What is my contribution to the trip nostalgia? I was not the one who got malaria, nor the ace drummer…nor the one who was told by the villagers that they "envy my body"- no, my story came from my bookbag.
Ok, here is the spheal. The trotro (the Ghanaian rental bus) that I was on was going from the City Hotel (where we were staying) to the Arts Center about 10 minutes away. I was in the very last seat and had my bookbag next to me. The seat was bench-style and the seat level was exactly lined up with the open window. It was near me when we left; a few minutes later I noticed that it was gone. Ignorant of its location, it was not until we had almost reached the arts center that I realized that it had, at some point, rolled out of the window.
We turned the bus around and backtracked. I was in shock. The bag had a lot of the stuff that was too important for me to leave in the hotel room in it (about $120 in Ghanaian cash) my camera (with film), tape recorder (with tapes), my journal (which had 50 pages or so written in it at that point), various little but essential things AND (although I forgot about it at the time) my plane tickets. Yes, I was a bit tense. Had Manny not been beside me and lending a calming hand, I may have torn my hair out. The 7 minutes back to the hotel I kept envisioning the contents being torn out and sold, my journal used for scrap paper. I realized that I was far from home and the country could be cruel, I would have to deal with a loss that hurt. Then it looked hopeless; we reached the hotel with no sign. I had no idea how much a few essential things could mean until I lost them. Then someone yelled that a guy had my bag. We circled around to meet him. [Dr. Green (who was not on the trotro) from our group had just gotten there to see the bag that the men had found. She heard the story of who found it.] There were two upper-class-to-average looking locals around and one of them handed me the bag. Needless to say, I was happy. I cannot remember whether I handed out some bills to the men first or looked in the bag, but everything was there, untouched.
Dr. Green later said that the man who first found it was an assistant (although I also heard minister) to the Ashantehene, the king of the Ahante (a very large and powerful cultural (tribal) group). He had found the bag and turned it in to the hotel manager saying that he was a truthful and honest man. He was and I appreciate it.
I did not hear the end of it the whole trip and rightfully so.
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