I made it! I’d have to say my first impression is not at all what I expected. I don’t know exactly what I expected, but I did expect to feel something upon landing on African soil—the Motherland. Maybe expecting to feel something is just one of those things that gets played up so much by people [and by “people,” I mean Black Americans] who have been, that it was a bit underwhelming when Simba and Rafiki weren’t on the tarmac to greet me in song and dance. I’m sure I’ll have thought-provoking and emotional experiences throughout my stay here, but seriously after a full day of traveling on very little sleep, I was just thankful to have reached land safely.
So far the best part of being in Africa has been when the airplane door opened and that burst of fresh air whooshed in and provided relief from the eleven-hour
feet-and-fart-funked recycled air. I’m currently staying in Accra, where I’ve been for the past four days. Accra, Ghana’s capital, is a big city full of millions of people and apparently no emissions standards. (Feel free to fact-check that, and if they do my lungs can testify otherwise.) And it was just my luck to be here during the holiday weekend, when seemingly all of those millions of people were driving to and fro in cars that undoubtedly would be illegal to drive in the States. So my introduction to Accra was a cab ride—windows down of course— through heavy traffic, breathing in the exhaust of the millions fine, thousands of cars puttering down the road. This is not to say that all of Accra is like this, I’ve rode through some beautiful, less congested parts; but this is the case in the parts that I have been experiencing over these past few days. On day two, The Mister and I were cleaning black soot from inside our noses! No joke!
And the sad thing is many people make their living as roadside or traffic merchants despite the terrible breathing conditions. Just for clarification: I don’t know if roadside/traffic merchants are the official titles for these people, but it’s just how I describe them. A roadside merchant is one who has their stand set up on the side of the road, while a traffic merchant is one who walks in between stopped cars selling goods. I know I shouldn’t, but I find the traffic merchants a bit funny. It’s just that in the U.S. I might see someone selling water in traffic on a hot day, or maybe a newspaper, (or oranges in Cali, so I’ve heard); but here I’ve seen of course drinks and food, but also shirts, shoes, ties, key chains, back massager, wall art, soap, TV antennas, and the list goes on. I understand this is how they make their living—that’s not the funny part. What’s funny to me is the variety of goods and the thought that someone driving down the road just so happens to need a picture to hang or a back massager or a new tie. Really? Maybe. I guess. I don’t know.
Anyways, I leave here Thursday, for the
village city of Agogo, where I’ll spend the year. It’s much smaller and a lot less people and I assume cleaner air!
Happy New Year!
Oh yah- speaking of New Year’s, so The Mister and I spent New Year’s Eve out on the town. We ended up at an outside bar in Osu, a neighborhood of Accra. As it approached midnight the crowd got really excited and there were pockets of people lighting firecrackers. Well someone decided to throw a firecracker into the crowd and where does it land, but in my chair. I didn’t realize what happened until it was too late. The firecracker exploded in my chair, burnt a hole through my pants and underwear and left a nice little reminder of 2011 on my butt!