I had an AWESOME day being super productive and awesome ALL ON MY OWN while only spending 12 cedi (this is a very small number considering how much transporting I had to do) and making new friends and just generally rocking Ghana without any help from anyone named Kofi. The only horrible thing in the day has to do with technology hating me and losing all my favorite things, but it is fine, I still am great.
So I set up some interviews last night with a couple of artists and galleries, but only one was today. It was in an area called Teshie Nungua which I gathered was somewhat near Osu and the beach (as everything is) and even though it wasn’t till 1 I decided just to set off at 9:30 and maybe find some other shit to look at in the area or something, especially because I never know how far away anything is. I did my usual walk to America House (this takes about 20 min I calculated today, I decided I wanted to know in the overall calculation of how much I walk in one day, which is, in case you were wondering, A LOT. I took my usual tro tro to 37, and they let me off at the random spot again, but THIS TIME I found my way to where all the tro tros were and now I know and can always find my way there! As usual (I keep saying it because I’m still amazed that I have as usuals in GHANA. You all know how much I love routine and that places I am used to bring me more joy that new places) I asked around until I found a tro tro, and one was going straight to Teshie Nungua, excellent! I love it when tro tros are going straight places so I can spend less money! Tro tros generally cost between 40 and 70 pesewas, depending on where you are going, (and sometimes none if you are lucky, but we’ll get to that later) so it is always preferable to take a tro tro than a taxi. Shared taxis can be relatively cheap but chartering a taxi is NEVER EFFICIENT. Sometimes however I must do it anyway.
Anyway, I got to the Teshie Nungua stop which, as predicted, was around the beach, at some time, I don’t really know, and started wandering around. It was still probably around 10:30 or so by this time so I had lots of time to kill. I just started walking in the general direction away from the beach because I figured that was more likely. My hunches of where things are are actually generally pretty spot on, I don’t really know how. So this is where a lot of my walking comes in. I have come to really love walking which is awesome because usually I’m really bored when I’m alone, but I am managing to just be chilling on these extremely long walks. After a while of walking I see a place across the street called Jasper’s Painting or something, so I figure I’ll go over there and check it out. I cross the street a bit up and walk in the gate. There’s a bunch of paintings around and a guy coming down the stairs, so I do my awkward “Hi I’m an American art student it looks like you are an artist can we talk?” and he was like oh sure. Ghanaian people are so nice to me! So first I looked around his area, it was a little yard thing and then a bottom and top floor, both open to the air. Lots of paint and canvasses all around. I took a few pictures and then we had an interview. This one got recorded by my not fancy shitface awful new recorder (you can probably tell where this will go later) and it was excellent. This artist seemed pretty middle of the road, he does some commissions and some paintings of his own, seemed to make a decent living. He’s traveled out of Ghana before and even told me about an artist in LA who I should maybe go see next semester! Look at this! Me learning things about American artists while in Ghana! So at the end of the interview I got his card and gave him my ‘card’ (aka..me scribbling my name, SIT, University of Redlands and my Ghana phone number on a piece of paper) and set off again.
Around this time I got lunch at a Nigerian ish seeming place a bit off the main road. The restauranters were in love with me and talking to me as I ate which is fine because I don’t like to eat alone and it is funny when Ghanaians are in love with me for no reason. Which was obviously the case here. Two guys were talking to me and asking me the funniest questions like “is your father in America? Really? Are you sure? What does he do? And your mother?” “do you have friends in America? Are they beautiful? Do you have sisters?” (at this point I tried to explain Beta to them but I think it went over their heads.) I got this awesome food that was ridiculously tasty but I have no idea what it was. It was the same idea as banku and fufu but it was better and it was not kenke and the thing with it was like not soup but not stew and also beef or goat or something and it was all just so good! I continued to entertain my suitors as I ate (I’m not really that entertaining but they all love me anyway) and assured them that if they came to California I would introduce them to my beautiful friends since I am already married. No children yet, but maybe soon, I told them. Everyone buys this which makes sense since one of the guys guessed that I was FORTY. Ugh. I guess I would be bad at guessing the age of Ghanaians too but not THAT bad. Oh well they still love me so I don’t really care.
Then this funny thing happened where I thought I was calling the art gallery guy that I had an appointment with at 1, but the person on the other end of the line was like what is going on we’re closed. So I was like hmm that’s odd oh well I’ll go to the internet. So I had half an hour at the internet café and looked up the place I was supposed to be going, (while also managing to post the usual embarrassing things on facebook) and then I called what I thought it was again, then they were like we don’t know what’s going on no one called here yesterday and I was like well clearly I’m doing something wrong. So I got out my notebook and my phone…first, the number that I stored and therefore called as the place that I think I am going I had zero minute phone calls with last night. Something is definitely wrong. I then compare the phone numbers from my notebook, and yes, I’ve been calling the wrong place all day. Luckily it is only 1:15 so I hop off the tro tro I’ve just gotten on and call the correct number. I can’t hear the voice of the man who I will soon fall in love with very well but we gather that I am near to where he is, but we can’t figure out how near because I’m dumb and don’t know exactly where I am and can’t find any large landmarks. So I give the phone to a taxi driver (always a useful thing) and this guy figures out where I’m going, so he drives me there. Tries to charge me 4 cedi which is a joke because I easily could (and later do) walk this route, but I bargain it down to 3 and call it a day since this is my only taxi of the day. Awesome amazing artist man that I’m in love with comes out (Ebenezer Borlabie in case you were wondering) and takes me back to his gallery studio house place. He sits me down on some real nice couches while he finishes up talking to this presumably some kind of European couple who are interested in buying a painting. The wife is real down, she loves it all clearly, but the guy is being a little bitch and being like ‘I just think if we’re getting art from Ghana it should look like it came from Ghana’ and I’m like (no I don’t say anything but I think) well then go to the beach and buy something off a vendor ya dick. Meanwhile EB brings me a Voltic water bottle (free water is a big thing when it rarely happens) and I am happy.
