Sometimes it is snippets of conversations that show the soul of a country:
- My Advans driver was taking me from Ho, the regional capital of Volta Region, to Hohoe – about 47 miles, a 2 hour drive. The road went through some mountains, offering beautiful views into the Volta plains. As we crested one mountain and looked at the vista below he got quite serious and asked “Does the sun shine like this where you live?” Think about it. I did and was humbled.
- Getting quizzed by 3 Advans loan officers while driving crazy bad roads from Jasikan to Hohoe (30 miles, 1.5 hours) – “Why don’t you have children?” “We decided not to have children – it was our choice,” I answered, kind of dreading where the conversation would go. The guys were obviously shocked by my answer. “When you get married you have a baby in 9 months-you have to have kids, it is what you do when you get married!” All three agreed, and I could feel the pressure for me to change my mind growing and to start having kids at 54. I decided to try and turn the tables. “Are any of you married?” That brought lots of laughter. “No! But soon,” was the response. I decided to push a bit, “So what are you waiting for?” “Because of what happens after you get married” “And what’s that?”I asked. “Kids!” I couldn’t help but laugh so hard I snorted. I am sure anyone driving by would have wondered why everyone in our truck was rolling with laughter.
- Electricity went out for the entire town of Hohoe just before 7pm. It was already pitch black outside as Ghana is close to the equator. I like to think of equator meaning equal – equal day to night, about 12 hours of sun to almost 12 hours of darkness. There was no light to eat my Cliff bar by, and more importantly, no fan or a/c. I went outside my motel room and just stared at the stars, marveling at the Milky Way. Sadly, the lights came back on after a couple of hours.
- On our way into Jasikan we stopped at an Advans borrower’s shop who happened to be funded by Kiva lenders. I was formally introduced to Rejoice, and we exchanged appropriate pleasantries. She cheekily asked me what I brought her from the USA. I said “The good wishes and encouragement from all the lenders around the world who worked with Advans (partner) to fund your loan. They hope for your continued success.” Rejoice listened to George interpret what I said, and after a second or two, she started laughing and nodding. She got up and went into her shop, returning a few moments later with a kente scarf. Rejoice motioned for me to stand up, and she put the scarf around my neck. George translated, “She is very happy you are here and thanks you!”
Looking at the scarf now hanging across the tv in my apartment, I smile. Life is Good.