Posted by Emily Block | 1 comments

Ghana (Day 4)


 So yes, it was an early morning on my fourth day in Ghana.  I dozed on and off from 4:30 to 6:30 am but then the youngest woke up and was having fun poking me and playing with my hair.  :0)  I spent a last half hour with my host family taking pictures and playing clapping games with the kiddies.  When it was time to go I thought I may cry, but I held it together.  I hugged the kids and shook  hands with their grandmother and headed off to breakfast.  

   I had learned at this point to take tons of extra food so I could share it as I was eating which was fun.  One of the older girls came around to write the address for the village down for me so I could send letters that the elders would pass on to my host family.  I could tell she was really bright and probably the best at writing and English in the village.  I had already given my pencil to Sara so I rummaged through my bag to find a sharpie for her to use in school.  She was so excited, I wish I had brought more school supplies!  We talked for a while in between her being needed to write for other groups and she ended up writing down her facebook information so we could be facebook friends!  (The village has one or two computers that the kids and adults can go use in a central building.)  I was really excited!  Knowing that I could stay in contact with the people I met and stayed with made the fact that I had to leave slightly easier.  

    When breakfast was done, all that was left to do was get back on the bus.  I dragged my feet again by taking lots of pictures and giving lots of final hugs to my homestay mom and Kafi who had wandered over.  As the bus pulled away I waved and blew kisses as we pulled away from the crowd.  A bunch of the kids ran with the bus yelling and laughing until we picked up speed.  All of the sudden it was over.  It was a strange feeling of happiness that I was going back to the comfort of the ship, and sadness that I had to leave the wonderful community behind.  

    On the way back, we had one more adventure in store.  We stopped at some sort of wild animal reserve/park and picked up a guide who worked there.  The bus drove a ways and then let us out to what seemed like not much.  Then the baboons came!  These things are cool from a distance and kind of terrifying up close.  They are rather large, have sharp teeth, and their butts look like something that died of a horrible infection.  The guide said we could feed them popcorn that he brought, so naturally I ignored five years of biology class telling me this was a bad idea and fed the baboons.  I was amazed how close they were willing to get to us!  It was really fun while at the same time it made me sad that the wild animals were not so wild.  Even though it would have  been less of an experience, I would have rather watched the baboons from a distance with binoculars and known that they were still 100% wild.
(She is not amused.)

   We got back on the bus and started driving down an awesomely rough dirt road through the bush!  We were in luck and spotted on of their herds of antelope!  We were all supposed to stay in the bus to take pictures, but me and a couple others managed to convince the guide to let us sneak out to take some pictures.  Then there was more awesome bus-offroading and we got to the trail head for the hike to the cave.  I was feeling pretty invincible so decided to go along.

   It was less of a hike and more of a rock climbing experience.  The trail went almost straight up with huge boulders jutting out.  I kept up pretty well though.  I wasn't even last to get to the cave!  The cave was pretty cool, but not very big or dark like I had envisioned.  THe best part was that it was filled with bats and their associated chirping noises!  I had never been so close to so many bats so it was cool!  Our guide said that we would have a better view of them if we crawled through this crack in the wall and hiked up a bit more.  Unfortunately that space we had to crawl through was lined with bat poo.  And let me tell you this stuff does not smell good.  I was gagging and my eyes were watering.  It was that bad.  Still, I shimmied through the nastiness to get what was arguable a worse view of the bats.  By this point my legs were starting to shake which is a big uh-oh when I knew I had lots of steep downhill to go.
   For the decent I wasn't nearly as successful as going up.  I was way slower than everyone else so one girl and the guide stayed back with me.  I was pretty much walking on jelly legs that kept partially collapsing underneath me so it was quite an experience.  I was barely able to get onto the bus and needed extensive help from my arms to get me up the two stairs.  I was fully expecting a complete shaking and weakness episode, but it never got any worse.  In face, as I was sitting on the bus ride back to the ship, I actually got most of the strength back!  Yippy!
    Between spending the day and night in the dusty village without a shower and crawling through bat poo, I'm pretty sure I had never been more disgusting in my life.  I was SO happy to get back in the ship and take a really long shower to scrub all that nastiness off.  I rested for a bit, ate lunch, and then ventured out onto the pier to check out the vendor stalls there.  I was surprised at how aggressive the sellers were!  I hadn't been anywhere touristy in Ghana yet, so I hadn't been treated like a tourist until then.  The guys would literally grab my arm and not let mea leave their stall.  Luckily I'm somewhat used to this from traveling to various places so I wasn't as overwhelmed or scared a some people probably were.  I basically figured out that we were playing a game.  They were trying to sell me things for as much as possible, and I was trying to buy things for as little as possible.  Other than that there were no rules.  It was just the best player would do the best.  With this mindset, it was much easier to shop and bargain.  I fully understood that they didn't really think of me "as a sister who will take my name to America" and they were certainly not cutting me a deal because I was a "poor starving student."  I'm like, you can't expect me to think that you believe that as I get off this huge cruise ship.  I bought a small gift for someone at the first stall and then skipped to three or four down the line where the sellers were less intense.  I  had my eye on one of the African dresses so I opted into the game by asking how much it was.  The seller quoted me 37 citi which was a bit to high for me.  I said I didn't have that much with me, but thank you very much and started to walk away.  He said, "wait!  Wait! How much do you have?" and I lied and said I only had 15 citi with me.  (We both knew I was lying.  Its part of the game.)  He laughed and said that was not nearly enough and quoted me 30 citi.  I kept just saying that I only had 15 and there was nothing I could do thinking I would just go on to the next stall.  When I finally started to walk away, the guy said, "Ok, ok, I give it to you for 15."  I was actually really surprised and pleased with that!  I gave him the 15 and thanked him very much.  He sort of smiled at me and approvingly said, "I like you.  You good." which I hope meant that I had mad bargaining skills.  True to my word, I told the other sellers who descended on me as I left the booth that I didn't have any money.  One artist said he just wanted me to look at his paintings and I thanked him and went over to see them.  They were really beautiful and I may end up getting one.  After he showed them to me, he asked if I wanted any and I said I didn't have any citi left.  He then offered to trade with me, one 30 citi painting for an iphone.  I laughed and said I wish I had an iphone to trade, but I don't.  After much haggling, I said that I really didn't have any money but I loved his paintings and would hopefully come back if  I could figure out a way to get more money.  He said he would save my favorite paintings for me which is a well accepted lie that is part of the market experience.  I thanked him very much for his time and told him he was a really gifted painter and headed back to the ship.  I used the "I have no money" approach all the way back and was largely left a lone which was nice.  I think I'm sharpening my bargaining skills.  :0)

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