April 01, 2014

The little things are what come to mind when I think about Ghana. The walk down the hill to catch the tro-tro, stopping at Baba’s on the way for some juice or water. Buying fan ice from the little carts that people pushed around. Taking a break from the hospital to hunt for Bofrot (doughnuts) and everyone knowing me there as their local obruni.



My bofrot lady

Pool bar, so much time spent here that Nana or Betsy would automatically bring me a club when I arrived. So many Clubs were drunk (huge bottle of Ghanaian lager). Buying kebabs when dinner had been gross. Trying to take over DJ responsibilities so we could dance to Chop my money and Azonto. I miss Ghanaian music so much! One time we even found the actual pool table that we named the bar after, up some stairs with no rails so you could drop off either side, making me feel like I was in Temple Run. My 2 pet kittens that lived at the bar and I would occasionally be able to catch, until they disappeared suspiciously. Even the walk to pool bar, over walls and through gardens saying hello to everyone because they all seemed to know who we were. So many good nights there. And that time Tom and I decided to darty (daytime party) there, only to get home around 7 and realise that we were supposed to be having dinner with everyone (including the director and staff) for Yikes birthday. I was terribly drunk! That was an odd meal cheese with salt and pepper to start, plain pasta with boiled chicken and a cheesy triangle to finish.


Drinking from water sachets- so convenient and cheap, I wish we had them here. I especially miss people selling stuff through the windows of the tro-tro. From relatively normal things like snacks and drinks to coat hangers, flannels, posters and once I even saw a coffee table. I miss the tro-tros the most convenient public transport as there was always one going past so you never had to wait to long. It was my favourite when you got on 1 with a tv screen and watched the crazy African programmes with the most ridiculous premises. The best ones involved magic as the special effects were excellent.


Visiting Matilda the seamstress to get some clothes or souvenirs made. She made me the most beautiful patchwork blanket. Then there was that time when I tagged along with the microfinance volunteers who wanted to sell her things on ebay and made me model them.


Going to the mall because we couldn’t cope with Ghanaian food any longer and needed to buy pizza or chips. The food was not particularly good. We were provided with dinner every night at the house and it was either edible but plain (fried rice and pasta), absolutely horrendous (fish paste) or swimming in oil (red-red –which I actually found pretty delicious, it’s made of spicy beans and served with plantain).


Going to the hotel across the road for a breakfast of omelette, bread and milo or chicken and chips for lunch. Finding that another volunteer was already there and having great chats. I miss the other volunteers the most. I miss being surrounded by friends, always having someone to talk to and never being alone. When you live together so closely you can’t help but make great friends and I really believe I will know some of these people forever. The people I met there are some of the best people I’ve ever met. When you go somewhere like that to volunteer, you’ve got to be a certain kind of person who loves adventure but wants to make a difference in peoples lives. And it turns out that is my favourite sort of person.


Street library! I occasionally tagged along to street library and it was the most intense but fun and rewarding experience. We would go out in the van with the music blaring over the tannoy and the kids would start to run after us. When we arrived at the location for the day we’d get all the books out and read with the kids. The ages ranged from tiny tots who didn’t know any English to teenagers who needed to be told to get harder books because they were reading so well already. We stayed for a few hours but by the end noone could concentrate anymore and we ended up playing games. The girls taught me their hand clapping games and I attempted to teach them ‘A sailor went to sea’.



Street Library –I let them do my hair…


I miss the friendliness of Ghana, everyone was always happy to speak with you and if you had a problem would do anything to try and help. I don’t miss being an Obruni though. Being white gave you something of a celebrity status, kids would wave and shout Obruni at you and be so excited to see you all the time and I’d often feel like I was getting special treatment just because I was white. I know we kind of stand out there but it did seem something of an extreme reaction. So many men would tell me they loved me and want to marry me, purely because I was white, they would have literally just seen me and started talking to me and decide this. I spoke to Richard who worked at the house about it and he told me that in Ghana if you like a woman you have to tell her you love her straight away to show that you are serious. This is so at odds with my views as I just think how could you possibly love someone you don’t even know. I guess I just don’t believe in love at first sight.


My time in Ghana was genuinely the best time of my life. When I was there I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. The people I met were amazing, the country is beautiful and I feel like the Western world could learn a lot from the culture and attitudes of the people there. I wish at home people were as friendly and peaceful as they were in Ghana. It really made me feel like we should be more grateful for what we have and stop focusing on the next thing we want to buy or wasting our time not appreciating the people in our lives. Ghana, you’ve been great.



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