen it coming but I was blindsided and needed to make a quick decision. Would I diss him by saying something lame and walk away or would I humor him and let him have his say? I saw the earnestness in his eyes, a glint of pleading need to bounce his thoughts off of an old Obroni and decided to pick the middle ground. I decided to talk with him while backing slowly out of his stall. Kill a little time while waiting for Bob and BJ to finish shopping.
“Not so much” I answered. And we were off. He professed to a strong belief in the way of Jesus and I told him that I believe in being nice to other people. And as soon as I said that the irony hit me. Being nice in this case meant subjecting myself to an awkward conversation. One in which a Christian would try and convince an Atheist that the high road to salvation involved religion. And in which the Atheist was convinced that the simple act of engaging with the Christian WAS the high road.
He told me that if there was a chance that embracing the law of God would get him into heaven, what did he have to lose. If there were no heaven, no problem. If there were, he’d have done the right thing. “Can’t hurt.” I said amiably.
Next, I shared a story my brother Joe tells about working with Mother Theresa. Joe’s job was to bathe the sick and he found it very difficult. One old man in particular was covered in putrid sores. Day after day Joe gritted his teeth and attended to the man, gagging on the odor, until one day, noticing a sign that said something like “Jesus lives in all of us” Joe suddenly saw the sacred core of this man. After that, he found his work much easier.
Before I left the artist’s stall, he told me that one condition of his agreement with the church was that he spread the word. That’s when I realized that by simply not walking away I had given him the chance to fulfill his contract and earn some points.
The young man was glowing as I left him to follow Bob and BJ to the car. Which made me feel good about my decision. I had scored a win-win by humoring his need to talk about Christ while fulfilling my own desire to be nice to others.
Let’s say I live in a household of five, I’ve just read an inspiring article about composting and I want to start a compost pile. Based on our last post “A Clear Vision – How Change Happens” here’s how I would make this happen.
Established Authority – We have a leader and it is I – it’s my idea so I will be in charge.
Clear Goals – I do some research and put together a proposal.
Clear Expectations – I pitch my idea to the group, making sure they understand what’s in it for them and how I need them to help.
Cooperation – I make sure my housemates are agreeable to the project. If there’s resistance, I’ll reduce the scope of the project until everyone is comfortable.
Clear and Consistent Consequences – If any of us has a problem, say we get maggots, or the pile smells, or a myriad of other fails, we agree to meet again and reevaluate the project.
Make it Easy to do the Right thing and Hard to do the Wrong thing – Put the compost pile as close to the kitchen door as possible to encourage frequent trips and install a small container on the counter to discourage indoor stockpiling. At the pile end make it easy to add cover material at the time of composting by providing a dry source of cover material and the right tools.
Contingency Plans – Plan B – No one else wants to take the compost out or they don’t want to add the cover material so I do all the emptying of the container and covering of the pile. Plan C – The group has a problem with the container so I remove it and only compost my own stuff. Plan D – My housemates complain about the pile so I scrap the project. Plan E – I get different housemates…
Incrementalism – Start with the kitchen composting. Once everyone is composting peelings and leftovers, we move on to the bathroom where we set up a trash can that is only for tissues and other paper products. Next, add a container for dryer fluff. Add the stuff from the vacuum cleaner bag. Move on to dried leaves and other yard waste (no weed seeds!)
Measure the Results – Before beginning we take note of how much trash our household generates in one week. A week after we start composting, we check out how much less trash we are now setting aside for a trip to the landfill and how much nicer it smells.
Manage the Outcome – I keep my eye on things, praise my housemates for their efforts and coach them when they need assistance. Brag on them in front of their friends. After a month or so we downgrade our trash service and use the money we save to throw a party!
