This afternoon I was dripping with sweat from a long walk in the Ghanaian sun when a woman who works at the guest house where I’m staying mentioned that I go out a lot. I found this funny, since I was worried that I wasn’t going out enough, that I wasn’t getting to know Bibiani quickly enough. This wise woman suggested that I purchase a cold drink to cool down and, while I drank my Coca-Cola (charmingly bottled in glass here), I thought about what she said and laughed at my eagerness to explore this new place.
Since my co-op work is now set to begin first-thing next Monday morning, I found myself with several schedule-free days at the end of this week. I generally like to keep a busy schedule so I was a little perplexed by all this free time. As a remedy, I’ve decided to use a lot of it wandering around to get my bearings here, often while munching on bananas or tiger nuts (which are actually tubers, not nuts – surprise!). In keeping with a new tradition on this blog, here are some ‘snippets’ of Bibiani that I’ve observed during my wanderings these past few days.
A typical street here in Bibiani
If you walk around with a camera, you’ll make friends.
For the first time since getting to Bibiani, I brought out my DSLR camera. I didn’t anticipate the response I would get from people, though! Children already find me amusing (often I have a little posse of them walking behind me, clapping and singing a local song about an obruni). With a camera, I must have looked all the more entertaining. I now have many pictures of schoolchildren posing adorably for the camera at their request. Not only children are interested: I also have a photo of about eight taxi drivers, several of whom clamoured in just as I was taking the shot, so the result is pretty hilarious. (Side note: One of the taxi drivers proposed to me, which was my second official marriage proposal since arriving in Ghana… All this sun must be doing wonders for me!)
Perhaps a little camera shy, despite the photo being shot at their request
Not so camera shy… my merry gang of suitors
People really remember you.
I think I’ve mentioned already that I’ve met a lot of people since arriving here. I’ve also already had many, many mini-conversations with people as I walk through the street. Greeting people here is important here, so you end up talking to a lot of people throughout the day. As I run into those I’ve met officially and through greetings here and there again, they always seem to remember my name. And often they say something like, “I saw you walking down XYZ road yesterday” or “I saw you with XYZ person”, showing they’ve been taking note of where I’ve been better than even I have!
You can predict when it’s going to rain very easily.
Last night, I was walking to meet up with a new friend to grab a cold drink in the evening when something happened: suddenly, all the sheep, goats, and people were running in the opposite direction of me, towards shelter. Since I was already halfway to my friend’s place, I figured I should just keep walking. Well, the rain here comes a lot quicker than I thought and I got completely drenched in just a couple of minutes despite my umbrella. When it rains here, it doesn’t mess around! When I arrived at my friend’s house, all we could do was laugh at my misfortune and wait out the storm. I’ve learned from this that if 1) it’s suddenly become windier and, 2) the clouds are looking heavy and, 3) every living thing is taking shelter, it’s going to start raining in less than five minutes so I should run, too.
See those clouds? I should’ve been running…
Church isn’t just for Sundays.
The two main religions in Ghana are Islam and Christianity. Where I’m staying, there are some Muslims so there’s a mosque in town and even an Islamic school but there are many more Christians including Pentecostals, Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. No matter your religion, though, it is generally speaking a big part of life here in Ghana. It’s tied to family life, social life, and even the workplace, with some offices opening their day with devotion. Churches are often the loveliest buildings here or they are under construction and renovation to become the loveliest buildings. (Near where I’m staying now, there is a small temporary church building that is actually inside a larger half-built church that will be the permanent place of worship once it’s completed. This church-within-a-church is quite a sight!) Moreover, each church has a sign outside it that lists the weekly activities and there’s something happening every night of the week. Even I find church in my routine since my days here seem to begin with the Muslim call to worship around five in the morning and they end with the sound of congregational singing in Christian churches in the evening.
There is an abundance of animal life.
There are many more goats, sheep, and chickens here than there were in Accra. This pleases me since baby goats are adorable and because be awoken by roosters is actually much better than it sounds. There are also so many lizards. The smaller ones are very quick (almost impossible to photograph) and they are a dark grey, which blends well with the cement walls common here. Then there are the larger ones, which are black and orange. I have a bit of a soft spot for them because they do this cute little move to see better that makes them look like they’re doing push-ups. Finally, while I’ve not seen many of them, I know there is a wide variety of birds here since I can hear their calls throughout the day.
I’m pretty proud I was fast enough to grab this shot!
This is a very brief overview of some preliminary observations – I know I have so much more to discover here in Bibiani and I’m really looking forward to it!
Motorbikes, shade trees, and bright colours are all common here
Bikes, too, are a popular form of transportation