Not a lot of sleep, as expected. The cool breeze from the ocean could not penetrate the cement walls of my room, although my fan managed to counter the stifling heat so that a sheet was needed and welcomed (a perceived barrier to mosquitoes). I forwent packing a mosquito net, as one was promised to be provided. I don’t know where it would have hung from in my little room though, the tin roof is just high enough to make it difficult to reach the floor, so copious amounts of DEET will hopefully suffice.
An enthusiastic rooster was my alarm at precisely 5:30 am (it’s amazing to me their ability to sync their crows with a precise hour, to the minute). I tried to ignore it, but the village started to wake up and begin their morning chores, the goats joining in on the soundtrack, running about and breaking the silence with their constant cries. I decided to put on my running shoes and attempt to run along the beach. Although of course I ended up getting turned around in the tiny, narrow walkways that weaved in and out of the little houses, which all looked the same, packed tightly together throughout the village ( I am admittedly a bit directionally challenged). I felt extremely awkward interrupting the morning baths and chores of the women on their porches, but I really had no other option…no main street or path to follow until you get to the outskirts of the village. Most were very friendly, smiling back and shouting out something in Twi, of which I could not understand, so I just kept smiling and waving. Finally, knowing I was mostly walking in circles, I decided to stop and ‘ask’ a young women which direction the ocean was…which consisted of me trying to imitate someone rowing a boat and what I thought the pattern of waves might look like…followed by mimicking a person fishing. Other women started to gather around, all laughing at the funny looking white woman attempting to communicate, in what I would imagine was an absurd spectacle. The fishing imitation did it though, and they all enthusiastically pointed me in the right direction. It was literally a few steps from where I was but in the exact opposite direction that I was going, making me feel even more foolish than my pathetic attempt at my version of charades.
All of this was forgotten as I hit the sand and the familiar smell of the ocean. There were a few boys seated on the canoe by the water, but other than that, I had the beach all to myself. My ‘run’, however, was not as successful as I had hoped. The beach down to the water was at just enough of a slant to make it nearly impossible to run, in addition to the challenge of navigating the beach littered with piles of trash, seashells, crabs, and human feces. Things cleared up a bit as I approached the more isolated strip, and I was able to focus more on the surroundings; a tragically beautiful backdrop of the sun rising over scarce patches of coconut trees interspersed between thatched roof huts packed tightly together as the women began their morning chores of fetching water and firewood for the day. It was peaceful and beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. But I have to remind myself, they are just living their lives, albeit a difficult one, getting through the day to day, most of them singing or humming a song with a smile easily provoked with a wave or a nod of the head. It strikes me how seldom I am greeted with a similar smile or singing back home.
I come back to my room and have my first go at a shower, which I knew would be an experience. A bucket sat in the middle of a small enclosed space, tiled with a small drain in the back. I managed to get myself to a state that I felt relatively clean, although I immediately broke out in a sweat the minute I got back to my room. I have yet to brave the toilet…pretty much a hole in the ground that necessitates a bucket to ‘flush’. At least it is tiled and enclosed…more than I was expecting.
I hope it doesn’t sound like I am complaining. The people here are extremely gracious and constantly cleaning up after me, fixing our meals and making sure I am happy. Now the challenge is to find a way to communicate with the women and find a way to bring them together to explain what we are here to do, and then make it happen. My next challenge is presenting our mission and intention here to the leaders of the village (all men) with Meshach translating…intimidating to say the very least.
Squatters are fine as long as you have young knees!