Published: May 12th 2009May 12th 2009
I was out at a restaurant the other night and a man sat down to chat with us. Later into our conversation, he asked us all to go around and name the best and worst experiences each of us has had in Ghana. For the life of me, I could not think of a single thing about my time here that I will remember as being bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been frustrated, filthy, exhausted and ready to freak out more times than I can possibly count, but in the grand scheme of things, was it actually that big of a deal if we traveled an hour and never succeeded in finding what we were looking for, or was it really the end of the world when Ghanaian “technology” failed me yet again and erased my entire blog for the 3rd time?
Well, not really. All I had to do to redeem any such similar situation was to sit back for a minute and remember where I was.
I feel like it’s so impossible to be mad for very long here when all you have to do is look around you. The simple joy of a man and his baby daughter dancing down the street together, or the way the kebab guy dances circles around his grill to the Ghanaian songs heard blaring on every street corner are things that have become pretty priceless to me.
So, the fact that I have to leave this place tomorrow is a hard thing for me to grasp.
I’m not sure if I can even begin to explain the things that Ghana has given me, but I guess it’s well worth a shot.
I never would have thought it possible for four months of my life to come and go so quickly, yet, I feel like I’ve learned more here, in these last months, than I thought possible too.
I didn’t know it was possible to fall in love with a place so quickly, but that I did as well.
Ghana has taught me to be tough, to be much, much less picky, to give, to love, and above all else, to appreciate. I’ve come to appreciate the little things, because sometimes that’s all you’ve got.
I can’t even count how many times in the last four months people have asked me why I chose to come to Ghana. You know, I didn’t know exactly why beyond that it was just what I wanted when I came here, and leaving, I still don’t really know. I guess a question like that doesn’t really have to be answered. Maybe the stories I’ve acquired and the photos I’ve taken will be enough of an explanation.
I’ll miss everything about this place - from the ever-present potential of falling in a disgustingly dirty gutter, to the beautiful faces of each of the children at the orphanage.
I’ll miss living out of a backpack on the weekends and all of the packing and unpacking that requires. As every Friday rolled around, I was stir crazy and would relish the thought of getting out of the city… yet, by the time the weekend would draw to a close, without fail, I would begin to crave the excitement of the city again. I feel like my lifestyle in the last four months was a perfect balance for me.
I’ll miss coming out of my room and seeing the view that reminds me every morning that I’m in Africa.
I’ll miss the way Ghanaians say “Ghana” - quietly, but with such affection.
I’ll miss the sound of “pure water” and “yes, plantain” being yelled into the windows during every tro tro ride, and I’ll miss drinking everything out of sachets.
I’ll miss the passion for football everywhere I turn and the eruption of cheers that are guaranteed to be heard every time a game is on TV.
I’ll miss the amazing cheeseburgers sold outside of Tantra at 3 in the morning and the live music on Thursday nights at Bywels.
I’ll miss my USAC girls, and I’ll never forget the ways in which every single one of them has changed my life.
I’ll never forget the pure excitement of spotting wild elephants, nor will I forget the sheer heartbreak of absolute poverty.
I’ll never forget the raw suffering I’ve seen in hospitals, or the glimmer of hope for something better in so many pairs of eyes.
I’ll never forget how many stars I saw in Ada Foah (or the amazing amount of sand in my bed), nor will I forget how many times I sat on beaches up and down the Ghanaian coastline and listened to the sound of drums at night. I’ll never forget the countless number of bug bites I acquired in Benin, or a single motorbike ride I didn’t think I would live to see the end of.
I’ll never forget the sound of “Obruni, where you going?” or “Obruni, what you want?” yet, I won’t forget how helpful Ghanaians have proven themselves to be either.
I’ll never forget the thousands upon thousands of beautiful people I’ve seen, nor will I forget a single child’s face I’ve looked into.
I’ll never forget what Ghana has taught me about the spirit of humanity, or any of the amazing people I’ve met along this journey.
But maybe most of all, I’ll never forget the ways in which this place has shaped me into something better.
Either that, or the number of egg sandwiches I’ve eaten… I bet the count is darn near a thousand.
In Ghana I’ve learned what it means to be independent, but at the same time, nothing in Ghana is private, so I’ve also truly learned what it means to share.
I feel like from here, I’ll be able to adapt to living anywhere I end up. Heck, I’ve traveled West Africa armed with just a guidebook and a few shreds of luck here and there. Europe? No problem.
In thinking about what the man at the restaurant said, I guess the most trouble I’ve had here lies in the schooling. It’s kind of ironic, seeing as how that’s essentially what brought me here… But then again, is it? I’m pretty certain I would have ended up here eventually - almost as certain as I am that, one day, I will be back.
I took my last final exam yesterday and it was the most horrible test I’ve ever taken in my life - 60 short answers and one essay to questions that most of the time didn’t even ask anything. But, in light of them being terrible, again I am made to appreciate.
My geography final was 3 essays to common sense questions based on a chapter taken from a book written in 1967. Yes, I said geography... I’m guessing just a few things have changed since then.
The rainy season here at the end sure did cramp my style a bit. We took our last trip to Butre beach this week and it rained close to the entire time. I left a day early to come back and study for my exams. We set off in the rain, got soaked, loaded into a tro tro with 20 other soggy people, windows closed, flies everywhere and slid down the muddy roads to get home. When we got back to Accra, we put 5 people in a taxi, got pulled over, got taken to the police station and eventually got home.
I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Come on, my time in Ghana wouldn’t have been complete had I not been taken to the police station at least once, right? Haha
We didn’t have a miserable time at the beach either. We ate a lot, relaxed a little, and serenaded each other with a cracked, rusty cowbell and a fork.
I’ll miss you. It’s so hard to say goodbye, but I suppose it’s time to move on to the next chapter in my life. Moving on is by no means easy, but it’s made easier in believing that I’ll be back.
I have to believe that I’ll be back.
Meanwhile, I’m missing you all.