That was a bit irreverent, sorry. Francis was here. Sir Francis Drake. He of the Armada, bowls and round the world sailing.
‘Here’ is Accra, Ghana. For weeks I’ve avoided thinking about this trip. I did next-to-no preparation, other than checking my yellow fever certicate was valid and being dragged into the travel clinic to make sure all the usual stuff was up-to-date. Good not to have to worry about rabies, anyway.
I began to feel the little African lovebite itching after I saw archaeo-man’s brand-spanking-new yellow fever card. Ha ha! Mine expires in July, nearly ten years old, battered, faded, fraying around the edges and creased. Like a scuffed luggage label it says, ‘are we there yet?’, in a weary, excited, anxious, exhilirated voice.
But then it wore off. I won’t bore you with the anxiety, sleepless nights, indigestion and over-consumption of red wine that were the price of ignoring the trip ahead. Instead…
Here we are. Ghana is beating Gabon one nil at the moment according to Joshua, who just brought us coffee by mistake, with one ear piece trailing from an ear, desperate to get back to the football.
The palm trees look a little the worse for wear, here on the coast of West Africa. The perpetual motion of the vast ocean, wiping its feet on the doormat but not, thank God, coming in. Whoosh, swoosh, ca-poooosh.
A woman walks along the beach with a pastel coloured bundle on her head. A boy rolls a tyre. A building worker hurls his tiny puppy into the waves again and again and again. He tried leaving it in the sand, but it cried for him.He cradles it in his arms as he heads back to work.
A popcorn seller wheels his trolley towards the other side of the beach and town. Two youths chase the incoming tide on bikes.
At the end of our priviledged patch of ground rises a hill of what looks like rubble, brick crumbs mixed with sand. A procession of women in wrap-around African cloth walks up, down, up, down, up… One has a baby tied around her back inside the traditional cloth. Each carries a basket on her head. The baskets are full of clay and sand which is destined for a pottery where it will be used for making “beautiful round pots”.
A woman’s work is never done.
[pictures when I get back home – forgot the lead!]