August Sometime – Portia and Rofina

In August I traveled up north for my last visit with the Kampusi’s and my other friends up there. After my visit there Portia, Rofina and I traveled south to my site and then on to Cape Coast. Below is a slide show of photos I took of them on this trip. More about the trip to follow.

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-vc

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Aburi Gardens

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here’s 29 thousand!

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-vc

18 March 2010 – Little Things

Today I decided to meet the 10 going on 11 bus into town. I couldn’t go to market on Tuesday because I had classes and then Cantuace was coming to fetch water, so I needed provisions. Just as I was getting to the cross (junction) the bus went by in the opposite direction. Oh it would be at least an hour until the next bus came to Sandema and since it wasn’t market day there was little chance of tro tros coming by either. I was stuck for a while. To add to my misery I had forgotten my phone so I couldn’t catch up on text messages or play snake to while away the time. And I was sitting on a rock and my thinner butt provides less padding for such a seat.

I was sitting, dejected, oh I had wanted to go to town fast fast, but it looked like it was going to be at least a two hour expedition. I started silently grumbling about transportation in the upper east and geesh it was only three miles why does a three mile journey take three hours!

The papers I needed to correct and the meal I wanted to prepare for Rofina and Portia were crowding in on the moment.

Two women were selling pure water under the bus shelter. They greeted me in Buili and were so happy when I returned their greeting in their language that they chattered on to each about how the white woman could speak their language. Then the one who was sitting on the bench moved over and patted the seat telling me in Buili to come and sit. We smiled at each other then they resumed their conversation. I took a deep breath and relaxed. I listened to the musical tones of the Builsa’s language. Waited for the warm breezes to come and cool me. Looked over the harsh dry season landscape that I have come to love. I won’t be here in Sandema much longer I told myself. Don’t miss the moments in your rush to get things done.

Two motos each with one passenger went by but I can’t ride motos so I didn’t beg a ride. Then a vehicle came down the school road. YEAH! I went to the side of the road and begged. It wasn’t one of the masters but the owner of the vehicle was happy to stop and give me a ride into town. He dropped me at the market.

I did my shopping and headed to the station to pick my two new dresses. Sister Baby greeted me with a smile and found my dresses right away. They were lovely. One is a blue swirly pattern on white and the other is green and golden stars on white. Both are simple sleeveless dresses. I headed to the bus stop in a pretty good mood figuring that I didn’t have long to wait for the bus to Sandema now and I saw a yellow school bus. Oh it wasn’t San Tech’s school bus. it couldn’t be. It was too soon for them to come pick the master’s children up from school. I walked, hopeful, until I could read the name on the side. It was our school’s bus!

As you know from previous post’s that this week has been very frustrating but I will remember how the kindness of strangers and a small surprise turned the week in a better direction.

-vc

Day 3 20 Aug 2009 Day 3

The low point of this day was trying to exchange Ced’s for CFAs.(Ceefaas) We were both running low on CFAs and had some Cedis to change. Yesterday we saw many Bureau de changer so we assumed we would have no problem.

Two people could not have been more wrong.

Our day started out very nicely in a patisserie shop called La Bonbonnerie. We took pictures of each other eating our croissant – Lenore and pain au chocolate – me. We had prefect omelets with cheese and other goodies. Cafe au lait for Lenore and the and orange juice por moi.

Then we decided it was time to look for an exchange bureau. About 3 blocks from the patisserie we found one. In we went with our naiveté and our Cedis.  They do not change Cedis. Huh isn’t Ghana the country right next door? Well we better try another place. So off we go to a main road, Kwame Nkrumah. We try another exchange bureau. Same story. I wonder if my American ATM card will work with at an ATM with a Visa logo. We see a bank and I tell Lenore maybe I can get enough for both of us and she can give me her Cedis. But she is noncommittal. I go the the booth. First I hope my ATM won’t be eaten in this foreign country. I did use it in Ghana and Liz has assured me that my bank now knows I am traveling in West Africa. Yet, I was still a little worried about my prospects here. So I put my card in, hold my breath, cross my fingers and voila! the machine asks for my password. I have access. I remove the money and offer to get some for Lenore. But she wants to try a bank or two, if not have her husband, Bernard, send money by Western Union. I am sure she is concerned about taking my American money.

