Tuesday, September 20, 2005

the 'ordinary' things

Hey everyone.
I realize in writing of all these adventures on an exciting-weekend by exciting-weekend basis (and not even with that kind of regularity) I've sort of managed to omit the more day-by-day kind of stuff, that to me, has become regular and unremarkable. It is these small things that compose the scenery that I will most associate my expirience in Ghana with, and, I'd imagine, the absence of these things that will seem strange about America when I come home. And despite how natural and normal they seem now, nothing seemed unremarkable to me when I first arraived, so all you who are elsewhere, here ive written, in list form, little details I doubt I'd ever bother write about where else:

*personal space and privacy do not mean the same thing here: no one complains when someone blasts the SAME Usher/50 cent/Celine Dion song on repeat for god-knows-how long starting at 6 am and shutting off around 2am. And so they do. every night. I now know the words to ever Usher/50 cent/Celine Dion song ever written. Thank you, KNUST. And its always American hip hop, boybands, or slowjams, or, if were lucky, Ghanaian hip hop, boybands or slowjams. Luckily I had the good forsight to bring earplugs, but they dont compeltely block the sound and do nothing for the thundering base that rattles my bedframe on weekends. Im learning to sleep like a rock. If it doesnt kill me it makes me stronger, right? right? yeah. "Were gunna party like *its your birthday*, sippin bicardi like *its your birthday*" anyone know that one? I do! reeeeaaal well.

* there are COBRAs in the trees on campus! aaah! "but they rarely attack." hah.

*it rains here, everyday, at least once, without warning. a sudden torrential downpour, with lightning and thunder and the works. sometimes for minutes, sometimes for hours. According to Maya Angelou's "all gods children need travelling shoes" the gods are washing out the spirit world for the great souls who have died. its pretty wonderful.

* power outages occur maybe tri-weekly. and really, what can you do when the power goes out (and with it goes all the loud music) besides stop what you were doing and curl up in bed with a good book by candle light? pity.

*and! when its not raining (even when it is) its hot! thick, and hot. even at night. but far from unbearable except for maybe at high noon. its not so bad if you take an afternoon nap, which i regularly do.

*there really arnt paved roads every where. not even all the way on the major roads between the major cities. buildings are often unfinished, and houses and marketstalls are usually made of cinderblocks and corregated metal sheeting. downtown accra and kumasi are wild mazes of goods stacked and crammed into small partitioned open air shanty-like stalls, free from the burdens of streetsigns, stop lights, or direction. the dirt is red, and the places that arnt cleared or partially paved in kumasi are dark, dark green. afterall, its known as "the garden city" and it all used to be rainforrest before they cleared it away to make a city. On campus, you can take little bridges over swampy forrested patches, dodging vines on your way to class, and once you leave the city boundries, boy howdy, youd better follow the main roads lest you lose yourself in the jungle.

*religion here is like nothing you could imagine: the majority of small business have names like "jesus is the light and way stationary" or "if god be for me who can be against me tires and car parts" or "jah bless fast food (ok, but fast food here definatly means fried rice/yam and chicken/goat)" or "All praise be to Allah Rasta Hair doo salon" and most cabs have something similar spelled out in yellow vynil stickers on their back windows. Most internet cafes, taxis, or street vendors blast gospel reggea at top volume, and charasmatic christians hold services where they sing, speak in tounges and become possessed right outside my doorway every friday. If you see someone standing on the side of the road with their eyes closed and their hands up blithering incomprehensably, fast and so loud, you dont stare or think them crazy, you just walk past. They're only possessed by the holy spirit, and you might be sitting next to them in lecture tomarrow. Oh, and professors constantly cite the bible as fact to verify their points and missionaries knock on my door almost daily. you can hear hymns at any time of day or night somewhere on campus from some church group meeting, muslims students hold massive prayer sessions five times a day in a central locations on campus, and men with bullhorns stand outside the dorms and read from the bible, instructing all sinners to save their souls immediatly. and the traditional religions are a whole nother all consuming aspect of life i wont even go into now. amazing. and i thought America couldn't seperate church and state.

food: usually consists of a bulbous lump of some sort (fufu-pounded yam/plaintain, banku- pounded cassava, rice ball-pounded rice, kenkey, pounded corn) floating around in some sort of spicey, greasy stew either made out of peanuts or okro, or veggitables, with some hunk of meat bobbing around in there, either chicken, goat, fish or "other"

