Lots to do
Monday, October 09, 2006By Stephanie Skaar
Today is our 42nd day in Ghana. What? This semester is flying, and sometimes I feel like I’m going a million miles a minute; there is always somewhere to go, someone to meet, something to do, see, read, experience… Last Thursday, a friend and I took a trotro to Max Mart, ordered some coffee, and just sat and talked for a couple of hours. It was great to just… be for a while. I’m not by any means stressed out here, or disliking it at all (in fact, I can finally honestly say that I love it a lot here… good feeling), but I always feel like there is something going on, and I’m constantly doing and going… Sitting and being was wonderful .
The last couple of weeks have been pretty eventful. The Palm Festival last weekend was in Dzodze, a small town/village in the Volta Region. We left on Friday afternoon, stopping at the side of a random highway fifteen minutes into the drive to wait for a big enough bus. For the next two hours we sat around waiting for a second bus that could take us all (a group of about 30 international students, 5 of them Calvin students).
When we got there, we had an introduction and welcome talk. We then walked around the town, had some dinner, and came back to the “bungalow” they had provided for us. By “bungalow”, I mean a medium sized room with some mats on the floor (and roaches and spiders), and a side room with a “trough” that served as a bathroom. It was an adventure.
In the morning, after some bread and Milo, we walked out (getting our first real look at where we were staying in the daylight) to find a small mud huts and brick homes, a water well, some chickens, and some goats. It was wonderful. We then sat in front of Mr. Johnson’s house (our host) as about 8 kids, Greg (American student we met on the trip), Harrison (Rasta friend), Frances (drum teacher), and Mr. Johnson took turns playing the drums. We sat, listened, watched, and danced for about two hours and it was honestly one of my favorite parts of the semester so far.
After that, we started walking out on the street to see the festival. It was smaller than Odwira, but a lot more festive; the people were very involved in the celebration, and there was much dancing and singing. At this point, Cassie started feeling sick. By the afternoon, Cass was in pretty bad shape, so we called professor Groenhout, who met us when we got back to Accra and took her to the doctor. I was really proud of Cassie for handling such a long, bumpy drive back on the trotro so well. I was very proud of the rest of us for being calm, but urgent about bringing her back home. As miserable as Cassie’s malaria was, I really saw our group come together that week- visiting her, praying for her, and loving on her until she got out of the hospital. If I haven’t said it enough, I like us a lot.
The best parts of the Volta Region trip were not what I had signed up for- standing on the side of a random highway, getting to know other international students, sipping on a coconut, sitting around watching a bunch of kids play around with some drums, laughing at the ridiculousness of the bungalow, and the beautiful drive to and from Dzodze… It was a good weekend.
This last weekend, we went to Cape coast. We left on Friday morning, dove for four hours, and went straight to the Cape Coast Castle, which was a slave castle built in the 1700s. It was a beautiful day and the ocean was gorgeous. After eating lunch and taking pictures of the boats, fishermen, and children swimming, we began a tour of the castle. After the tour at Cape Coast castle, we drove to Elmina Castle, which was another slave castle built in the 1400s, controlled predominantly by the Portuguese and the Dutch. This one hit a little bit closer to home, as many of my ancestors are both Portuguese and Dutch. Such a beautiful setting (beach, sun, trees) seemed out of place as we walked through dungeons and rooms where such awful acts were done. Being there, uncomfortable and tired in the heat, hearing stories from our tour guide- seeing, smelling, and feeling everything around us was a very real and (I think) very valuable experience. I think that we all, coming from different backgrounds and families, had mixed feelings and different thoughts running through our heads as we went on the tours. I know that I will not easily forget it.
On Saturday, we went to Kakum National Park and did the canopy walk…. in the middle of the rainforest. This was something I have been looking forward to since February… and now we were there! It was absolutely beautiful, and my heart was happy.
After the park, we drove to Bremu Beach Resort. This beach was beautiful—it looked like it came out of a postcard. After journaling a little, swimming a little, going for a walk, and eating lunch, I did not want to leave. So…. I didn’t. While the rest of the group headed back to Accra on the bus, Joel, Jamie, Allison, Stephanie, Anna, and I rented a room to stay another night…. And what a great decision! We went for a walk, swam, and relaxed all afternoon, night, and morning. Dinner under the palm trees, with a perfect breeze, delicious food, and great company… We felt like we were in paradise. I plan on returning to Bremu for a few days of my free travel with (plans not set in stone yet) a few Calvin students and maybe a couple of friends we met at our hostel on campus.
We leave for the Northern Region on Monday (and will be staying for a week). Please pray for safety, and more importantly for health. It would just make the trip kinda crummy for all of us if anyone got sick. Thanks!