Second Week In Ghana

Trip Start Aug 13, 2005
Trip End Jan 03, 2006

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hey family and friends,

No one worry I am still alive (which seemed to be your big concern in my good-bye and b-day card). Not only have I survived a week in Ghana, I have also survived the jungle. The Carleton Crew and I headed up to Kakum National Rainforest on Saturday morning. We took a bus to Cape Coast (about three hours from Accra) and then taxied ourselves to Kakum. Instead of staying at the popular Hans Cottage Botel, like all the other tourists, the group and I decided to rough it and stay in the rainforest. So we all slept on this little wooden platform with only a mosquito net for protection. It was an interesting experience. Although I didn't get to see any forest elephants (they have 56 in the park), I did get to hear lots of monkeys and see all kinds of birds. I also walked the canopy which is a serious of ladders with wooden planks nailed to them and suspended by cables from tree tops. It allows you to walk from tree to tree and see a bird's eye view of the rainforest. It was an incredible experience, and I have it all on video tape for your viewing pleasure when I get home. When we finished the Canopy walk we began a two hour hike through the jungle with our guide Christian. Christian is a native of Ghana and was able to explain to us what all the trees in the forest were, their medicinal purpose (or their poisonous one) and the cultural value of the plants. It was an interesting tour.  It ended when we walked into a clearing with 50 foot tall bamboo plants, which were, amazing!

Emotionally I am surprised at the culture shock I am experiencing. I thought I was prepared especially after Haiti. Although, I have great support from the Carleton Crew I do feel that I am really going it alone. The people of Ghana are really nice and extremely friendly but I've become a little home sick, especially for the conveniences of home. Its really hard to eat here, and although some of the food is quite good, even those without dietary restrictions are limited in their food choices. But I guess that's the reality of the developing world, resources are limited.

It's tough to see the children sleeping on the streets or selling beside the highway late at night. I've been able to travel a bit already and have seen the shanty towns. I thought the University would keep us hidden from a lot of it, but to my pleasant surprise it really makes no attempt. The community around us has pretty easy accessibility to the University. Just outside of my residence is the night market. It is comprised of local women and children who run little food stands, most of them with extremely religious names like "fear thou not beans". The women are wonderful and love to make fun of me when I attempt to pronounce the food names, the children and babies are as expected, beautiful, but the poverty is very real. Not only do these women and children sell from these stands, they also live in these stands.

Other adjustments are with the pace of life. There is not the hustle and bustle of the developed world. Everything here goes at a much slower pace (the notorious "Africa" time...which, really, many cultures claim to have, but they really mean it here). I have found the lack of time keeping really beneficial (although often also frustrating).  The relaxed atmosphere allows for people to develop really close relationships with those around them. The women in the night market have created a tight knit supportive community. They really help each other out and spend a lot of time socializing with one another.

My favourite thing so far, besides all of the kind people, is the music. High-life is really popular here, as is reggae and gospel. People are singing and dancing all the time whether at work or play, and the enthusiasm for life is contagious.

Hope all is well at home. I picked up a cell phone here last week. I'm still trying to figure out what the number is for calls overseas, but I will list it soon.

Miss you all.

Adrienne xoxo
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