mission accomplished

Just as with Bush’s now famous announcement, it’ll never be finished because as soon as you stop, it changes. But the illusion is nice.

On Thursday I completed the census of the internet cafes in Northern Ghana. 100,000 square km (not 300,000 as I proudly announced initially, which would cover some of Burkina and most of Togo as well), and 66 commercial internet cafes. This doesn’t include the ones that charge customers but are run by nonprofits, since I am studying only private enterprises. So 66 of them, all interviewed, catalogued, recorded etc. The last day was a huge anticlimax, as I went out to Sandema, then back to Navrongo and found that both the cafes I was looking for were nonprofit. Then to Bolga, where another turned out to be run by the Catholic church. Finally, walking back to my hotel, I found a last one that had been hiding, and tracked down the owner for an interview.

At this point, I found I couldn’t walk any more. Quite literally. So I sat down, drank a lot of coke, and tried again. This time it worked ok, and I managed to get back to Doris’ house. This is the second time I have worked through a bout of malaria, and I am starting to realise that one probably shouldn’t. The problem is I usually get malaria in a place where I don’t want to take a week off and rest (or can’t – in this case there was no electricity, so resting involved lying in a room that was too hot to breathe in, getting bitten by more mosquitoes). The only way is to do the work and go somewhere more central to recover. So yesterday I left for Tamale, where it rained last night and is now cool and breezy. I slept for 10 hours, and am now feeling a bit better. I am basically ok, except that if I try to do anything radical like button my shirt or pick up a glass of water, I go all floppy. So I am having to take it easy.

Doris, her friend Rose, the kids and I went out to celebrate and say goodbye on Thursday night. Here are the kids and me, taking our own photo:

Eva, Marshall, Cynthia

Eva, Marshall, Cynthia

and Rose and Doris:

Rose and Doris

Rose and Doris

We were at a tilapia restaurant just outside Bolga. Most useful things in the North, such as decent hotels and restaurants, are built several kilometres outside town, to ensure that you can’t get to them unless you have a car and know that they are there.  It’s a great strategy for avoiding chance visits by people from outside the area, who might actually patronise them. The tourist information centre, similarly, is always some distance outside town. It’s as if they are getting ready for some tsunami of urbanisation where the periphery will suddenly become the centre of town, someone will build a functioning public transport system and there will be an invasion of cartographers to map the whole thing. It would be nice, but I can’t see it happening during my stay.

The restaurant was worth visiting just for the cryptic sign over the entrance to the toilets (also for the fact that it had toilets, which no other establishment in Bolga does):

what about the rest of us?

what about the rest of us?

I was sorry to leave Bolga, but it’ll be easier to get over the malarial exhaustion in Tamale, and I got Hannah a nice Bolga-basket (their speciality there), so all the important things were achieved.

Bolga was interesting. It’s both quite remote, and a hub for transport and trade. So everyone comes there. It’s very Catholic – there is a cathedral at nearby Navrongo. On my way through town on the last day, I met a nice young monk who took me to the (nonprofit) internet cafe, passing the local graveyard. He stopped, gestured to show me, and said, as if explaining something I would not have thought of myself, ‘In case of death.’ So it’s good to know they’ve thought about it:

in case of death

in case of death

There was also some great livestock relaxing on the streets of Bolga:

napping in Bolga

napping in Bolga

This is what I plan to do for the weekend.

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