So we head into this bank to see if they will exchange Cedis. No only American dollars or
Euros. Ahh! As we leave Lenore says “Have you ever heard of a country not exchanging the currency of it’s neighbor?” “No” I vent. We walk for a long time then find another bank. The teller at one window sends Lenore to the Western Union window inside the bank. She waits for ever /while the girl in front chats up the Western Union clerk. I get hopeful. Certainly the teller would not send Lenore to this window if she couldn’t exchange her money. I am thinking I will exchange as well. But I sit and wait to see what happens with Lenore. Yes you know it after waiting 10 or more minutes she is told that they will only exchange American dollars and Euros. The clerk suggested the airport. I don’t want to go to the airport. I lived north of Boston for years. The trip to Logan is a nightmare. Traffic, finding your way and who knows where the exchange bureau would be in the airport. Lenore also must have bad memories of trips to airports around DC because she wants to try a hotel.

Lenore remembered that her Barclays card had a Visa logo. We went back to the bank where I got my money and she tried hers. No luck. There is a note on the card “only good in Ghana”.  Geesh.

But we must have sustenance first. We have been looking at the city and window shopping and people watching as we have traversed the city looking for a place to get CFAs for our Cedis. I have bought my 3 backpack in as many months. The zippers on the first two have broken traveling to and from training. So we see a sidewalk cafe call Restaurant Bar Le Bureau. We decide to have lunch there.

The day brightened with food and the excellent attention from the waiters. We had a nice conversation with them. After three days we are guessing better what people are saying. Lenore lived in France for some months when she was young and I studies it in High School. What we learned was coming slowly to the surface of our old brains.

The owner of the restaurant came by to talk to us. He spoke as much English as we spoke French and we got along just fine. We think he was French. Lenore speculated why he would come from France to start restaurant in Ouagadougou. After experiencing Ghana I can understand the lure of West Africa.

We sat We talked. We watched people on the street. We also ignored street vendors plying their wares.

When the waiters brought our addition (bill)  Lenore asked them if they knew where we could change Cedis for CFAs. One took our money for the bill and another hurried off. They both returned and said that the bank down the street will not and the teller had suggested the airport. One offered to take us to the airport on his moto. We had to refuse because of Peace Corps regulations. Then the offered to take our money. Even I am not that naive. We politely declined and they did not urge us to do it.

We set off again. This time in search of a hotel. We found it a few blocks away. The Hotel Palm Beach.  We ask at the reception desk if they knew where to exchange Cedis for CFAs, hoping against hope they would say HERE! But no. It was the airport again. They offered their van driver for a small fee. We gratefully accepted.

This man was so helpful. We assumed he would take us to the airport and leave us on our own. But no. He took us to two private individuals who would exchange but the rate was ridiculously low. Then he lead us into the airport to the exchange bureau there. Finally he drove us back to the hotel. But he wasn’t done he also took us to two exchange bureaus near the hotel. We gave him double what he asked and merci boucouped him many times.  By the way the ride to the airport was not bad at all.  Short distance from the center of town and not much traffic.

We decide it’s time to go home. We catch a taxi. In the taxi Lenore decides it’s time to call Bernard. I could here Lenore’s part of the conversation and can imagine Bernard’s response. This conversation is a compilation of what I heard and what I imagined.

Lenore:    Hi. How are you?
Bernard:    Fine. And how are you? Everything OK?
Lenore:     Not so good. I can’t exchange Cedis for CFAs. The money here in Burkina.
Bernard:    What?
Lenore:    I can’t exchange my cedis.
Bernard:    Did you try a bank?
Lenore:    Yes
Bernard    Did you try an exchange bureau?
Lenore:    Yes We even tried a hotel and the airport. Vicky got money from her American         ATM but my Ghana Barclays card only works in Ghana.
Bernard:    Where did you exchange your other Cedis?
Lenore:    At a ForEx in Bolga, Ghana and at the border.
Bernard:    You really can’t exchange Ghana money for Burkina Faso money?
Lenore:    What kind of country won’t exchange it’s neighbors currency? Maybe the Cedi si         weak? I don’t know. They just won’t.

Bernard was finally convinced. They arranged to have money sent to a Western Union in Boboduilasso because that is where we would be tomorrow.

What a strange country. Maybe it’s a French British thing?

-vc

23 Aug 2009 Quelle Differance!

It is amazing to me how different Burkina Faso and Ghana are. They are the size of two large American states. They are right next to each other yet each has it’s own distinct culture.  I am very ignorant of Burkina Faso culture. So these are my observations and generalizations from my limited experience there. And impressions I have discussed and refined with my travel companion.

