These are some of the sights that greeted us to our "home" for the night.
|Little ones checking out the strange guy with the camera.|
|One of the nicer homes in the village.|
|Typical scene in the village|
After we set down our small bags of toiletries, clothes, and food in the outdoor area where we would make camp for the night we were invited to take a walking tour of the village with one of the nicest men we met on the entire trip. (I am embarrassed that I can't recall his name now but I will never forget him!)
|Love these faces!|
|Starting our tour.|
|Our tour guide (back) and Jen with one of the elders of the village.|
|My daughter, Mika, with a beautiful baby boy.|
|Our set-up for the night.|
|The downside of having light in the dark is BUGS!|
As the darkness set in we tried to get comfortable and waited for bedtime. Our team set up our mosquito nets for us over our cots on which we laid a thin mattress. I didn't find out until the next day that the nets weren't just for mosquitoes but for the swarms of bugs that were present in the village and apparently attracted to the lights we had hanging over our beds. Shocker!
The villagers planned to have a "durbar" that evening starting around 9PM. A durbar is a ceremonial party with lots of tribal music and dancing. I stayed up taking pictures and "hanging out" with everyone for a while waiting for the durbar to start but I ran into a problem or two
#1-I was exhausted.
#2-I was wearing a white T-shirt--thinking white is a cool color and that would be smart to wear during the hot days of Africa. However, in addition to picking up dirt everywhere it was also quite attractive to the bugs, in addition to the headlamp I was wearing. Smart guy that I am ;-) I realized quickly my high-tech headlamp was nothing but a bug magnet and target and its usefulness rapidly diminished.
|This little guy is up past his bedtime. So is Jen!|
--Petting a crododile? No problem.
--Shooing away the young hustlers trying to get our money? Check!
--Dealing with the scare of a near fatal van accident? OK.
--But dealing with a swarm of bugs while dead tired running on warm water and protein bars? Guess I hit my limit. Oh well. So, I am no Bear Grylls. No surprise to those who know me.
|The Village People (not those guys) preparing to play music for the dancing and partying that carried long into the night.|
Lastly, I have to just say that my night in our little cocoons was the longest night of my life. I am a big guy, 6'3", 220, and the cot I was on was clearly built for smaller, shorter people. To keep the bugs out you tuck the net under the mattress on the cot but I was afraid that the cot would close up like a taco and put me on the ground so I was very careful to not move around at all. I was deathly hot and humid and frankly miserable. I remember waking up pretty much every hour on the hour checking my watch. You could hear the chickens, goats, and people all through the night, in addition to a loud snorer (ironically not me this time probably because generally you have to be asleep to snore) who seemed just fine with our accommodations. I was so bored and agitated that I couldn't sleep but knew I badly needed it that I even broke out my Blackberry and checked email from my work. (Yes, I was able to get service way out in the sticks. Sort of amazed me, too!) I remember around 2AM just laughing with Mika and Jen as we were all miserable. Laugh or cry sometimes, I guess.
We finally woke up like 5:30AM or 6:00AM--about 2 hours after the rooster crowed, what's up with that?! Who ordered the 4AM wake up call?! We woke up to a village radio broadcast of the day's news and updates on what was happening in Ghana. No shower, obviously, and I was in bad need of one, but we used our baby wipes to clean up a bit and had some water, licorice, malaria pill, and oatmeal: breakfast of champions. I was glad to be awake, not to mention alive, and ready for a great day. Despite the physical and mental challenge I was shaken by the thought of these trafficked children who live and sleep in conditions worse than I had it and then have to get up before dawn to go and work under threat of physical violence.
I know I am complaining but my one night of difficulty gave me precious perspective on the value of the mission we were on for which I will always be profoundly grateful.
Day 5 soon...