Ghana Get Away…Get It?

2/12/11
Just crossed the prime meridian and equator at the same time! There is a huge line, bright red, with blinking lights! NOT! We sat out on the deck last night watching the amazing sunset, and enjoying the breeze. I have realized I have already started to take this for grantedI dont look out at the ocean enough and appreciate the bright blue I see. From this point on, I refuse to not look up at the sky and thank the big blue I am here.
We are now on our way to South Africa after spending a fun but at times grueling 5 days in Ghana. At times I had to hold my breath (no, not because of the stinky smell) because of the amount of poverty I was seeing. The 5×5 lean-tos that held families of 8 were all we ever saw. (Well that and a tremendous amount of goats EVERYWHERE.) Watching people walk by us on the side of the road with long machetes was also something that I came to just understand was normal.

Day 1:
We spent the day on Cape Coast, about an hour from the port, touring Slave Castles and Dungeons. It was one of those times that you are walking around a place, imaging what it was truly like. It was at least 100 degrees that day and to hear that at times almost 90 people took residence in a room that was comparable to a dorm room, made me sweat even harder. We saw door signs that said the door of no return, the door would get smaller as you walked out and they did this because they didnt want anyone sneaking back in. If at times any of the slaves didnt cooperate they would be chained to a ball in the middle of the courtyard, in direct contact of the sun, and would spend up to two days there. What shocked me the most was the way these tour guides were speaking of the guilt they felt that their people were put in this place because of them. I had only ever thought of how it was the western worlds fault, to hear someone speak of the opposite side it blew my mind. We ate lunch at a local restaurant and I found worms in my chicken. You have to understand I am already not good at trying new food, and that just made my claims correct, taco bell is the way to live. (Kidding)
That night we went out club duty free, it was right across from the ship, and everyone went there to pre-game, teachers included. Some of the locals came with their drums and started playing African music for us all to enjoy and dance to. In each of these countries I have noticed the large trend of drums being used, I am really enjoying it. We then went to a bar and my first contact was here. I first had no idea that they were EVERYWHERE, but second I had no idea what one would look at. They apparently heard that Americans were in town and sent the herds out. They were everywhere I looked, they didnt approach us but they were presence was definitely felt. We left quickly once we realized we were surrounded!

Day 2:
Traveled an hour to get to a small beach town, spent the day playing with football and volleyball with the kids. It was incredible how happy they all are, they started out there just to sell us peanuts but ended up swimming and laughing with all of us. Kids everywhere are the samethey all enjoy playing games and just having someones attention. The people that owned the surf shop were telling us how it was illegal for kids to not be in school during the day but because the parents had heard that Americans were in town, the parents wanted them out selling. Its sad that kids are put into the position to care for their families. It makes sense that they are forced to when you hear the taxi drivers talking about their wife and their other women, with these other women, if they have kids with them it isnt their duty to take care of them. It makes you wonder if that is also why so many women turn to prostitution. It was a relaxing day, I played a game just like mancala with a couple and learned it was a game you play after youre married because it is a couples game.

Day 3:
The entire shipboard community, or almost the entire shipboard community rented bungalows at Axim Beach. It was about 2 hours away from the ship, and we enjoyed a long taxi drive learning the commonalities between our two countries. (There really wasnt much) Only about 15 of 200 government officials are women. The government officials pride themselves on the fact the men rule the country. I at one point was expecting to see any length of an area with money; I never saw something like it. It shocked me that this many people can be living entirely under the poverty line.
It was here at the Axim Beach Resort that I realized Ghanaians are not the nicest people. I had already had a chip on my shoulder from when were trying to get a taxi, I was getting pushed around and often times yelled at by the drivers, but here they were just blatantly rude, not everyone could go into the ocean at the same time because the second you leave your stuff they would grab it and not give it back. (Thankfully, I was not one that lost anything.) They were trying to get everyone to pay more than they had spent, they were accusing people of stealing, and were basically just running us out. I am hoping it wasnt past Semester at Sea students that put a bad taste in their mouth, but I was ready to get out of there. We spent the night there and headed back to the ship the next day.

Day 4 & 5:
I spent the rest of the 4th day after getting back from the resort in bed with strepthroat and missed the entire 5th day because I was in so much pain.

All in all, I am very happy I got to experience Ghana, it was an out of element experience, and I learned that not everyone is going to be excited to meet Americans. It makes me think about the quote money is the root of all evil, I think the only reason they were so rude was because they wanted our money so bad. I would have loved to give it to them but due to the rudeness, I could no longer get myself to want to.
I am SO excited for South Africa, shark diving, safari, and just experiencing what I have been so excited for! We have our first global studies quiz in 2 days, apparently they are really hard, but the sun is shining outside and I need a tan! Maybe I should have stayed in North Dakota to avoid all these distractions.

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