ErinCraig's Travel Journals

ErinCraig

  • 32 years old
  • From Idaho, United States
  • Currently in Idaho, United States

Erin's adventures in Ghana

Many people have asked how they call follow my experience in Ghana. I'm hoping this blog will be a good way for everyone to read about my journey.

4 more days :(

Ghana Cape Coast, Ghana  |  Oct 31, 2012
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I've tried over and over again, but the time just won't slow down :( It's been almost a week since the last time I wrote and so much has happened. I've found it so hard to sit down and write because I'm trying to cram the most out of the time that I have left.Thursday was the last time that I wrote. Holy cow a lot has happened since then :) Last Friday was a holiday so we didn't have school. My sister and I both decided that we wanted to sleep in so she warned me that breakfast might be a little late, which was totally fine with me :) We didn't really sleep in too late but we were really lazy. It was wonderful. I had a lot of things that I wanted to get accomplished but didn't get half of the things done, but it wasn't such a bad thing. I have probably mentioned that I've been completely spoiled with the whole washing the clothes thing. It's definitely a job and makes me extremely thankful for washing machines! I did laundry with Steph the first week I was in Ghana. After that, my home stay mother did it for me. Once I moved to my new home stay, my sister's mother was here from Accra and always insisted on doing it for me. Well, she went back to Accra which meant it was my turn to do my own laundry again. My sister was pretty excited about being able to tease me. She even labeled Friday as "teasing day". Laundry took about 2 hours. I was only "allowed" to do the small items which were my little baby's clothing. He's 15 months so you can imagine how small the clothing was. My sister took a bunch of videos and we had a really great time. I've definitely had to learn to laugh at myself here. :) I had planned to go to Elmina right after laundry was finished but it was SO hot. I decided to take a little afternoon nap instead. My little baby slept with me and then woke up so we played for a bit while my sister napped. I finally decided to get up and get ready around 4PM. I called Nana and Kwame to tell them I would be coming for a visit. I also called Ali to tell him that I wanted to see him and visit my first host family. I got to Elmina and met up with the guys. It was so nice to see them. It felt like it had been months since I had last seen them! Definitely hard to believe that it had only been a month since I lived there. After we caught up for a bit, I met up with Ali. We went and surprised my first host family. My sister and my mom were sitting in front of the house. They were SO happy to see me :) I think I was even more excited to see them tho. I got to see a lot of the neighbor girls and they were even wearing their dresses. My sister told me that she has had 3 favorite volunteers and I was one of them. It definitely made me feel good. I didn't get a chance to spend a lot of time with them but the time I did spend was wonderful. She commented about how I was always happy and always smiling. It's pretty easy to be happy here. Everyone is so friendly and I'm just thankful that I'm enjoying this wonderful country. We said our goodbyes and it was pretty emotional for me. We promised to keep in touch and I definitely hope we do. I hope I can come back for a visit one day. Fingers crossed. I had plans to meet Dr. Andrew for dinner so he came and picked me up from Elmina. We went and had pizza and chatted for a bit. I came back home after and relaxed. I had planned to go out with some of the other volunteers because I thought it would be my last opportunity to go out before I left to go home. I was way too tired so I just stayed home and packed for my trip to the Volta Region. My sister insisted on helping me pack. She helped me pick out my clothes and even had a check list of items that I needed. She got my breakfast ready for me and everything. She's seriously amazing. All of the volunteers had to meet at ProWorld at 6AM to leave for our 3 day trip to the Volta Region. When I arrived at the house, a man was standing out front with his car. It was probably the first ever made Land Rover. I wasn't sure who he was or why he was parked outside of the ProWorld house but he introduced himself. I went inside and met up with the other volunteers. We were all patiently waiting for our "guide" Dom and our vehicle. Dom arrived and told us to head outside to leave. To my surprise (along with every one else's), the first ever made Land Rover was our vehicle for the weekend. We all crawled inside and hit the road, not knowing what the next 3 days would entail. We started driving and one of the back passenger doors swung open. Not only that but every time we would go over a bump, the front passenger seat would slide further and further back. I was the lucky one sitting behind that seat and my legs were completely smashed. Then one of the other volunteers noticed a HUGE black ant crawling on the ceiling of the car. This was all within the first 30 minutes in the car. We made a joke about it and said that if this was any