Picture of the Day with a Story

On facebook and twitter I try, when I have time to post a Picture of the Day from my travels in Ghana.  Sometimes a simple sentence explains the picture, but others ignite a whole story.

This is not the most glamorous, beautiful or captivating picture I have taken, I had actually even forgot about it up until a few days ago when talking to a friend I remembered a story about these kids.  This picture was taken in 2004 in the village of Elmina, when my father and I were traveling down the coast of Ghana, after I had completed a semester of college at the University of Ghana.

Fort St. Jago on the hill in Elmina

There is a large castle on the beach at the village and as you look inland there is a road that goes strait up a hill ending at another fort.  After checking out the castle on the beach we decided to walk up the road to check out the colonial fort that you can barely see in the background of the picture above, and very clearly in the picture to the left.  About half way up we came across these kids on the side of the road leading to the fort.  We said hello and were unsure of what they were doing, possibly burning plastic and other things on their little charcoal stove (the things we used to do as kids, who knows?).  My father being the playful guy that he is had come with a contingency of bouncy balls for kids he met along the way.  The interaction would usually involve some kids getting excited to see us, my dad saying hello and making some goofy faces, the kids returning the goofy faces with displays of dance moves, or karate moves, and then my father would offer the bouncy ball.  The kids would usually give a puzzled look and then the match of bouncy ball throw and catch would ensue.

This interaction heading up the hill to the fort went about the same way, but when it came time for him to bounce the ball to them, this may not have been the best place for that as it was on a steep hill.  The ball bounced right past the kids and bounced part way down the hill on the road and then off a cliff, presumably bouncing through the whole village before landing in the lagoon (probably not the best environmentally friendly gift to give to kids on your travels).  The kids were shocked, it was hard to tell if this was because they saw that their gift went bouncing away to be lost forever, or because there gift was able to do that feat on its own.  Luckily for these kids my dad had some more balls and handed them over this time rather than risking another bounce.

One of the Posuban shrines on the very street where the bouncy ball match went on.

After checking out the fort a local boy showed us a back way down the hill into an old part of the village with a lot of colonial architecture and cobble-stoned streets.  Here we met two young girls one much younger than the other, as we smiled and walked by the younger girl who seemed terrified reached out and grabbed my dads arm and she shrieked and ran a little ways away.  An adult seemed shocked and then exclaimed that the little girl thinks you are a ghost (being white and all) and tried to see if you were real.  The little girl still seemed terrified but was looking our way hiding behind the older girl, who was giggling.  This set my father into action to try to rectify the situation and out came the bouncy balls again and he bounced one in their direction. The older girl bounced it back a few times but the younger one was still too scared.  So we worked our way down the street a little more checking out the Posuban shrines along the way.

After passing a few of the shrines we heard some giggling in the direction we had come from and a bouncy ball coming right for us down the street.  It had appeared that the girl who was afraid of my father had launched it seemingly a little braver now.  My dad caught it and launched it back going quite some distance.  Then some other kids caught it and sent it back again.  I think some other balls from other kids came out at this time because it turned into quite the bouncy ball match with multiple balls and a whole pack of kids going in every direction on the street in the old part of Elmina village.  I don’t remember how it calmed down but we eventually moved on and continued with our journey, with a few things to laugh about.

 

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