The Ramblings of Joy Laking

Nova Scotia Artist, Joy Laking, posts ramblings while she's travelling and painting in South America.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 7 , 2017 Frankfurt, Germany

Enroute to Rome! Stay tuned for word pictures and paintings of Italy. Last August I got up at 4 am when I was staying in River John. Off I drove in my Pajamas to sKnee River John in the dark. This is the resulting unsuccessful watercolour that I did. But now this has sparked an idea for another Starry Night painting. I finished the underpainting the night before we left so it will be good and dry when we return!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 22, 2017

Jim and I are so lucky to be going off again on another adventure next week. I have my paper and paints all ready and a journal packed. Stay tuned to see the first of the paintings and the word pictures next week! Where are we going? We land in Rome and depart from Paris two months later. Both of these are favourite cities of mine and it will be great to see them again with Jim. In between it will be all new territory for the both of us.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Home Thunder rolls in the distance. The first drops of rain fall. In the haze, the sky meets the sea. Large sandstone cliffs frame the harbor. The tide is low. The tiny cerulean pools swell And the flats gradually disappear. In a few hours, the boats at the wharf Will float again. Fight in front of me, On a long stony peninsula, The light house just sits and waits; No light, no foghorn But it is at the ready. I am home. Back where I drink two cups of coffee With longtime artist friends. Back where Burt gives me flowers When I am treating myself to ice cream. Back where Joan at the Harbourview Calls me by name when serving my dessert An African favourite; fries with ketchup. I am home; where I am loved and cherished I am home where I love and cherish.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

February 20, 2016, Bolgatanga

February 20, 2016. This afternoon at Bolgatanga Market, Ghana Saturdays, The everyday Bulga market
Bulges at the seams. 
Pools of shade, 
Cast from the market umbrellas,
Shelter the sellers,
But not the loan Canadian
Or all the African shoppers. 
Motor cycles and huge lories Attempt to navigate
Our crowded path. Pulled or pushed wagons,
Young men struggling to carry, Enormous sacks of grain, And the ever present,
Bowls balanced on heads.
Attempt to move the other way. 
In the shady patches,
Turbaned women, 
In jarring colourful outfits 
And aprons,
Sell onions, tomatoes, greens,
Charcoal, tyvek bags, Gourd bowls and tooth paste.
 The animals; Goats, cows, and pigs
Wander everywhere. The stench of dried telapia,
A small black flattened fish, Turns my obruni stomach. Some women spend the day, 
Bent at the waist,
Sifting grain, rice, corn and millet. 
Men operate a mechanized mill 
That churns and grinds. 
Babies cry. They are slid from backs To fronts and nursed. Hawkers cajole me To purchase yams.
Often I am flashed A glorious white smile, That lights up the dark face.
 The occasional old women Dances in front of me,
Blocking my way and demanding money.
 Experiencing the market, Is a huge blessing or
An enormous challenge. February 20, 2016, Bolgatanga Market, Ghana Saturdays, The everyday Bulga market Bulges at the seams. Pools of shade, Cast from the market umbrellas, Shelter the sellers, But not the loan Canadian Or all the African Shoppers. Motor cycles and huge lories Attempt to navigate Our crowded path. Pulled and pushed wagons, Young men struggling to carry Enormous sacks of grain, And the ever present Bowls balanced on heads Attempt to move the other way. In the sghady patches, Turaned women, In jarring colourful outfits And aprons, Sell onions tomatoes,greens, Charcoal, tyvek bags, Gourd bowls and tooth paste. The animals: Goats, cos and pigs, Wander everywhere. The stench of dried telapia, (A small black flattened fish), Turns my obruni stomach. Some women spend the day Bent at the waist, Sifting grain, rice, corn and millet. Men operate a mechanized mill That churns and grinds. Babies cry. They are slid from backs To fronts and nursed. Hawkers cajole me To purchse yams. Often I am flashed A glorious white smile, That lights up the dark face. The occasional old women Dances in front of me, Blocking my way And demanding money. Experiencing the market, Is a huge blessing or An enormous challenge

