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Stories About Africa - Page 2

Once arriving to the sea, the city of Accra, the humidity levels sky rocketed.  There was never a moment one was not covered in perspiration, and your clothing continually remained drenched in sweat.  But the sea, it was worth it.

Men strolled up and down the sand on bicycles, selling glass bottles of coke and orange Fanta.  Shishkababs were grilled inside of split in half barrels filled with wood and coal.  I don’t know what the meat was, but it tasted good!  The smell was incredible.  There were also bicyclists with small foam coolers strapped to the fronts of their bikes.  They sold Fan Ice, little bags of vanilla ice cream.  You would bite the corner off and suck the ice cream out.  It was so refreshing on the hot sticky day.   

An inlet of water formed like a small pond from the ocean.  It was my favorite place to play because it was calm and shallow.  I hated waves.  I remember the first time I found chunks of gold, or so I thought it was gold.  I looked down into the water and watched as the sunlight lit up the rich gold color, peaking out from the sand.  I picked up several pieces and ran excitedly to my dad.  We were rich!  My dad smiled, “Stephy this is fool’s gold.  It’s not real gold.”  Darn it!  Stubbornly, I held onto them anyway.  Maybe daddy was wrong.

I loved when we came to Accra.  The food, in particularly, was my favorite part.  In the little town of Wa where we lived, there wasn’t much to buy.  We had a basic open air market place where cow heads and tiny fish baked in the sun, creating a pungent aroma.  But in Accra, it was the city, and there were actually restaurants on the strip.  Frankies was one place that reigned supreme.  Outside they served soft serve ice cream, and inside, it was like stepping into ‘America’.  The air condition was on full force, which alone was rare to find anywhere else, and the small counter lay covered in enticing treats, small cakes and pies, a sugar heaven. 

Walking down the street smells wafted of grilled corn on the cob.  You could hear it popping and crackling as the kernels blackened over the bright red coals.  There was Kenke, a mashed white substance, wrapped in huge banana leaves.  It was salty and unusual but as a kid one of my favorite things.  Small clumps of salty dough balls were splashed in huge pots of grease.  They sizzled into little crispy pieces of salty, greasy breaded paradise.  Everything was served to you in banana leaves.

All of the vendors’ tables were lit by candle light and small lanterns.  I will never forget the ambience walking down the street at night.  I loved it.  The smells of the cooking foods and the burst of firelight as coals were fanned and stirred, sparks flying constantly in the air.  To me, it was beautiful.

A small 6 year old boy came up to us one night, only a little younger than me.  He was hungry.  There was so much poverty; it was heartbreaking and overwhelming at times.  Living there, we learned there was only so much we could do.  My parents paid for some food and gave it to the boy.  It was simple food but the child was so happy, and he ran back to his older brother excitedly to show what he received.  Witnessing so much of this as children distilled a strong sense of appreciation in my siblings and I.  We understood at a very young age that we were blessed with food and clothing and still carry that deeply within our hearts.  

I know if I visit again, it will all look different to me.  I’ve heard there’s even a McDonalds there now on the strip.  But sometimes, when I find myself feeling sorry for myself, or not appreciating the things in my life, I close my eyes and remember Africa, of simpler times, of a small child laughing over a piece of bread, his eyes lighting up as he shared it with his brother.  I’ll always remember the embers crackling through the air at night, the smiles of beautiful people, happy with life…and most of all, I’ll always remember the smell of the rain.

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