COMING TO GHANA: DAY 16

ARE YOU PACKED? YOU TOOK YOUR SHOTS? LET’S GO GHANA! AND THE BEST PART IS… YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET A PASSPORT!

Day 16 – Welcome Home

It was 9:30am and my old cumbersome suitcase was latched to the back of my motorbike taxi and I was holding on to the driver while Shalom and Marie sat on the other motorbike behind us. We whizzed through the streets of Gyamini to get to the market place to pick up a taxi to take me to Asikuma. We paid our drivers and Shalom found me a taxi for 10 cedis. I hugged the girls and they continued to school to teach.

I jumped in the taxi with one passenger already at the back while I sat in the front with Micheal our taxi driver. He was a smiley attractive mature man that was fascinated with my name (he vowed that he will call his future daughter Dionne) and shared his desire to move to the United Kingdom. Time passed as we spoke about politics, economy, family and all things Ghanaian. I learned that he was an electrician and the passenger at the back was actually his brother-in-law. He asked me how I found Ghana and I told him the truth, I loved the country because of the people, the culture and the scenery. He turned to me while speeding 50 miles down the hole-riddled road and asked, “Why don’t you stay? Would you stay and get naturalised?” I smiled and replied, “Yes I would if the opportunity arouses.” He replied so lovingly like an uncle, “Dionne, do not complicate things. It is very simple. You are a Ghanian but you do not understand it yet. Ghana wants you home.” I was touched by his sentiment and felt welcomed for the first time in my life. England was never my home in my mind and when I visit my homeland, Guyana, people treat me like a foreigner. I was living like a nomad. Could Ghana have a place for me? I had hope that one day soon I would find out.

Before I knew it, I arrived in Asikuma. The same bustling marketplace with sellers, minibuses, vendors, and a lot of people commuting just like day 1 when I travelled to Gyamini. Michael got my luggage and asked if we could exchange numbers as he desired to know more about possibly coming to visit England. I kindly agreed to give my number and I took his. His brother-in-law joined me on the bus and was helpful to translate what the driver and conductor were telling me about fees and where I was going. He was a God send. We passed several towns, sellers running up to us whenever we stopped in a busy part of town. I was tired as I did not sleep well the night before because of the storm. I drifted in and out of a light sleep because I had to get off to let passengers leave at their stop.

I awoke when my travelling companion got off at Tema for work. I knew I would soon enter Accra from memory of my second day in Ghana. I welcomed the sight of the big city. The busy streets, the tall buildings, the modern shops, institutions and hotels. I could not wait to taste Accra and all the things that were waiting for me to discover. I was excited and ready to get to the hostel and rest.

The last stop was in another marketplace unlike when I left. The conductor gave me my change and handed me my suitcase. Instantly, taxi drivers rushed over to ask where I was going. I told them I need a drop to Somewhere Nice 9 Cotton Ave but they did not know it and I did not know the borough. I felt a panic as drivers did not know or possess any sort of maps or sat-nav. I grew impatient but then another driver came to my aid. He had an android phone with google maps. I was so relieved! He gave me his phone to hold while he got his taxi parked not too far. One of the first drivers that were helping was trying to get the directions for my taxi driver. Out of nowhere a man appeared shouted something in Twi and the taxi driver grabbed the phone and drove off around the corner. I started shitting myself as I thought I was just robbed of a phone that was not even mine!

A few minutes later, my driver pulled up. I had dread written all over my phone. I told him what happened and he asked where the other driver went. He took my luggage and told me to get in the car and I told me to point out the man who took his phone. Vendors came over to tell him what had happened before he drove down the direction of where I saw the taxi driver went. I was sweating and my heart was pounding. I was in disbelief of what just happened and wondered if I was going to make it to my hostel and how I am going to pay my driver for a new phone. Suddenly, the taxi driver re-appeared like nothing had happened and spoke in Twi (he said that parking became available and he went to secure his spot) and handed back my driver’s phone. He smiled and took me to my hostel. I paid 30 cedis and with much relief walked through the gates of my accommodation.

I arrived around 2:30 pm and my clothes were drenched in sweat. A friendly male staff member called Dem greeted me and took my bags to the office. I gave him my passport to confirm my stay and took me on a tour. The hostel was like a 5-star eco-friendly hotel. They had a recycling program, natural materials and reused materials for décor, furniture, doors even down to window shutters and recycled toilet paper. Everything was so bohemian/eco-warrior style. I loved it. I was surrounded by Caucasians from Europe and America in hippy clothes chatting in German, Dutch, French and English outside. Some on hammocks, others by the outside pool, and the rest sitting in the lounge with thick green plants and vines around them. It was so impressive and the atmosphere was so mellow. I was home!

I went to put my things down in my suite that I was sharing with 7 others. I had a killer view on the first floor of North Accra. I took on the sights before collecting my thoughts about my completed two weeks with the charity and living a very simple life. I came inside and had this overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I had a bed to sleep on, a toilet that was not outside and had to squat over, and a pressured shower rather than fetching water in a bucket to shower outside with little privacy. I was just so over–joyed for the things that the hostel offered like wifi and free water. I met two Dutch boys and French couple. They were pleasant but not friendly, maybe they were jet lagged. I unpacked my suitcase and headed to have my first proper shower in two weeks. It was glorious! I did not want to come out of the wetroom. I got changed and went to the dining area to get online and update my love ones of my adventures in the Volta Region.

It was growing dark and my belly was grumbling. I asked a staff member, Daniel, where I can find local food. He directed me to a market less than 5 minutes away. It was approaching 6 pm and vendors were packing up. I turned onto a more busy street selling in colourful shipping containers, food vendors making preparations for last orders, and mothers bathing their children in silver metal basins outside a house with a water pump (something like a public bath house). The street was busy and loud but amongst it all, I saw a small shop selling local food. I was happy and wasted no time ordering jollof rice, fried chicken and salad. The cook was welcoming and proud to be preparing his dish for a British girl. He gave me a huge portion in a white polystyrene box and said I could sit outside and eat.

I got my stool and placed it under his shade and devoured the best food I ever tasted in Ghana. He had only charged 5 cedis (£1) for this incredible food. His assistant came out and gave me free water. The cook was looking at the smile on my face and I looked up and saw the pride he had for preparing me his local food. With my belly full, I headed back through the new roads as it grew dark.

I went back to my suite to get my laptop and had video chats with my friends that wanted to hear my stories. I told them about Marie, my adventure to the Wli Waterfalls, and the children in the school. That night, I retold stories at least three times. I did not mind. It was through my tales did I learn I was growing as a person and my love for Africa had just started. I was home.

Stay tuned for my last week in Accra for more good times and adventures in the motherland.

Thank you,

Dionne

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