During my time in wild west Africa i started using the phrase "howbe", when greeting a buddy, so the cry in Ghana would be "'owbe Tjaali!!" (pronounced charlie, in the local vernacular it means friend) and the response would range from '' 'no bad my brudder" to "managing small". The latter indicates ruff! times and worry - often said with a forlorn expression and sometimes an omen of a Passive Mugging Event.
PME is highly prevalent in wild west Africa - it has been honed to a fine art - how to convince an otherwise sane (generally white) person to part with hard cash because of a woeful tale or some unreal deal. white guilt is very lucrative. It can range from taxi fare to fortunes.
I knew a guy from Canada who got sucked into a gold dust deal - long story sh..., he was in for $200k before he clicked he was being cooked like a grasscutter (local delicacy - rodent boiled to a second death and served with "jollof" tomanto rice - yes tomanto just like on the menu and a scoop of shito sauce.) He waited in Ghana for 8 months before he saw 25% of the money returned not mentioning the hotel and legal fees he racked up. H e was relatively lucky.
Then there was the Dr from Brazil who had parted with $40k, (from her internet machine at her home to a guy met online!!) to fund a clinic and school in the hills. She came to Ghana 3 times to try and meet Mr X to see how her money was being spent - you can guess the rest......
Said Dr from Brazil, in fact, fell in love with me (!!) - for real. She offered me the world if i married her and hounded me for months, she is one of the reasons i dont use facebook.
Possibly the best experience i had was in Sierra Leone. I was living in Gambia at the time and decided to see the journey from a taxi window instead of flying the 1 hour trip from Banjul to Freetown. 3 days later we crossed from Guinea Conakry into "Salon". There was more hole than road most of the way and we averaged about 25km/h the (w)hole way in a klapped out peugot with my driver Alim stopping only to buy king size rizlas or find a suitable place to ease ones self.
Fckn hectic trip but all i can remember are the laughs and beautiful moments, prolly better that way!! Sleeping in the car for 2 nights on the side of the road, chaos and banditry at the border posts and living on 2 minute Indomie noodles and mango was interesting from a digestive point of view. Conakry too was an experience - one I wish never to repeat. All the usual squalor and stench but no easy going street vibes here, just pushy smackjunkies and a con around every corner - lol, i never thought about the con in Conakry, omg there's a "kry" too!! very apt
Freetown itself is a real eye opener - beauty and the beast side by side. The city is on a peninsula with long chain of big hills and is quite majestic looking in a "poor cousin of Rio and Cape town" kinda way. The poverty and filth is horrific, much like the Favelas of Rio and the flats of cape town really.
I was promised, by Alim, very reasonably priced helicopter flips over the estuary and city only to find out service had been suspended indefinitely due to a land to air strike on said chopper. Africa at its finest.
The local folk were generally very easy going, some very well educated and with the best sense of humour in Africa imo. I hung out at Eddris' bar or Spot as they are called and would listen intently to the locals take verbal swipes at each other - funny insults and mutual piss takes that were bantered to and fro in Krio, the local parlance - mix of lingos spoken with a lilt like west indian and a rolling of the Rs. Absorbing to listen to and strangely understandable. After a few extra strength Guiness' that is.
On the streets the standard "hello, how are you?"equivalent is rendered thusly " 'how da body?' to which the reply generally is "da body a machine!". Cracked me up every-time especially when used by the functioning drunk barkeep at Edriss' Spot, who would go through 2 bottles of local "gin" a day only to present himself to duty looking like absolute shit.
Clearly this mans machine was close to seizing.
Once out of Freetown i fell in love with the place - green jungles white beaches and super pleased to see you locals. Genuine warmth of spirit, even from the numerous peeps missing arms and hands - courtesy of Charles Taylor and the warlords.
The best day was the hot lobster lunch with frozen star beer on beach at a place called, kids actually swam out to catch my lunch! Reef to belly in under an hour, now thats what i call service. The bill was a coupla dollars if i remember right. I skipped the famous Chimp and Bonobo sanctuary, i almost blubbed at the plight of the polar bears at JHB zoo so i wasnt gonna risk my emotions on our cousins in trouble. Kinda regret that but there you have it.
The only thing i didnt like about Salon were the numerous Saffas hanging around, all of em addicted to diamonds, full of brandy and boerish behavior for breakfast. Fck me, boneheads dont travel well. Big ears, 2 tone shirts and a sense of entitlement that makes me cringe. Jirre!
Not sure where this lil trip down short term memory lane comes from but its been quite soothing. One needs a bit of sooth from time to time.