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Published: December 29th 2013
After another great night’s sleep, we woke up a little earlier so we could hit the road. We had big plans for the day.
First, breakfast. Rosemary, Frank, Alex, and I walked to a shop down the street for rice. While we were waiting for our food, some other guys walked up and started chatting in a local language. Alex sidled up along me and told me they were talking about me. “If I had her, I’d never work a day in my life. I bet she’s a billionaire!” This is a fairly common perception held about obrunis- everyone from America is loaded.
While we were eating, Frank told me what the men were saying as well. He said he could barely hold his tongue, he was so mad while they were talking. All that stuff drives him crazy, but I don’t really care. No harm done. People will talk.
He had ordered some rice and beans that were “not at all spicy” for me to eat. I think I got 2 bites in before I stopped. He laughed at me as the sweat poured down my neck. For the record, I was sweating because it was ridiculously
hot, not because of the food.
On the way back from getting breakfast, we ran into another one of Frank’s cousins, Jesse. When Jesse saw him, he can running to Frank and gave him a huge hug. He was very excited to see Frank but kept staring at me.
After dropping off Rosemary, Frank and I took Alex, Rita, and Jesse on a road trip. We drove to Central Region, which is like going to a different state or province. (Not a province because they don’t have any autonomy as far as government.) Before we left, Rosemary told me several times, “Please drive safely. Go and come. This is my whole family with you.” (I wasn’t driving, but she kept telling me this.) It wasn’t until we were on the road that they told me the highway we were on is one of the most dangerous in the world, and tons of people die on it each year.
There were several police stops along the road. They really have no jurisdiction, but they stop people and try to get bribes. We got pulled over, and the policewoman told Frank he was not allowed to drive because he
didn’t have a Ghanaian driver’s license. He had to get out of the car for some reason, and the children all got very excited. They were looking and watching, so curious about what was going on. The man behind us gave the cop 5 cedis (about $2.50- which is a ton of money here), and they about lost their minds. “Auntie! A bribe! Did you see that? Five cedis! Wow!” I was enjoying watching them enjoy it all. Finally we hit the road again.
Along the road, there were signs that said, “Overspeeding kills. More than 12 people died here.” 32 people. 70 people. It added up in a hurry. Apparently people drive too fast and don’t take curves well and run people off the road. There was also one that said, “Entering 13 curves.”
We passed through several small villages and some towns. At each of these, there were little shops along the way and hawkers selling all sorts of things. We bought ice cream bars of sorts, water, fried octopus (which I tried), and a coconut. I have never had fresh coconut. I drank some of the coconut milk/water/juice and had a piece of the meat.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I didn’t love it. The octopus was chewy and tasted and smelled like fish. It was deep fried, which made it a little more awkward. The kids loved it though.
One of the small townships we passed through wasn’t a regular one. It was a refugee camp. A place Liberian refugees have lived for 15+ years, rebuilding their lives. It’s not a camp with tents and whatnot anymore, but a normal township. It looked just like the other ones. It was so interesting to see life on this side for a refugee, since I work with them at home.
We went to Kakum National Park, which is a rainforest. (You should Google it.) The Canadians or someone built a suspended bridge so you can walk on top of the rainforest. It’s amazing. By the time we got there, the kids weren’t sure they wanted to go. It was a steep walk up the hill after a guide told us the drill of what to do and what not to do. He told us specifically not to shake the bridges. Then he said, “If someone is shaking it, it is probably
Rita Fetches Water
Water comes in plastic bags as well as bottles!
a Ghanaian.” I was thinking, “It’s probably the one I am with!”
Frank was busy teasing the kids and showing them all the places people fell off and died. (No one has every fallen.) Therefore, I had to be the mature one and make sure they were okay.
An interesting thing happened: While the walk was enjoyable, it was more fun seeing it through their eyes. Their excitement and fear and whatnot. I wasn’t experiencing it for me, but through them. Frank said something similar later- that it was more fun watching them than doing the bridges, especially since he has been there before.
There are seven bridges linked by platforms. At each platform, we switched who went first. After a while, we made each of the children go first. After that, they weren’t nearly as scared! It was ridiculously hot and extra humid, but very fun. We were all tired and hungry. I gave Alex my small camera in the morning, and I told him they all could take turns using it. That way we get pictures from their perspective too. Some of them are kinda fun!
While we were up there, Frank laughed at
"It's not spicy"
Frank told me his food was not at all spicy.
them a little, and definitely shook the bridges to scare them. He also said things like: See that ladder on the ground? Someone fell and they had to use that ladder to get them out of the tree. Oh my. On the walk back, he also told the kids that the snakes would get them if they didn’t run fast.
We started heading back on the dangerous road. First, we stopped at a café that has crocodiles to look at. Again, it was so fun seeing the kids see crocodiles for the first time! We didn’t stay long because they were charging us for things that were supposed to be free.
The next stop was Adisadel College. That is where Frank went to high school. He drove us around and told us stories. It was fun seeing his old stomping grounds.
We tried to go to Cape Coast Castle, the first point of contact for the British with the locals, but it closed about an hour before we got there. It would have been fun, because the kids haven’t ever been there either. There are a lot of places they haven’t been and things in their country
"Yes it is."
He was wrong. Plus it was hot!
they haven’t seen.
On the way home, all the kids crashed. As in, they went to sleep. They didn’t crash into anything. I slept for a bit too. We picked up dinner along the road. Sausages and chicken gizzard. Yes, I ate some. Yes, it was too spicy for me.
At home, Frank had to go meet someone and deliver some of the things we brought from friends in the States. I played Skip-Bo with the kids. They taught me how to say, “It’s your turn!” because Alex kept getting distracted. Rita beat us the first game, I won the second game because I stopped helping her, and Rita won again the third game.
There were lots of lotto stands along the way, which I asked about. He said it’s small, usually just a few hundred cedis. He said if it was as big as the US lotto, “it would be zillions of cedis. Unimaginable money.” We all had a good laugh.
I took about 500 photos today, plus what the kids took…
It’s really fun seeing Frank in his home. In his place. Where everyone looks and speaks like him. He has two very
Then he laughed and made fun of me!
distinct parts of him- the Ghanaian and the American- and I am so glad I am getting to see him in this part as well. For those of you wondering, we have spent 24 hours a day together for 5 straight days. Yes, we still like each other. It’s been interesting, but we do still like each other.
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