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Here is a story, taken from my journal, about a 120 mile bike trip I took through a very remote part of Ghana. The roads I took were seldom traveled and these are a few of the reflections the trip inspired:

Between Two Rivers. 

I recently visited the enchanted land, quietly nestled in between two rivers making their random way back to where they came from. The Black Volta river runs 22 miles northwest of Ghana's Northern Region capital Tamale. The rivers are essentially mechanical barriers that separate steel machined developing land from a more modestly developing land. A land that develops so slowly that when seen with the 70 year perspective of the human eye, it looks as if it doesn't develop at all. This division is very swift and instantly identifiable as if it were some well designed field experience of the effects of development on a culture of people. The Black Volta marks the end of the enchanted land, which the locals wittingly refer to as "over-sea's". The lands beginning is marked by the White Volta. Thus the enchanted land or oversea's is stuck between two rivers with no easy way to come and go. Cars and trucks find the going uneconomical. Villages start to condense becoming clustered mushroom hut communities. The markets slowly become shady areas to trade goods and the congested bustle of transporting people and cargo becomes a rare event. People do not move in and out, populations do not rise and fall with the coming and going of attractions, everything stays a bit more constant and predictable. Instead of meeting obnoxious kids trying to milk what they can from a passing white man, I am met with groups of children hovering close to their homes, quietly perplexed, wondering what to make of me. Villages are small and the populations don't pressure much, the land is not overused and is allowed to breathe as if it were operating according to a tune within natures control. Incidentally all of this is reflected by the people who live there. There is no place better to go, there is no way to get there and nobody to come and tell them such a place even exists. There are no beggars or trouble makers, such characters would have difficulty growing up in such a place. I imagine that in this world, where cattle and crops are currency, money is like kool aid points, if you collect enough of it, you may be able to buy something beautiful and unnecessary, but it won't feed a family. In this land I am a stranger rather then a symbol of the privileged world and my needs are met as quickly as possible. I feel like I am overemphasizing here, but this is how I was made to feel and how it continued until the lands end. When I got to the Black Volta, I looked across the river and saw electric lines and bustling activity. I was excited because I knew across the river lied the civilization that I was so used to. Effectively addicted to. I crossed the dimensional warp zone on a long wooden canoe and was appropriately charged a handsome fee for my reunification with the developing world. Across the river I was instantly met with high voiced mocking kids pestering me for money. I rolled my bike up the river bank and to the road where I met a group of women milking water from pipes that pumped it out of the river, the excess running off in streams of organic sludge. The kiosks that lined the groomed road were filled plastic packages of imported "necessities" and people were hurrying about in what looked like unorganized panic, planning their next preoccupation before a destination was even reached. I got on the road and peddled in the direction of Tamale accompanied by its sprawling powerlines overhead. Thus I knew that cold beer lie in my already arranged, near future. All of the following thoughts that I am writing now arranging themselves in my head when I glanced up and saw a three truck convoy of earth movers heading in my direction. I laughed to myself at how quickly all of this new world came upon me. The trucks left me in a cloud of bitter, stinging road grit, these were some of the prices of living "good!" I guess that it is where I belong since I have been raised to excel under these conditions, but it all gets me thinking. I cant help but conclude that such a transition, from undeveloped primitivism to developed industrialism, is promoted and facilitated by the western world because a life lived in and among excess is viewed as good. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to see the enchanted land, walking through it as if it were an museum exhibit of the changes the world is presently making universal. There are other monuments and I am often confronted with the desire to make my life a long and lasting farewell to the variety of lifestyles that are currently going out of business. But under the surface of all that is still the drive that got me through the first two decades of my life. A need to document, progress and become something!