February 15, 2016, Mole National Park, Ghana

February 15, 2016. Mole National Park, Ghana Even the air seems to be holding it's breath.
 We feel soaked in the stillness. 
A low sun struggles to poke through
 The hazy hot sky.
 In the distance; from lighter to darker,
 Are bands of gray and brown foliage.
 The occasional tree stands over the rest, 
Not only taller, 
These sentinels are green.
 In the foreground; brown flatlands
 And two large water areas
 edged in bush. Gradually, we hear whistles and coos.
 Very tiny green birds play
 On the sides of tree trunks. 
Small rusty coloured birds 
Pop in and out of tree holes. 
A colourful red throated bird might be a parrot. 
Fly catchers do figure-eights. 
Herons and egrets swoop over the water. 
A rustle of foliage
Is caused by playing monkeys.
 Some groups of monkeys have small dark faces,
 Some carry black babies on their bellies and seem to wear
 Red jackets and fuzzy red toupees. 
Small spotted African deer and Guinean fowl
 Are just dots on the brown flatlands.
 A crocodile is a long dark shape
 Gliding through the water. 
Suddenly, we are surprised to find a deer 
Standing right beside us.
 Then a large baboon sneaks up 
And steals someone's sandwich.
We are not only watching But being watched. The arid heat is just as intense At 6 AM the next morning. Now five black elephants Play and bath in the pond. Only when the 7 AM walking tour Gets too close, 
Do they give up their frolicking,
 And plod in a line up the bank and into the bush. 
On their way, they scoop up dirt
 And shower it on themselves. Their glistening black bodies turn brown.
Once the elephants have disappeared, 
We again delight in the birds
 The African chipmunks, the tiny lizards,
 The monkeys and the deer. One distant black dot seems larger and closer 
To the ground than a deer; 
A pointed snout on a huge head,
 Two small tusks, 
Big eyes and prominent whiskers. 
We realize that we are seeing 
Our first wart hog in the wild.
Later as we sit reading and writing, 
Both monkeys and warthogs surprise and delight us
 When they appear within a few feet of us. In the afternoon, we join a safari tour. 
As I climb up into the old decrepit landrover,
 I remember our landrover, "Cranberry; 
Landrovers have aluminum bodies that never rust. Unfortunately everything else on them 
Often refuses to latch or work,
 This landrover is no exception. 
As we bump and grind over a rocky trail, 
Our armed guide answers questions: 
All of the deer we have seen
 Are really one of the seven species 
 Of antelope that live in Mole Park. 
Mole Park is 4500 square kilometres
 And was started in 1971. 
There are four species of monkeys.

Our African chipmunk is really an African squirrel.
 Mongoose are smaller than I imagined. 
So are the crocodiles.
 Although there are lions and other large cats in the park,
 It is very unlikely that we will see one.
 The same goes for all the poisonous snakes.
 The beautiful bright green bird,
 That I keep photographing,
 Is a red throated bee eater. Eventually, we spy one lone elephant. We climb down from our land rover And gingerly traverse the hundreds of rough elephant footprints From the rainy season that are now cement hard. When I think we are about 25 meters from our elephant, Our guide advises us to never get closer than 50 meters. I take dozens of photos of our elephant hidden in the bush; An ear, a trunk, a tail, a tusk. Suddenly our elephant steps out of the bushes. His ears flap back and forth. His truck swings in front tasting the air. We lock eyes. I make sure I get one great photo, Before I leave him be.

