Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Birth and The Death of Day

The Birth and Death of Day

Peering down below everything seems so small and fragile. Cars move about like toys, meandering through the spider web of roadways. Everything looks so perfect from up here. Ants marching to and from; all living their separate lives. As we ascend further into the sky, the clouds resemble as if they were a field of cotton with the wings cutting through each layer. The colors of orange sherbet and tomato red mask the sky while the sun begins to set. Now darkness has fallen and only a dim glow is visible within the distance.  
I have arrived in London and everything becomes static as I have forgotten what time it is. I have found myself within this incredibly modern airport where sporadic reflections of light bounce off metallic objects, everything looks so new. The airport bustles with people while the flight gate numbers races across plasma screens. Eventually I found myself on course to one of the massive terminals in Heathrow where I had met a young women also studying at UCC (University of Cape Coast). We both agreed that our communication with UCC was rather ambiguous, but we figured that is how things were run at UCC. Our thoughts could not have been more accurate.

We both found our seats and took off for one last destination, Accra. Later on in the flight I found myself peering down once again, only to find that the spider web of roadways had now transformed into a vast network of seemingly never-ending trails as we were now flying over the Sahara Desert.

Landing at Kotoka International Airport in Accra, the capital of Ghana was amazing. I came from one of the most technologically advance international hubs in the world to this shanty airway. It was exactly what I had expected, but it was just interesting to realize how globalized the world has become today. We soon had claimed our luggage and ventured out into lobby where a frail man held two signs with our names printed on them. His name was Nelson and he was a representative from the Centre for International Education (CIE) at UCC. We were pleasantly surprised as we had no idea who or if someone was going to pick us up. That night we stayed in the UCC guesthouse Accra traveling to Cape Coast in the morning a roughly 3 hour drive after a 23 hour travel period was not bad at all.
Quinlyn, the student I met in London, and Nelson at the guest house in Accra.
The next day [Tuesday] we met Mary who was also a CIE employee who traveled with us to Cape Coast. While traveling I was glued to the window as we flew by the markets and villages that sometimes could have skimmed the sides of the van. Every once in a while you can see murals of Obama, the Ghanaians love him. President Obama had traveled to Ghana not too long ago and from what I had picked up it was seen as a major sign of respect to the Ghanaian citizens to not only have the world’s most powerful leader in their country but a man who was also of the same race. Overall, positive US sentiments in Ghana are high.
Arriving in Cape Coast, finally passing through the checkpoint at the front gate of the university was a great sigh of relief. I was shown my room a spacious but weathered looking dorm room with a balcony that reveals the three cisterns that store water for the building. Water here is not safe to drink and shortages do occur but bottled water is easy to find at local shops. I met my roommate Jason, a senior at SUNY Buffalo who is studying in the same field. Jason and I get along well; we both have a burn for adventure which I guess explains partially why we are in Ghana. Soon I met more students who are all relatively studying in the same field: political science/international relations. There are two students from Germany who have either already lived in Ghana or traveled here before so they have become a huge help as far as learning the cultural norms and tips on shopping in the market.
A view of Cape Coast from the campus.
A view of the living conditions in Cape Coast as you travel outside of the campus.
Wednesday we had orientation at the CIE with all of the staff. We learned what to expect from our classes as well as the other small details that concerned our four month stay here. Some of the big lessons that were explained included terms like ‘Ghanaian time.’ This is something that I personally expected and we had already experienced an hour and a half wait for our van to arrive to pick us up to actually begin orientation. So for example if you were told by a local to meet at 9am it means closer to 10am or after. Believe it or not this includes events like weddings. I had heard of a story of how a wedding ceremony was schedule to begin at 9am but the bride had not walked down the aisle till 2pm. It seems as if the locals just know when to arrive to certain events. We are all trying to pick up the small cultural nuances as quickly as possible, but some carry more weight than others. For example, the use of the left hand which is considered offensive, this concurs with some Middle Eastern cultures as well. I will let you research why this is if you are interested to avoid some blunt terminology. The official language of Ghana is English but in cities like Cape Coast Fante is the language of choice by the locals. Some phrases include: Ak-wah-ba –Welcome; Meh-dah-si - Thank you. Also, the Ghanaian currency is the cedi which is roughly 1 US dollar for every 2 cedis. Considering the standard of here is low the costs of goods and materials are as well so I make out pretty well here. Traditional meals include a combination of rice, chicken and spices but you can still find lots of variety of foods at the market. We, the exchange students, have found restaurants that offer both traditional meals as well as more western plates like pancakes or hamburgers. We are all still learning how to be creative with the foods offered at the market, but it is only our first week here so we learn something new every day. It is amazing that it has only been a week here considering how much I have learned and seen so I cannot write all of it down at once. Tomorrow I’ll be covering my adventures in the market, the Cape Coast Castle as well as my trip into the rain forest. I have some powerful pictures that follow their stories as well. Stay tuned!
We found internet!



4 comments:

  1. Which one is Jason? I assume htis are is the wifi hotspot? Anyone attempt video yet...skype?

    ReplyDelete
  2. No one has yet, recently we just found reliable internet but the power grid has been faulty all day.

    ReplyDelete