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hello, old friend REUNION IS BITTERSWEET Peace Corps stint forges lasting bond page 3
Forty years later, return to Ghana is bittersweet

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Date published: 8/31/2007

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During my visit, I was surprised to hear him credit me for helping launch his career. He said that I was the first person to suggest making trousers from the bright striped fabric with its woven emblems.

Those were the days of hippie fashion.

"That was what made me known to the whole world," he said. "After I made the trousers for you, I made many more. I went all around the country selling them to Peace Corps."

In the process, he filled his address book with contacts that would later serve him well on his trips to the United States.

back to school

Bobbo took me to our old school. There were many new buildings among the scruffy old ones. I saw the bungalow where I lived with other volunteers. Trees that were newly planted then are large and shady now.

Forty years ago, the headmaster was Father Apietu (ah-PEE-eh-tu), a Catholic priest who wore a long, white cassock.

He's dead now. His bust stands on a pedestal in front of the building where I once taught. I suggested painting the pedestal white like his cassock. Bobbo laughed. Only old boys like us would get the joke.

Forty years ago, the school was surrounded by farms and baobob trees. It was on a dirt road with only a few houses nearby. Now, the road is paved and lined with houses and shops. More are under construction.

Bobbo led the headmaster, a dozen teachers and me to a bar on the other side of the school's athletic field. Bobbo bought cold beer for everyone. Forty years ago, the thought of a bar with cold beer next door to the school would have been a hallucination.

I looked at the teachers and wondered if I was ever as young as most of them. I told a few stories about some long-ago high jinks at the school. The young teachers laughed heartily. The headmaster barely smiled.

He said the enrollment of the school was now about 1,000. In my day, it wasn't half of that. He invited me to return next year for the school's 50th anniversary and to give the school an endowment.


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Reporter Frank Delano revisits Ghana, where he served in the Peace Corps 40 years ago, and reports on Prince's Town, Fredericksburg's new sister city.

SUNDAY: Sister cities Prince's Town and Fredericksburg are worlds apart. MONDAY: Sister-city relationship shines a beacon of hope into Prince's Town. Tale of two soccer balls illustrates town's need, and obsession. TUESDAY: Spotsylvania man leads effort to protect villagers from malaria. WEDNESDAY: Profile of Fredericksburg's Pamela Bridgewater, ambassador to Ghana. YESTERDAY: What is the future of the sister-city relationship?

TOMORROW: Remembering Prince's Town's Golden Age, and a photo essay on a traditional burial. in TOWN & COUNTY. To read previous stories, go to fredericksburg.com
ON THE NET >> For video and more photos, or to order photo reprints, see fredericksburg.com.

GETTING THERE

Get inoculations and malaria pills. Apply for a $50 tourist visa from the Ghana Embassy in Washington. Fly 5,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to Accra (ah-KRA), the capital of Ghana. Don't worry about the language. English is spoken everywhere in Ghana.

IN ACCRA Enjoy the confusion and energy of this city of 2 million. See capitalism at its crowded best at the Makola Market. Negotiate prices of everything. Savor keliweli, plantain grilled with spices by sidewalk vendors. See the new $112 million U.S. Embassy, but no photos are allowed. Take taxis everywhere.

IN PRINCE'S TOWN From Accra, drive west 164 miles along Ghana's gorgeous and historic coast. Turn left at the sign for Prince's Town, "the most beautiful sea shore in West Africa." Continue 11 miles on a mostly unpaved road. Four-wheel drive recommended. Stop at the beach in the center of town. Fort Gross-Friedrichsburg is at the top of the hill.

WHERE TO STAY Bare-bones rooms with cots are available in the fort for about $2.50 a night. The fort's caretaker can arrange meals, as well as other accommodations at private beach houses nearby. A new guest lodge in town may open soon.

EATING AND DRINKING Pineapples, mangoes, bananas, plantain, oranges, papaya, cassava, chicken, goat, fish, oysters, cockles and lobster are available most days in Prince's Town. Everything is fresh and local. Drink only boiled or bottled water, sodas, beer or coconut milk.

THINGS TO DO Learn about the fort's long, fascinating and terrible history. Ignore the bats when you enter the dungeon. Thousands of people were imprisoned there on their journeys of no return into slavery. Ask about local heroes John Conny, Anton Wilhelm Amo (1703-59) and Kwame Nkrumah (KWA-mi, in-KRU-ma) (1909-72).

Walk the endless beaches. Surf or swim if you dare. Take canoe rides on the Nyila (na-YEEL-a) River and the Ehunli (eh-HOON-lee) Lagoon.

Look for monkeys and crocodiles.

Hike two miles to the fishing village of Akatekyi (aka-TESH-ee). See giant dugout canoes beside houses on the beach.

Buy fresh or smoked fish or loaves of delicious bread baked in big clay ovens.

Make people happy by learning to say hello, goodbye and thank you in Nzema (EN-zah-ma).

TABOOS Eating with your left hand. Fishing on Tuesdays. Going into the lagoon on Thursdays. Entering the sacred grove beside the lagoon at any time. Harming or killing crocodiles.

BEST CONVERSATION STARTER "Do you think the U.S. will beat Ghana the next time?"

RECOMMENDED READING "Ghana: The Bradt Travel Guide" by Philip Briggs.