I was just in Ghana for the past four days and I cannot believe my second port is already over. It is amazing how fast time goes by. Ghana was by far a totally different experience than Morocco. Ghana was more of what I envisioned Africa to be like for many different reasons. The people were so friendly and loved meeting all of the Semester at Sea students. Most everyone in Ghana speaks English so it made communication and immersing ourselves in the culture a little easier. The country is in severe poverty. I saw many different areas of the country but it mostly looked all the same. There were millions of huts and markets on the side of the roads. Fish markets were every where. It was not uncommon to see people walking in the middle of traffic selling anything ranging from soda to nail clippers. Anything they had they were selling. The women all walked around with different things balancing on their heads. I am still amazed how they were able to do that and would love to learn!
The first day we decided to hit the beach! A few of us drove about two hours to get to an amazing hostel called Big Millies. Big Millies was right on the beach and we all stayed in huts all around the complex. I personally thought the word 'bungalow' was a much more fitting word for these huts. The beach and ocean were not necessarily clean. In the ocean people saw trash floating all around them. We were told that in different areas they drain their garbage into the ocean. On the beach there were about 20 or more little African kids playing with us. These kids loved playing soccer, jumping all over us, and taking pictures. All the children would ask to be in different pictures with us, as long as you were willing to show them the pictures after. It was amazing how fun and light hearted they were. You would have never guessed that one girl named Susan had a mom back at home fighting malaria, and some other boys were in need of our fresh water. It is hard to realize what the children were going through back at home but we were so happy to hang out with them for the day and put smiles on their faces.
Ghana has a lot of history, especially pertaining to slave trading. I was able to visit two historical castles and dungeons that were both related to this. It was an eye opener to see these castles. Each one of them had multiple dungeons in the bottom that consisted of zero sunlight and no ventilation. I felt extremely claustrophobic just being inside for less than one minute. I was in shock to find out the amount of slaves that would be housed in there everyday all connected by shackles. I had never realized the torture they went through before they were sent away to various places. Being from America you only think of slave trading being in theUnited States, you don't realize what was happening all over the world and what they endured in Africa before they arrived here. It was a really cool experience and it put African history into a different perspective for me.
I was able to visit a school in Accra for a day and see what school is like in comparison to the United States. I envisioned it being completely different and I was shocked to find out it wasn't. Granted I did go to a local private school it was amazing all of the subjects the kids were taking. It was an English speaking school and they all took French and a local language class. They had every subject ranging from integrated science to a cooking course. The school consisted of grades 1-9 and every single one of them were wondering what we were doing when we all showed up. We were greeted by the woman who was in charge of the entire school, you could tell she loved talking about all of the accomplishments the school had and she gave us a tour of everything. She had a big smile on her face as she talked about every detail of the school. It was so amazing to see how proud she was of what they had started and she should have been because the school was amazing. A few friends and I were introduced to a group of girls who kept saying how they loved our friends and us. They told us they didn't want us to leave, it was super cute. My favorite part of the entire school visit was a soccer game that started. About 10 semester at sea students and 10 students from school played a soccer game in the middle of the courtyard. The school quickly turned into a stadium. There were kids everywhere screaming and chanting. At one point some kid was playing a drum. I felt like I was at a stadium watching a professional soccer game because they were going wild.
Overall, Ghana was a great experience. I have come to realize each port is going to be a completely different experience than the last. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Ghana and it ended up being better than I expected. The food was good. I was able to eat more of a variety than I did in Morocco. I do know a few people that tried cow lips and various things that sounded utterly disgusting. Cab rides there weren't always the safest thing to do. In a few cases I had friend's whose cab drivers were intoxicated and in once instance a cab driver pulled over and demanded more money. Traveling can definitely be dangerous. After having two ports under my belt I am starting to realize different things to watch out for. Overall, Ghana was great and I am excited for my last port in Africa, Cape Town.
The day after Ghana we had a 'study day' on the boat. Little did we know the study day turned into Neptune Day. For everyone who does not know what Neptune Day is, it is when we cross the Equator for the first time. There is a huge ceremony with the entire boat. One by one we had 'fish guts' poured on us, which ended up to be colored water, and then we jumped in the pool. After we got out of the pool we were greeted by fish that we had to kiss and a king and queen we had to bow down too. I still don't know the reason behind all of those details but I am sure it had good cause. Many people then shaved their heads; boys and girls alike. Don't worry I opted out of shaving my head, I didn't think that would be a good look to go home with and I thought I would have looked even more identical to Trevor. The day was a great time and it was a great turn around from what I thought was going to be a study day.
One short week until we arrive to Cape Town, South Africa. Hope everyone is doing well back at home!