I think the difference is the French influence. From previous reading I have learned that the French had a different attitude to their colonies. They considered the colonies as part of France. The local people had all rights and responsibilities of a French citizen. I think this attitude encouraged the local people to explore French culture. The English did not treat the people in their colonies as equal citizens. They also had the attitude that the colonies were there to serve the British empire with their natural resources and crops.

My favorite difference is the abundance of Librairies. On almost every street in the cities there are small shops that sell books. I took a look at one stall. There were French fiction, American popular fiction translated into French, ( Yes I looked to see if Stewart’s books were there!) and a wide variety of nonfiction. Most books were in French. I also recognized a few English books.

The most obvious difference I noticed was customer service. We noticed the difference at our first meal in Ouaga.  The restaurant had a nice atmosphere with wooden tables and chairs, tablecloths and paintings on the wall. At each and every restaurant the waiters poured our drinks for us. They were served in stylish glasses. The plates and cutlery matched. When I talk about the food in Burkina Faso I call it cuisine for they certainly show pride in the food. The food is always beautifully platted. My lasagna was served on two leaves of lettuce. The salads were laid with concern for color and shape of ingredients. The ice cream was served in fluted ice cream dishes set on decorated plates. The ingredients were fresh and cooked to bring out the best flavors. And best of all they used spices other than peppe.

The buses are another example of the commitment to customer service. As I wrote in my first post about Burkina Faso they actually started loading baggage before the departure time. And 30 minutes to departure they called us by name to board. Getting on to the bus was space small small making it easier to settle into our seats.  However some things are not different. People still crowd the bus door so when my name was called I had to push my way through to get on to the bus. Lenore and I figured out after one day that we would be called to board so we didn’t feel the need to crowd the door. I wonder why those who live in the country and certainly know they will be called to board still feel the need to crowd the door?

Each bus station has a toilet of some sort that is usually free.

On our 5 hour bus ride from Ouagadougou to Boboduilasso we stopped for a rest break about half way through. The equivalent of the mate carried cold drinks through the bus two times. The bus has a built in cooler in the front. And he placed plastic waste baskets at intervals along the aisle. The seats were roomy and the over head compartments were actually big enough to store our bags.

If Burkina Faso can solve the problem of audio acoustics on their buses there would be nothing to complain about. But the world around noise pollution is a problem in public places and on public transport.

People selling things are a pain. Oh they just won’t leave you alone. Our last day in Ouagadougou we went to the Grand Marche. It’s a very large market place with hundreds of vendors. The minute I decided to buy something I swear they could smell it and  everyone was all over me. Lenore just wouldn’t buy a thing because the people were so obnoxious. I felt like I couldn’t even stop and look at what was for sale or 3 people from similar stalls would descend upon me. We ran the gauntlet to the top of the market and found a small cafe on the roof.  I said “I have to sit down and recover” and flopped into a chair.

We ordered minerals. As we were drinking them a vendor came with his board of things. I didn’t even look and told him to go away. The cafe owner saw that the vendor was not going and told him to leave. He then kept all other vendors away from us. I guess he could see we were fed up. This man will be on my top ten list of nice strangers for a very long time.

Another example of determined vendors is the guide who latched on to us in Banfora. He sat with us through our taxi ride to the hotel and even after we told him we wanted to talk about it he still hung around the hotel. When we left the hotel to go to dinner he ambushed us. I am afraid I was rude and said with emphasis “We want to go to the restaurant ALONE!”  “Nous sommes fatigue” I said loudly in the street. At last he got the message.

I use to think women in Ghanaian shops calling me over to buy things were aggressive. I will be happy to return to that.

I have to say in regards to the food “Viva La France!”. I at so much French food I think that I was singing Les Marseilles in my sleep.  We had omelets with cheese, ham, peppers, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes. We ate baguettes, croissant, pain au chocolate. I had German potato salad with bacon, capers, mayo and crème fraise. I ate beef sauted with garlic, onions and peppers. I had half a plate full of green beans. I devoured a ham and cheese sandwich. I consumed at least one salad a day.

There was a rumor of strawberries but the only ones I ever saw were in my strawberry glace. The fruit during this time of the year was pretty much the same as Ghana. On the last day I bought a grapefruit. Haven’t seen those in Ghana. And I had orange and mango juices at breakfast.

In the Banfora market I saw zucchini and squash.  We  saw sesame treats in the supermarket and at the rest stop.  Avocado sandwiches were a popular street food. And I found puschnut. Fried dough balls like my Meme use to make.

