Ghana at last!!!

When I imagined my trip to Ghana- I was only able to picture the airplane that would take me there. I did not know what to expect- what the people would be like, what the buildings would like like, or how anything else may work. So, for the whole year of my planning, the year of saving money, and the year of hard work spent before getting here- I saw nothing but that airplane. Needless to say, I was fearless- the airplane I pictured was beautiful, and problem free. What could possibly go wrong? There was nothing that was going to happen on that airplane that I could not handle. Fearless.

It wasn’t until 15 minutes before that beautiful plane landed in Ghana, that I started to think about what I getting myself in to. Then the uneasiness set in- it had just then occurred to me that I knew shockingly little about what my life would be for the next 4 1/2 months- and what I was supposed to do after I left that airplane. I had no doubt that I had done the right thing by going to Ghana- but I was definitely no longer fearless.

Luckily, we have friends in Ghana. That night, the whole family came to great me at the airport. Jayden, a five year old, and acting very shy when he first saw me, told me I was “cute as a button”. He then gave me a night tour of the city- showing me “Game” his favorite department store at the mall, a factory where they make “Obama Biscuits “, and a slaughter house (although he explained it as a place where the cows go). There were women, children, and disabled people walking in the streets- selling everything from fruit to soccer balls to bags of water. I was definitely in a whole new world.

After spending the night at their house, and taking the only warm shower I will have for the next 4 months, we left early to the International Student Hostel so I could move into my room. Though all I pictured of my trip thus far was that plane- my room was definitely better than what I could have expected. Granted it is a little broken down- but I have everything I need to adapt. They have flushing toilets, a working shower (although there is no warm water), and internet (thank goodness). Even better- I got my own room! I have a bed surrounded by a mosquito net, a desk, a chair I can sit in, a bookshelf, a side table, and a wardrobe. What more could I need? My fearlessness was starting to come back.

At orientation, our professor talked to us about what it means to live in a communal society. The difference is fascinating. He started by describing a shocking story. One day, he was at a market, and by then he had been pick pocketed 4 times without realizing it, so he was always watching his wallet. Then a group of men surrounded him very closely, as if they were shuffling by, and he felt someone take his wallet. He shouted “That man took my wallet!” In a moment of no hesitation, the surrounding people chased after the thief, and got my professors wallet back to him. After reading case studies of American people being victimized while in a crowd of people, I am almost certain that had this same situation happened in America, the wallet would be long gone.

The next day we went on an Accra city tour. For those of you who do not know, Accra is the capital city of Ghana. It is divided into 4 parts- the elite, industrial, middle class, and the slums. Interestingly, officially, the population of Ghana is only 2.5 million- however the actual population is much above that. The census was so inaccurate that it is estimated there are up to 4 million people living in Accra. Even more interestingly, many people that live in the slums actually have the money to move out. They choose to stay in the slums because of tradition there families lived there before them, and they have adapted to living with 3-4 families in the same room. Looking around, the homes were not much more than cement walls with a tin roof, but the people were all wearing designer clothing.

Next we went to a market. If anything of this trip was out of my comfort zone, the market was it. On the bus, the tour guide said this is a place where people will come up to you, take you by the hand and lead you to their stalls. I have never had so many people surround me at once. Masks for 5 cedi, drums for 10, cloth for 20, jewelry for everyone. Overwhelming may be an understatement. Overall, I made some good purchases I got some cloth which is currently decorating my room and some jewelry for myself. On the way out, a man (who I must say was not unattractive) took me by the hand, told me I had a beautiful smile, and that I should be his princess. I do realize he was trying to sell me yet another mask- but a princess? This whole new world may not be such a bad thing. Don’t worry mom- I will not come home married or pregnant. ; )

More soon!!!