(speaking of meat, theres this whole other genre called bush meat, "whatever they catch in the bush" if you order bushmeat, there is never specification to what it is, ("its meat!" is all they say) so for all you know, youre eating a rodent, a primate, or some other supposedley mammalian thing. anytime you drive down a bushy road, you can see men standing on the soulder holding up various dead furry beasts by their tails, freshly caught and for sale. i have yet to indulge.)

anyway, other then stews and bulbous lumps (its actaually a lot more delisious then it sounds, i swear) you can get some kind of spicey ricey dish, fried yams, fried chicken, fried plaintains or a fried egg between two peices of tea bread pretty much anywhere you go, as well as oranges, bananas, pinapple and mango (depending on season) cut before your eyes, toothpickd, and handed to you in a little bag for cheap cheap cheap. and its definatly the best fruit youve ever had in your life. especially the pineapple.

*oranges are peeled with a knife, leaving a soft white thin skin covering the fruit, and then the top is sliced off, you hold the exposed top to your mouth and squeeze the thin skin and drink your orange, spitting the seeds as tehy come. oh man. its wonderful.

money: the lowest coin is 50 cedis, and is worth less then a penny, the highest bill is 20,000 cedis and is worth just over two dollars. its colorful and shiney. comes out of machine in huge lumps and despite the exchange rate, goes quick.

theres lots of things i could say. maybe Ill add to this list as i think of more.

other then that, people are generally kind, friendly, inquisitive, clever, boisterous, and welcoming (especially off campus, where theres less of a "make sure everyone knows how much money you have" attitude) but there is also an unceasing flow of strangers (often children) approaching the obvious foreinger and either outright demanding money "for schoolfees/medicine/food" or telling you that they want to "take you as a friend, i like your color" and attempting to gather your contact information. Its hard, because sure, im lookng for friends, and no, i dont mind handing over a few thousand cedis to the blind one legged 12 year old on the corner, but no, i cant pay for the entire population of ghana's schoolfees and *you* only want to be my friend because im white. after a while it becomes hard to not blow off everyone who appraoches you or automatically assume that anyone who makes any effort towards friendship only wants money or help getting a visa, or the status symbol that is a white friend. Most people, however, are genuinely friendly, genuinley curious, and very willing to help you find your way around town, help you barter, help you learn twi, or just have a nice conversation about anything with you. As a result, I have made a lot of good friends, and am starting to see friendly and familiar faces around town and campus whenever I go out, which is a comfort. My room mate is brilliant and generous and always keeps me laughing, and the art students... well, theyre quite a bunch.

*in my thematic compostition class, we were assigned to make and paint with this "traditional ghanaian ink" called Asiduro.

"excuse me, professor, you say that Asiduro is made by squeezing lime juice onto rusted metal and leaving it to ferment in a closed container, are you suggesting that there's enough idle rusted metal lying around campus for the entire art department to find some and make the ink?"


and its true.

*I miss: mexican food, rock and roll, Americans who think all that really exsists is America, isla vista, big cities with skyscrapers, especialy one particular big city with skyscrapers that sits on the bay, driving down east avenue, windmills, having access to good art supplies, solitude, quiet, living only blocks away..., the ccs computer lab, my laptop, my records, walking down the street and not being constantly "sssssss'ed" at, not being able to walk down the street without running into a friend, a certain community radio station, a certain big co-operative kitchen with MLK jr. in the window, smooth-paved-multi-lane roads, needing a sweater, seatbelts, real milkshakes, Sabado Tarde, cafes that serve coffee, bookstores that have books, not always feeling foreign, RIDING BIKES!, a certain yellow '77 Ford Granada, tofu, vegans, skateboarding, being a telemarketer (actually, not that much), my green walls, my art studio, livermore, Oh yeah, and definatly (just a little bit) all of my friends and family.

So, I have more free time here, and with that free time i sometimes like to read books, a few weeks ago I finally gotten around to reading Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' (which i've been assigned to read for classes several times, but i'm glad I never got around to actually reading it until now)
Theres this part in the book, where the lead character, Marlow, breaks from his story that hes been telling his fellow sailors in england about his travels through Africa to say:
"It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream -- making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewildermient in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is the very essence of dreams... ...No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence -- that which makes its truth, its meaning --its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream -- alone."

take that for what you will.
love, maggie

Sunday, September 18, 2005

con cuidado, s'il vous plait.

