Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Farewell Ghana - Hello new adventures


Boarding a plane from my suburban Canadian home so many years ago, with my three year old little boy, and our few worldly belongings in tow, I knew I had chosen adventure, the unknown, the road less traveled.
When we touched down in Ghana, West Africa, I was poised for a two year volunteer posting. I had no idea I’d be where I am today, after 16 years, about to fly out once again from my mother’s suburban Canadian home, to Grenada, nestled in the Caribbean windward islands, as a starting base, to sail the world with my true love and soul mate. My boy is grown, Ghana is an omnifarious memory, and the abyss of the unknown lies ahead, and beneath in the endless ocean.
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My rearview mirror sees Ghana closer than she appears. Though we left her humid shores over five months ago, my time there was a lifetime. Perhaps more.
Ghana raised me from the blinding grip of naiveté, helped mold me, open my sheltered eyes, gave me a new world in which to raise a family and learn some heart piercing lessons about love and loss.
Ghana has been everything to me - from a highschool bully to my tour guide, my big sister, a boss you can never quite please. Ghana embraced me and showed me her beauty and her scars.
I learned to speak Twi with the tomato sellers in Makola market and learned to navigate potholes and open gutters with ease. I was privileged to be invited into a Ghanaian home and made part of the family – I learned the best banku is that made at home on a Saturday afternoon, with all the aunties and cousins, after a hot day in the market. My boys learned to wash their school socks with their cousins on Sundays in a singing line up of soapy suds and smiles.
I spent so many Sundays sipping local gin n’ juice at Labadi beach with ‘my girls’, serenaded by the glass eating acrobats “Everybody watch!”.
In Ghana I faced corruption and compassion, grit and beauty, poverty and richness in equal measure. It is a beautiful and complicated country. And Ghanaians are proud. They taught me about nationalism and a loyalty I had never known. As a Canadian I had always wondered what our ‘culture’ was. Ghanaians know their culture. And they will defend their flag at all times.
Ghana has a love affair with soccer (football) and every little boy plays – dreaming of following the footsteps of the stars that have paved their way. Essien, Desailly, Pele, Gyan… the streets literally burst with glee during international matches when Ghana scores or wins – the din of the cheering can be heard across the nation and it’s a magical thing. Being in Ghana for the World Cup is an experience I’ll never forget. Truly amazing.
But I am not a Ghanaian and no matter how long you live in Ghana, how much you love it, if you are not a Ghanaian, you will never be a Ghanaian. Ghana is a gracious and glorious host, but as a visitor there comes a time to go.
Alas, 16 years past and seasons brought life and love and death and change.
And the time has come to open another page in the book of life. It’s time to seek out more languages, more experiences, more countries and colours and flavours.
I invite everyone to find us over in our new abode, SV Shiloh, a vessel and a lifestyle, dedicated to the free spirit of my Ghanaian boy who left our world too soon. The new site is called SV-Shiloh: notes from the boat.
I have vowed to keep track of all the new experiences, the quirks and caverns and catastrophies that travel promises. And I’d love to share it with all the friends I made in Ghana and beyond, thanks to this blog.
Holli has rambled here enough.
Ye be hyia biyo (sp?!) Ghana! xoxo
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