Tuesday, 10 June 2014

I will make you something beautiful, and then they’ll be dead...

This week I find myself once again in Cape Coast. We made a team decision last week when we left, that we didn't have enough time to fully enjoy all that is this beautiful area of the country. It’s Friday night, and we have a fully packed day ahead of us tomorrow. Tonight, however, I feel tired. But, I just had the most amazing bowl of spaghetti I have ever eaten, so life is actually pretty great! Seriously… that spaghetti was great. It was so full of garlic. I may never leave this resort.

The past week has been slightly uneventful. Our return from Cape Coast last week was a little stressful, as we took a different type of bus from Cape Coast to Accra, and it took double the time, meaning we almost missed the last trotro to Koforidua. I’d like to think I handled it well, being as back home Emily would have likely had a complete meltdown the second I found out that there was a chance we wouldn't be able to get back home that evening. Instead, I just let things happen, and luckily, it all worked out. But, it was late when we returned.

Thankfully, Monday started with a fresh cup of coffee, from one of the packets of instant I had been given with my breakfast the day before (I know, I know, individual packaging is awful!). I think this is the time to inform you all that the cup I had on the Sunday was the first I had consumed in nearly three weeks. Instant or not, it was pretty amazing, and I happily drank it! Boy, do I ever miss Java Blend’s Dark Aztec (and you lovely folks reading this back home, as well…)! The thought behind saving this extra packet was so that when I felt I needed that caffeinated boost I would have one available. But, being as we got in so late, I threw that out the window and drank it with my breakfast. I put too much water in. And this was only the first moment of frustration for the day!

Look, I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining about my experience, but there are times when I’m in a meeting or working towards a particular project and something will happen, and it literally takes everything in me not to have the biggest temper tantrum ever. Monday morning, after my failed cup of coffee, I was sitting in our meeting room with my four other teammates and our program co-ordinator, waiting for our ‘mentors’ to join us, and nothing. No one shows. I get that things are different here. In fact, I actually don’t mind the “Africa way of life” as many like to point out, I think the thing that I found so frustrating was that the week previous we were 7 minutes late getting to our meeting point, and they made a big deal over it, and here, an hour past out planning meeting time there was no one. Grrr...

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent researching and preparing for a workshop, where I was scheduled to discuss budgeting and fundraising. Remember when I went back to school so I could leave the business part of my life in the past? Yeah, that hasn't happened yet! Haha! Thursday and Friday were supposed to be for our workshop in Nsawam, but when we arrived we were told that the venue had only been booked for one day, instead of two.  This of course, after we tried to convince the partner there that we could do it in one day, prior to this last minute decision. So, we learned to be flexible and go with the flow, and I have to say that under these circumstances, we did quite well. But seriously, I need to stop being the business-savy one in the groups I am a part of (not just here in Ghana – in ALL group work!). And also, that was a great bowl of spaghetti.

Because I feel like I’m being overly negative this time around, I feel now is the perfect time to say that had the workshop gone both days, we wouldn't have arrived in Cape Coast as early as we did. Things surely happen for a reason, and the need for sleep and sightseeing is most definitely it! Night for now…big day tomorrow!

Day Two/Take Two:

I try to live my life in a way now that includes doing something every day that scares me. Sometimes this is as simple as getting out of bed in the morning, other times, it’s straddling a crocodile, while patting his jelly-like belly, and attempting not to get eaten. Today was filled with lots that both scared and challenged me!

We woke early, as we had to be ready for the day no later than 7 am. Our driver from the previous day was waiting for us when we got to the top of the road. First stop – Kakum National Park, an approximately 40 minute drive away from the resort we were staying at. Our objective – walk along the canopy of the rain forest on sketchy walkways 14 feet off the ground. Now, I am not someone who would consider themselves to be afraid of heights. However, when the walkway you are encouraged to use is nothing more than rusty ladders with planks of wood that seemed like they would snap at any second, I was a little hesitant to participate. But, as of that point in the day, I had to do one thing that scared me, so off I went. There were seven walkways in all, and the views from each platform were incredible. We didn't see any animals while on our walk, but it didn't matter, the vegetation alone was breath-taking. It was so quiet and calm up there!

Next we made our way to the aforementioned crocodile pond. I actually don’t know what this place was called, only that I paid 3 cedi (a little more than a dollar Canadian) to snap some photos of a bunch of crocodiles, and then have the chance to be up close to one. This made me a little nervous, I won’t lie, but I also felt like I was in pretty good hands! I was surprised by the way it felt. I guess I was expecting something more hard and dry, not flabby and soft!

Our final stop was to the Elmina Castle – the largest of the three remaining slave castles in Ghana. The tour for this one was not as good as last week’s at the Cape Coast Castle, but the size and history within this place was far more difficult to grasp than the other. We learned that the Elmina had approximately 3 million slaves enter the castle, but only 1 million left by way of slave ship. The remainder died within the walls of that castle. It was pretty intense, and the same sentiments I found myself with last week returned this time around. How was this a thing that happened? And, how did it go on for so long? I just can’t get my head wrapped around this!

The highlight of the day for me, however, was none of these activities (although all three were pretty awesome!). The best part of my day happened as I explored the market near our resort, when all of a sudden, the sky turned dark. The clouds pretty much melted into liquid form, and I, soaked, walked slowly back to my room. I felt like I was five. It was amazing. I think I giggled creepily throughout the entire walk. When I returned, I sat on the porch of our room and watched the rain fall and the waves crash, all while taking in the sounds of the loudest thunderstorm I have ever heard! If anyone wondered what true happiness was, this is it.

The rest of the evening was pretty dark. Seriously, the power went out, so it was really dark. It was bedtime anyway… at 6:45 pm.

Day three:

We returned safely to Koforidua. It felt like forever since I had last been there. I was greeted at the door by our home stay Mama, who gave me a big hug. It’s good to be home. (…even if I did get my first sunburn after nearly a month. Who wins the bet?)

PS: Sorry…I know this one is long and rant-y, but I thought I should mention that there has been a lot of flooding taking place, particularly outside of Accra, and on the way to Cape Coast. The drive to and from was at times hard to witness, since it was evident that the rains from the last few days have devastated some areas. In one village there were houses and a car submerged. I am thankful to be in an area that isn't prone to this sort of thing, both here in Ghana, and back home in Canada. Be safe, my friends!

Oh, and also, I peed in a hole this week... so... I can pretty much do anything!

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