Friday, January 14, 2011


Ghana's seasons consist of rainy season, dry season and Harmattan.

All I knew is that Harmattan is when winds from the north carry sand from the Sahara. It lasts about a month and makes the mornings chilly (by Ghanaian standards) and overcast. That much didn't sound too bad to me considering temperatures have been steadily climbing since the rainy season ended around the beginning of November and we routinely have 90 degree weather by mid-morning. But then Worfa told me that sometimes the air is so thick with dust, you can hardly see someone coming in the gate if you're sitting outside the front door. (I wanted to tell him, "Worfa, this is Aflao. It's always so dusty that you can hardly see anything." but I refrained. America's dustbowl ain't got nothin' on Aflao.) I've also heard over and over that the constant rubbing from the sand makes your lips and skin chapped and cracked. I got the impression that Harmattan is basically the Ghanaian Apocalypse, and I've been warily awaiting its arrival.

It snuck in while we were in Egypt.

We got back to Accra and the whole world was foggy. Except unlike fog, which only covers a relatively small area, the gray haze lasted all 185 kilometers from Accra to Aflao.

Andy and I looked at each other and said, "I think it's finally Hammertime."

I expected strong, abrasive winds that would turn everything (even more) brown. Instead it looks like Ghana has fallen into a dream. The sky is a flat, pearly gray and objects near the horizon are shrouded in mist. The ocean in particular looks very strange; several hundred feet off the shore it's as if it simply disappears. The commercial fishing boats that have become such familiar sights to me where they sit anchored off the harbor at Lome have vanished. It's perpetual pre twilight - not the point where it's actually getting noticeably dark, the point right before that where everything starts to look flat and a little strange. If Ghana didn't feel removed from the "real world" before, it certainly does now...

"What's it called again? Hammertime?"
"It's Harmattan."
"For some reason I can never remember that word."

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