I had four days off. Enough time, barely, to pack my bags, scoot down to Accra, meet some of the other Californians, obtain a togolese visa and exchange my ghanain cedis into french west african francs (CFAs) and hop on a dawn bus to Togo, ride motercycles around the capital, Lome, explore the voodoo markets, and get home in time for class on monday morning.
Togo, Like most of west africa, is francophone.
my french, (which is, how do you say... non-exstant) steadily improved (and y'all called me over-prepared when I bought my french phrase book and french for beginners audio cd before leaving for an english speaking african nation- I knew it would come in handy) but anytime I would feel proud of myself for successfully completing a sentance in french, Id realize that half of what I'd just said was Spanish, or in some cases, Twi, which would explain the bewildered pause on the other side of the conversation. "bonjour, wo ho te sen?" "ca va bien, gracias, y tu?"
oh, the struggles we dont anticipate.
Togo is beautiful. I'd had some small pre-departure trepidation after doing a little research and realizing that not four months ago, the city of Lome was still in riotous upheval, and on most top ten lists of 'do-not-go' countries in the entire world, with violence centered in the city of Lome. But things had mellowed. (the heinous "one party democracy" dictator of many many years had a sudden heart attack, and his son was immediatly appointed the new president without elections, the thin veil of democracy dissolved, what else could be expected.....but they had elections, the dudes son still "won" but things have been tame since) The city of Lome is within walking distance from the Ghanain border (and we definatly walked from Aflao Ghana to our hotel in Lome), but the differance between the major cities of Ghana and Togo were visable from the first step over the border. Lome had gorgeous, uncrowded beachfront, bright yellow sand, bright blue water, lines of palm trees, multilane roads, highrise buildings, a french quarters, a lot less street vendors, a lot more lights, it had jazz clubs, baguettes, real CHEESE, a real charming combination of western amenities for wich we were greatful, and true traditional artistry and history. Unlike Ghana, Togo (which is where the deepest roots of voodoo lay) still boasts at least 50 percent still participating in the animist religions, then 30 percent christian and 20 percent islam, but, also unlike Ghana, Togo has skyscrapers, clean(er) streets, and a real 'city' feeling, as opposed to the more chaotic enormous shanty town feel of downtown accra or kumasi.
But the real bee's knees in Lome was the remarkable absense of car traffic because everybody rode MOPEDS, motorcycles, and vespas, including us. All you had to do was hold out your arm and a guy on a moped would zip up behind you, youd climb on back, pay him twenty five cents and he'd take you across town, slow enough to see the city, hear the locals laughing at the motor gang of seven americans clinging to the back of bikes tripping around the city, and feel the sunshine and wind and freedom. We took them to the fetish market: Besides a few touristy statues and voodoo dolls, everything they sold was piles dead animal parts. In between stalls selling things like monkey skulls, leopard skins, cobra scales, dried lizard legs and turtle shells (poaching is clearly alive and well in togo)were small shrines belonging to voodoo chiefs and medicine men. The idea of the market is that you come sit by a shrine with a voodoo cheif, tell him of your woes, and he brews you up a concoction of the differant parts, and instructs you what to do with the potions and idles he gives you from there. It felt a little (okay, maybe a lot) sick being there, but who am i to judge. When asked if i wanted a safe travel fetish, a love potion, or a good luck charm, I simply said (or asked my french speaking friend to say) that my having any part in it would trivialize it and it would lose all meaning, and that seemed to satisfy everyone. I did buy a non-blessed-just-for-show wooden voodoo llama-like statue with a bunch of nails sticking out of it. After, back with the motorgang across the city to the arts market, where after a lot of hard bargining i ended up with some wonderful jewelry and an antique ceremonial mask from northern togo. At night, we ate senegalese dinner and french dessert at a lovely little place under the stars with a live band playing highlife guitar and jembe drum versions of sons like 'swing low sweet chariot' and 'guantanamera.' Then another moped ride back to the hotel for an early night's sleep (four of us, myself included had seen the sunrise on the bus at the border, and were quite tired.) The hotel was absolutly beautiful. High white walls, dark wood trim, concrete spiral staircases, and roof access, from which my dear friend angie (an amazing woman from kentucky who joined the california group) and i ended our day by watching the stars and the lit city and ocean below, sitting under the cloths line with colorful sheets flapping in the wind above our heads. Maybe i just cought Togo on a really good day, but I'm a little bit in love with Lome, and my Visa is good for six months. There may be a return trip.

