I am living on the third floor of the Hotel Cocoville in Elubo, Ghana, the room has Air Conditioning and a nice balcony. As I was standing next to Bah, looking at the river yesterday, I said,
"This is beautiful."
I searched a little trying to discover the name of the river, and I have to accept that I do not care to work that hard to discover the name of the river.
My friend Wade, the owner and writer for VagabondJourney.com says slowly, often and without a push or shove,
Elubo, Ghana West Africa --- Monday, January 31, 2011
I Search for Intuitively Easy Paths to Follow
Bah and I walked down to the river later in the day, on the way down the path to the river she says,
"Stop, go slow, there is trash."
She did not use those words, she speaks French most of the time, but this is what she meant, she wanted to either stop or go slower, there was too much trash on the path. It was her idea to walk down the path; I looked up at her and said,
"What did you expect, something beautiful?"
We worked our way slowly down a ravine full of old wood charcoal, trash, more or less a natural ravine that leads from the city to the river. Trash and garbage has an uncanny ability to find water, it is as if water is a natural place to dump the garbage of the world.
This is a video from the movie American Beauty below, where the young man and woman were admiring a piece of trash swirling and floating in the air. I am thinking about this scene in the movie, because if you watch it slowly, you say to yourself,
"Go slowly, do not disturb the moment or it will end."
In a way, I did not want Bah to remind me that in reality, we are sleeping in a trashed out hotel, with trash everywhere, and an extremely beautiful river in front. I want to exclude from my thoughts the thoughts of trash, and look at the majestic river passing by the Hotel.
The Hotel Cocoville is a magnificent Hotel located directly on a beautiful river; this place was built as a Hotel. It has an area for a restaurant, a large reception area, every room has a balcony. It is truly a wonderful building; a person can walk up to the roof, look around and see for miles. The children and families playing all day in the river is relaxing, they swim, wash clothes, and generally take their time, they have no responsibilities that makes them stressed.
I was looking down at the courtyard yesterday, I said to Bah,
"If they had a swimming pool there, it would be great."
Walk Slow or the Dream will Disappear
A reader wrote me the other day very angry and spiteful, saying that I was bad because I wrote about making money, this destroy his romantic view of Hobo Travel, therefore he was unsubscribing.
What is this "Romantic" view of travel? I want to ease you into another term, I will explain it before I write it, so you walk slowly into the meaning and implications. We make choice, some good, some bad, and in the end, we search for self-stimulation. We want to become happy because of stimulation of our senses.
We want to feel good, this can be called Mental Masturbation, as we massage our brains to feel good. Some people cannot stop, they continually live in a dreamy sense of masturbation, doing it repeatedly, never ending search for more feelings.
Readers come to this this site expecting to read stereotypical and cliché information about travel, they want mental masturbation that is romantic travel. When they are not able to masturbate, they are angry.
I had another friend say the other day,
"Andy, you are living the dream."
Yes, maybe I am, and maybe I am not, I really do not know what that means. I think it was a compliment, saying to me,
"Andy you are doing what you want to do, when, where and how, on your own terms."
The Hotel Cocoville is Dump
I am in a wonderful dump, some magnificent hotel that has had no maintenance done for at least 20 years. The owner or owners are slumlords; the owner does just the minimum to extract the most amounts of cash, for the least amount of work.
Yet, I am living the dream, I can run, I can escape, I can complain, however I am here for one reason in this Hotel, because I want to be here. Moreover, I am in no hurry, I am walking slowly; I will only leave when there is an obvious good reason. I asked Bah,
"Do you want to go to Cape Coast and stay in the Sammo Hotel?"
She said something like,
"Cape Coast is noisy, full of horns, and busy, this is a small village and is calm and relaxing."
Convincing Bah to Cook for Fun
She does not have anything to do, so I am trying to convince her to cook, she is like a prisoners in a jail, they all volunteer to work as trustee, to keep busy and not think of why they are in jail.
It is stressful for me to live with another person, I am happy by myself, I can do the proper mental masturbation needed anywhere on the planet to be happy. However, Bah is restless; there is too much time in the day, and nothing simple for her to do.
