Well-known fact: roosters crow at dawn.
Slightly less well-known fact: roosters also crow at 1am, 2am, 3am, and whenever they feel like it.
Well, I did get some sleep.
I suppose I should confess at this point that Our Intrepid Heroine usually spends the first day in a foreign country holed up in the hotel like a scared rabbit. Culture shock plus disorientation makes me inclined to spend the first day indoors, adjusting. In any event, today was Sunday, so everything was closed (and the previous day had been the funeral for the chief of Accra (the capital) – huge deal and everything shut down), so it was just as well I took a day to acclimate. I’m still considering getting a guide to take me around Kumasi, but I feel much more able to get about on my own than I did just a few hours previously. Which is good.
Today I met the concrete artist (I have photos of his concrete crocodiles on the patio of Aba House, but you’ll have to wait until I can upload them), and the kente weaver, Eddie. Eddie showed me his loom, and demonstrated the weaving for me. Really interesting stuff: it’s a simple loom with two sets of two shafts (each set is used alternately). The warp is stretched out the full length of the warp and is tied to a large weight to keep it taut. As the cloth advances, the weight is dragged along the ground. Of course that limits your warp length to the length of your backyard (no 100-yard warps here), but for what they’re weaving, that’s much of a limitation. Eddie explained that the setup he had shown me was for Ewe weaving, and that Ashanti weaving was different. He showed me a couple samples of Ashanti-style weaving, and I agreed to buy two strips of Ashanti weaving from him for $30. (Which I suspect is way overpriced, but I learned long ago not to quibble too much about prices. He says he can only weave one strip a day, and from what I’ve seen of that style of weaving, I believe him; $15/day is a fortune to him, but it’s not that expensive for me.)
Tomorrow he and I are going to the market – both the large one in Accra, and another one where I can buy parts for a Ghanaian style loom. I do not expect ever to weave Ghanaian style, but the bits and pieces of the loom will go nicely with the backstrap loom I bought in Guatemala. (I still regret not buying the reed, etc. that went with the Akha loom in Thailand.) I look forward to seeing the large market – I expect it will be full of things that I’ll want photos of. Including bushmeat.
Ah, bushmeat. Ghana appears to be a paradise for those who want to eat strange and outre foods. Talk True (the fellow who runs the guesthouse) assures me that grasscutter (nutria rat), bats, rats, cats, dogs, snake, and just about everything else under the sun is eaten in Ghana. While I’d rather die than eat a cat (I have two very well-loved feline children at home), the rest sounds interesting. Talk True said he’d try to find me a small grasscutter to eat in soup, the soup being a mix of peanuts and something else which I couldn’t quite make out, but which I think is some kind of Ghanaian dumpling. (It lost a lot in translation.) I’m told that as I get further north, bat stew becomes a possibility – it’s reputedly quite sweet, because the bats are fruit bats and it makes their flesh sweet. Beats me, but I gotta try it. 🙂
I have gotten a very strong recommendation for a tour guide – a fellow named Chuku – and am going to meet with him tomorrow morning to discuss planning. I think I will take a day or two to see Accra, then go to the Volta region to study weaving with Bobo, and then after that maybe ask Chuku to show me around Kumasi (another weaving/crafts center, about 3-4 hours north of Accra). if there’s time, I might want to go to Tamale (northern Ghana) from there. I think I will probably skip Cape Town and the slave-era colonial castles there; it’s interesting historically, but since I have very little interest in history, I think I’ll pass.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to post these – today I walked about two miles to get to an internet cafe, but there was a blackout on the way (apparently the government cuts power to Nungua 1 night in 5 due to electricity shortages) and despite having its own generator, the internet cafe was closed by the time we arrived. Tomorrow the power should be on again, it’ll be Monday morning instead of Sunday after a holiday, and hopefully I can post these blog entries.
I should perhaps add that it’s a hot night, and the blackout means that there’s no fans in the rooms. Also the mosquitoes which were blessedly absent last night are roaring back today. It’s a good thing I brought antimalarial drugs, because I’m being bitten silly. (I quit counting at 51 bites – just on my legs – and that was hours ago.) I’d apply DEET except that I flatly refuse to sleep drenched in DEET. I sincerely hope that tomorrow the electricity is on and there’s water in the upstairs room again…the city turned the water main to this area back on today, but because everyone’s filling their cisterns, there isn’t enough water pressure to fill the upper cistern. Talk True is going to get up at 1am tonight and try filling the water tank then; he says that most people sleep then, so they aren’t running the water and he might be able to get enough pressure to fill the upper tank. Say a prayer for me – life will be much more comfortable if I can take a shower in the room.
Bring back a recipe for nutria for me please. They’re real pests around the Eastern Shore and we’ve *still* got a $1.50 per tail bounty on the little buggers. While you’re at it, get some photos of the looms. Mebbe we can reverse-engineer one…