Oh, I guess Togo needs at least one cringe story (if you dont count the severed horse head at the fetish market) so here goes: when we returned to our room at night it smelled awful. like truely, horrible. after plugging our noses and searching around for about twenty painful minutes, litterally in pain from the smell, we found the culprit: a small dead fish on the bathroom floor. how did it get there in the time we left in the afternoon to the time we returned in the evening? no one knows. our best guess is that it had somehow adhered itself to the bottom of one of our sandals(?) bizarre. a stealthy removal and a high powered fan took care of the problem in no time. in the morning, we woke up early, found a cafe with chocolate crisonttes, took one last look at the coast and a motorcycle ride to the boarder and I was off.
It was probably the most fun (like simple good fun) any of us have had since we got here. There were no hard issues, and by now, we all know eachotehr well enough and have been in africa long enough to just be comfortable and enjoy the sunshine, the city, good friends, and adventure.
the end.
bonsoir amigos, maggie

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

meeting the former vice president, then getting peed on.

Hey folks!
so, the Cape Coast trip basically went like this:
Three weeks ago Thursday, I had arranged to take a bus from Kumasi to meet the other UC students for the Fetu Afahye festival in Cape Coast. I arrived at the bus station a few hours early only to find that all buses leaving for Takoradi (and thus, Cape Coast) were booked for the day. Bewildered, I investigated a few other options and was left with the last resort: a tro tro, complete with airbrushed gold paintjob, a roofrack piled high with crates of smoked fish, red-tassled tennis balls suction cupped to the windshield, and plastic decals of Jesus Christ plastered to the sides and back of the bus . It was a big tro-tro, about 8 rows that squished five or six people across, by way of a little fold down seat that came down over the aisle, and I was in the very back row. Its about a 4.5 hour trip (costing about two dollars and fifty cents US), there was just about enough room for my pantleg between the back of the seat in front of me and my knee, and on the one bathroom stop the driver made, it was unreasonable to expect all forty people onboard to clear off, stand on the side of the road, and then file back on, so in the absence of an isle, those of us in back had to hold it, save for the little girl riding in her mothers lap beside me, who was passed out the window down to the driver, and then passed back when she was finished, then we hit the road again. On the last stop before Cape Coast, the girls mother bought me a tasty ball of fried dough from a hawker who came to the window as a thank you for letting her daughter sleep on my bag that rested on my lap.

Upon arrival, within ten minutes, I received two marriage proposals from people who think my skin color is a free ticket to America, one of which came from the cab driver that took me to the hotel, and then tried to charge me extra when I politely declined.. The hotel was charming, as is Cape Coast, and it was nice to be reunited with the other Americans I'd bonded with somewhat during orientation. That night we saw an opening ritual that involved priests and priestesses becoming possessed by spirits who would then communicate with the drummers what rhythms suited that particular god for dancing. it lasted all night long, but i certainly didnt. I retired to my hotel room at about midnight, when the dance rituals were still just heating up.

The next day, celebrations and rituals filled the town; I wandered down to the old slave forts again with a few friends, because we'd heard some of the most important rituals would be conducted there, in the old dungeons. There, we found a large and agitated bull tied by its horns to an old cannon. That was the bull to be sacrificed that afternoon in the largest most public religious ritual of the festival. In the main plaza of the forts, there was the top of a small ventilation hole that looked down into the dark cavernous male slave dungeons, where a shrine was. We watched and listened from there, rather voyeuristically from our aerial view of priests and priestesses saying prayers, pouring libation(gin, poured on the ground, over sacrifices, shrines and the like as an offering to the ancestors...sort of) and sacrificing two chickens to the shrine. Eventually, (and I won't get into how, because I'm not even sure) myself and two other Californians ended up being invited to get a closer look: to sit deep down in the dungeons on a bench in a row of priests and priestesses all dressed in black, with a goat sacrifice at our feet (that was later flung across the dungeon out of the way by one of the leaders who didn’t want to step over it to shake our hands) we heard a few more prayers, then a heated argument in Fante, with a few glares directed at us, which we took as our queue to leave.

