Finding our way to Songnaayilli Eco – village was quite a palaver and involved a drive through Tamale following a girl on a moto to the offices of “Meet Africa”, another NGO. We met members of this organisation and bought some drinks before continuing the journey to the village, where we were staying a night.
We arrived and were shown our accommodation. The round thatched huts with central support posts were very nice and had mosquito netting that prevented the mosquitoes getting out of the rooms! It was all a bit of a rush as we needed to take part in some rural craft activities but there was just enough time to test the deep drop toilets! However, Francis used a whole can of Insect spray down them to reduce the population of mosquitoes to a mere thousand or two. A thick carpet of dead ones greeted us on our next visit.
This is a village with a Muslim population who welcome visitors and show them some of the life skills they use every day. The welcome we received was genuinely friendly and some of the villagers came to the house to greet us in the evening too. We were invited to take as many photos as we liked. We were taken to watch a woman spinning cotton by hand with a spindle. It looked simple enough except for the fact that the spindle rotated without encouragement and she managed to keep the cotton the same thickness throughout. I didn’t risk asking for a turn as I know I would have tangled the thread or broken it at least. A large piece of woven white cloth was displayed and it was explained that here they work towards weaving their own piece or pay someone else to, in readiness for their own funeral. This is what your body is wrapped in. To die without one is hugely regretful. The cloth was beautifully woven and very soft to the touch. It seemed such a waste that it would never be really admired!
We just had time for a visit to the Soothsayer before dinner. Individually we sat In a dark room whilst he shook a bowl of beads and a very sick looking child lay on a sofa in the corner. I was assured of a long life and wouldn’t end it poor, which was greatly reassuring. I was born to be a “giver” (that could have been wishful thinking on his part), and my maternal grandmother watches over me and I should be more aware of that. My friends didn’t find out anything mind shattering or life altering either and I think everyone was too focused on the imminence of a hot meal!
Our meal was lovely, I had fried plantain, palaver sauce and Tilapia fish. We did the whole thing in pitch dark, which is tricky with fish! We were mindful of the lightning and thunder rolling around the sky as well as clouds of mosquitoes that appeared to want to share our meal and whatever else was going on. A carton of wine helped to pass the evening along with the groups of villagers who came to peer at us through the meshed doorway. The children, as always, the most inquisitive.
One rather wonderful experience was standing naked to the stars, which were so plentiful, in the walled bath area, pouring cool buckets of water over my sticky, tired body. It’s surprising I haven’t done this before as millions of Ghanaians do so twice every day of their lives!
And so to bed! The biggest bed I have ever seen. The three of us could have slept in it and not seen each other. With no electricity, no fan so it was rather warm and with the incessant sizz of mosquitoes in your ear, sleep was slow in coming, but eventually we succumbed, exhausted.