Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ghana 2017 - Day 17. A perfect day

I forgot to mention that yesterday, on the way back from the Cape Coast, we saw several people along the road selling small dead antelopes, about the size of a kid goat. You could buy them whole, or if you were skiddish about dressing them, you could buy them roasted in exactly the same way a cabrito is sold in Mexico, opened flat by the use of bamboo sticks, and then roasted and a bit smoked by placing them on a bed of coals. I also saw a man offering a large rodent for the same purpose (long tail, so it looked like a large rat!).

But I digress. Today we are going to the beach, so in good time I started on my way to the International Student Hostel for an 8:30 am meeting. Half way there I was intercepted by Auntie Abigail, who was heading the same way to see the students off on their way to the beach. She was dressed to the hilt, with a beautiful colorful dress and matching headscarf, and had her two sons with them, because after seeing us off they were heading to church. When we got there we met Claudia and Uncle Joe, who were to be our guides for the day. One by one the students trickled out of the hostel and when they were all assembled Auntie Abigail asked the to meet with her for ten minutes this week, to do a midterm assessment. I like this concern by the Resident Director very much.

Once in the bus we took a two and a half bus ride to the coast in the eastern part of the country, in the neighborhood of the port city of Ada, right at the mouth of the Volta River. We stopped at a villa/restaurant, where we embarked in a small motor boat that brought us right to the sand bar at the mouth of the estuary. The tide was coming in and we had the unique opportunity of seeing the tidal bore entering the estuary. We landed on the sand bar, in a beautiful cluster of palm trees, under which stood a couple of thatch-roof palapas and a few beach chairs. The place was idyllic, and for the next couple of hours the students had the chance to play in the ocean on one side of the bar, and in the estuary on the other side. I completed the picture of paradise by nursing a beer sitting on a beach chair under the palm fronds.

Afterward the boat brought us back to the villa, where a delicious buffet was waiting for us. There was white rice, red rice, and friend rice, a delicious salad, fried chicken, fried fish, plantains, and banku with a salsa that could match any salsa made in Mexico. As the oldest member of the group I had to go first (my inclination would have been to go last, but Uncle Joe had by now made it clear that this is the way things are done in Ghana and I was not going to go against tradition). It was a delicious feast, and the students thoroughly enjoyed it. As I mentioned in a previous blog we have all been a bit baffled by the fact that we have to order each piece of lunch or dinner individually, so it was areal treat to be able to select what to put in our plates. The students were delighted.

Our final treat was a two hour period to play in the pool, sunbathe, and just relax listening to a disk jokey who was playing just the right kind of music for our young crowd. The American and Ghanaian students mixed with the natural ease of young people, and everybody had a good time.

I want to recognize the deep understanding that the local USAC team has shown for the visiting students. I think Auntie Abigail, Claudia, and Uncle Joe understood perfectly that this is the time when the students hit rock bottom, and that they needed a boost to get them out of their funk. By organizing a pool party they hit the right note to show them that their visit to Ghana has all the fun that they can expect back home, and that things are looking up. Toward the end of the day one of the students told me that “Ghana sure has a lot to offer. I had no idea what to expect when I signed up to come here, and was ready to seek the silver lining even if things were rough. Now I know that it is easy to love this country.” Bravo to the local USAC team!

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