A recent dialogue with my Ghanaian friend, Julie, a 29 year-old woman with a farm and 6 children:
"...It pains me to think about you people from other countries. You have no farms. You have to buy EVERYTHING. Me, if I am hungry, I go to my farm and dig cassava to pound fufu or I take maize to make banku or kenkey. But for you... every small thing, you must leave your house to go and buy. If you have no job, you will die because you cannot afford food. So I see that life is very difficult for you. Even my sister in Accra...even though she has money and can buy a big bag of rice and a gallon of oil, I don't like visiting her because she does not have a farm. Me, I like food pa-pa!" (a lot)
First of all – Happy belated new years to everyone! My apologies that the greeting is arriving so late but I have been quite busy lately. As I mentioned before, my boyfriend Kevin visited me over the Christmas holidays. After a cancelled flight and many delays, the airline finally put him on a flight from New York to Ghana in first class! Although this would be a great treat and delight to the average person, the fact that he went from seats large enough to lay down and roll around to the cramped, congested and pungent heat of the Ghanaian tro-tros made the transition a little more difficult than what would otherwise have been the case.
Indeed, coming from a cold, snowy climate to the hot and dry Ghanaian Harmattan is not an easy transition, especially when tro-tros are involved. After one particularly painstakingly long and hot journey, we alighted from the vehicle and I expected Kevin to be somewhat less than cheery. Instead, he had a weird, leering twinkle in his eye as he whispered “I'm sorry to tell you this... but I just died an hour ago.” I'm still not entirely sure what he meant by that, but I guess after being tortured for so many hours, there's no where to look but up. He was quite optimistic about tro-tros after that instance.
Some highlights of the trip included having a pre-Christmas celebration at Julie's house (complete with delicious pineapple, fufu, fresh chicken and presents sent by my mom), spending Christmas day on the beach (I have to be quite honest when I say that it didn't really feel much like Christmas, and it was really only half-way through the day that I actually recalled what day it was), surfing (for the second time in Ghana and in my life – Kevin was not so strong with this activity), a visit to Wli Falls (the largest waterfall in West Africa – very lovely), dodging VERY shifty Ghanaian fireworks on a rooftop bar with Malian volunteers for New Years Eve, and watching Kevin (a pretty flexible and acrobatic guy by Canadian standards) get outdone at his own sport by 7 year-old Ghanaian children at Kokobrite Beach.
Currently, I have to admit that I am feeling just a teensy bit homesick - the first time that I have really felt this way since being in Ghana. This feeling came about, I'm sure, after Kevin left, since he was really the first truly familiar thing I've seen in Ghana, and it made me more sensitive to the other things I'm missing now that he's gone. Other than that, somehow the days are STILL getting hotter, work is slow and in a state of confusion at the moment, my research still has not been approved andddd... well, I will stop complaining there.
Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well. Thank you to everyone who sent me Christmas cards and well-wishes for the New Year... and to everyone who sent their words of encouragement when I had malaria. (By the way, malaria is not pleasant, but it's seriousness is about equivalent to the flu in Canada – everyone gets it, complains, deals with it, and moves on with their lives.)