As I said earlier the cooks take time to present the food in a beautiful manner. Lenore and I agree that some of the cooks have been trained in very good schools.

We only ate one local dish. Rice and arachide soup. It is peanut soup with no peppe. They make a thick puree of the onions, peppers, tomatoes and local garden eggs so the soup is thicker than the Ghanaian equivalent. When I told Perpetua that I ate their ground nut soup she said “Oh that is their best!” (Meaning their favorite dish)

I probably gained 5 lbs while I was in Burkina Faso.

The people are friendly but much more reserved than the Ghanaians. They will reply to your greeting and smile but I kind of miss all the questions Ghanaians ask. Where are you going is my favorite because it often leads to assistance with my journey.  In these post you will certainly read of people who went out of their way to help us. People who befriended us and helped a stranger.  I think the friendliness is just a matter of degree.

Another part of the culture that has made my stay so pleasant is the lack of in your face attention from men. I haven’t had one Burkinan male ask me to marry him and I DON’T MISS IT! But the men have paid us subtle attention. One man raised his wine glass to us. Another winked at us from across the room. Some come to greet us at our table but never over stay their welcome.  They make me feel attractive instead of making me feel like prey.

When I was posted to the Upper East everyone told me that there would be a strong Muslim influence. Well actually it is more Catholic or Roman as they call it here in the Upper East than Muslim. I did see a Muslim influence in Burkina Faso. I saw men in the long shirts and pants and the cap. I saw my first woman in a burka. We often saw groups of men facing Mecca and praying. There were mosques in every town. Most of the buildings are made of cement but there are many styles of architecture.

The clothing is more varied. The first day I was in Burkina Faso I saw a woman with a Japanese style shirt, French influences dresses and tops, a woman in a burka, and clothing similar to the traditional Ghanaian outfits as well as jeans and t-shirts. There is a certain sense of style what ever they are wearing. There are stands that sell cigarettes by the pack or individually much like the stands that sell phone units in Ghana.

Those are the big differences I have observed. Here are a few smaller ones. I haven’t seen any children over the age of 1 being carried on someone’s back. People don’t carry things on their heads very much at all. Restaurants have a small plastic kettle on a plastic pedestal
where you can wash your hands. The water drains into the pedestal. Bus stations and markets have trash containers. The men don’t shave their heads bare. The women wear braids and weave beads or ornaments into the hair or on the ends. The young children also don’t have their heads shaved bare.

My over all impression is that the country is poorer than Ghana. But I only have a few clues to make me think that. I saw less live stock around. People didn’t seem to have poultry, or goats around the house. There were more bicycles and motos in the city and less cars. People were aggressive in selling their wares. There are many people selling phone units with out stands. In fact I saw many people selling wares from a cloth off the ground. The restaurants and hotels were not very busy. There could be other reasons for all of these things so don’t take this impression as the final say about the economic situation in Burkina Faso.

There is an over all French influence in the culture – the cuisine, the customer service, the clothing, and the architecture. Small things like the border guards beret and his smoking a cigarette. Ashtrays on tables. Eyeliner under a man’s eyes. And of course the beautiful French language.

-vc

19 Aug 2009 Burkina Faso Day 2

We slept in today. We awoke at 7:30 am! There were two highlights to the morning –€“ breakfast and washing our clothes.

Since we enjoyed our dinner so much we decided to have Petite Dejune in the hotel. Our waiter brought us each a small plate with a 2×1 inch rectangle, light yellow in color. Oh NO could it be beure real honest to goodness butter. My hand shook as i picked up my knife. My mouth was watering at the hope. I took a small corner of the buerre and tasted. YES! Butter! Real creamy sweet unsalted butter! I would be satisfied if I ate nothing else the rest of the day. Of course I did eat but the butter tasted that good.

We were served our bagette and our cafe au lait and the. We both used every scrid of butter on the plate. It was only out of respect for Lenore that I didn’t use my finger to get the lasts bits of butter.

Ok so on to the second highlight. You might wonder how washing clothes could be highlight after we just ate real butter for the first time in over a year? Well good travel companions always have a sense of humor. Let me tell you how Lenore’s manifested itself washing clothes.

The only place we could fill the bucket was under the shower head. The water was dispersed in a wide radius so Lenore had to hold the bucket up over her head to catch all the water. When the bucket got half full Lenore called me into our 3×9 shower/bathroom and said she needed to hold the bucket with both hands. She asked me to turn on and off the water. So Lenore is standing under the shower with a bucket held over her head. I am standing between here and the toilet. I think Lenore should put the bucket on her head. Lenore obviously thinks the same thing because she does.  We are talking and in a moment suds and water start flowing out of the bucket. We both think Lenore has tipped the bucket so she tries to adjust the bucket and more water and suds splash out on to me and on to her. Finally I dawns on me that the bucket is full and I turn off the water.

Oh I tried so hard not to laugh while this was happening, not knowing if Lenore will think getting her pants soaked is funny. I try to make conciliatory noises but just when I can’t hold it any longer she bursts out laughing. Oh we laughed so hard.

We needed to purchase chips for our phones so we could at least communicate with each other if we got lost. On the way to the Peace Corps office we saw a stall. They tried to charge us 5,000 CFAs. Well I didn’t need a phone bad enough to pay 16 Ghana Cedis for it. Geesh, wer are not right off the boat guys. We walked away and even when they called us back we would not go. I felt the overpricing bordered on theft and did not want to deal with them. It seems Lenore had similar ideas, she ignored them as well.

With the laundry done and Lenore’s pants dry we head off to the Peace Corps office. This time we were invited in and greeted warmly. The secretary lead us to Daniel’s office. He is an APCD in Burkina Faso. Daniel talked to us for at least a half an hour. Telling us things we should see in Ouagadougou, in Bobo Duilasso and especially Banfora. The list of things he gave us for Ouagadougou would have kept us there a week. But he encouraged us to go to Banofora.

We then went to the computer room where we met David, Kristin and Rick. We visited a while and got the scoop on a few things like the price of phone cards. We were right to think they were charging way too much. Rick said we should pay 1,000 CFAs for une puce, a chip.

Then we walked and walked. We twisted and turned back on our route looking for alternative lodging. It was a long and exhausting midday only to find the cheaper lodgings were full.

The afternoon was saved by a ham and cheese sandwich at the Paridisio Restaurant. Lenore had a cheese and mushroom crepe. So at last I have my cheese and ham as well. The customer service was again great. The atmosphere was charming.

On the way back to the hotel we met a woman sellling bananas and peanuts. She taught us the word for peanut –€“ arachide and we figured banan was banana. Two more words to our French lexicon. Although we didn’t speak the same language I will remember that we communicated with this woman. I left feeling we were all enriched by the meeting. This is one reason I like to travel. Even when we don’t speak the same language friendly souls find a way to communicate with each other.

It was time for a nap! I was beat from walking in the heat of the day.

We decided to go to the restaurant around the corner La Dolce Vita. The physical restaurant was tres belle. It was a modified summer hut with a thatch roof. The ends were open but the road wall was enclosed as well as the wall against the building. I assumed they cooked in the building. It incorporated three tree trunks in the dining area. The trees, I am sure, making it cooler at noon. There were padded wooden chairs. Wooden tables with two tablecloths, white on the bottom and maroon  kitty corner over the white.

Our waiter was dressed in black pants, a maroon jacket (matching the tablecloth) with a white bib. “€œBon Nuit”€ he said in greeting. We replied “€œBon Nuit. Cava?”€  We continued through  the customary African greetings in French. I was pretty proud of us that we could greet in French. Both of us work on the principal of finding one or two words we recognized and then trying to answer. When asked in French if we were Angleterre or Germaine we could reply that we were Americans but we lived in Ghana. That evening talking with this waiter we refined our guessing and pantomiming communication style.

We both ordered a salad. We hoped for tomato and mozzarella but alas they were out of mozzarella. So I had a garden salad with vinaigrette dressing. My main course was spinach lasagna. It was different. There were two lasagna noodles. It seemed they were boiled then fried. Between the noodles was spinach and goat cheese. As soon as I got Grace Freese’s, (my ex mother-in-law) lasagna out of my mind i enjoyed this dish.

Lenore had a vegetarian thin crust pizza. It was covered with plenty of vegetables including squash and Greek olives. Lenore also had a salad but I can’t remember which one.

The piece de la resistance? Fraise glace, une boule. Lenore had chocolate glace, une boule. There were pieces of strawberry in my ice cream. It was rich and creamy and there was not enough!

That night I am sure I slept with a smile on my face.