indication of what the trip was going to be like, we were in big trouble. Haha. I'm so glad I can laugh about it now :) After we discovered that the ants were all over the car, we stopped to buy some ant killer. We sprayed them and got back in the car to start our journey. The plan was to driving about 6 hours to get to our first destination. We were supposed to go to the Volta Dam and to the Bead Factory. We finally arrived in the village where we were staying. We were all starving and tired from our journey so we started looking for a place to eat. We finally found a place that looked halfway decent. We all go out of the car to go inside and it started pouring rain. We asked for menus and were informed that the cook had left for the day and there would not be any food served. We all ran back to the car and looked for yet another place to eat. We found a nice river resort. It was still raining pretty hard and all of the inside tables were taken. We were all so tired, wet and frustrated that nobody really cared about where we sat or what we ate. Our food took over an hour and it wasn't that great. It was a bit frustrating for everyone I think. I had a major headache from the heat, the fumes from the exhaust and just traveling in a super uncomfortable car for hours. We headed back to our hotel and everyone just hung out. I was asleep by 8PM!We woke up early to start our journey to another village where we would be staying while we went to the highest waterfall in Western Africa and the monkey sanctuary. It took us about 2 hours to get to our little place. It was a cute little guest house. It's ran by a rhasta man and his british wife. They have 2 small rhasta boys. So so cute. We basically stopped to have breakfast and to drop off our things. From there we got back into the car for our "40 minute" journey to the waterfall. About 2 hours into our journey, the car started to make some really loud noises. The driver told us that the break pad "broke" so we would have to stop. One other funny thing about our driver, I don't think he knows how to make a 3 point turn. Every time that he needed to turn around, he would just reverse! He reversed right back through the little village to get the break pad fixed. I have a picture :) We went to a "spot" which is a bar and had a drink while we were waiting. We figured we had to be close to the waterfall because we had already been in the car for 2 hours and it was only supposed to be for 40 minutes. We were all wrong. It took us another 2 hours to get there. We were all excited that we had finally arrived. It took us about 40 minutes to walk to the waterfall. WOW! It was SO amazing. Pictures can't even do it justice. We got to swim for about 20 minutes. I was daring and went under the waterfall with the boys. Apparently the water is very heavy right now because the wet season just passed. Normally you can just walk under the falls and sit on the other side of them. There was no way that we were walking under them. The water was so powerful and even a little scary at times. It took us so long to get there that we really didnt get any time to enjoy it, but we were happy that we were able to see it for a short period and then we headed back home again. After 4 more hours in the car, we reached our hotel for the night. They had dinner waiting for us. They only served Vegan food so I had bruschetta. It was delicious!!! We were all exhausted so we headed to bed. We had to be up at 5AM to go to the Monkey Sanctuary. We spent another 2 hours in the car to get there. Having monkeys crawl all over me was probably one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. I got some great pictures. We stayed for about 20 minutes and then had to get back on the road. After 2 more hours we reached our hotel to have breakfast and pack up our things. It took us another 2 hours after that to get to the Dam for a tour. We had to wait there for about 2 hours and then we finally had our 20 minute tour so we could take pictures. We got back into our awesome car and headed for Accra. We didn't get a chance to have lunch because we were running late and couldn't find anywhere quick enough. Plus we were stopping in Accra at the mall so everyone was looking forward to having food there. We got about 20 minutes outside of Accra and our guide decided that he wanted to take a short cut. A few of the volunteers warned him not to take it because traffic was so bad but he decided to try it any way. Well, he didn't quite know it as well as he thought he did so we got set back another half hour or so. We finally made it to the mall and we were all so happy to be there. We had pizza, chicken sandwiches and chocolate milkshakes. It is so different being in Accra, it feels like being at the mall in Boise. The stores are even nicer than most in Boise!! We left the mall a little after 7 to head back to Cape Coast. We got stuck in traffic for about an hour. We were finally out of traffic and on the main road back to Cape. Our driver accidently missed an exit and we headed back towards Accra, back into more traffic. It took us another hour to get on the correct road. We made it back to Cape around 12:30AM. OH what a trip :) We were told today that we didn't get to see a few of the things that were on the list, but what