Kumasi Observations


20121221SunriseLandscapeIt happened yesterday on the Winter Solstice. The Mayan calendar ran out. As far as I can tell, not much has changed here in Kumasi. Back in the States many of our friends have been looking forward this day, certain it would herald an end of the world as we know it. Or at least a positive shift in human consciousness.

December 21, 2012 began with a red ball of sun rising in the haze above the neighbor’s oil palms and ended with a bright half moon in a cloudless grey sky. I went outside before coming to bed and gazed at it from our concrete courtyard, hoping to receive a sign that a shift was occurring.

Like the Egyptians, the Mayans had precisely mapped out the movements of the cosmos. Bob and I ran a jungle lodge in Belize from June of 1997 through August of 1998. At that time, we were very impressed with the intelligence and resourcefulness of our Mayans co-workers.

As Bob delved into Mayan history, he was fascinated by their grasp of cosmology. Most notably, they created a calendar which ran thousands of years into the future and ended yesterday.

It’s 5am and dark. As in the weeks before the end of the Mayan calendar, ants still crawl in and out of my laptop keyboard and up my arms. The 4:30 Muslim call to prayer was still audible from my bed. Roosters still crowed next door and around the neighborhood. The Bulbuls’ sharp voices still cry “whip whip er veep hip er weet.”

DSC_1022Soon the brakes of the car across the street will squeal in loud protest as they back down through the gates into their day. The Burkinabes who live in a ramshackle compound of ruins just south of us will begin laughing and brushing their teeth. The goats will bleat to be let out of their pen. A cacophony of singing and preaching will erupt from multiple loudspeakers.

The sun will rise on another hazy day which the locals say is Harmattan but won’t be until the wind shifts to blow sand from the Sahara. Any day now the wind will begin blowing from the north east and I’ll begin my battle with unimaginable dust, up to 4 grams per square foot per day.

Bob will fix himself a cup of Lebanese coffee and I one of Ghanaian cocoa, lavishly doctored with cane sugar and powdered Coffee Mate. We will boot up our browsers and hope to see evidence of a shift in the news. A story about successful negotiations for peaceful cohabitation in northern Mali would be refreshing. As would a proposal for withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan. Or the closing of Guantanamo.

I’m putting it off. First, I’ll let the goats out, looking to see if the sun appears through the razor wire above our compound wall. I’ll wet a finger and hold it in the air to see which side dries first. I’ll fix a cup of cocoa. And then I’ll check to see what has become of the world in the aftermath of the end of the Mayan calendar. One can only hope.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.