As if that couldn't have been the climax of an afternoon, after seeing an impromptu parade with drumming, dancing, and singing, and then following the processional leading the bull from the castle to the ceremonial tree that housed the spirit that protected Cape Coast, to whom it was to be sacrificed; I, alone, "because I had a camera" (Ok, maybe because I'm American?) was escorted through the thick, thick crowed of would-be spectators, and into the small cinderblock compound with the tree, and the bull, and instructed to sit down between two priestesses.

Then came the stare down. There I was, there was the bull, and there was the machete.

I was defiantly not sure I could handle the idea of this, let alone being made to watch it at such close range, as the only person aloud in the compound who wasn't an animist priest. I could feel my heart in my mouth, and it was so hot. I had visions of me fainting, and then startling the bull into one last hurrah of goring the squeamish obruni before being put to death. Then another Californian stumbled in from the madness outside, and then another, and then another. Soon there were at least 10 foreigners with cameras besides myself, and for some reason, that made it easier. Then came the drumming from outside. Then the chiefs, linguists, and stools were carried in. Libation was poured, prayers were said, drums were beat frenetically, kids were climbing the walls outside trying to catch a glimpse and cheering wildly about the idea of what they imagined was happening on the other side of the concrete walls. But I actually saw it.

After the bull was beheaded, the blood was poured over the tree from out of brass bells, and trickled diagonally across the dirt in a thick stream of red, and the body dragged outside for the exuberant crowed to see. I went to drink some water and sit down. I guess I was awestruck.

I’d probably looked pretty peaked: A man who’d been in the compound with me grinningly, almost mockingly, asked if I was ok. Yes, I said It’s just… this kind of thing doesn’t happen where I’m from. That thought caused me to pause. That kind of thing does happen where I’m from. The difference is the publicity, the spectacle, the sacredness. In America, bulls are brutally slaughtered by the thousands daily. The fact that most people have never been made to see it doesn’t mean that their blood isn’t just as red, but by our first encounter with it, its already been ground and grilled into a disc and put between two patties. After learning that the bull’s meat was divided between several families in town that night, I realized that most animals we butcher in the U.S. have things much, much worse in terms of how they are made to live prior to being executed then the one I’d just seen sacredly killed --and to think some of my McDonalds born and bred peers had the gall to call the ritual in Cape Coast barbaric. The hard part is that, I was a vegetarian living in a vegan household in the years prior to this visit to Ghana. I made the sacrifice of that preference by coming here. I've slowly started eating meat again out of respect, I thought, for a culture that is not my own, that exists in a very different place then I am used to. Meat repulsed me in America, but I eat it here, which has admittedly become even more of a trying effort for me since witnessing the sacrifice. To make up for it, I suppose, Cape Coast has been the only place in Ghana to offer tofu kebabs, or any tofu what so ever so far, which I ate plenty of for the remainder of the weekend.