Then we start our interview and I think I am recording it, (more foreshadowing) and he just talks for so long about his life and about art and how Ghanaians actually look down on art but how he always wanted to do it and his parents tried to get him to be a doctor but then he sketched the Cape Coast Castle and his sketchbook blew in the wind and everyone bought his drawings and I AM IN LOVE. He is the nicest of men! And clearly so much more helpful than Kofi! He tells me about traveling and how most of his art is sold to people outside Ghana because he paints in a style that is not the Ghanaian style (suck it guy from earlier) and he has paintings of horses and I love them and it is beautiful. He talks about how it is easy for him to succeed at art because even if he wasn’t as successful as he is he loves it so it doesn’t matter. It is all just great. He also teaches painting lessons so I might go next week to paint with him! Eee! He tells me of an art supply store, also tells me I should get a map of Accra (really, I hadn’t thought of that…oh wait, I’ve been looking for one for ten weeks) and we talk about how we are going to talk again and he gives me some really successful artist named Wiz’s number and I AM GOING TO MARRY HIM. Just kidding he is clearly already married because his child was wandering around being cute and knocking down paintings and he was so chill about it because duh we’re in love.
I leave and am the happiest girl and start to walk in the general direction of the area he said the stores were in. He said they might not be open today but I decide to look anyway because I have a sneaking suspicion (which will become reality) that I will not be able to find them anyways but it’s only like 2:30 so I have a lot of the day left to wander. I walk for a while, take a tro tro, call my dad, walk some more, and eventually I find myself in front of this place that is a restaurant seeming place and says its an art gallery. I go in and this guy shows me that it is his bar and where he houses his art, and voilà I have a third interview! I don’t even try to record this one (which is good because of later events of me killing everything) and I drink a coke while we chat about how he and his brother paint and then sell it in this place and his English isn’t as good as my first two guys but we still have a great talk and I have another art perspective and I love my life. This one loves me a lot so he asks if I am married etc and I say yes as usual and then we just chat more. He asked me all about America so I got to be happy and talk about America for a little while because I love America. But I also said all the nice things about Ghana that America doesn’t have like friendlier people and lack of crime and such. All in all it was just swell.
Then I walked for a while more (to break it down for you if you haven’t gathered already, I walked for approximately 3.5 hours today. You think I am exaggerating, but I am not. I was out for 9 hours today, was in interviews for approx. 2 hours, at lunch for 45 min to 1 hour, in tro tros for maybe 2, 2.5 hours tops, which actually equals out to me walking for 4 hours but whatever.) and saw some cool things like Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (I want to go back here it is pretty) and got followed by a gang of children. Eventually I was like it is time to stop walking and to make way home. I stopped by a lighthouse by the beach and looked at the water and it was nice, then I got on a random tro tro going to a place that I did not know but I figured that since all the tro tros go to big tro tro interchanges I would be okay. And lo and behold, it took me to a very near tro tro exchange, so near that the mate didn’t make me pay! Aces! I then got on a tro tro STRAIGHT TO AMERICA HOUSE! It was awesome! Then I am back here. Then the bad thing happened. I put my recorder in the computer….
AND IT DIDN’T RECORD ANY OF MY INTERVIEW WITH THE E.B. THE GREAT AMAZING SECOND ARTIST!! (as if you couldn’t see that one coming from all my anger) I am really angry. There is just nothing I can do about it though, besides stop using this fucking thing, which records things that don’t matter like me talking to myself during the art opening, but then LOSES THINGS THAT ARE AWESOME. I HATE MY LIFE. There’s 28 cedi I’ll never see again. I recorded everything I could remember about my time with best guy ever, and I definitely am going to go talk to him again asap and tell him the horrible thing that happened which will necessitate us talking again and therefore falling in love. (why is it that only creepy Ghanaian men want to marry me, not hot artists?) anyway, I am angry, but there is nothing to be done. Now I am writing this and before writing this I took a shower (I hope that all my friends who bug me about not showering read this) and here I am.
In short, I am awesome, I got three solid interviews and a nice 3 hours of walking out of a great day, I will impress Kofi with my independence when I see him on Wednesday, I will eventually find an art supply store, and life is good.