Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our First Full Day in Ghana
was a relaxing, get-acquainted-with-Accra kind of day. We spent a good part of the morning learning about the art of Batik cloth printing and dying from Hannah and Phillip, masters of the art of taking foam blocks into which have been carved intricate designs and then dipping these lightly into boiling wax and then ever so gently imprinting the cloth with the wax design. The cloth is then soaked in a dye solution, rinsed in boiling water to remove the wax, and laid out to dry. A few of the team tried their hand at stamping a sample piece of cloth which we will bring home with us. There were also some orders for clothing placed with Hannah and a few folk chose particular stamps and had Phillip create a cloth for them which they are having made into clothing or will use as table cloths.

We then visited a Coffin shop in Tema, on the east side of Accra. In that part of the city there are a number of carpentry shops that specialize in creating unique, one-of-kind, funky caskets. Peco Sanders even tried one on for size but decided he wasn’t ready to be bottled up just yet. From the coffin maker’s shop it was only a short drive to the Next Door Restaurant, one of my favorite places (reminds me of Two Lights State Park in southern Maine) for lunch and a walk on the rocks. “Red Red” with Plaintains and Chicken was the preferred Ghanaian dish although a few adventurous folk substituted goat for the chicken.

Then it was back into Accra Central and a visit to the Ghana Cultural Arts and Crafts Center where every type of traditional and contemporary Ghanaian art form is on display and for sale. We dropped the group at the front door around 4pm with instructions that the “new kids” (those on their first visit to Ghana) be sure to stick with an “old kid” or two so as to learn the ropes of bargaining Ghana-style and that I would see them at 5:30. I then went on to the airport to pick up the bin of books that was to have arrived in the morning from JFK. Damba, our Sun Seekers Travel Company guide, and I walked into the airport and up to the Lost Baggage counter. When the agent in charge saw us he said, “Oh, Professor Clerico! You have come back. It has arrived just now.” He then led us upstairs to the general baggage area saying that the JFK plane had arrived at 3:30pm due to flight delays and because it would have taken a long time for unclaimed luggage to get down to the Lost Baggage room he had left the bin upstairs for me.

Oh, JFK, you’ve done it again! Your ability to negatively impress knows no bounds. Thank you ever so much for taking a small yet heavy duty plastic bin full of brand new children’s books destined for village libraries in Ghana which had been inadvertently routed through your lovely Long Island facility and turning it into a trash bin. Thank you also for only taping up half of the damaged sections before sending the bin on to Ghana. But, at least, you did send it and for that I am grateful.

Damba and I got back to the Cultural Arts Center at little before 5:30, just enough time for me to go to Shop #91 to see my old friend Muhammed Dantani whom I had met in the summer of 2001 on my first trip to Ghana and from whom I had purchased my first traditional drum. (Following the “9-11” attacks, Mohammed wrote to me that he wanted me to know not all Muslims hate America.) Unfortunately, Muhammed was not there but I was able to see his younger brother and his father who both greeted me as a long lost relation. Ghanaians are good friends.

We wrapped up a lovely day in Accra with dinner and conversation at La Paloma, a popular Accra restaurant we’ve been coming to for years. All in all, a great day to be in Ghana!

1 comment:

  1. love how famous you are there. :) are the books usable?!?!?!