Despite Mare’s burning rash, we leave the cleanliness of our oasis, (KO-SA Resort) and challenge the African sun once again with a walk down the beach. We cannot reach the small fishing village, because of the skin on Mare’s stomach flaring with fiery bumps. We’re not sure what she has, but she seeks cool relief, and there simply are no air conditioners around these parts.

Countless signs along the beach read, “Do Not Swim Here” because of dangerous rocks and riptides. One small area, in between rocks that form a small bay allow for swimming. Ahh! Mare finally gets some relief from the cool water.

Soothing Dip

A Ghanaian man, swimming in the small bay with his family, asks me if I would teach him how to swim. So, we do a few, “look this way, than look that way” strokes, and he wants to swim out beyond the rocks. He starts out, and I have to follow him, can’t resist. When I catch up to him, and see his eyes widen, I look seaward and prepare for a crushing wave. We laugh together, lying in three feet of water, almost back onto the beach.

In the small village of Apenyi, goats roam the streets along with chickens. We dodge piles of feces all over the street, and try not to fall into the uncovered sewer. Goats feast on the waste, as do the malnourished chickens. I mean, these chickens are almost as bald as I am.

Later that evening at the KO-SA dinner, I enjoy “Ampesi” which is boiled yam and plantain and…chicken. I figure that the fowl’s digestive system must be fantastic for filtration.

I ask the proprietors, “Why don’t you serve any goat dishes?

They look at me and say in unison, “Have you seen what the goats eat in the village?”

“Well, yes, but what about the chicken?”

“We get our chickens from Brazil and the Netherlands.” Annelies grew more animated. “I don’t think that you should eat any cooked meat next to the sewage in the cities.”

I thank her for that advice, because I had already come close to doing that. I opted for grilled corn on the cob instead. She further explained that during rainy season, scores of people get sick and die. The sewers overflow, forming small ponds in the cities and villages. The locals will often gather water from these receding ponds.

In all of Mare and my travels, thus far, we hadn’t seen such massive filth and poverty. But even in these conditions, the folks act friendly, mannerly, do not over beg, and engage in meaningful conversations, often about how to improve their lives. I suppose we call this hope. I can only hope to appreciate my abundant life in a worthy manner. And maintain the ability to smile the way they do.