Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Way behind on the updates, of course. Yesterday: morning at g|Ghana, mingling with developers, then afternoon at the Google Accra office, setting up some hardware that our team is going to need for tests going forward.
I know what's coming next, and try to hand it back as I climb into the car. No, really, I can't take it.
"Please keep it - it's a gift. Only maybe you give me a little something for my effort. A gift in return?" I'm trying to get the bracelet back into his hand, close the car door, and not drop my hard-bought sim cards all at the same time, but he's quick, and he's done this many times before.
We go back and forth a few more times, with me trying to hand the damned bracelet back, but he works it like those Harlem Globetrotter show games where they bring on the stooge team to act as comic relief. A couple of other hawkers have gathered to watch the game.
Finally, I cut and run - accepting the "gift" means I owe him, but I can't bring myself to just drop it on the ground. I tell him, at last, okay, but I'm not giving him anything for it, roger? He says, of course, no problem, but maybe I could just... at this point I've finally managed to get all my limbs inside and close the door. Not the most elegant escape, it was an escape, and I give myself a passing grade for the exercise.
Then today: the road trip to Ashesi, and Berekuso village a couple of hours north. That's a fun story of its own, but I need a bit of time to put it together. And before I can tell you that, I have to tell you this: this morning, heading out of town, we stop in Osu to pick up some supplies for the visit. As Greg and I are coming out of store, bag in hand, I hear a familiar voice over my shoulder, closing fast: "Hey Pablo! How's it going today? Remember me?"
Yes. I do. He smiles and we shake hands, but I keep my speed up. What I don't understand is how, in a city of 1.6 million people (yes, 1.6 miiiillion) and a few hundred square kilometers, my "friend" the bracelet hawker has somehow picked up the scent and is on my trail again. He asks whether I still like the bracelet and I move quickly, quickly toward the car. Yes I like it, but I remind him again that I'm not giving him anything for a "gift" that he's given me unwanted. "No, no, it's good" he says.
I realize that he's not expecting anything anymore. He really does smile, and shakes my hand again as he lets me go. I can tell by his eyes that he's satisfied, pleased even, as he turns away.
"See you around, Pablo."
Tonight, he'll be laughing with his friends over a beer. He'll have this great story: the look of utter shock and disbelief on that poor American's face when he popped in out of nowhere and called him by name. And a story like that? You just can't put a price on it, can you?