Second in our Things I Like About Ghana serial.

I’m not talking about elephants or whatnot. They exist here in very limited quantities, only in the North, and I’m not even certain I’ll get a chance to see them. The touristic safari business is pretty limited here; East Africa it ain’t. But there are animals wandering everywhere that I find rather charming.

First and foremost are goats. People do eat goat meat, but according to Joyce, not nearly so much as I thought. “People just like goats,” she said long ago, when I asked. Next door to our hostel live two
young goats who tend to randomly climb to the top of the six-foot wall that separates our properties; as I wander through Pokuase goats small, large and pregnant call out greetings in startlingly human voices. They really lend a lot of character to a place.

I am also a fan of lizards. There are those that camouflage against the dusty ground, startling you with their movement. There are stripey ones of about the same size, in alternating shades of navy blue, green and orange (Davis told me their name once, but I’ve forgotten). And there are little geckos that tend to hang out in our
bathroom. I rather enjoy peeing and bucket-showering in the company of geckoes–actually, I think there are only two. The one in the toilet stall tends to run away when I start to pee, escaping through a
crack into the ceiling, but the one in the shower, pressed against the screen, often hangs around. Both are the approximate length of my finger, maybe a little less.

Chickens also wander. All the chickens, unlike the goats, belong to somebody, although not necessarily the person whose property they inhabit at the moment. Amadou, Mike and I, when Mike was around, developed a joke about a “public chicken.” Cocks crow at all hours, not only the morning, and I’ve had my first occasion to see birds
having public sex.

There are other birds, as well, some of which I’ve seen, and some of which I recognize by their lovely, calming calls in the morning. I have no idea what they are.

Herds of sheep, clean lambs and dirty, bedraggled elders, run through the villages and feast on dry leaves at the roadside. Occasionally I’ll go past a herd of emaciated cattle or horses while on a tro-tro, uncertain of whether they’re emaciated only by Western standards. Even the several species of spider I’ve encountered in my room are
strangely attractive.

Cockroaches, however, I could do without. Living or dead.