Monday, August 9, 2010

Arriving in Ghana and the Journey North to Dalun

Instead of feeling anxious about travelling to Ghana, a place where I had little familiarity, oddly I remember envisioning Ghana as a new home, one where I would be staying with a long-time family friend in Accra, and one where I would meet my new family (all of my colleagues) for the next ten weeks. For the few days before I headed off to the North, I spent the time touring the Greater Accra Region and Cape Coast with a family friend and gaining a better sense of the Ghana's culture and customs.

Although everything seemes flawless in this first trip, things quickly took a nasty turn when I experienced a severe case of food poisoning. A rough night and subsequent trip to the hospital might send many travellers searching for the earliest flight home. However, the excitement of plunging into my project in northern Ghana helped me remain optimisitic during this event. At that point, the only agenda on my mind was getting to Dalun, which was not a short or simple journey.

When the day came to begin my intership, I drove with my family friend to the STC bus station in Accra. Once I arrived at my destination, I stood on the bus platform among a crush of passengers preparing to board. When the bus finally pulled in, everyone including myself rushed toward the porter near the entrance of the vehicle's main door. As soon as it became my turn, the porter checked my ticket and then crammed my large suitcase into the bottom compartment of the bus next to a cage of chickens and a stack of other tightly packed bags. While I stood gazing in amazement for a few seconds, it quickly dawned on me that it was inappropriate to stare at this uniquely Ghanaian but humerous sight (something that I forgotten to do in the heat of the moment). Although this event is different from anything I have seen in the U.S., I instead viewed it as a way to acquaint myself with the culture and to prepare myself for what I would observe during the next two months. Shortly after, I decided to walk away from the scene and then board the bus to take my assigned seat. Bracing for a 12 hour trip to Dalun, a village located roughly 650 kilometers north of Accra, I looked out the window and took in the scenery as the bus left the station.

Later that evening, when I finally arrived in Tamale, the first leg of my journey, I stepped off the bus to see both Fatawu, my Managing Director, and Habib, my Project Manager eagerly waiting for me beside a nearby car. With ominous rain clouds hovering above, I hurried into the car and rode to Dalun before the sky had unleashed a torrential downpour upon us. Stay tuned for information about my initial experiences in Dalun and my first day interning at the school!

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