Sites and Sounds

I woke up with the sounds of someone playing drums above my head. I felt disoriented, not remembering which region and house I had slept in that night. I continued listening to the playing of the drums trying to figure what the occasion was. Was it for a funeral or some sort of celebratory event? I couldn’t place the tempo and the rhythm. What time was it anyway? It felt much too early for anyone to be actively pounding the drums. Just then my hostess came to my bedroom to apologize for all the noise. They hadn’t slept the greater part of the night either. I had passed out last night it seems. 

I find that I am now in Aburi, having arrived a day ago from the Northern region of Ghana. Aburi is set on a hill, the air is cooler and fresher, the vegetation greener than Accra, the capital city – this is what I consider my paradise in Ghana. It is located in the Eastern region, but quite close to the capital city. I am en route to visit one of our artisans further north from here. I am staying with my friend Rosina and as always she felt I needed to be fed more than I know I need. My shoes are dusty and my hair just a little wild. She gives me a knowing smile that seems to acknowledge me as a bit of a crazy and adventurous friend. She says nothing but instead sets before me one of my favorite dishes: banku (cooked out of milled cassava and fermented corn then rolled into mini balls to serve) and one enormous grilled tilapia. She uncorks a bottle of wine and fills a glass for me.  She says, “Drink this…” I try to complete the sentence in my head with “this is in remembrance of me…” and find that I am back to my catholic boarding school days – “it can do one wonders” she completes. After dinner was finished, I tried to keep her company as she graded the test papers of graduates of a Master program at the university at which she teaches. She encourages me to go to bed, as I try desperately to keep my eyes open. I head to my bedroom and sit on the bed fully-dressed trying to figure out whether to take a shower or not. That was the last thought I remembered until the drums woke me up, spread across my bed fully-dressed in my jeans, t-shirt, my shoes still on with the laces undone. 

They are hitting quite a tempo now, so I ask to go record the drum session for my son’s class and my friends in the US. She advises, of course, that I search in the direction of the sound. I look up and out the window from which the sound is coming and see a high wall adjoining a neighbor’s house. She looks at me with a look of “You are not going to scale that wall are you??” Instead, she recommends I go through the front gate to get to the drum session. However, I still can’t get out of bed, I could use some more sleep. The room suddenly fills with a cool breeze and I roll on my side, listening to the drums against the backdrop of rural sounds. A cockerel crows, some birds chirp, and a guinea fowl cries, seeming to indicate displeasure about something. I begin to seriously consider taking a day off to just being, listening to the sounds around me and doing nothing. 

I get a call from the artisan  jolting me out of my reverie, reminding me that I am meeting  school kids at noon today to formally donate the books graciously provided by Jen and First Book MN. Now I know I am going to record this drum session since I have a couple of hours before our meeting. I check out my change of clothes, a white blouse, a pair of jeans and lace up shoes. I hope the racket is not a funeral since, in that case, I’ll assuredly not be properly attired. Hmm, maybe I should fake being a foreigner.