Running the Gauntlet in Bolga
Bolgatanga, Ghana or Bolga Ghana West Africa
Sunday, September 2, 2007
A person walks into a small village anywhere on the planet. There will be a few days of testing, checking, quizzing and sadly overbearing demands.
I hope I have finished the run, I hope I have found the majority of bullies and jerks in this small city. I now know four of them, and am thinking of taking a photo of one special person to publish on the internet as a warning to readers. Africa has my bullies.
There is no police, there are no strong personalities or elders who protest you, normally the women of a village are the stabilizing social police force in West Africa, the police, elders and heads are the abusers.
Yesterday, a few of the girls started to say hello, and a few of the more passive men began to have conversations with me, it was nice to have something other than being ignored. I suppose the idea is, we make money from him, and he leaves, why talk, I have been here for three days, they are starting to talk.
As a person walks around any village or city in the planet, they subconsciously learn how to avoid the negative and find the positive areas. I consciously search for the more interesting neighborhoods of the city, hoping to find a hotel that has the best neighborhood. The African guidebook writers are annoying, they subconsciously have highlighted the hotels where they can drive a car to, enter the compound, park, and the whole neighborhood is isolated, not actually in the city, but on the outskirts and away from easy to buy food, water, or people. I normally tag these in my mind as resort hotels. They want you to enter and make it very difficult to see anything, self-contained, has everything you need, and they will gouge-the-price sell it to you.
People traveling as couples, people with cars, about 99.5 percent of the travelers do not realize often they are isolated.
Running the Gauntlet alone as a man in Africa is a Macho experience. I had a sad realization the yesterday as I was pre-meditated being Macho or maybe you could say Alpha Male. I thought,
- I am becoming, as I was when I worked concrete in the USA. -
Macho or Alpha Male behavior is horrible thing; if a person learns to excel in this behavior, they become extremely dominating, assertive, and difficult. I for sure am a difficult person, and I know I am dominating. I remember Taia and Mark in Togo laughing and teasing me when I said,
- I am a dominating person. -
They joined in with a laugh and a push,
- Not you, Andy? -
Sarcastic and agreeing, however, nothing I did not already know, I need special types of friends to have good friends, or as they say in Africa, I Chop them, meaning to eat.
Africa is easy for me, however I know, I must leave and travel to softer countries like Thailand or Guatemala where there is not a 24 hour a day need to counter the social norms by also being Macho.
I sometimes think Religion is needed or they would kill each other, and when Religion becomes second fiddle, than a dictator or leader does go and kill each other. Religion modulates the masses and continually reminds a culture with no police to be civil. I sometime say or tell them what God wants them to do, so they back off, not a good thing, making a person feel guilty is dangerous and for sure a last resort to slow them down, and the time to leave.
Bolga is just a little too big, and has been damaged by the NGOs, or Volunteers, everyday four to seven children say give me money. I have girls stop to flirt and talk, then ask for money, they say, I am hungry. A girl with a cell phone in hand, asking for money for food, a looking for a fool to say yes to the question.
In any city, a person naturally, subconsciously learns how to live peacefully and productively in the city. The longer I am in a city, the more I learn the best places to eat, the internet cafes, the neighborhoods that are fun to walk through because of pleasant surroundings and people. Ideally, I am in a hotel that is surrounded by a nice neighborhood. This is NOT a hotel where I cannot see a house, to be surrounded by homes for me is best, to not be able to see many homes is the worst, and truthfully the most dangerous.
I have successfully run the gauntlets of Jerks in Bolga, I am ready to meet some of the nice people who wait to see if I leave or stay. I see about 1-2 white people per day here in Bolga, I have not talked with any of them, this presently is not a city with a lot of tourist. Strangely, the most I have seen is in Yeji, on Lake Volta, as the Ferry drops off a slew of them every day.
Tourism is seasonal, it is always possible that any city has a time of the year when many tourist visit. This is the best time to visit for the average person, and the time when most easy to enjoy a country. To come alone, run the gauntlet, and learn to deal with the locals on their terms is an Adventure. I call something Adventure Tourism, when a person has the possibility of being killed, even though normally remote. Bungie jumping is not really an adventure, however white water rafting and climbing tall mountains can be.
I know when I do not see other travelers; I am probably being an Adventure Traveler in Africa. I do not like to talk about this, I do not like to explain, I like to infer, allude, and not be clear. I do not believe it is possible for a person to travel into a truly dangerous situation for weeks. If they are not capable, they will leave, if they are capable of traveling safely then, they will continue on the path. Fear will create an excuse to leave, and the will remove themselves from danger.
I am glad I purchased the 12 or 13 books to read in Accra, it give me a mental diversion and creates a balance… I am laughing, I am reading another Tom Clancy book, and just finished a book by Nelson DeMille. I guess they are Macho books…
The sun is rising; it is 6:34 A.M. I will go for a walk, the best, and least macho time of the day is just after the sunrises, as the day awakes, the drunks are sleeping, the too lazy men are being too lazy, and all the women come out to sweep the sand.
Here in Bolga many children and adults walk to the storm gutter and brush their teeth, urinate, and wash their faces. The gauntlet is down, the sun is rising, and I need to leave.
Running the Gauntlet in Bolga