Saturday, January 1, 2011

Afie Shiaapa!

Few of us remembered in the morning what an alarm clock was. Alarmed, quite a few of us slept in and, having planned to meet at 10:30, didn't leave Yegoala hotel until a bit after noon. Two to a room, the beds were soft yet bouncy and the air conditioners and water heaters worked in some rooms. Trickling in one by one for breakfast, we savored pineapple juice, instant coffee with milk fresh from the cow, and veggie omelets with beans and bread. Not sure if the water in the juice is safe, we took our chances of some mild indigestion, but for sure have been purchasing bottled water. Turns out, a few of us (Miriam, the Jackies, Jennie, and Becky) starred in a music video involving a carwash scene ?!

We then met in our private bus for a three hour ride to the Cape Coast Town. Our gracious guide George (also Jorge) spoke to us about Ghanaian naming rituals, marriage protocols, and sociolinguistic issues. We listened while driving through towns with a lot of car and foot traffic. The women, and some men, balanced impossible loads on their heads, propped by a special hat. Something different was sold from each balanced basket--beach umbrellas, jeans, peanuts, towels, and shish-ka-bob-like snacks. George explained how the names of Ghanaian men and those of Ghanaian women all begin with the same letter, unless born on Thursday. He broke it down for us the three forms of marriage--traditional, semi-traditional, and organized. Traditional involves a man offering a bottle of Schnapps to the family (or families) of his future wife (wives). It's not an offer, it's matter of fact. The semi-traditional involves a dowry, an engagement ring, and a Bible. The organized variety is more of a Western style. The difference he explained is, "men in the U.S. marry the woman they love, men in Ghana love the woman they marry." Chicken or egg? George spoke to us in English, but was able to speak to the driver in Twi and to his brother in Fante.

When we arrived to the Cape Coast Castle, George spoke to the guides in Ga. We walked through slave dungeons and stood in the dark dank rooms. Matilda, our guide, spoke to us slowly and clearly with a peaceful yet stern look in her eyes. Objective, she allowed us to experience on our own the history of the place. We stood for a moment in the room for the condemned, those who tried to escape. After looking through peepholes at cannons and palming cannonballs, we approached the "Door of No Return," where the people embarked to sail to the Americas to the unknown. Matilda explained the process as we heard commotion and movement at the other side. The door opened to hundreds of children playing-- half in the ocean, half of them naked, some tumbling and others playing soccer. Ghanaian children smiled at us as we walked through that heavy threshold.

We convened at the castle restaurant, where we had already ordered. Most ate some combo of chicken or fish with rice and beans or plantains. So delicious. Afterward, we rode to a beach hotel called "Coconut Grove." We checked into our huts in the beachside African village. After a short rest, we met for class, where we discussed the exportation of surgical care to developing countries and the sustainability of our imminent efforts in Ghana. Work will begin on Tuesday, after all the New Years festivities.

Now, we sit around a table on the beach with some nice refreshments, the sound of waves, a few stars, and some good conversation.

1 comment:

  1. So very glad to finally hear that all is well and the group is having a good time and things are working out. The first two articles were extremely enlightening and descriptive. Please keep those articles coming. Best of luck with your field work.

    Penny Linden