How can you go wrong? Here are a dozen examples:
1. You decide to start a compost pile but don’t communicate this to your housemates.
2. You don’t do your homework and so don’t really know how to go about making a compost pile.
3. You aren’t sure what you want to achieve with a compost pile, it just seemed like a good idea.
4. You don’t bother finding a steady source of grass clippings, leaves or wood shavings for cover material.
5. You don’t manage the compost container, the pile or the supply of cover material.
6. Someone borrows the pitchfork and forgets to return it to the compost pile.
7. You throw animal products in the compost and soon the neighborhood dogs or racoons are digging through it.
8. No one rinses out the compost container and it gets so gross you hide it when your friends come over.
9. You hope one of your house mates, that OCD guy will keep an eye on things so you won’t have to.
10. You put the compost pile too far from the house because you’re afraid it will smell and you get a big bucket for the kitchen so you won’t have to empty it every day.
11. You don’t bother measuring the results, there’s no Ka-Ching, no one really knows why you’re doing this and everyone loses interest.
12. Things aren’t going like you thought they should so you give up.
Whether we are talking about one person or an entire nation, or even a herd of horses, the protocol for encouraging a desired behavior change is the same. Not surprisingly, these insights come from my lifelong passion for training animals but have served me well for achieving personal goals, working with co-workers and helping raise children.
Here are the components of productive, stress-free and efficient interactive behavior, whether it involves co-workers, family or pets.
- Established Authority – who’s in charge? Manager, Leader, Parent, Trainer or even your inner goal-setting mind – someone must step up to the plate or nothing will change.
- Clear Goals – whether communicated to the group or not, the leader must have a concrete vision of the desired outcome in mind.
- Clear Expectations – clearly articulated to one’s self and/or to the group, expectations are essential.
- Cooperation - absolutely non-negotiable, there is no room for exceptions here. A team is only as strong as its weakest player. Until everyone is on the same page, the project is failed.
- Clear and Consistent Consequences – what happens if someone does not meet expectations must be communicated in advance or (in the case of animals and small children) as it happens. And, this is extremely important, in a timely and consistent manner.
- Make it Easy to do the Right thing and Hard to do the Wrong thing – analyze the situation, the goal and the desired behavior. What is making it hard to do the right thing?
- Contingency Plans – in case the person, animal or thing doesn’t respond as expected to the consequences, make sure you have a plan B, C and D.
- Incrementalism – break the goal down into steps and manage to those steps. Rather than expect change to happen in one big leap, visualize those leaps as small steps towards the desired outcome. Among the Natural Horsemanship crowd, these small leaps are referred to as Baby Steps. Baby steps are the key to achieving small victories as opposed to big failures. End each encounter on a good note and success will happen.
- Measure the Results – decide how you will know if your venture is a success, measure those parameters and manage the outcome based on those results.
- Manage the Outcome – celebrate the successes and praise the participants – catch them doing it right. When you catch yourself/them doing it wrong, provide immediate feedback without disapproval and show them how to do it the right way.
Groom for success
One more thing. The pursuit of a shared vision depends on a mature, capable team. To support any agenda all participants, including yourself must be groomed for success. Equal measures of trust, respect, self confidence and self control are as essential as equal lengths on the four legs of a chair. If your team of one or more is lacking in one of these qualities you do not have a sound base to work with.
- Trust – Building trust is essential to success. And it’s simple. Do what you say you are going to do. No exceptions. Consistency helps. It’s hard for others to trust you if you are all over the place, warm one day and cold the next.
- Respect – This is the counterpart to trust. If you do what you say you are going to do, you will be respected. And vice versa.
- Self Confidence – Timidity does not inspire anyone. If you are hesitant, you spread uncertainty and the only way to move forward as a team is to stride forward with confidence.
- Self Control – “Leave your ego at the door” was the mantra of one workplace and it is essential to behave with maturity if you want to accomplish your goals.
Stay tuned for A Clear Vision – The Making of a Compost Pile – An example of how this system works
It was pure happenstance that brought Nauzley into our lives. Even though we had both been living in Kumasi for eight months, our paths didn’t cross until one serendipitous day in April.