can you do. Writing it on the blog doesn't even do it justice. I think I have more funny stories from the last 3 days than I do for the whole 9 weeks that I've been here. One thing that I've definitey had to learn here is patience. Things don't always, or I should say, don't normally go as planned here. Everyone is on GMT (Ghana Man Time) which means they can come whenever they like. Our trip was very poorly planned out and a lot of things did not go as planned BUT we had a lot of laughs together and it was my last weekend with my amazing friends :) Can't believe it's so close to being over. I have decided against going to Moli National Park. I was really looking forward to seeing some elephants but its a whole lot of traveling and after this past weekend, I'm not sure I'm up for it. Not only that, but I would be leaving tomorrow night which gives me VERY minimal time to say goodbye to my family and friends here. Tomorrow is my last day of school so I will have a few days to wrap things up and say goodbye to all of my friends. I might even go back to Elmina for a day. Today I went to school and did some beading with the children. It was a really slow day at school for some reason. After school I went into town to do a little shopping. I had a few things I wanted to pick up for my mom and some others. :) I got some cool things. I then headed to ProWorld. I was surprised to see David from Sankofa sitting outside the gate. He had attempted to contact me a few times over the past few days but I was unable to answer because of being out of network. Apparently he was aware that I was upset about how my project money was spent and knew that I was upset that he had traveled without telling me. We had a really really great talk and cleared the air. I'm hoping to go out there on Friday so I can see the kids and see how the project money was spent. One thing that we talked about was Cultural Awareness. I was informed that many Ghanaian people do not inform others when they are traveling because of superstitions. They are afraid that others will wish them harm on their journey. Our conversation was much more in depth but that is the basis of it. I have to remember that I am in another country, on another continent. This is NOT my culture. People do things differently here. It's a hard thing to admit, but there have been times during my stay here that I have found myself thinking "we don't do it this way back home so it must not be right if they do it here". That thinking is so far from the truth. It adds a whole new meaning to ethnocentrism.  Being a social worker, cultural competency is stressed SO much. I don't think I ever really understood it until coming here. And with that said, I still have so much to learn. It has been a struggle to adjust to some of their "cultural ways" in Ghana. The talk with David was very constructive. I learned a few different things from this experience. The cultural piece is definitely the big one, but the other thing I learned and was reminded of was to hold my judgements until I have all of the facts. I'm SO quick to jump to conclusions. It's definitely something that I really need to work on and this was a perfect example of the way things can be blown out of proportion if all of the facts are not accurate. I had my last ProWorld Tuesday with all of the volunteers and staff. It was definitely bittersweet. I've said it over and over again but I can't believe how quickly this experience has gone. We went to a really nice dinner and chatted about our adventures in the Volta Region :)Kwame came over when I came home. As always, we had a really wonderful talk. We basically talked about a lot of the things that I will miss and the things that will be different when I get home. I got pretty emotional about it all. I really love this country. I don't think that I'm ever fully going to understand the significance of this trip on my life. One thing that I've realized is that this experience has definitely been different than I have ever imagined. It's not a bad thing in any way, it's just different. When I learned I was coming to Ghana, my thought was that I would be living out in a little village with minimal interactions with the outside world. I thought I would be working long hours and basically living with only the basic needs. I was so wrong about that. I live in a fairy large city, have a beautiful home and am absolutely loving it here. I hate to cut this short but I need to leave the ProWorld office so I have to post this. There will only be a few more blogs but I promise they will be good. Things are really starting to come full circle now. I'm definitely starting to see some of the life long lessons this experience has given me. Its a little overwhelming and will definitely take a lot of time to process. Can't wait to see you all :) XOXO

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    PaulaWoods wrote: Wed Dec 26, 2012
    Hey! It looks like you've had an incredible time in Ghana!! Your blog came up when I started using the site, and I've really enjoyed reading about your adventures! It's made me all the more excited to get to Ghana. I leave in 17 days!! Hope adjusting back to America is going alright for you. Thanks for being so open in your blog & sharing your experiences (: