Arrived at the Accra Airport at 3:30 am and was serenaded by the tune Alfie playing in the background—without an accompanying bell pattern! (Inside Ghana joke). A bit of a cognitive dissonance. Perhaps every Ghanaian has known the common human experience of at least once asking “What’s it all about?” but I suspect that a culture of inclusion where everyone feels like they belong somewhere short-circuits much of that Western existential angst.
Off I went on the first leg of the two flights to Madrid. It felt exotic to land in Casablanca and cross the Sahara by plane, but truth be told, it wasn’t much of a big deal by air. Now in Madrid, a familiar home where I’ve been absent some three years. Hoping the Spanish language that has been sleeping in me will wake up and allow me both to teach and converse. Vamos a ver.
But in my ritual way, a final farewell to Ghana. Goodbye to:
• Happy, smiling cleaning ladies who danced on the edge of our daily music classes.
• The sound of drums and xylophones throughout the day.
• The constant invitation to the bent elbows dance.
• Malta tonic drink, Alvaro pineapple soda, Star and Club beer.
• Fresh coconut juice cut with a machete on the spot.
• Jolof rice, banku, okra.
• Black plastic bags littering the landscape. (Ghana, you need some help with this!)
• Cold showers.
• Women carrying things on their heads, babies strapped to the back.
• Bad and loud TV shows while checking e-mail in the business office.
• One of the most sophisticated, community-based, complex, energetic, varied musical traditions in the world, alive and well and thriving.
• Kids everywhere and no sign of teenage angst or attitude or sullen looks. All ages fluidly mixing and not isolated into preschools, middle schools, old age homes and the like.
• Adults who actually live “it takes a village to raise a child” instead of just mouth a catchy slogan.
And now back in the world of Starbucks and salads and skyscrapers, all familiar and all (mostly) equally welcome. Onward!