It was just barely light out when Eric dropped Bob, Amy and me at the station to catch a bus to Cape Coast. Amy had been with us for three months and it was time to get out of town and go to the beach. As we walked into the nearly empty station we noticed two white women sitting on a bench across the room. I smiled and waved. After we checked in we headed for that bench. “May we join you on the Obroni bench?” Bob asked and we were graciously received. Introductions ensued.
We soon learned that Nauzley was spending a year at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital as part of her training to become a doctor. Her mother Nahid, was visiting from the States. They were winding up her visit with a trip to the beach.
Nahid was a little sketched out by Nauzley’s living situation downtown where a beautiful young lady walking alone was an easy target. In fact, Nauzley confirmed that men often grabbed her arms or worse when she went to market. Nauzley wrote her contact information in my little note pad and Bob gallantly promised Nahid we would stay in touch.
I asked Nauzley about her project and within minutes she had cut through the small talk and was delving into the cultural conditions surrounding infant jaundice. She spoke about her interviews with mothers who close their eyes in trusting deference to the almighty power of the medical system and God. Nyame Adom (by His grace.) When the driver opened the doors to the bus, I was so entrenched in conversation I practically had to be prodded up the steps.
Halfway to Cape Coast the driver pulled into the shaded courtyard of a modest hotel. As people filed down the aisle I realized this was a bathroom break. I quickly located Nauzley and Nahid and we wandered over to a pair of what appeared to be changing rooms. “I think they’re urinals” Nauzley said, “See that little hole in corner of the floor?” I handed out tissues, we agreed to get brave and Nauzley and I stepped in. As I relieved myself with my skirt over one arm, crouched as close to the corner as possible, clutching my tissue and trying not to splash, I wished the floor had a bit more of a slope to it or that I had let Nahid go before me.
When we were done we looked for a place to throw our soggy tissues and a water source so we could wash our hands. We found a bucket of water. Wiping our hands on our skirts we joked that we had now officially pee bonded. The whole business was embarrassing and awkward but entirely unavoidable given the circumstances. Nauzley laughed and shared a story about her first experience with an African urinal which involved a circular trough over which women crouched while facing each other. She recalled thinking, “I can’t do this.”
During her last four months in Kumasi, Nauzley became part of our family. She joined us for meals and movies, helped cook and often spent the night. She even went to the zoo with me, something my other friends had no desire to do. Since her return home we have shared many intense emails. Her journey down the path to repatriation illuminates my own impending transition with helpful insights. I have found a true friend, a guiding light and soul mate purely by accident.
It seemed like there should be a better way for expats to connect. I try not think what would have happened if we hadn’t picked the same bus to the shore. We wondered how many other obronis were out there, isolated in Kumasi. In fact, we met other expats who found each other the way we did and it became a joke that if you wanted to meet other expats all you had to do was hang out at the bus station.
Two months after meeting Nauzley I started a Facebook group called Kumasi Expats. With so many Facebook users out there, I figured it would be a good an alternative to hoping you run into another white person before your assignment was up. Somewhere you could ask where to by a can opener, for example, something which took us 6 weeks to figure out.
Indeed, the group has flourished. Many of the posts begin with “I’m moving to Ghana” or “I’ve recently moved to Kumasi.” With 120 members Kumasi Expats has organized meet-ups and tours and given members a platform to share hundreds of tips about everything from shopping to healthcare.
Ironically, when I logged into Facebook this morning, the first item on my news feed was this quote on Nauzley’s timeline: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa. As per usual, Nauzley is on my wavelength.
My day begins and ends with Chocolate. A steaming cup of rich Ghanaian cocoa at dawn and a Dove promise melting on my tongue as I read myself to sleep. I find the sameness of this routine a necessary comfort as we transition from our African life back to our life in the States.
