a snapshot of life in Tamale

Upon reviewing my journal from the first trip we took to Ghana in January 2012, I found this entry of first impressions of Tamale, Ghana. I’ve typed it up unedited. It was written during the second week in the country—I hope it will help you imagine the place where we now live…

Reflections January 10th, 2012, Tamale:

smells: burning trash; night-blooming jasmine at TICCS; diesel exhaust; pepe and onions; dried fish; maggi; nescafe; groundnut; grilled plantain; smoked chicken; raw goat and lamb at the market butcher

sounds: bats at night going *beep beep*; birds at TICCS of many different songs; sound of motos; horns of taxis; call to prayer; music blaring at the market perhaps some Asunto music; Ko, the resident African grey, making the sound of a car horn, the sputtering of an engine; loud and animated conversations in Dagbani; the wailing of my kitten friend begging for food; the chirping of geckos; the sounds of traffic; the warm greetings while passing by, “Desba”… “naa”; the sound of the wind; the cooing of doves

sights: the gorgeous lush trees; the red earth; the not-so-nocturnal bats; the gorgeous brightly colored cloth; the incredible balance possessed by nearly everyone here, balancing any number of things from sewing machines to sunglasses, tiers of charcoal, and any matter of fried of food, sachets of water, sachets of koko, and often done with a baby tied with cloth to the woman’s back; taxis, trucks, tro-tros and motos; herds of wandering goats and lamb with their droppings and hoof prints embellishing the soil; the good roads and the bad bumpy roads; the numerous NGOs; the children’s smiles and waves; the barber shops and hair salons, internet and cell phone cafes; weaving through the marketplace where any manner of things are crammed into the space—spices, cloth, toys, cement, fetish items, designer knock-offs, fresh meat, dried fish, produce, old tires and car parts, shawls and shoes, cosmetics, diapers and hot food; doves in pairs of two; savannah grass; too much trash; plots of land burning for bush meat; cement block schools; mud huts with the thatched roofs

tastes: smoky hot pepe; groundnut; sour koko and banku; deliciously sweet pineapple juice; lager—Star or Club; sweet plantain; spicy okra; oddly familiar T.Z.; oily chicken wing just slaughtered; strange sweetness (though not in a comforting way) of pure water sachets; salty taste of rice and beans; stews with Maggi, tilapia; kenkey and hot sauce—our late night savior on New Year’s Eve; fried egg sandwich with margarine on toast; super tasty samosas and franky rolls; extremely bitter and crunchy kola nut that makes water after taste sweet; rich palm oil; yam chips

touch: dry, dusty air; sweat on my skin; close contact with fellow passengers on tro-tro and taxi rides; feel of the dirt road—bumpy with my head bobbing; high fives of small children; slippery banku; tearing water sachets with my teeth; the weight of my over-stuffed pack; the bites of mosquitoes; the visits from flies; the occasional grabbing of my odd white skin; the wind and dirt as a truck closely passes us by while walking; my tired feet after a long walk from the village; the dirt and gravel that gets caught in my flip-flops; the wooden chairs at TICCS; the highly effective fan that keeps us cool at night; the cold showers; the plastic-covered seats in James’ room; the kiss from the horse; the warm and lingering handshakes, sometimes concluded with a snap