The International Alarm Clock

Buckeye Farm Beat

Here I am in Ghana, Africa's, biggest city hearing the sounds of the farm.

Published on: October 24, 2011

It’s an amazing world.

One day you can be gathering walnuts in the backyard in Ohio and then 23 hours later you arrive at Akwaaba Airport in Accra the capital of Ghana in West Africa. I am here for a 3-week stint with ACDI/VOCA. As a volunteer in the program, which is a part of U.S. AID, I am working with local media outlets to increase the amount of coverage given to agriculture.

Many Ohioans have participated in the ACDI/VOCA efforts to improve farm productivity and agricultural stability around the world. In 2000 I went to Mongolia to help start a magazine for the wheat growers in that country for Jeanne Bartholomew. Diana Roach was the one who called me to service again. The thrust in Ghana is to improve the farmers’ links to inputs and markets through a program called Agriculture Development and Value Chain Enhancement.

While it is amazing you can fly further in 23 hours than your great grandparents traveled in a lifetime, it is not necessarily an easy journey. I went to Atlanta then Amsterdam and then Accra. Eating all the way. I’m convinced the job of flight attendant is one of the tougher ones in the food service industry. En route I was fed two full meals with wine and dessert, four snacks, eight beverages, plenty of water, and I was cleaned up four times with hot napkins handed to me with forceps. I also watched three movies and finished a book.

Not so tough, you say. Did I mention any sleep? No. My rear end was much too sore for that.

We landed at 9 p.m. locally 5 p.m. in Ohio. After a long wait at customs and mad scramble for luggage, a driver picked me and took me to my hotel. We drove over red clay roads with mega humps for speed bumps. Few of the streets in Accra, a city of 2.1 million people, are paved.  The hotel, however, had pavers in its parking area. It was very nice and no doubt sumptuous by local standards. There was a pool, a restaurant, a salon, a barber shop and a bar -- all surrounded by a brick and wrought iron fence topped with four strands of electric wire. The digital sign above the entrance to the lobby indicated there is jazz music offered every Friday from “1 p.m. to late.”

DOGMAN: THIS FELLOW WAS HAPPY TO POSE FOR A PHOTO WITH HIS DOGS. Other Ghanaians were not so eager to snapped in the early morning hours.

A bit dazed from jet lag I went to sleep quickly and was awakened at 4.05 a.m. by a familiar farm sound of the past -- the crowing of a rooster – the steady unrelenting crowing of a rooster. Crowing again and again.

ALARMING: If you look closely you can see the rooster that I would have taken out if not for fear of international repercussions.

I got up reluctantly about 5:30 and took a walk around the hotel’s red clay streets. As I went through the lobby I asked the desk manager if the rooster always crowed like that. “What rooster?” he said.

The sun was up and Ghanaians were busy. The school kids in their uniforms with matching tee-shirts and shorts came trooping by in groups. Folks were walking to work in nice clothes. Some of the women wore their beautiful African robes. A man was walking his dogs. Motorbikes were buzzing. And taxis kept beeping at me to ask if I wanted their business.

OFF TO SCHOOL: Uniformed and on the road, local public school children are headed for the classroom.

I went through my first day in the office flew in a slow-motion-groggy state. Then left the office early knowing I would leave the next morning for the northern region and Tamale – not pronounced like the Mexican entrée -- more like Tah-mah-lay with equal accent on each syllable – on a 9 a.m. flight. To make sure I got the airport on time, a driver would pick me up at 6 a.m.

READY FOR BUSINESS: The women in this photo was already out on the street and ready to sell her milk at 6a.m.

So I went to bed very early. Set my phone’s alarm for 5 a.m. and asked for a 5:15 wake up call.

Wouldn’t you know it: 4:05 a.m. “Cock-a-doodle-doo…cock-a-doodle-doo”

What rooster indeed.