Monday, August 18, 2014
My alarm goes off at 5:30 am because our driver will be here in an hour. Time to grind the coffee beans. Oh, and, as promised, I will cook the corn given to us by Becky’s mother, an 82 year old Ga speaking (no English) woman of graceful and generous spirit. She lives in a compound behind the Eternity Congregation Presbyterian Church, a place set up by German Presbyterian missionaries in 1868. The shelters are small, and don’t need to be large: the cooking and socializing are done in the courtyard with cats and chickens, banana and mango trees shading us. Children run between and into different courtyards in this community. Community. That is clearly in abundance here. People care for each other. There is not much money or financial equity here, but these persons are socially wealthy. It is not that money is not needed, it is. Each family has one or more persons with jobs in the capitalist system, and they arrange for much that must be bought with money, but that money is so much less than anything most of us could imagine in the USA. When Monica asks if we can take Becky’s mother’s picture, the answer is yes and she puts on gorgeous fabric on her body and head. Her name we are told is not pronounceable for most English speakers, but stunning beauty should be a part of her name. After we took pictures of her with many combinations of our and her family and bought some of the vegetables from her stock that she sells, she gave us the gift of sea salt and ground corn for porridge or banku. This morning our family eats the porridge.
Rosie and Rosette seemed tired yet alert. It was warm but not hot in Legon, and there were insects here and there. A snack could not be far off, though I’ve never observed them actually eat. Our house geckos are so cute. I’ve always wanted house lizards, and now I finally have them–no cages, no space, time, and money consuming terraria. They eat bugs and look cool. So when Monica wakes at 3:00 am, walks to the bathroom, and nearly steps a four inch long and a third of an inch wide millipede, well, let’s just say that they don’t seem as cool, even though they probably eat bugs too. (Monica gently scoops up the multi-legged cohabitant and safely evicts it.)
The coffee, porridge, and paw paw is prepared. We eat and then our main taxi driver, brother Oppong, a friend of one of Monica’s colleagues, arrives at 6:30 am to take Hannah and me to her first day of school: The German Swiss International School (GSIS). Monica will go to the office as Hannah goes to school. So, consider that Monica is fluent in German, her parents separately having immigrated from Germany after World War Two, met in Chicago, and had one child with whom they spoke only German. Monica’s first language is German. It strikes me as odd and yet consistent with the many strange social configurations in my life that our family went to Western Africa in part so Hannah could go to a school where she’d learn German. And she will, and Monica’s extended family in the US, Germany, and Hungary will be delighted. Hannah gets both part of her biological heritage and her adopted heritage enhanced in Africa.
GSIS has a party to start the first day of school. The staff is multihued and international. Several staff musicians performed including “Oh Happy Day” in a hair raising African American gospel style that had us all swaying and clapping, and a contemporary style song written by a twenty something German teacher that had sweet lyrics. We were amazed at this talent.
Hannah seemed at ease here in Kindergarten. There were plenty of children who were weeping at the idea of or the actuality of usually Mom or, sometimes Dad, leaving. The parents of these children were often actually, or appearing to want to be, weeping too. I feel for them; we crossed that bridge many times in the last two years at The Montessori Center in South Bend, Indiana, but not today. Hannah was happy playing on the playground and finding friends. She has been used to full day school for the last two years, so wanted to stay when it was time to go. It went well. When I asked if she learned any German today, she said, “Nein.” Right.