Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"I love you, my darling!"

I was on my way from Accra to Aksomobo on my mountain bike last week, some 60 miles by (mostly) paved road.

I had ridden safely through the congested 'suburb' of dusty Medina and pedaled my way across the gently rolling flats that followed, and was almost at the climb into the low hills north of Accra city.

Pulling past a tollbooth tucked in at the base of the climb, I looked briefly into the small knot of road-side sellers - hawking bread, or cell phone cards, or plantain chips - that alway gathers there.

I made eye contact with a teenage girl.  Her head was shaved, like most school-age girls around, and she wore a red T-shirt.  She looked back at my white, bike-helmeted self and laughed.

"I love you, my darling!" she spontaneously called out.

This is what I love about my long rides here: the love that Ghana shows to me.  The loveliest offerings - like the woman calling to me at the tollbooth - being the random encounters with people and things that simply tickle my randomosity-loving side.

Later, up in those hills, I heard a shout.  I looked up to see a young man hoeing a field on the side of a green hill.

"You are my brother," he yelled out.  I waved.

Then: "Take me to Europe," he cried.  He held up his hands.  "I am ready!"

He had no luggage other than his hoe, and I'm guessing no passport either.  But I don't doubt that, if I had said yes, he would indeed have been completely ready.

Not long after that, I happened upon a very yellow building, Victory International School.  But better even than the irony of a school in hill-country Ghana being called 'international' was the Disney-style decor hung on the yellow walls.

Evidently, Snow White goes to school in Ghana.

Then there was the taxi driver overhauling his engine by the side of the road.  His orange-hipped chariot parked on the shoulder, hood open.  Engine in ten pieces strewn on the pavement in front of the car, all the pistons out.  No repair shop needed.

The electric blue sky was a treat, too, more random love in a tropical country that most often thrives on a humid haze.

Another 'treat' was this freakish painting on the outer wall of a medicine man's compound.

I didn't stick around to see if the medicine man might give me some love or throw me a curse.

The next morning, pedaling back toward Accra from Akosombo, the random-ness started again with an 8 foot tall by 8 foot wide stack of speakers set out in a dirt courtyard, pumping hip-life music into the 9 am air, no party in sight.

Not long after, I passed a small roadside stall of shoes for sale.  The shoe-seller was polishing and putting out his wares for the morning.  He gave me a big, exaggerated wink as I pedaled past.  Just showin' the love.

Then a tro-tro (local minibus) showed me some love, too - in its own way.  It ran me off the road.

When I took exception to this, yelling at the young 'conductor' as I pedaled beside, he simply stuck his head out the window of the minivan's sliding side door and said to me mildly, "Don't fight, my man."  Ah, Ghana.

Soon I was treated to a tro-tro 'school bus' full of blue-suited schoolkids yelling "Obruni, obruni" at me.  "White man, white man."

And then, in a shop-wall mural depicting an idyllic country-pond scene, a painting of a rabbit riding a goose.

Later, the randomness continued as, pushing my sunglasses up on my nose, they simply disintegrated off my face, falling to the pavement in several pieces.

Apparently, they didn't love me.

Maybe my touch was simply more powerful than I knew.  Or maybe I had indeed picked up a touch of a curse when I stopped to photograph that medicine man's paintings.  Here's another one.

We'll hope the Ghana love wins out over the Ghana jinx.

1 comment:

Noah said...

I love the wide angle on the blue-sky crossroads shot - nice!