Look out! Women here balance loads on their heads that I would be afraid to try to lift! Platters of bananas, glass cases full of snacks, and boxes of batteries, combs, and nail-clippers all float down the street balancing above dark faces, which in turn balance above beautiful dresses made of pretty cloth. Many women carry babies on their backs with another piece of beautiful material. Most men wear "jeans and T-shirts" or "business suits," but others are dressed in bright African shirts or small round hats and long robes. Cars, taxis, buses, and tro-tros fill the streets with fumes and lots of honking car horns.
The market is as colorful and loud as any I've seen yet. "Hey sister! Come buy!" is called from booths or people on the sidewalk selling anything from used clothes to tomatoes and onions. Dried and fresh fish are popular. This all happens along a busy street, with a half-open sewer running next to it. In this heat, I don't know how people can sit so close to the sewers! The smell makes it hard for Kavitha and me to breathe in some places, but they must be used to it.
Many of the women have small scars on their cheeks or beside their eyes. The scars make the women look even more interesting. I'm told they are tribal markings, and you can tell which tribe a woman is from by them. I notice a few men with them, too. I want to get a picture for you, but many women are shy about having their picture taken, and some don't speak much English.
Even though Ghana is an English-speaking country, the words I hear all around me are a language called "Ga," one of many languages spoken here in Ghana. We stand out so much men frequently come up to meet us. They want to know our names and where we're from. The local handshake is long and gentle, sometimes with a grasping of the thumb like in Zululand. The handshake always ends with a snap, using the other person's middle finger instead of your own. I'm not really good at it yet, but I'm getting lots of practice.
Transport in Accra is mostly on the tro-tro, which is about the same as a combi in Latin America and Southern Africa. Tro-tros are minivans with extra rows of seats added to squeeze in more people. The tro-tros follow regular routes all over the city. The main tro-tro stop is just north of Nkrumah Circle, a major intersection in town. Tro-tros are parked everywhere or are working their way through the major traffic jam to get in or out. A few men stand around trying to direct the crazy traffic, as vendors and other people walk through it all.
"What did you do?!" Kavitha asked, surprised.
"I just tried to take a picture of the tro-tros!" I shrugged.
Kavitha reminded me that there have been many attempts to overthrow the current ruler, Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings. The guidebook warns against taking pictures of anything that might seem helpful to do that. I'm not sure how a traffic jam of tro-tros could hurt the government, but I am sure that I'm not taking many pictures from here!
Making A Difference - Who Wants to Clean Out the Sewers?
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