The Ghana Files: Say goodbye to Accra!

This particular morning marked the end of our ten-day program orientation in Accra. I was to leave at 10:00 AM and head for my placement school in Cape Coast, about three hours away. When I went downstairs, I was greeted by a one large van and one man named Ebenezer.  I was informed that we would be picking up another teacher from my school and my principal, and then we would be on our merry way to Cape Coast.

We left the hotel and headed towards the regional bus station in the middle of town to pick up the other teacherAfter about an hour spent sitting in traffic, we finally arrived and I was greeted by a woman named Dorothy. She introduced herself and then immediately asked me to come with her to the shopping center across the street. We made our way through the market to a large shopping center, as she told me about her son in Philadelphia, and how she has been the host family for three Peace Corps volunteers.

When we reached the store, we went upstairs and she asked my opinion on a set of food warming containers that she was looking to purchase. I told her that I thought the ones she was looking at were very nice. She turned and was speaking to a nearby saleswoman in a language I could not understand (probably Twi). The saleswoman asked me which color I wanted. I told her that they were not for me, and that she needed to ask Dorothy. I was then told that the food warmers were in fact for me, and that I should choose a color. After choosing my pink food warmers, Dorothy asked if there was anything else I needed as she made a beeline for a display of brooms.

After this display of generosity, she asked me my age. When I told her, she explained that I was young enough to be her daughter. She said to me that since her son is abroad, she knows there is someone looking after him – and she intended to do the same for me. I didn’t know what to say. I had heard that Ghanaians are very hospitable people, but this was above and beyond.

We went back to the car and made our way to the outskirts of town, where we would pick my principal up at her sister’s house. After a quick pause for lunch, we were finally on our way to Cape Coast!

The ride from Accra was, in my mind, very eventful. I spent the entire time turning my head from side to side as I looked out of each window at something I had never seen before. Ant hills the size of a person, thatched roof cottages, and goats running loose (I saw one goat on top of a tro-tro, and a sheep that got hit by a car and bouncing off of our van.) The ride was actually exhausting, there was so much to see!

When we arrived in the town of Cape Coast, we went straight to my principal’s house where I would stay the night. Did I mention that my principal is a nun? So her house was actually a convent. I would have to wait until the next day to see the school and the town of Cape Coast. That evening I was so exhausted, I watched Gilmore Girls on my laptop until I fell asleep.

* I may have mentioned this in previous entries, but the traffic in Accra is horrendous. Accra is a city of 10+ million people living in a space about half that of New York City. Unlike New York with it’s underground subways and reliable local bus service, Accra does not have much to speak of in terms of public transportation. This means that every person is out on the road in a car or taxi. During the mornings and evening rush, it can take you an hour or more to go just a few miles. That being said, our “quick trip” to pick up the other teacher at the regional bus station was anything but quick.

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