On the tro-tro home on Wednesday, I started talking to the very friendly Ghanaian woman next to me, whose name was Cicilia. She was a PC banker. She asked me about my opinions of Ghana in English that struck me as very British and invited me out for a drink. Over the drink, we discussed Ghana and money and education. Cicilia, decidedly middle-class in Ghana, believes that Africa should stop depending on aid from the West and instead the wealthier African nations should set up an infrastructure to support the poorer ones (for example, she wants to start a campaign where every working Ghanaian donates one cedi to Mozambique); she believes the Ghanaian educational system is excellent but agreed when I suggested that it lacked creativity–she cited the reason for unemployment as being that no one in Ghana starts serious local businesses that can hire and sustain other employees, because they lack the creative thinking ability to do so. I was just trying to understand her opinions, since I know very little about what mine are. She invited me out to dinner with her husband (a QC expert at a factory) and their friend (a doctor) and I accepted. We went to a very Western hotel with a pool and a gym and a cinema. And running water. I saw myself in the mirror for the first time all week (they’re not big here; shattered mirrors are sold by the roadside). When I mentioned my ulcerative colitis, someone knew what I was talking about. Cicilia suggested we go swimming together over the weekend; she said she would call me.

When I got home that night, I killed first one, than another, giant roach in my room, each the approximate length of my pointer finger. The toilet smelled toxic and I had to spray myself with DEET once more and I was dying to wash my hands in a sink.

Up until that point, I had stopped consciously noticing the difference between a paved road and an unpaved; I had been happily peeing on the ground behind the wall at a gas station when necessary; I was taking my doxycycline on schedule. (Don’t worry, I am still doing so, I promise.) But the next day, the official mark of One Week in Ghana, I got homesick and frustrated and teary. It’s hard to overstate the physical ugliness of this area: Ghana has very little trash-collection infrastructure, and what little there is tends to be out of the price range of the average Ghanaian, so roadsides and even more rural places that might otherwise be picturesque are *coated* with trash. The roads are tremendously dusty and will remain so until the rainy season, when they’ll be tremendously muddy, and the unbelievable, constant traffic raises the dust to coat all roadside vegetation and renders meaningless the phrase “fresh air.” I have been told that there are beautiful places all over the country, and even in this area, but I had not seen them. I could not figure out what I was doing here, particularly as my customary Western luxuries were clearly *available*, a fifteen-minute drive away, and worlds away from where I work. At that point, Lucy’s niece Joyce entered the internet cafe and said, “Shall I serve you your supper now?”

When Joyce poured the water and then the soap for me to wash my hands, I exclaimed, “Can everyone stop *serving* me? Please?” I ended up crying in front of Joyce and Amadou. I had a hard time explaining what was wrong, and settled on the trash: it was the easiest to render concrete. Both understood that there was more to what I was saying, but both were a little confused nonetheless. Joyce suggested we take a walk and talk; as soon as I got control of myself, I agreed. I was able to articulate, finally, that now that the First Week had passed, I *lived* in Ghana, with everything that meant. I didn’t know how to be independent here, nor did I know how to cook for myself, but I felt self-conscious being catered to . . .

“Ah! Now I understand!” said Joyce. And as she talked, it seemed like she mostly did. She is twenty years old, in senior high school, and an interesting combination of very adolescent (she uses “boring” to mean a lot of things it doesn’t mean, even here) and very thoughtful. She’s centered and kind, and said she would help me to be independent.

The next day, she told me she wasn’t going to cook the rice, I was going to, and I was going to lay out my own plate.

So I did, serving myself my rice and stew Joyce made the previous day. I learned Ghanaian techniques for steaming rice along the way, learned to use the tempermental camping stove, and learned where everything was kept. Tomorrow I will make okru stew under Lucy and Joyce’s instruction. I did my laundry this morning, while Lucy, as is her way, both instructed and laughed at my non-adeptness in Ghanaian do-it-yourself methods; afterwards, I was completely lost and dizzied in the Madina market with Joyce. Yesterday after work I went to meet Amadou in Accra for a reflexology massage. He told me to just ask directions to Parliament House when I got off the tro-tro. Of course, he forgot that there’s an Old Parliament House as well. I got a lot of contradictory directions, it took about an hour and forty-five minutes, and I was incredibly frustrated and pissed at Amadou. But then, how many people can say they’ve had a reflexology massage in the basement of the Capitol Building? You? I didn’t think so.

So, be careful what you wish for. I miss being served already, just a little. But don’t tell anyone I said so. I’d rather be competent.

Also, as I have walked through the hills of Pokuase with Davis, looking for the different schools that will hopefully be served by my theater program, I have found some quiet, and seen the kind of beauty I seem to be seeking. I hope I’m not pastoralizing in liking it beter up in the hills. But Davis says he prefers it there too.

My Twi vocabulary has increased to about twenty-five words, including the numbers one through ten. When Lucy taught me those numbers and informed her mother that I had done my own laundry that morning, her mother responded, “Now, you are going to be an African!”

That’s all it takes?

I’ll settle for having children in Pokuase call me by name.

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