It's Monday evening in Ghana; we arrived this morning at 6:15 a.m. after a seemingly endless (albeit exciting) journey. After retrieving our luggage and navigating Customs, we were met by Kofi, our tour guide, who held up a "Welcome R-MC" sign and greeted us with an, "Akwaaba!"
Akwaaba means "welcome," and after counting heads (and a sea of luggage!) we boarded a bus and headed for the Magrab Hotel.
My first impressions of Ghana will stay with me for quite some time. This is a poor country, and the view from the bus window reflected that. Hundreds of vendors, selling everything from tires to furniture to food, line the dirt roads in Accra. Women walk through the streets with enormous baskets of wares on their heads; it's a gravity-defying sight to see a three-foot stack of oranges (or bottled water, or other goods) sitting atop someone's head--and to realize that this is someone's livelihood. And it's a culture-slash-soul shock to realize that this is the norm, not the exception, of Ghanaian life. Children run between cars, selling fruit, or flags, or water--everything under the (hot) sun. Everything is in motion: people, cars, the thrum of daily life.
After checking into our hotel, a much-needed shower and a l-o-n-g nap were the order of the day for me. The group met at 5:00 p.m. in the hotel lobby, and we were driven to the Home Touch restaurant. Dinner was delightful: rice, plantains, fish, chicken, and plenty of heat (the spicy variety). It's impossible not to feel the dichotomy of the view outside the bus window and the bounty inside the restaurant.
Kofi briefed us about our upcoming two-week agenda. We'll head to the University of Accra tomorrow, attend a lecture, and tour the college library. On Wednesday we'll tour fishing villages and visit Elmina Castle in Cape Coast. I'll continue to update you on our schedule, which will include service-learning in Accra and a visit to the Kakum National Forest--and much more.
Ghanaians are friendly and open; we've been greeted with warm smiles everywhere we go. I feel welcome here, especially when greeted with a joyful, "Akwaaba!"