Funny About Photos
We ride as the lone passengers now, in the back seat of a taxi, as the driver navigates up a muddy mountain road, negotiating deep ruts and sharp rocks. As we climb the jungle-lined road, I wonder if our driver is even taking us to the town we expect. Ahh…I see a cross towering atop a mountain – the landmark of the Village of Amedzofe. We hear that the Germans are responsible for erecting that cross in the 1800’s, as well as building Presbyterian Chapels and schools in the area that still stand strong.
“You’re welcome. My name is Solomon.”
“Thank you,” we respond.
Solomon explains that he is trained as a greeter and guide. The twenty-three year old man has charming manners, and walks us to the “Akofa Guest House.” Sweat pours off of us in this tropical rain forest, despite being the highest settlement in all of Ghana. (2600 feet) This mountain paradise pays off with views of an enormous valley below, dotted with an occasional village that squeezes in between the smaller mountains and dense forest.
Solomon helps us book two nights in the guest house, ($13US nightly) with basic accommodations. We have a ceiling fan, and good thing we brought our own toilet paper. We love it, especially the front porch where we can look out over the massive countryside below.
Solomon gives us a walking tour of the village, where everybody greets us with, “You’re welcome.” We respond with, “Thank you.”
The goats in the village are only let out of pens from four o’clock until six. They are trained for that. The main source of meat, Solomon sometimes feels sad when slaughtering one. Eventually, we find the only bar in town. If a town has a bar, Mare and I will find it, and we purchase six large “Castle Milk Stout” beers that is as dark as Guinness, but packed with six percent alcohol.
This entire trip, Mare has been taking photos, asking permission, and often getting rejected. I recall one woman back in Ampenyi saying, “You just want a photo of me because you think I look like a monkey.”
Another man told me that villagers don’t like photos of them because it shows them as poor. “You Europeans have big houses, and want to show you friends how poor people live.”
Mare asks Solomon about this and he has a different take. “They think that you will make calendars with the pictures and you make money, while they get nothing.”
Mare, in her friendly, enthusiastic manner, convinces the folks in this village to let her photograph them. Before you know it, just about everybody wants their photo taken, and the crowd howls with laughter while looking at them on our tiny, digital screen.
We crack some warm beers on the guest house porch, and meet Jerry. He is the man-servant to Georgina, the woman in charge, who also cuts hair on the porch when not ordering Jerry around.
As darkness descends, a thunder and lightning storm cools us, while we get drunk with Solomon and Jerry. I show them how to open a beer bottle with the top of a water bottle, which almost puts out Jerry’s eye, and we laugh the entire evening.
“After a big night,” Jerry says, “the whole village square is covered in vomit.”
Georgiana serves us spaghetti; store bought noodles, but some of the best sauce I’ve ever tasted, which includes a hard boiled egg. I get jealous, because I am a cook who makes noodles from eggs and flour, and am proud of my sauce, which can’t compare.
The power goes out from the storm,. By candlelight, Georgiana holds a bowl, and Kafui pounds into it with a large stick. They prepare Fu Fu, a combination of cassava and plantain. We have a photo of it.