The clock is ticking louder these days. We leave Ghana exactly five weeks from today, spend five nights in Morocco and land in Raleigh December 7th.
No matter how much you plan, transition takes its toll. The sorting, packing, winding up projects, checking off the last things on our ‘must do before leaving Ghana’ list, selling furniture, saying goodbye to friends we likely will never see again. The yearning for our old life back in the States, knowing that things will have changed, people will have moved on, that it won’t be the same life we left – all of it is hard on the soul. I feel like my life is unraveling.
Bob and I have been through this many times before and yet still face the same challenges. We are doing our best to suppress panic at what lies on the other end of our journey. We struggle to turn off our racing brains at 2am and return to sleep. Wondering how many weeds will have moved into our gardens and what we’ll do for money on the other end. Trying not to think about how much we’ll miss the tropics and the good friends we’ve made over the past 16 months.
When I’m out on the streets of Kumasi I find myself bouncing wildly between moments of pre-departure nostalgia and intense irritation. “Oh, look at that!” I said to BJ yesterday, pointing at a black man sitting high atop an overloaded truck of raw lumber, “We won’t see anything like that in the States.”
One minute I’m tearing up at the sight of a mother washing her naked children in a steel tub beside the road, the next I’m cursing the insistently honking taxi drivers. From ecstatic over my new custom tailored skirt to cringing from the body funk of someone passing me on the street a moment later. I’ve become schizophrenic. Unstable. Unraveled.
A scene from the movie “Like Water for Chocolate” keeps flashing through my mind. Tita, denied her true love, has put her energy into knitting a scarf. She finally has a nervous breakdown and is taken away in a wagon, the scarf rolling out of the wagon and trailing behind covering the road between her old life and her new one. Whenever this image of Tita’s scarf comes to me, I imagine myself pulling the yarn out of it as I prepare to make a new scarf. Indeed, I feel as if I’m pulling apart my life here in order to create a new life on the other side.
And so with only 5 weeks to go, Bob and I cling to our routines. Getting up at dawn to check email, big bowls of pineapple, Kentucky Fried Tofu on Sundays, walking to market on Mondays, moseying about in the garden, dinner at sundown with some old TV show or a portion of a movie and reading in bed with chocolate. All of these things help us stay grounded enough to disassemble our household without getting totally unraveled.
Nugget, back in the day
There’s ants in the toilet paper again. No tellin’ what they get out of it but you can bet we make damned sure we shake them off before we wipe. It’s 10:14 in the morning and Bob and I have happy bellies full of premium leftovers, scrambled tofu, pineapple, bread and cheese. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that we love to eat.
Life is good here these days providing we rise above ongoing annoyances. Like daily power outages, dry taps and waking up at 4:30 to the sound of Muslims, Christians and roosters.
The religious zealots (and boy, does Ghana have more than their share of those) use loudspeakers to guarantee no one sleeps through their wake up call for salvation. Once in awhile I sleep through it but usually I lay there thinking, “The only thing I need saved from is this ungodly yelling!”
The roosters have no need of loudspeakers. Theirs are built-in and they are also savvy enough to choose perches with amplification potential – sills and cubbies backed by concrete walls. They crow all hours of the day and night, but are usually quiet between sundown and 3am when they have a little say and then settle back down. The 4:30 call to prayer gets them really going though and they’ll go on for an hour or two.
I used to think they were saying, “These are MY hens!” but lately it sounds more like “Cook the ROOSter!” Or kick the rooster, I’m a rooster, In the stew pot, who can know what their four alarming syllables of noise means.
It is very likely that all three groups are saying, “Pray to MY god!”
So anyway, I usually lay there for half an hour or 45 minutes before I stop trying to fall back to sleep and start my day with rich Ghanaian cocoa and warm emails from long time friends; tangy Cape Coast pineapple, a trip to the compost pile, some yoga with the NPR news, and about 10:00 something delicious.
Like I say, life is good.