We arrived in Ghana early in the morning and left on a long bus ride first thing in the morning.. but even at 9am the equatorial heat and humidity wringed the sweat out of bodies. This would be a recurring theme, but Ghana and it’s awesome people more than made up for any minor discomfort we experienced…
Our first visit was the Nzulezu water village… for years and years, the villagers have maintained a nearly-isolated village that’s an hour+ canoe paddle from the nearest road. A beautiful spot, they carry everything in and out, except the electricity that’s carried on a wire from the nearest town. Filled with children who were excited to see us, the village gave our kids a look at a radically different way of life.
Kakum National Park and Coconut Grove
A Semester-at-Sea planned-expedition took up the first three days of our visit. This meant we were travelling on a bus with ~40 students, profs and other “Lifelong learners”. Usually this means the trip is highly planned.. but in Ghana a routine police stop (!) turned into an impromptu village visit where our family and others met local kids, handed out toothbrushes, and delighted in the un-scripted joy of village kids meeting people from halfway around the world.
You must keep in mind — Ghana is a TROPICAL country. It goes beyond the typical African stereotype of wild-animals, grasslands and deserts … and the canopy walk high in the dense, deep-green trees of the rainforest gave us one more unique view of how diverse Africa really is. In one of these photos you can LITERALLY see the moist, steaming air dripping from Alexanders nose and cheeks.
Following the rainforest, you’ll understand how happy we were when we were dropped at our hotel with enough time for golf (with crocs!), volleyball on the beach (with the welcoming locals!), and just cooling down in the pool.
With our “organized tour” complete, we were on our own. The ship had moved to a port near the capital city of Accra and we took a shuttle from the industrial port into town. The roads here are very good (especially the George W. Bush highway… yes, seriously!) and the people are very friendly – but these don’t compensate for the sensory-overload which is a dense, hot African city filled with people looking to earn a buck through all manner of commerce.
Being alone in an unknown and intense environment was just the kind of taxing stretch we’ve valued for our kids—and we got it in spades. We bought plastic-wrapped water… and only after the twins had drank it did Kristina realize that maybe the brand-name wasn’t one of the “known safe” ones. We bought bread-rolls and peanuts on the street, and this proved an acceptable substitute for “lunch” when no restaurant or café could be found. We found the city exciting, fun, interesting – and the people repeatedly said hello and engaged us in friendly conversation. This is why you travel. 🙂
Home visit and dinner!
That evening we went on a home-visit as part of an organized group by Semester-at-Sea. Our family of 5 visited a Ghanaian family—Peggy (mom), Kelly (dad), Kelly and Kayla (5 and 3-year-old kids) as well as older kids and Peggy’s sister were all part of the dinner, which Peggy and her sister had spent all day cooking.
We tried AUTHENTIC Ghanaian preparation—WAY SPICIER than the watered-down westernized meals served at the tour-group stops of the previous 3 days. We had “Sobolo”, a Ghanaian drink made with herbs that had a strong/spicy ginger taste, yummy Kelewele made from plaintains, Apaparansa (corn meal, palm fruit), Kontonmire (coco yam leaves) and Banku which you use to eat Okra soup and freshwater-snail … with your hands. And yes, we did it the Ghanaian way! Awesome!
Today is our last day in Ghana… and Kristina, Sydney and Alexander have gone off on a service project to the City of Refuge which takes care of children who’ve been trafficked… while Piper and I are nursing the runs. (Diarhhea is an “everyday topic” on this ship… so I’m gonna treat it that way here too. Browns to the Super Bowl!)
If you’re reading this before April 7, that means I was able to find an internet connection somewhere in town on Mar 31 before the ship left for our seven-day sea voyage to Morocco. We’ll see you online again then!