Have we only been here three days? We’ve packed so much in to our time here, it seems to be either moving very slowly or much too quickly. Whatever the case, so far this has been a wonderful experience with the two Big Village ladies. Please accept this bullet point update until I find a moment to process it all and write in a cohesive manner.
- I was moved to tears when the ladies sang and danced under the baobab tree. I’ll let you read that again. Yes, I said, “under the baobab tree.” So, so beautiful. I cannot post pictures of these amazing moment until we get to a faster internet connection. I am, by no means, complaining. I still can’t believe I met with women under a baobab tree this morning and tonight you’re hearing about it. I still marvel at the miracle of technology.
- I mentioned it before the I am here with a couple of “crunchy mamas.” They’re on the au naturel side. They like to read “Hobby Farm Home” and say things like:
- I should take a pro-biotic.
- What kind of oil was used to cook this?
- Would it be possible to pick fresh mangos from the tree?
It turns out they are in good company with our host, Dominic, who is the manager of the women’s co-operatives. He has joined ranks of Herbalife, a weight loss and nutrition plan. When he met us the first day, he was wearing a pin, “Lose Weight Now! Ask Me How!” We all tuned him out a little when he first started talking about his new passion to make Ghana a healthier, thinner place, but the more he talked about nutrients in food, what foods we should avoid eating, and reasons why guinea fowl is better meat than chicken, the crunchy mamas started to pay attention. When Dominic mentions things like the super fruit from the baobab tree, that grows right here in Bolgatanga, right above those dancing women, it doesn’t get much crunchier than that.
- Dominic’s new venture reveals the dichotomy of Ghana. On one hand, in the world where food on the proverbial table that day determines whether you are rich or poor, to put on weight is a luxury and a sign of beauty. To say, “you are growing nice and fat” is a compliment (at least I took it that way). And yet, there are those who would call themselves modern, who hold the slim figure in high regard. Many believe it to be the influence of the western cultures, which also brought blue jeans and Holiday Inn. In any case, weight loss is now marketable in Ghana.
- I did this today:
Yes, he’s real – and there are 200 more of his buddies in that pond behind me. These crocs are in the northern town of Paga, just before the border to Burkina Faso. It is a road-side attraction in this area. It is against the law to hunt the crocs for any reason. They are revered because it is believed they carry the souls of the ancestors. They are tame, as tame as any carnivorous monster can be. A croc caller lure out the beast from the Zenga pond, which means hilltop. Nothing this behemoth won’t do for a couple of live chickens! Of course, one crunchy mama was absolutely horrified at the heartlessness of the scenario while I comforted her with these ever so sensitive words, “It’s the circle of life.”
- While at the croc pond, a few devoted Muslim men made their way toward us. One man in particular thought I needed to understand how the croc’s submissive nature is the product of the sovereign Allah. Who else can tame a wild beast in this way? To see it is to believe in Allah, would I accept this truth? All I had to say was, “Ash-hadu an la ilaha ill Allah” (I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah). Would I accept? Now? What about now? Just say it! You will be a Muslim!
- Oh man! While you moved from the last bullet point to this one, we experienced a wicked thunderstorm. We felt the winds hit the building ahead of the storm and then saw the lightning and rain approach from the balcony of our room where we’re staying. All three of us were totally freaked out in that giddy 13-year old way when the electricity went out. This is the second storm since we’ve been here. Yesterday’s storm took out some roofs, and threw around debris and tree branches. Dominic commented that the traditional houses, even with their thatch roofs always manage to stay firmly in place. I know that the people are so looking forward to this rain. It’s a break from the heat of the dry season and we’ve seen small fires all around the region as they clear the land in order to sow seeds in the fields.
- Tonight is our last night here. We join Dominic at the basket buyer’s market in the a.m. and then leave for the city of Tamale, in order to catch our plane there the next morning. Dominic will be making us a Herbalife shake for breakfast before we go. A healthy send-off!