-vc

8 May 2009 – Means

(Sorry this is posted so late.  I just found it in the small notebook I wrote it in! )

 Today I had to go to Bolga. Some how I ended up with only one Cedi in my purse. Just enough for bus fare to Bolga. I wanted to go early to have plenty of time to shop, use the internet and visit some people. But everything was working against me. First, I could not get to sleep that night. I tried everything I usually do to relax. Read. Yoga breath. Count backwards fro 212. Tell myself a story. Nothing worked so by 1:00 am I decided to turn off my 5:30 alarm. So what if I miss the 7:00 am bus. There’s another one at 8:00 am.

 I did finally get to sleep only to awake at 5:00 am! Oh good I can catch the 7:00 am. Ah but as I get further and further from sleep and closer to being fully awake I realize it is pouring out and the wind is blowing very hard. So although I am awake I know this rain will last awhile and I won’t make the 7:00 am bus. Mercifully I lay down and doze.

 About 6:30 am I awake again. The rain is just a gentle mist now. Ok so I will bathe, eat and get ready to take the 8:00 am.  By 7:30 am I am at junction waiting for the 8:00 bus.  At 7:36 it passes going into Sandema. Great it should be here in 30 or 45 minutes. Two boys form Form 2 come to the junction. They ask if the Kofour bus has gone into Sandema. I tell them it went by about 15 minutes ago so the bus should come soon.

 We talk. Time passes. One asks the time. I look it’s 8:11. Wonderful the bus should come soon.

 A tro go by headed Bolga way but he wan’t 50 p, half my money, to go to Chuchiliga, less than half my way, so I send him on sure that the bus will come soon.

 The school pick up comes by. Do I want a ride into town? They were picking up WASSEC exams and would gladly take me. I guess it’s close to 8:30. Decide if they take me into town now we might drive by the kofour bus then I am out of luck for another 2 hours at least. “No thanks” I say “The bus will come soon.”

 9:00 am. I have now used all my waiting coping strategies. I had a long text conversation with Hannah about going to Training of trainers and caught up on other text messages. I have played snake. I have cleaned my messages from my phone. All conversation has deteriorated to wondering when will the bus come.  I am no longer thinking the bus will come soon.

 My co-waiters are also becoming disillusioned verging on desperate. They try to beg a ride with a private car. There is only one person in it. The car does not stop. My student curses “You will get into an accident because you did not stop for us. You are just too selfish.”  I laugh and say “That’s a pretty harsh judgment for failing to give us a ride!”  But we are all pretty desperate because it’s 9:15 and we no longer believe that the bus will come soon.

 Five minutes later the school’s bus comes to the junction veering toward town. Kojo asks me if I am going to town and dejected I say no I am going to Bolga. So are we he replies. First we have to go into town then Bolga. Oh can I come! I do the I finally have means dance right there. And can I bring my gas can? Yes, is the answer. I add the I will so be able to cook with gas steps to the I have means dance. Then we discuss if I wait at the junction or go with them. At this  point I want to get in a moving vehicle no matter where it is going so I hop in.

 There is a hitch of course. After we run errands in Sandema town we must go back to the administration block at school to wait for the bursar. So  at 10:30 am,  I write the blog entry as another waiting strategy. But I know this bus will leave for Bolga soon.

 

-vc

Meeting People 06 January 09

Today I went to Bolga to buy a bus ticket for my trip to Kumasi tomorrow. I got off the bus at Commercial Street where the Barclay’s Bank is located. I had two oranges in my bag for the shoe repair man who I talk to each time I come into Bolga. Sadly he was not there today.

After getting money out of the bank I hailed a taxi to take me to the STC Station to buy my ticket. Half way there the car starts to bump and rattle. It feels like a flat tire. It is a flat tire. But the drive was close to base and pulled in. He said he had to fix the flat and asked would I wait. I agreed cause I had nothing else to do. I am trying to take things as they happen. To enjoy the unexpected. I sat on a bench in the shade and waited.

A girl with eggs on her head came by me. I didn’t have breakfast so I called her over with the come here hand motion. Bought an egg and ate.

The driver was done. So I entered the car again and we headed off. I commented he was lucky to be so close to the base to get his tire.

At the station I asked him just where was I supposed to get my ticket. He turned off the car and came in with me. He helped my buy my ticket. We returned to the taxi. On the way back we chatted. I told him about Peace Corps. He told me a little about himself. Then he said “Sometimes it only takes a day to make a friend.” I agreed.

At the Metro bus station we exchanged numbers. And I left Bolga with a bus ticket but with something better the beginning of a new friendship!

-vc