19 May 2013


Well I am finally here! I can't even begin to describe my experience so far as my senses are being over exposed by everything there is to see! The commute was long but enjoyable as we got to experience old Amsterdam. And then the first moments of stepping off the plane into Accra can only be explained as the excitement became real once that humidity and heat suctioned to my body. I am really quite happy here, I have so many friends to help me through the little struggles. For example: toilets do not like to flush for me, my bathing suit top busted before I even got in any water, I'm drinking my weight in water as I have never sweat so much in my life (air conditioning in the hotel room is a blessing and I don't know what I will do without it when we leave tomorrow), the food is fine but my appetite doesn't like to stick around. But the most difficult thing is seeing so much poverty, and being in the city this isn't even the BAD kind of poverty. The first word I could use to describe Accra is shopping mall, the streets are filled with people trying to sell things to make a living. There is a lot of traffic here so people walk up and down the rows of traffic with baskets on their heads trying to sell things from the window. Anything from sugar cane and cassava to towels and rope to puppies! It is really quite amazing how lively this informal economy is. The second word I would use to describe Accra is garbage dump. There is literally pollution and garbage everywhere. Even swimming in the Atlantic ocean, countless pieces of trash bags would fold around me as they get pulled into the beach, presumedly from the tons of trash bags that get dumped in the ocean every year. I had heard in school about the electronic waste that gets sent to Ghana but now that I have actually seen it, I want to share with you how terrible it is. Can you count how many phones, computers, TVs, and stereos you have bought in your lifetime? Probably too many as is the case with most people in North America. You know how you go take your old electronics to recycling centers? well they don't actually recycle them. Instead they get shipped to places like Accra, where the people try to repair, salvage and use what they can but anything else gets burned. I actually saw a ton of black toxic chemical smoke billowing from an electronic dump just a short distance away from a shanty town where people live, and even closer to the river which is undoubtedly being polluted as a result. The fact that Africa is already so poverty stricken in so many ways that it is hard to escape is quite shocking to see that they are also getting dumped on by the waste that comes from the developed world.
But do you hear these people ever complain? No, they live their lives day to day for the present moment and are harder working than anyone you will meet. Their compassion is unending, there is always somebody willing to stop and say hi and help you find wherever it is you are going and find out where you came from. Awudo our hotel driver shared his experience of how things are in Ghana and it can only be explained as an interconnection of many factors of oppression and exploitation. But he was not complaining or feeling sorry or trying to get anything from us, he was simply sharing the truth.
This is a pretty grim picture so far but I can assure you that it is also beautiful and amazing here as well. All of the trees, the warmest water, delicious food, amazing art work and culture, and of course the spirit of the people. I can't wait to get out of the city and into the village where I will be able to dig deeper into how people lives their lives and
Until then, Peace and Love from Ghana.
Notes for pictures:
#1: View from hotel... yes we have a pool! Clearly we are in the rich part of Accra
#2: Drinking Coconuts for hydration and eating the fruit
#3: Group shot on the beach, a few local children snuck in, they love being in pictures!
#4: Me enjoying the Atlantic ocean for the first time in my life, off the coast of Ghana
#5: Eating lunch along the coast of Accra. Here is a close up shot of the garbage that piles in along the shoreline from the ocean
#6: Me trying fufu for the first time :) Not what I expected, it is a cassava (potato) paste in soup that you scoop with your fingers. This one is a spicy goat soup. Yes I tried a tiny bite of goat meat... not sure if I regret it yet or not.