Accra: Drumming, Dancing, Driving

It’s only 8 pm, but I already feel like going to bed. My whole being is miserable, and the worst is trying to figure out the cause. Lariam (weekly malaria pills)? After all, seems a bit unlikely, although who knows. Some local crap? But I haven’t really been anywhere, ate no local food, and haven’t got bitten by anything.

Despite all that, I have a sore throat, a dry cough, a sensation that something is sitting on my chest, making it hard to breathe, and a general feeling of drowsiness and dizziness. Now what? I tried to track that stuff and realized it didn’t really start until yesterday’s visit to the castle. While laying on my bed in the position in which they pray in Morocco (makes it easier to breathe), remembered the similar feeling of when I had a sudden attack of bronchial asthma, for the first and only time in my life, a couple of months ago. Now the deal is simple: I took some Coldrex. If by tomorrow morning the sore throat isn’t gone, it’s that thing, and this is very sad indeed, because I don’t have any medication. It’s kind of crazy that three days in a polluted country could do that to me, but life is full of surprises, and karma’s just a bitch. Maybe the roads and the castle. Maybe just some immunity shit. Whatever it is, I don’t like it and I want it gone. And honestly, I want myself gone, from Ghana into the open ocean. Tomorrow, tomorrow. Another day to kill.
People are going to all these foster homes and schools and villages, and to the canopy walk in the rainforest and to the beaches. And I just feel like staying on the ship, although I know it won’t help, ’cause the air is all the same.
So today I had my Global Music field lab, which I was waiting for and very excited for, but my crappy state spoiled the pleasure a lot. I realized that I was okay for as long as I was sitting still. We got on the bus (a real tourist bus, with air conditioning – wow), and made our way to the
University of Ghana, Legon. There we met our professor’s friends, local musicians and dancers, and had a look at local drums. But not for long – a tour guide came to pick us up, took us to the music department, then to the department of African studies, and then via a huge loop back to the drumming circle. I would’ve very much preferred if we just stayed there, because walking hurt, the tour was very chaotic, and it was, as always, hot and humid. Although the air at the university was cleaner than in the city, and the whole campus looked nice. But the huge anthills – castles of red soil here and there – made me suspicious (remember this movie about ant attack?). And instead of grass they had baby cactuses growing on the lawns. Ah, there also was a tree with a monkey tied to it…

At last, we sat down to our [big] Ghanaian drums, and by the end of the hour my hands were bright pink and sore from drumming. But it was awesome enough to forget about the stinging feeling on the skin. We learned a couple of basic rhythms, and then how to combine them in and out of the beat.
But then the dancing part started, and although I promised my professor to try, I had to sit down pretty quickly, feeling sick and dizzy. So for the rest of the workshop I was the cameraman. Then – short lunch at a local cafe, and back to the bus. While everyone was gathering, I got a chance to try the bigger – leading – drums, different from the ones they gave us. Oh these drums! I admit I was tempted to get one, but remembered pretty quickly how fast we’ll get kicked out of our family apartment, me and my Ghanaian drum. So the drum stayed there. Alas.

On the drive back we got stuck in traffic, and I was observing the women cruising among the cars with basins full of dried plantains, water packets and stuff on their heads. I noticed a lady who carried some bars wrapped in red paper and remembered our professor telling us about the only Ghanaian brand of chocolate (for all the produced cocoa is sold abroad). I pointed the lady out and asked if we could buy something from her. The driver opened the doors and let her and one plantain lady in. The students, tired and bored, jumped at the opportunity to stock up with Ghanaian food without even getting off the bus. In ten minutes both ladies were out of goods and happily went home. Ghanaian chocolate turned out to be very rich, with the tasted we’re not accustomed to, but very filling. And fried plantains make perfect snacks.
Back to the ship – a pile of medicines – sitting on my bed, with stuff to do, but still unable to concentrate on anything because of the dizziness. Maybe I should just go to bed. I don’t know what I’ll be doing tomorrow, but I really want tomorrow to be fast. I want my ocean and my ability to breath back.
So yup, careful with Ghana, folks. Just in general and with respiratory issues especially.

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