I’ve spent a little less than twenty-four hours and Ghana and I’m not really sure how I’m feeling. Hot, obviously. But other than that, I’m just overwhelmed and confused. Sensory overload, I guess. Ghana is everything that I expected to be, but at the same time it’s not. Does that help to explain the confusion?
After I got off the plane and got my luggage (which took over an hour), I was met by Kofi, who works at ProWorld Ghana, and Abby, a fellow volunteer. Abby is also a tall, twenty year old redhead and is spending her entire school year in Ghana. She’s really nice and I’m happy to have someone to share this new experience with. We then went to a hotel and went to bed after spending a while talking.
The next day, we were fed breakfast (an onion, tomato, and sausage omelet for those wondering) and got in a taxi to go to this conference. The conference was supposed to be about celebrating the work of Ghanaian and International NGOs. We found out about the conference from an expat called Mama T who volunteers in health initiatives. The conference was kind of a bust. It consisted of about three groups and some kids playing football (Soccer). One interesting NGO supports itself by hand sewing soccer balls. It seemed to be very hard on the hands.
After spending about forty-five minutes at the conference, we started our drive to Cape Coast, which is about three hours away. Ghana is beautiful. It has lush palm trees that contrast with the rich red dust that seems to coat everything and everyone. The people wear an eclectic mix of traditional and western clothing. Yes, they do stare at Abby and I. I don’t mind though. I’m as curious about them as they are about me.
You can buy anything in Ghana, or it seems that way. Roadside sellers come up to cars and peddle their goods through the open windows. Women pass with baskets of oranges or peanuts on their heads, while their male counterparts offer PlayStation games. It’s strange and highly convenient. Kofi bought us fried plantains and Fan Milk, strawberry froyo in a rectangular package. He laughed at us when we couldn’t figure out how to open it. The trick is, folks, to tear the corner with your teeth and suck it out of the package, sort of like GoGurt.
Abby and I had an interesting experience with public bathrooms. We were directed to this room with three toilet-esque devices and no toilet paper. The best way to describe them is a female urinal. Luckily Abby had some Kleenex and we took turns guarding the door. Note to self: Always carry tissue and hand sanitizer.
Eventually, we made it to the ProWorld Bunkhouse, where I’m writing this post. A few of the other participants stopped by to meet us. It was really reassuring to meets some people who have been here a while. They all warned us that the first week would just plain suck. Abby and I have the rest of the night to relax and start orientation tomorrow.
Everything about this experience feels surreal. As Mama T says, “It always feels surreal until you get diarrhea.”
Hopefully I’ll have some pictures to add the next time I post. Until then, my friends