Crocodiles and Computers

        Today’s 2 Cs: crocodiles and computers. As usual, these are padded by lots of driving/naps and spending way too much time eating at slow food restaurants, but the 2 main events make the day more than normal.
        First are the crocodiles. We drive one nap to Paga, a town on the border of Burkina Faso. In an extremely touristy move, we walk across the border, getting our passports stamped and a Burkinian (?) beer in the process. Weirdly enough, we see drastically fewer people carrying anything on their heads after crossing the border...
        About the leftover dinosaurs. We visit one pond then leave after a minute and a dispute with the crocodile baiters about prices. This is long enough for me to see something that looked just like the thing I saw in the water from my kayak in Costa Rica move, submerge, and come further out of the water to reveal what is definitely one large lizard with many big teeth. At the next pond, we watch a local kid wade into the water with a bird just alive enough to still tweet. He throws this bait towards a crocodile, it slowly swims for it, he picks it up, repeats until the ~5-foot croc is fully out of the water. He looks at us as we take his picture; we eventually even pat his back and lift up his tail. It’s a little scary to have a crocodile between your legs, but I just keep telling myself that it’s not like it’s going to magically jump up into the air, spin around, and swallow me whole. As everybody plays with the big lizard, it takes a few but menacing steps toward us and gets the dead bird snack. We soon head out, everyone with all limbs intact.
        A little more tourism is stopping at what was a slave trader’s camp and is now a field with a pile of notable rocks indentations that served as natural bowls for eating, a stack from which a lookout alerted the traders to attacking tribes, a rock played with smaller rocks as drumsticks to make different sounds in different places, and “punishment rock,” where there’s a deep groove from the chain of the tortured rubbing against the rock. A sad but necessary monument to a hideous practice. Makes one marvel at how unfair some are still treated, with so many in slavery to poverty within miles of this sight.
        By computers, I mean putting finishing touches on yesterday’s install and user training. The first is a matter of minutes, but training’s an ambiguous mess that could extend for any length of time. Props to Ricardo for his system of training: A teaches a skill and B is evaluated on his ability by whether he can teach C to complete the skill without any intervention. With any luck, this chaotic methodology will result in dispersed knowledge and a lab full of teachers. As for me, I try to teach with a little more success today, showing a user with rudimentary word processing skills how to insert a digital photo into a document and giving a tour of the inside of a computer. Not quite as exciting as the crocodiles, but a little more beneficial to Ghana than us playing with a reptile…
        Rest of the day’s a drive back to Tamale. As we await hotel rooms after one of the better dinners I’ve had here, some of us have the great idea of going for a walk. Of course, none of us bother telling anybody we’re leaving and the walk takes longer than we’d expected. Best of all, there’s apparently a curfew just in Tamale that we didn’t know about. No biggie, though, with props to Ricardo and our hosts here for not spazzing when we finally return from the half-hour-plus jaunt. With no worries and a decent little hotel with the most courteous service I can imagine, it’s a night.

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