Hello my people,
It has been a long time. I have so much to cover, and I hardly know
where to start. The beginning, I have heard, isn’t such a bad place.
Before going on our mid semester retreat I had an amazing focus
group. I taught the kids how to write a sonnet. Out of the forty
something kids only one had ever written a poem. With all the
football excitement (Ghana would be playing the US that night), that
was the theme of our class poem. It was really fun, and I think they
actually enjoyed it, which is really all that matters. I am doing
another lesson on limericks today. As far as research goes, I am
making some really good friends and getting the information I need. I
feel overwhelmed. So much to do, so much to learn, and so little
time. This is the beginning of the end.
I think the world cup deserves a paragraph. Watching the Ghana vs US
game was difficult. Our group was divided between cheering for Ghana
and US. I had to cheer for the US, but the whole time we were
watching the game I couldn’t help but think of that sonnet my class
wrote. I wanted us to win, but in the end, I was much more satisfied
that it was Ghana. It is an African world cup, and it is such a big
deal here. For the past week when we have told people we are from
America people have said, “Hey! We scored you!” I prefer it that
way; otherwise that conversation would have been a lot more awkward.
When Ghana lost though, I’ve got to say it was the most heart breaking
game I have ever watched. I’m not sure I have ever gotten so into a
match, including our classic BYU vs UofU games. There was this
penetrating eerie silence that fell over the whole continent that
evening. Still, the reaction of the people was incredible. Rachel
Morrison texted her landlord, “Well, that was heartbreaking.” The
response? “Do not be sad my dear, God has brought us this far, and we
have done our best.” This is a very typical Ghanaian commentary on
the loss. In fact, they even get surprised that we are still upset
about it. I guess that is fine for something like football, but I am
more impressed when it extends to some more daunting issues… religion,
death, discrimination—you name it. These people have some serious
patience and perspective that I am trying to tap into.
And now for the mid semester retreat, what an adventure! The first
half we spent tro-troing to the middle of nowhere. Our tro tro out of
Kumasi was interesting. My pending sickness finally got the better of
me. I spend 1 of the 4 hours of the bumpy ride leaning out the window
to puke over the side. At least the view was pleasant. Nothing but
jungle for miles and miles, it looked like the Lion King come to life.
We played in a waterfall, canoed down the White Volta looking for
hippos (which was unsuccessful, but I did see a hippo track, a
chameleon, and caught a turtle if that counts for anything) in Bui,
and went to a monkey sanctuary in Fiema.
We couldn’t seem to find a tro tro out of the monkey sanctuary, and
after waiting a few hours a truck pulled up. It isn’t really
hitchhiking if you have to tip a little bit now, is it? That is what
I thought. We piled in and road for an hour or so to our next
destination. It was absolutely intoxicating, having nothing more than
a bag on my back tying me down. There was no fuss about what to wear
tomorrow; it is whatever I didn’t wear today. I haven’t hitchhiked
since Hawaii, and I forgot how liberating it feels. To not have much
more than a vague direction, “that way,” and some far off destination
as an end goal like a pretext, knowing that the getting there is most
of the fun. Inconvenience is just a bad synonym for adventure. To
not always be in a sprint to your next appointment. To take time to
breath, to laugh for no reason, and to live deliberately. This is why
I am here. This is my road. Call it unconventional,
irresponsibility, or one of my personal favorites, “a phase,” but this
placelessness, this bizarre wanderlust—this is where I find solace.
This is my fix.
We stayed at many places of all degrees of shady, but we had a blast
and bonded as a group, even in the most disgusting accommodations.
I’m glad we did that first though, because I’m pretty sure that it
wouldn’t have been such a fond memory if we had done Cape Coast first.
Maggie, my field facilitator, is the daughter of the mission
president in Cape Coast, so we were able to stay at the mission home
for our three days there. I can’t even tell you how nice our stay
was. We had air conditioning, and clean sheets! I think I forgot how
good a hot shower feels, or the texture of my skin when it is not
saturated in bug spray. They treated us so well, and we were so
grateful to eat yogurt, corn flakes, pizza, and even bacon for a few
meals! It was evident that this princess land would definitely make
the transition back into “reality” a little difficult, but I think it
got us all a little bit more excited for home. We had a great stay
there. The slave castles were terrible and humbling, the beach
familiar and friendly, and the canopy rope bridge walk at Kakun was
something you would see straight out of a movie.
But the time came to go home. Home, what a peculiar word. By home we
meant of course Wiamoase, but even Kumasi had a strange flavor of
familiarity… Yet when we got back eight hours later I quickly became
irritated. We were deeper into the rainy season. There were 100 bug
corpses that had found their final resting place in my bed (we cleaned
up 7 dustpans worth of dead ants out of our room alone the next day).
I plugged my nose as I hesitantly jumped into the cold bucket shower
again, and the old insecurities and frustrations with our projects
were there waiting for us.
So what does this all mean? To miss you, my people, is a given, but
I’ve come to find that I miss hamburgers and those hot showers. A
sink that I can drink out of. And so home I will return, in the
bitter sweetness of it all. I am so happy with my experience thus
far. If I can get what I need research and wise, keep up on my
fieldwork, and learn all that I still can, then I will be more than
happy getting off the plane and resuming my old life as a slightly
different, more conscious, hopefully better, Rachel.
Business name: “Victoria’s Secret Fast food”
Marriage proposal: “I like this one,” Pointing at me like a desirable
new watch or shirt. “Give her to me.”
And the Internet is being really bad, so if I do not respond to
personal emails this week, I will get to them as soon as I can. :)