After a rest, I was roused by a friend with a keen interest in West African politics who had just scored a really great political t-shirt from President J. Kufour's Cape Coast headquarters. We decided to hit the town before evening fell and the shops closed up. While heading down one of the main roads, we spotted Kufour's opposition's headquarters (one Atta Mills, ‘the Al Gore of Ghana’ we were told: the former VP who’d run for president and lost in a “rigged” election.) His name was known, we’d seen his face on billboards, the sides of houses, and bumper stickers, and now we were after a sweet political t-shirt souvenir. Outside his headquarters a few older men were sitting in lawn chairs talking and watching the busy street. We approached them, explained our interest in the matter, and before we could enquire about scoring some shirts, we were deep in an enjoyable conversation about Ghanaian politics, American politicians, what the festival actually meant.
Mid chuckle, the man by the door who was halfway through explaining to me why he agreed that James Brown is truly a musical genious, raised is eyebrows and stood up, and hurriedly urged us to do the same. “Oh, today is lucky, today is a very lucky day for us all, his Excellency is coming, he is here, you will meet him now!” Out of a shiny black SUV stepped that face we’d come to know so well from the posters and billboards, and he was shaking our hands and inviting us into his office.
Atta Mills, vice president under Jerry John Rawlings, the part dictator, part democratic leader who’d stayed in power for many many years, through many coups, and had shaped much of the way Ghana is today, for better or for worse, was sitting with us in comfy chairs placed in a circle in a large room having a chat. The only thing that could snap us out of our dazed glee as we wondered aloud how we got ourselves into these serendipitous situations on our way down the hallway and out the door, was our laughter startling a small boy who was covertly peeing into the gutter in front of the headquarters into turning around, frightened of being caught, spraying us with the last projectile drops of urine and running away as an old man who’d seen the boy in action got up to chase him. I guess we had a knack for being in the right place at the right time all day.
But that wasn’t quite all there was to it— besides, perhaps, for getting peed on: From being allowed all-access pass to traditional rituals usually reserved for those intimately involved with the religion and culture, to being welcomed into the former vice president’s office for a casual chat, I started to get the feeling that this could not ever be the experience of an ordinary Ghanaian. My American accent and white skin made red carpets roll out before me everywhere I went. Why? I was never asked for money from any priestess or politician that day. I have no social or political influence. I am an American nobody. Just some girl. Why was I allowed entrance to the bull sacrifice while Fantes who’d spent their entire lives living in Cape Coast, practicing the customs, resisting the pressures to convert to Christianity and Islam and remaining faithful to this traditional religion had to fight crowds just to get close enough to crouch down low to pear through the shapes of the cinderblocks to get a glance of the backside of a gawking American who was watching the ritual, suppressing their gag reflex and writing about the cruelty of it later in their travel blog? Something isn’t right here. Why would a man who is seriously competing for the office of president pay more respect to some American tourists then to people who actually have the power to vote him into office? How do Ghanaians see themselves? Obviously there is no answer to this question, because the answers are as numerous as the population. Some clearly resented us, some paid no mind, some willingly surrendered their seats on the bench so that we could be more comfortable to watch their rituals, and some decided an American accent was all one needed in a life partner, and moved strait to proposing marriage.
That night, I went with a friend to a club on the beach, danced around a bit, but soon moved onto the sand and had a more somber swapping of stories from the day. we later found more friends and moved to the reportedly celebration downtown, only to find that by that hour, it was far too crowded and the crowed was far too drunk for anyone to be american there without a constant slew of hands grabbing for my non-exsistant pockets and then recoiling in dissapiontment (I'd learned long before that at a public gathering this massive, you hide your money in your bra or shoe. Thats what the Ghanaian girls do) Then, finally, sleep.

The next day was the major parade. I wont go into what that looked like until I can post some pictures. It was spectacular in every sense of the word.

The next day was time to go home, but there was a massive football game in Kumasi (in which Ghana kicked Ugandas butt, and people went CRAZY! people flooded out of the dorms carrying ghanaian flags above their head, singing, changing, and running through the corridors) so all of the buses were sold out, so instead i went back to accra with the americans, took a trip to the wonderful little art village of Shiashe right on the outskirts of the city, and travelled home the next day. what a trip.

Another week went by with classes happening here and there. The next weekend, some of the students from University of Washington allowed me to take one of the empty seats in their van (these kids have a van, free internet, and a neatly planned travel schedule, so I like to share in their good fortune when it suits me) that had been vacated by one of the u-dubbers with malaria (apparently, its really not so bad, theyve all recoverd by now and are good as new) and accompanied them on a trip to Ejisu and a nearby village to watch some more traditional religious rituals.
We were seated under the village cheif's big umbrella and ordered to take some libation (i.e. shots of gi-- at 9 am, after pouring a small amount on the ground then tipping back for the ancestors "one for the homies" )
Then some of the most intense possession and dance and drumming took place for a good 4 hours, culmanating in the river god, who had inhabited the body of a woman covered in white powder and a grass skirt coming into the circle with a live chicken in her mouth, its wings flapping about wildly until she ripped its head off with her teeth and spit the thing in our direction.
Later, we hiked through a small bit of jungle to another site, after a few more hours of ritual dance and incredible rhythm we were invited into the village's small round hut that housed the traditional shrine, where we were given more libation, (and so were the preistesses, who were pretty tossed by that time) and a chicken was sacrificed as an offering to ensure that each of us had safe journies back to America. Thanks U-dub, what a day.

Back at the ranch (kumasi) some of the christians heard I'd been to a shrine, and politely called me a heathen. The religion here, no matter which faith, is so extreme.
More on that later, and pictures soon. I promise.
love, maggie