February 13. 2016 Tomale in the north of Ghana

February 13, 2016 Tomale in the north of Ghana A bedlam of hawkers, 
All of their shops on their heads,
 Lean into tro tro windows;
 Hoping to catch an eye, 
Hoping to make a sale.
 Narrow blue styrafoam coolers Hold packaged cold goods.
 Wooden boxes with glass sides,
 Hold delicious sweet deep-fried donut balls 
And their look a likes; 
Dry tasteless cake balls.
 Huge bowls hold
 Apples, grapes, chewing gum, shoelaces
 Or the very essential bags of drinking water. 
Large flat aluminum platters 
Display eggs, onions or pot scrubbers. 
Large stacks of colourful fabric
 Are carried directly on the tops of heads. The noise of the tro tro station is a cacophony. 
Loud speakers proselytize or advertise.
 At one point, the tro tro loaders,
 Try to jam a fourth person in my row. 
Fortunately, we can't be squished enough.
 Jim has a seat in the back.
 They did manage to squeeze four in his row. 
Behind him, the back hatch is tied against the luggage 
To stop it from spilling out.
 The tro tro is finally declared full, 
And the side door is slid shut. All of the luggage fellows
 And all available men with strong backs
 Struggle to push our overloaded tro tro up hill. 
When they finally succeed in moving us 
Forward about 5 metres, 
Our driver rolls us in reverse, 
Pops the clutch and starts the engine.
 We are off. The young woman on my left reads her bible. 
The muslin man on my right listens 
 To something on headphones.
 I too pull out my head phones, 
And tune into BBC world book club
 To block out the loud incessant rap music
 Blaring from the sound system in the tro tro. We join the traffic;
 Open trucks crammed with people
 Going to work in the bush,
 Motor cycles carrying men with rifles And several dogs. 
Burnt out vehicles litter the roadside. 
It would appear that wherever they breakdown or crash
 They are abandoned.
 Bit by bit,
 They are relieved of anything saleable. The land is parched, brown and lifeless.
 Most of the trees are leafless.
 Occasionally, large African trees
Loom over everything, 
And demand to be admired. 
Sometimes black bee hives cling to tree trunks 
Or tree branches support numerous, 
Little basket-like nests 
Woven by the weaver birds. On the road sides, we also see
 Hugh piles of bagged charcoal
 Or piles of twisted tree branches, 
Ready to be made into charcoal.
 Whenever we are near a village, 
Bits of black plastic garbage bag litter the ground.
 Tiny goats and skinny brahma cattle 
Eek out a living on what greenery they can find
 And the garbage. The villages in northern Ghana,
 Have round buildings; 
Unpainted adobe with thatched roofs. 
Each dwelling has more than one round hut; 
One for sleeping, one for animals, one for storage. 
Cooking is done outside in a black iron pot 
 Set on three stones over an open fire. 
A waist high bamboo screen
 Provides some privacy for bathing. 
In only one village did we see outhouses, Probably gifts from an NGO.
 The women and kids are usually gathered 
Around the community well.
 Everyone takes their turn pumping 
 The long heavy iron handle up and down. 
A cold shop, usually with no cold facility, 
Is a shaded table where meat is 
Chopped up with a clever and sold.
 Chickens are sold alive,
 And are carried in a large woven basket
 That is ironically egg shaped. 
Elaborate displays of yams and occasionally cabbage 
Are the available produce in this area.
 Gone are the pristine colourful roadside arrangements of
 Tomatoes, pears and pineapples
 That we saw in Southern Ghana. Sometimes old men play a game of draughts 
Or nap on benches in the shade. 
Most villages have a school,
 Always rectangular, with a tin roof 
And with a flag pole.
 Schools are painted a dull yellow and red. 
And school uniforms are often yellow shirts
 And dark shorts or skirts. The mosques are also painted, But in bright glorious yellows, blues, greens and pinks. Their trim is white and elaborate. A metal star and moon graces the minarets. The mosques appear to be loved. Though much of the village Appears brown and destitute, The mosques radiate hope.

February 9, Abetemin, Ghana

February 9, Abetemin, Ghana One day a week the villagers of Abetemin volunteer to help work on the schools! A few years ago they finished a junior high school so the villages children now are in school three years longer. Here the villagers are helping finish the new primary 1 and 2 school. It is already being used. 79 students and one teacher who must be a saint! 
Jim and I met with the village chief when we arrived in the village and before we left. I gave his mother, also a special person, one of Danica's necklaces. There can be no photos of the chief unless he is dressed in his royal attire.
And here is one short word picture
 Word picture A half dozen,
 Tiny black children with lively eyes 
And large white grins,
 Play, wrestle, shout and shove
 For an hour 
In the dirt around my feet. 
Their heads are all shaved short. 
But I can tell the girls from the boys 
By their clothing;
 Little boxy dresses, or shorts.
 They call me " obruni".
 And beg for my empty water bottles;
 Toys to drum on, throw and kick. 
One small girl, 
maybe a year and a half old,
 Who has never before
 Walked on a plank over a ditch 
Manages this feat, 
No longer will she be carried on someone's back,
 She is now one of the gang. 
Maybe the gang has three year old in charge 
But maybe not.

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