Thursday, September 30, 2010

The last bit about Ghana.

I woke up hungover on day 3 at 7:50. Flipping out, I called Corey in his room as he was supposed to be leaving for the water village trip with me at 7:30 on the SAS bus – my first pre-paid SAS trip. He picked up half asleep, and I was screaming into the phone. He realized that we’d missed the trip and started to groan. I ran outside in my pajamas to the buses. Apparently they had even stayed until 7:45 to wait for stragglers – we missed our bus by 5 minutes. I was devastated. The water village of Nzulezo was one of the highlights of my journey. As much bonding as I did the night before with my friends while out drinking and having late night heart to hearts, the alcohol intake was not worth missing out on such a unique opportunity and I will move forward much wiser for having felt so badly about this.
We each slept for 3 more hours and met up at lunch. We discussed our plan to spend the day visiting Market Circle, which is the central market of Takoradi. We went into the city with Eric and explored for about 4 hours. They sold ALL sorts of junk. The stationary stores notably had very few school supplies and paper, but rather carried a couple composition books, some pens and “I Love You” cards from hallmark – not at all our idea of a stationary store. There were clocks for sale, fabrics jewelry, beads, whole fish that had been grilled and stacked on wooden boards to be carried on women’s heads along with carrots, beats, peppers and many unidentifiable fruit. Anyway, they sold everything there. One woman that I chatted with gave me a carrot for free, and I accepted it and took a bite out of it because it is taken as a personal offense in Ghana to turn down a gift. It was risky though as they wash everything in visibly filthy water…
I found one group of women that was very friendly and had their kids with them, one had her child strapped to her back. I asked them if I could try to balance onions on my head, and they helped me out! They put their wooden board piled high with purple onions on my head, and told me to slowly lower my hands and take some steps. I did so, and these women could not stop laughing at me. It took a few minutes, and after giggling excessively, I tried to remove the wooden tray from my head and several onions went rolling off of the sides :( The women gave me their address (which they didn’t understand until I said “post”) and asked me to send pictures and money, and I promised I would. When I turned around to continue walking, I realized about 20 kids had gathered around me to see how uncoordinated the white girl was and everyone was laughing as I passed!
We went on and I found a thimble for my collection and returned to the ship for dinner.
At night, I really wanted to go to a jazz bar we’d been told about by our interport student, and got a bunch of people interested. As we left, some locals told us it was a prostitute spot – so we opted out of this and went to a club instead which I was bummed about. I ended up sitting at a table alone and left about an hour after we got there… clubs just aren’t my thing I guess, especially when infested with SAS students. I later heard from a friend that she and some other students not interested in clubbing did end up going anyway, and that it was the club next door that attracted prostitutes – not the jazz bar. I’m a little bummed.. and realizing that I need to stick to my own plan and not give in to what those around me want or are telling me to do.
Because I’d spent the day in Takoradi, which I was planning to do on day 4 initially, I had a free day. So, I joined an independent travel group to an orphanage. As sad as I am about missing out on the water village, the money spent on that was worth it because it was donated to the people of the village and gave me a chance to meet the children of Egyam Orphanage instetad. They had 52 kids, each is kept for 3 years until they are placed in a home. Every child LOVED the cameras we had with us and loved to play football (soccer). They had some drums in there, and the taxi drivers in Ghana have a habit of dropping you off, waiting for you to do what you were planning to do, and then drive you back to your starting point when you’re done. Our taxi driver stuck around the orphanage for the day with us and played with the kids. He ended up by the drums playing with a guy we brought with us, Matt Murphy (whose a great drummer!) and some kids. The bunch of them got into a good flow, and the taxi driver and kids burst into song simultaneously. Apparently they’d been playing a song about praising Christ in Twi, but it was AMAZING to hear everyone drumming, singing and dancing. We were all on our feet, on the tables and chairs, having a great time.
Later, we walked up to the church so they could show us their village. When we asked why we were going to the church, they told us it was to pray to God. They all loved holding our hands, which I realized on Day 1 as many Ghanaians like to guide each other and tourists by holding hands. It’s so friendly :) The kids are free to do whatever they want, as long as they stick around the orphanage for meal times and bed times. There was a funeral going on in the village, and everyone was dressed in black Ghanaian fabrics so we stuck out like sore thumbs (as if we didn’t already?). When we quickly realized this, we raced back to the orphanage with the kids to get them back in time for lunch.
All in all, it was an amazing trip and my favorite country so far. I loved Ghana. The people were so friendly and the kids took our breath away. I’m happy I ended up not going to the water village because it gives me something to leave for next time… in addition to visiting Accra (the capital) and Kumasi (where the king lives).
Desmond Tutu went up to Kumasi with a delegation of SAS students to accept the Millenium Council’s African Lifetime Achievement Award. They came back to the ship with videos and great stories. It’s a pretty special thing that we have such an amazing man on the ship. I can’t wait to end up at his table for a meal, and will write all about it WHEN it happens!
I’m realizing how great it is to travel independently, too. I’m learning more about the world in figuring out my travel plans than I would have if I’d paid for SAS trips and been herded from one bus stop to another. Being timed on orphanage visits and in villages just isn’t up my alley, and I’m happy that I’ve had the freedom I’ve had.
PS – everyone’s been playing that Shakira song around the ship– waka waka It’s Time For Africa… so great!

1 comment:

  1. Amazing, amazing! I'm reading this on your birthday so, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!