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Live from Ghana (for the last time)

For the last eight weeks I feel like I have been suspended. Half of Dana has sat somewhere watching the other half blunder wide eyed through this adventure in Ghana.

I woke early this morning filled with a strange loneliness. I walked down the road towards our old house. Street hawkers wove in and out of cars, children yelled ‘obruni’ and waved as they saw me pass, taxis and tro tros honked to each other and passers-by, and men sat in shop doors hissing at me to come buy something. Despite the calamity around me, Ghana felt empty.

As I continued down the road, each corner, stand and tro tro prompted a memory of my friends and I taking on the city. I walked past the football field, picturing the 15 orbunis drinking Clubs on top of a bus watching the Monday neighborhood football match. I said goodbye to the mango lady on the corner of our street, remembering the countless mangos we gorged ourselves on. I waved at the kids in the neighborhood as they ran past me, thinking of the hours we sat on the sidewalk in a tornado of children and stickers. I walked past the wall surrounding our house that was so easily scaled by the few who stole our possessions but failed to take our strength, kindness and enthusiasm.  Lastly I stood in front of our old house and stared at the roof where we sat our last night, waiting to watch the final sunrise we would see together in Ghana.

It’s impossible for me to separate Ghana and the group of students who quickly became my second family. When I think back on my time of Ghana, they are the highlight of almost every memory. Being here without makes Ghana seem like a different place.

I am going to miss mangos, kids squealing in delight when they see me, red stew with boiled yams, my hilarious coworkers, tro tro adventures, whiskey packets and bargaining. Ghana is so challenging and special and has undoubtedly helped shape me into a new person. I am so thankful for that.

My gratitude runs even deeper when I think of how fortunate I am to have shared this experience with such inspiring and vivacious friends. In the last eight weeks I have been challenged more than I have in the past eight years, and I want to thank you all for being such a huge and supportive part of that.

Today I start my descent; today is my last day in Ghana. Today the two halves of Dana meet again. It will probably be years before I completely understand how this experience has reshaped me, but as soon as ‘US Dana’ and ‘Ghana Dana’ meet I will start to become aware. It’s a rather daunting notion, knowing you are returning home a different person but not yet conscious of how. I have to admit, I am more nervous to go home than I was to come here.

Fortunately for me, one thing both Danas have in common is a cast of fantastically goofy, compassionate, talented, and adventurous friends.

I could continue in my long-winded way, but I only have four more hours in this beautiful country and I would rather not spend them in front of a computer screen. So here’s to many more rooftop sunrises, heated games of mafia, air horn blasts, midnight swims, and obruni dance parties. I can’t wait to rejoin you all in Eugene to reflect on past adventures, and start new ones.