Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Where Are You Going to Put That Chicken?

Before you start reading this, please hit play. The music is, indeed, part of the experience.

When we awoke on our last morning in Kpalime, Maman was awake and waiting for us so that she could say goodbye before heading to work. We had French toast and coffee - which Ortencia had told Maman I loved just the day before. We packed and walked down the road to get a trou-trou. We ended up with a driver who was a friend of Maman's and he both found us a taxi and ensured that we got a good fare. It was a long ride and the taxi driver picked up and dropped people off along the way. At most, we had eight adults and a kid - compared to trou-trous, taxis were a nicer way to travel. The music was slightly odd, as you can see. We listened to Aqua's entire album.

I took photos through the window of the waterfall we had visited, a second we passed, the beautiful mountains and trees, and then a series of photos which were meant to show the huge termite hills that I kept seeing. Once the taxi driver even stopped the car so that I could take a better photo of the waterfall. As we travelled, occasionally children would shout out, "yovo," the world for white person (in Ghana, obroni). I spent some time daydreaming about being in a bookstore back home, shopping. At a junction, we managed to switch cars rather than having to go all the way to the regional capital to get one, saving ourselves several hours on the way to the village where Ortencia is staying.

It was the most incredibly crowded trou-trou - so crowded, it was rather funny. Trou-trous are basically a trou-trou is a broken down old van. As many rows of seats as can be put in are there and on top of that there are as many rows as can be fit; thus, since the front row generally has extra space, an extra seat or board is often put there to fit more people. Ortencia and I got the last two seats in the trou-trou (after using a shower in a compound to use the washroom), so we were sitting in the front row, with a row of people facing us and sitting on a board. There was so little room between us, we all sat with our legs apart and a leg of the person opposite us between them. Under the seats were chickens. The passengers laughed when I took a photo.

We were both getting very hungry as the trou-trou climbed its way up through the mountains - it was one hell of a view, but sadly I was unable to get any photos - there was no room to get a camera out of a bag. We hit a junction just ten minutes from Ortencia's village and changed trou-trou and finally arrived, after a solid day of travelling along a road once paved and another that never was, home. We met her friend Gloria and family and many others.

Ortencia's house is in a small compound, just her house and Saki's. It had a front garden, with a gazebo for greeting visitors, as well as an outside shower room and latrine. We went on a walk to buy some bananas, and a someone Ortencia works on a project with came by to bring us some oranges. The young boy who does her yard work dropped by - apparently she once discovered a snake near the latrine and so the foliage has to be kept cut back. In the two weeks she had been away, everything had grown quite a lot.

We did a quick undies wash and Ortencia made pancakes with honey and then we went to see her seamstress, as I'd managed to get holes in a skirt and a pair of pants. When we arrived, she informed me that the family had just had a latrine built, but she was sure I could help with another project. Like so many others, she wanted to know what gifts I'd brought from Canada. After visiting the seamstress we walked "downtown" in the dark - Ortencia's village has limited electricity and that only during the hours of eight and eleven. So, it was mostly dark as we passed shops, children watching TV through the gaps in the boards of a building, a band playing in front of a church (either for a funeral or witchcraft - for which the region is renowned) and we finally stopped to buy kakawatts, eggs, and canned tomatoes. On our walk home, I saw fireflies.

At night, the latrine wasn't the nicest place to visit. Beyond a few cockroaches, there were also giant spiders and we were still sharing the flashlight on her cell phone. However, she did kindly inform me that peeing in the compound rather than the latrine itself was common and allowed, which was indeed convenient, due to my rather fearful regard of giant spiders.

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