June 14, 1998

Ghana-Togo border

Red tape, wafting in the sea breeze.

I'm paying 10 pounds a day for the privilege of being in Togo: hope I enjoy it.

Strange to be back, on the move, with the truck. Can't help thinking - especially at moments like this - that it would actually be less hassle to be on my own. Well, maybe not in Nigeria.

Reunited with the truck at the Accra post office and was lured out for a night of drinking at expat establishments ( a genuine Irish pub in the heart of West Africa) and the Novotel - very expensive. Sam showed up the next day, making us a full complement for the first time in ages. Back with the truck to Big Milly's, lounged around for a day, watched the World Cup on their battery-powered TV.

Went off the next morning to a fetish-drumming festival with Kokrobite refugees Ron & John & Simon & Jennifer, plus Afro our drum teacher and this guy Adu. Stocked up on supplies and schnapps (a gift to the chief) in Accra and tro-tro'd/taxied to the village. 1PM sharp opening time was delayed in true African style to 4 PM.

Fascinating festival - waves of drums washing over the crowd, topless fetish dancers hyperventilating and trying to call down the spirits, chiefs and the elderly in kente robes watching the drumming sternly, libations of gin and schnapps and palm wine poured on the ground, gourds of palm wine passed around.

After the festival we ate - very well - wandered up the village and tranced out at a hypnotic drumming-and-dancing circle which went on for hours (with a rude brief interruption when a snake was sighted.) Went back to our room and drummed panlogo, danced, watched Ron do kung-fu lessons, listend to Adu's astonishing drum solos...good time. First time I've been in an African village without feeling like an outsider.

Mozzies were bad inland, loud enough to keep me awake as they massed on the net. Tried to leave early the next morning, which meant of course that we got stuck in Accra rush hour. Had real ice cream at Frankie's, wandered 'round town for a couple hours, and tro-tro'd to Kokrobite for (sob) the last night at Big Milly's.

Headed out on the truck yesterday, another afternoon in Accra, and free-camping in the middle of nowhere, a nostalgic moment. Sunset causing a cloud to glow supernaturally. Today to the border.

Fingersnap handshakes. Pee Cola. Smoke rising from roadside burns. The diesel stench of palm wine. Knees rubbed raw by tro-tro streets. Fan Men and their skyrocketing stock. Georgie the paranoid-schizophrenic rasta who had to pour a libation to save Chong from man-eating rocks at Accra's cliff-front bar. Tales of Ghanaians hitting each other and children without provocation. Forty Africans in a remote village watching the World Cup on a fuzzy B&W TV alligator-clipped to a car battery. John going camera-crazy at the festival, but less noticeable with every picture he snapped.

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