"Take me to New York City," he said.
I was standing under Accra's only train bridge, talking to the city's number one chalk artist. I had noticed his work - chalk text scrawled on sidewalk and bridge walls around Accra's main motorway interchange - pedaling past with my mountain bike on rides north toward the Aburi hills.
But this time I wasn't biking through. I came to check out the art and artist, and I brought my camera.
"Take me to New York City," he said to me again. I wasn't sure whether to make a joke or ignore the request. I didn't realize I was about to become this artist's patron.
After that direct opening, and given the dense and conspiracy-driven nature of his text art, I wasn't sure what to expect. But as I squatted down beside the man for a chat, I found him quite lucid and conversational.
His name, I learned, was Maxwell, and he seemed happy for some attention. I spent some time, then, taking pictures of Maxwell and his art.
In our conversation, it came out that he was out of chalk. A few nubs by his flip-flopped feet, he showed me, were all he had left.
So, after doing some other shooting around the area, I wandered over to the nearby mall, picked up a couple boxes of chalk, and brought them back to Maxwell. He was glad to have some tools for his trade again.
My first patron-of-the-arts position. And all it took was two packs of chalk. What a deal.
In return, Maxwell shared his lucky lotto numbers with me.
As I was leaving, a passerby in a bright yellow t-shirt stopped to talk to me, curious why I was taking photos of the off-the-grid guy hanging out under the train bridge.
"He's just a mad man, you know," the man in the bright yellow t-shirt said.
"He's an artist," I said.
The man in the bright yellow t-shirt asked me how long I had been in Ghana. He asked for my telephone number. He said he liked me. “I want to spend time with you,” he said.
Um, I just met you, dude. Who's the mad one now?
A few days later, I stopped by to see Maxwell again as I pedaled through once more toward the Aburi hills. He was sound asleep, but had left his own reply to the man-in-the-yellow-t-shirt's comment scrawled on the sidewalk by his head.
I'm inclined to agree.