Developing a just society based on equity and equal opportunities for all with respect for diversity.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

8 quotes to sum up my travels

By Zoe

[caption id="attachment_460" align="alignright" width="199"]Wli waterfalls, Volta Region, Ghana Admiring Wli waterfalls[/caption]

Last week, I took advantage of a week’s break between groups of volunteers to see some of the parts of Ghana that are that bit too far for a daytrip from Tamale… There were some amazing sights, but as always in Ghana, the trip was made by the people I met… and the things that they said…

1. “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” said E, who was pretty much a stranger when we agreed to get in his car for a trip to Akosombo Dam and Wli waterfalls. While the kindness of this stranger could not be disputed, it was somewhat unsettling that he kept quoting Blanche Dubois, a character who is committed to a mental institution.

2. “I insist that you take my bed,” said L. After we arrived in Nkawkaw at the beginning of the 4 days of Easter celebrations with no hotel bookings, L, who sells phone credit at the bus station, took pity on us and invited us to stay in her own home… and, in fact, in her own bed, while she slept on the floor.

[caption id="attachment_462" align="alignleft" width="270"]Paragliding Kwahu, Ghana Paragliding at the Kwahu Easter Festival[/caption]

3. “I can’t help it that she’s such a big girl” said the pilot of my paraglider at the Kwahu festival after we crash-landed into a patch of scrubland. Followed by “it’s only a scratch” as he rubbed dirt into the open wound I’d sustained when I hit the ground violently, with him on my back. The local children gathered around laughing and taking photographs of the bleeding foreigner on their mobile phones.

[caption id="attachment_461" align="alignright" width="300"]Lake Bosumtwi, Ghana Lake Bosumtwi, a crater lake caused by a meteorite[/caption]

4. “Oh, I just sold you to that man in the comedy sunglasses” said S, when I asked why everyone on our trotro from Lake Bosumtwi was laughing. “Oh right, for how much?” “Fifteen cows. You fetched a good price, because you’re white.”

5. “I’m ready... but not desperate” said F, in Cape Coast, when asked of his opinion on marriage, immediately drawing a contrast with the UK where a single man in his mid-twenties would be very unlikely to admit to wanting to marry… and also distinguishing himself from those who take more of the ‘desperate’ approach when chatting you up…

[caption id="attachment_464" align="alignleft" width="300"]Elmina shipyard, Ghana Elmina shipyard. I don't work here.[/caption]

6. "See, you cannot work here!" said the shipyard owner in Elmina. We had asked him if we could have jobs, and he had told us that girls couldn't do the work. In an attempt to show off our strength, we tried to pick up a small wooden boat... and failed. Guess it's back to volunteering then...

7. “You have to pay me, that’s how trotros work!” said the rogue trotro driver who had picked us up after our journey to Nzulezu. “Yes, if you take us where we want to go… but not if you tell us that you are taking us to our destination and in fact take us half an hour in the opposite direction.” 13 ½ hours after we had set off, we arrived back at our hostel.

[caption id="attachment_465" align="alignright" width="199"]Strangling Fig, Kakum National Park, Ghana The strangling fig  demonstrates the importance of an equal partnership in relationships. Apparently.[/caption]

8. “If you are having issues in the bedroom, see me after the tour,” said the brilliant guide of our ‘nature walk’ in Kakum National Park to the rather embarrassed middle-aged father on our group. She had managed to turn information about every tree or plant that we looked at into some form of relationship advice – the strangler fig was a reminder of the importance of giving and receiving equally in a relationship, while the mahogany tree apparently provides a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction.

Thank you so much to T, E, P, L, S, H, I, F, B and everyone else we met on our travels. It was an amazing week and wouldn’t have been the same without you...