I asked Bah to bring some books to read, she brought two magazines and a Bible in French, not what I wanted.
I am presently reading this book, by Wilbur Smith.
"How many books do you read per month?"
"I do not know, maybe 1-4, depending on what is happening in my life."
I am reading about the Nile, Egypt, that whole area of the world from the time perspective of a when they were building the Pyramids. This man Taita, talks in first person and explains the adventurous story of love, intrigue, war and death, all wrapped in a semi-historical package.
Presently in the first Book in a three part series called "River God," Taita a slave to his mistress Lostris. He is working to keep her happy, she is getting pregnant by the Pharaoh, but is truly in love with Tanus the male hero of the book. Taita is in danger of being killed by the father of Lostris, as everyone fights for control of the Egyptian lands.
I am reading along in this Historical Adventure Soap Opera, I am happy and content. Bah picks up her bible, starts to read in a subvocalization manner. I am happy, this last for 15 minutes, she puts down the book and wants to find something to think about that is enjoyable.
Rising Stress and Tension
I am clear a couple of points in life,
"I am responsible for my happiness."
"I cannot make you happy."
(Oops, and I cannot make readers happy.)
I live in a world of very forceful people. Bah is getting annoyed at the locals, as we walk along the road, children and adults scream,
More or less, a never-ending and continuous screaming at me,
Abroni means White Man in the Ashante language of Ghana. She said, it has to bother you, I say no, only the adults sometimes, because they say it with mockery. The children are children, and the adults are just large and mean children. Well, she is becoming angry, she is tired of being a constant center of attention, she is shy, timid, and does not want people looking at her, unless she wants it. I said to her,
"Everyone is always looking at me, this is normal."
I think she believe I can stop it, this unrealistic view of life is stressful for me, I cannot change her, and she is wanting to change something that is not changeable.
I am frustrated with her and this Bible crap, why is it so difficult for people to understand the Bible. The Bible is a book to help guide and assist people in enjoying life, it is a guidebook, and it is read for guidance. It is not entertainment, it is work to understand, and it is challenging and trying to think about.
I worry about people who bring Bibles on Vacation and not a few fun books.
I have accepted people need to stay busy, cooking, cleaning, running errands, and buying things or they will go crazy. This is the mental masturbation that can heard, spoken, and acted out when people say,
"I am too busy."
I am living the dream; however, I know freedom is not mentally healthy for most people. My stress levels are rising daily as Bah pushes and shoves for something to occupy her free time. I think the idea of "Walking Slow" said by Wade truly applies here. I need to slow things down to a stop because Bah is trying to Walk Fast. She wants to push and shove, to force something great to happen.
Nothing great is going to happen today, and that is just fine with me.
Rising Stress, and I am Trying to Walk Slow in Elubo Ghana
For most of the last 6 years I've been living in a small village in rural Gambia, living the "slow" life. Every few months I'd travel down to the city for a week or so and when I returned home I always found the first few days the hardest...feeling unsettled, feeling like I "had to do something" and always it would just take a few days to get back into the correct pace. Obviously over time it got easier - I learnt to recognise what was making me feel so unsettled and just understanding that it was me learning to slow down again helped me slow down quicker (ha!), but if I think back to the early days, or even to when I first arrived, it just took so so long to learn to be comfortable living at a slow pace and to learn to feel comfortable spending time just sitting, thinking, watching the world around me, whatever.
Another thing this blogpost made me think of was... over the years I came to understand how many assumptions I made about the people around me - how much of what I take as perhaps "just normal" is actually socially/culturally constructed knowledge/beliefs, and how I just (mostly unconsciously) assumed that those around me thought in that way too. People who I lived near and became friends with over the years, people who I was close to, spent time with, shared interests with etc would occasionally say things to me that were so far removed from what I understood as "normal" or "true" that I would be left shocked by what they said. I don't think I'm explaining myself clearly, so let me give you an example....
Jallow, my very close friend of 6 years, a teacher in the village school, a person who I regularly will discuss live, love, politics, etc etc with, who on so many levels and in so many ways thinks about the world in the same way I do. One time I lent him my phone until he got paid and could replace his own (his was broke and he loves phones, mine was working and I can easily live without it for a while). After a week he tells me that he has lost it. I told him "Jallow that's shit cos now all my phone numbers are lost, they were on the phone and not on my sim. I feel angry at you for not taking more care of it" I expected him to say "sorry" and then I'd be still annoyed but no longer at him - accidents happen, things get lost, this can happen to anyone - just at the fact that now I have the hassle of finding out all those numbers again. But instead he said "Fiona what do you want from me, if the phone is to be lost then what can I do?". Of course on one hand I loved that he said this because one of the things I love about Jallow is his difference to me, but on the other hand it made me realise (yet again) that there is and always will fundamental differences between him and me that perhaps constitute an unbridgeable gap. While I don't consider myself very materialistic I do think that if you have something that is useful to you or costs lots of money to replace you should take care of it, and much more so if it belongs to someone else. I don't think I have ever previously assumed that I need not take any extra care cos if it is to stay safe it will and if not, not.
You've also made me want to watch American Beauty again!!!
Traveling with a trusted friend can be stressful, traveling with a woman can be twice as stressful, a stressed out traveler, even an experienced stressed out traveler then can beome more easily upset, so when I get into situations in real life, and traveling constantly is your real life and feel a bit edgy, I go back to the 'basics' I learned in 1976 from others who had spent years wasting their lives and were now integrated into society and leasing productive lives..'HALT' Hungry, Angry. Lonely and Tired. I have been lonely at parties, social gatherings and in crowded situations, I have a temper so need to exercise self control, so eating before going out is a good idea, almost daily I e mail a long time friend over in Guatemala, her Father brought her there from the US when she was 13, she grew up there, she still gets stressed out over many of the 'little things', we write about that almost every day, called support. Another friend of mine locally, a native, who spent his childhood in US and studied a year in Europe, calls and comes by almost every day and we go eat and talk local and world politics, coping, whatever, most of my local friends as well as the majority of the politically incorrect to the max with a sense of humor ex pats I 'grew up' with in Guatemala and El Salvador in 70s, 80s and early 90s are gone or passed away, have little in common with the younger generation of traveler, semi ex pat (those who come from November to March, called snowbirds) and the wanabbe ex pats on line are mesmerized by Real Estate 'cons', most travel sites are tour operators and one of the 'Hospex' sites now has 2.5 Million members and growing, now this organization is a big online city to me, on some forums one has to walk on eggshells, otherwise someone, somewhere sans sense of humor gets offended! Why I soon put up my own bloq, my own way. I tried an experiment on this site and other travel and ex pat forums, giving good sound common sense advice and asking for a 'Thank you' if the advices were helpful, about 1 out of 10 at most will Thank, most are looking for free places to stay or insider information in case of wannabe 'retirees', the 'me' generation I suppose, so I am thanking you now for providing a travel journal that tells me the plain truth written by someone I can at least identify with, yes and friends, even distant on line friends disagree once in a while or we would not be human. So finally, in near future, when you are alone again, in a place you feel comfortable, take a few days 'downtime' as they say, check out your websites, read or whatever, and then back on the trail, writing the journal or whatever. Ciao
One of your BEST posts so regardless of Bah's challenges with what to do with herself on a daily basis and your "lone guru" comfort zone being with an attractive companion has improved your mood and inspired the way you write and express your philosophy. like you said NOBODY but ONESELF can make one happy. And I agree that the Bible ( and other books which religions are based ) provides historical evidence and examples of what makes people happy and content as well as what brings them fateful consequences. A study of the "human animal" is worthy for all of us to read. And like you mentioned I am BUSY living life at the moment, too busy to read your recent series of great posts word for word, attending to things which need attended to before I take off. The US Embassy mail room received my passport 7 working days ago and still have NOT emailed me an appointment to pickup my passport with extra visa pages and pay them the U$82. So this is a typical karmic snag in life as I'd planned on flying out TODAY, Feb 1.
FUNNY how people can get so upset when you mention the slightest comment that pushes their emotional, Psychic "button" making them point their anger at you instead of causing them to look INSIDE THEMSELVES to explore why they had such a reaction.