In part one of this post, I shared some general observations about Ghana and compared it to other places I’ve visited. Now, I’m going to share my personal memories of Ghana, the 20 things that I’ll always look back on as key to my experience there. First, a big thank you to Global Mamas staff and volunteers, without whom my experience would never have been complete. It was great meeting you and I look forward to staying in touch. Now, on to the moments (and a few things) my time in Ghana will be best remembered for:
20. Daily cold showers before bed. Water on — quick rinse — water off — soap up and shampoo — water on — quick rinse — water off: two minutes.
19. Dueling roosters outside my window at 3:30am, every morning.
18. The interesting mix of music at our local “spot” (aka bar) each night: opera, Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion, Bob Marley and, of course, Ghanaian hip life.
17. Delicious food: Fan Yogo on hot days and during tro tro rides; shrimp curry at Aylos Bay; fresh bofrut (fried dough balls) from a nice lady by the side of the road; peanut brittle, hard-boiled eggs with pepe and plantain chips from people’s heads; and the most decadent fried egg and laughing-cow-cheese sandwich on the planet.
16. The commute along the coast to and from work each day, either when enjoying a beautiful sunset or when packed in like sardines.
15. Talking about why Ghanaians love Obama with GM staffer George.
14. Talking to village women in Edumafa and getting a firsthand understanding of some major cultural differences between Americans and Ghanaians.
13. Being the only Obruni on the tro tro, and sharing a tiny Daewoo hatchback with seven other people, during my first trip to Edumafa.
12. Making and eating delicious fufu and light soup, red red, and palava with Alice and Eana during our cooking class.
11. Taking batik class with Meredith and Mary, and learning that many Ghanaians believe vacationers publish all of their photos. Who knew we all shoot for National Geographic?
10. Doing a fashion shoot with Global Mamas staff and volunteers around Cape Coast and on the beach outside the castle.
9. Photographing Global Mamas seamstresses and getting an impromptu tour of the real Cape Coast and Moree Junction with George. Thanks, Eana, for inviting me!
8. Dining each night at Eli’s Spot in Elmina: delicious salads, egg stew, fufu, palava, and great conversation.
7. Spending my last Sunday in Ghana at the Elmina Beach Resort pool, reading, relaxing and not feeling guilty that I should be doing something else… and, let’s not forget, watching a large group of Ghanaian men swim and roughhouse in their boxers. You have it on good authority, ladies, Ghanaian men are hot!
6. Starting my volunteer experience with a relaxing weekend in one of the most beautiful places I saw: Lake Volta near the Adomi Bridge.
5. Watching the sky brighten over Africa from 35,000 feet.
4. Sitting alone on a pier at Lake Volta as dawn broke, watching a local woman canoe by while singing a gospel song.
3. Dancing in a Cape Coast music store to hip life with Meredith, and getting serenaded to 4×4’s “Bigbuga” by GM staffer Kennedy.
2. Riding three-up on a motorbike driven by a teenage driver, on unpaved roads, without helmets.
1. The warm, helpful spirit of the Ghanaians I encountered during my independent travels: from the kind lady who coordinated with the tro tro mate on my behalf; to the Mankessim junction coordinator who led me from the wrong station to the right station to catch my shared taxi to Edumafa; to the bus fare taker who told me to get back on the bus after its last stop in Accra, and then took me closer to my destination, hailed a taxi for me, negotiated my fare and gave me his phone number so I could let him know I arrived safely. What amazing people!
That’s all, folks,