Around the last time I wrote my blog, I felt homesick! There was nothing specifically making me upset here, I just felt ran down and really missed home-almost wanted to fast forward time! I spoke to mum and she said when you feel even a little bit run down, you become hyper sensitive to the annonances around yu and all you want is your sofa or bed-"and your mum!" I thought! Once I came off the phone I felt a bit emotional so I sat on the grassy bank with Sar, Mike and leah and they said all the right things-we all get it-just at different times and they said I'd done well to last this long without getting that real wave of it. But literally as soon as I'd got it out my system, I felt a load off my shoulders. Since then, the days have started slipping by more than ever and I'm just savouring the little time left.
The last week at boarding school flew by! We visited one of the children's units in Kpando a few times we'd found out about through volunteers we met at the internet café. First time we went, I was struck by how concrete and outdoors it all was-it's hard to explain, but it just didn't feel like "home". But then the volunteers were fantastic with the children-they read to them, played with them and generally just filled that parental role impressively. There was one little lad I think we'll all remember. He was a little gem. About 1 years old who tottled over to each of us one at a time, reaching up to be picked up. So I sat him on my hip whilst he giggled away pulling at my cheeks and playing with my necklace. He was so cute and playful. Sanjelle, one of the women who works there, said that when they first got him from hospital, he was so ill (he needed 2 pints of blood) and underweight that the doctor said that there was no point in taking him in as he'd only die-and yet here he was with his chubby cheecks and even making my arms ache with his weight! It was good meeting the other volunteers too. We sat on the roof of the children's unit in the sun talking about traveling, HIV, education and the emphasis of productivity and getting what you want as quickly as possible back in the UK/US!We all discussed the ideal balance between having structure and being organized yet being more relaxed, open and friendly. I love those conversations. They leave me buzzing and always spur me on to travel as much as I can before I truly get sucked into the rat race!
That evening we came back to Kpando and met up with all the volunteers again. In the bar there was this screen behind the chairs outdoors with a Ghanian soap opera being projected onto it and speakers blasting out the melodramatic story line and music to match. Me and Mike, one of the volunteers working at the Children's unit, decided we wanted to get everyone dancing so we requested for the barman to put on a music channel instead. So for hours we were dancing, taking the mick impersonating the dance moves on the screen. "as if we're just dancing on some grass outside a bar, by the side of a road in the light of a projector" he said. "….in Ghana!?" I added. Like I said last time, it's the surreal moments that remind you that you're here!
On the last night, before leaving the school for Cape Coast, there was a storm. The sky went really dark and grey; the trees were swaying like crazy and the wind was blowing everything about on the balcony. A few of us all stood on the railings of the balcony, watching the lighting in the distance and feeling that buzz of excitement caused by the hot storm and the change of moving on again. It was such a contrast to the hot bright day we'd had playing games with the students on the field (it was nice to see them having fun rather than working all the time!) There was music playing through speakers and in teams we played the classics-egg and spoon race (using a random fruit instead of an egg) a hopping race and "chair dancing" AKA musical chairs. A nice way to end our stay there.
Cape Coast has got to be one for the best weekends yet and the fact it was saved up till towards the end made it even more rewarding. I can safely say it kicked out any remains of homesickness out of my system. After a 7 hour journey of being squashed and flung around every time the bus went over a hole or a speed bump we arrived at our guesthouse. We dropped our bags off and went to Cape Coast Castle which was used to hold slaves over the slave trade. It was interesting and hard to get your head round but the fact it was a tour made it less real somehow. It didn't help that the tourguide was so dramatic! "We're going to the Punishment room" he said in a dramatic voice. "When we get there, we'll find out WHY they got punished." Dramatic Pause….."TO the punishment room." "Now, we're going to THE DOOR OF NO RETURN." Dramatic pause, looks around. "But this time." Pause. "We WILL return".
It all felt a bit unreal. It was only when you actually saw the circular marks on the floor where the slaves tried to force their chains off when it felt more shocking. That was in the condemned cell where prisoners were sent if they tried to escape or protest and locked in there with no food, water, air or light and left to die. In the female dungeons too it felt strange. Learning how many women they fitted in there with one bucket for waste and no sanitary products at all. The women were raped and if they got pregnant they got to leave the dungeons and be guarded until they had the baby and then instantly thrown back in again. But it's still hard to really imagine it partly because it was such a long time ago and partly because it's difficult to comprehend how people could, and still can be, so inhumane.
On a lighter note, after an evening by the beach in a bar, salsa dancing and just sitting listening to the waves the next day we went to the National Park where we did the canapy walk. The walkway was HIGH and we were warned it'd be wobbly and I can't argue with that! Not one for those who aren't a fan of hights!!
We then went to "Hans Cottage Hotel" to eat. Fausi said on route that there were crocodiles there but we didn't believe it. But sure enough, as we walked to the main restaurant bit on a island surrounded by green water we saw a crocodile peeking out of the water.We all debated if it was real as it was so still-then it moved and the debate was settled. So, after ordering, the waitress took us through this little gate next to our table into a grassy area by the water and there was another crocodile just frozen in front of it. The waitress, in her little waistcoat, just walked up to it-nay bother as the scots would say, and was charging us 1 cedi to touch the thing! I was thinking "YOU should pay ME to touch that beast!" But it had to be done. She took my hand and led me towards it. I didn't realize crocodiles were so still!! It was frozen in typical croc-pose. The "led down mouth open" pose you'd get crocodile ornaments doing. We again questioned if it was real but as you got close to it you could see its eyes moving and its side move as it breathed. The only thing I could think of as I bent down to touch it was those nature programs showing crocodiles thrashing its pray around and it just turning around and taking a chunk out of me! But it still stayed ornament-pose-frozen as I touched it's scaly yet softer than you'd think skin. Ha! As if I touched a crocodile…in a restaurant!
On the way back to Gbledi Gbogame, where we're spending the last 2 weeks, we stopped off in Accra, the capital for lunch. We ate in a bar set out like a traditional English pub complete with Sky News on the TV. It felt surreal to be sat there in flip-flops looking at images of snow covered London, cars stuck on motoways, impatient looking people delayed in airports, workers on strike Gordon Brown in a red tie discussing trade with China. "Oh no" we thought "we're going back to snow and a recession!" We've been so disconnected here, you almost feel like time has frozen in the UK and when you get back it'll all be the same. Well, I'm looking forward to catching up on what I've missed and if it's still snowing on my return anyone up for sledging!?!
Only just over a week to go now and I feel almost indifferent about it. I think it's because I'm so 50/50 about it. Half of me is feeling that strong pull home more than ever yet the other half is savouring all the Ghanian randomness and even wanting to freeze time! I'm stuck in limbo!
But I'm just allowing time to slip through my fingers as I wheelbarrow bricks, rake the ground and clear the area for the poultry farm whilst also finding some free time to lie and read books listening to the ipod dock in the sun. Again, I feel I've got so much more to say but I've got to nip this yapping on too much in the bus and conclude by saying I am happy to be here, making the most of the little time left yet can't wait to see everyone back home again in snowy England!! xx