Ghana is about what I expected, but it is still a culture shock. We drive through slum after slum after slum. People live in small shacks and use them during the day as their shop and at night to sleep. There is dirt everywhere with few sidewalks. Sewers are open and run along the side of the road. Litter is everywhere and there is a public service campaign to reduce it. Most areas are ramshackle buildings all mish mashed together. There is literally a sea of humanity everywhere you go.
The prevailing experience is hot and noisy. I’ve had a headache every day from the heat, the noise, and the pace. Outside horns honk, cars race, radios blast, and people shout. These adjectives can’t begin to describe the cacophony of sounds attacking you in the street. Unfortunately the street is not the only noisy place. Bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, taxis and everywhere else you go people play the radio or tv at ear splitting levels. It is nearly impossible to have a conversation. Let alone a quiet thought. The hotel room is a welcome escape each night. Needless to say I haven’t bothered to turn on the tv.
Of course the heat is another shock to our Pittsburgh selves. It is so hot and muggy that you can’t get dry once the sweat breaks out. The A/C is a welcome relief when we find it but the oppressive heat just crushes you again when you head out, especially once you have the sweat layer started. We’ve walked a number of places which I love but the sun and heat make it less than ideal. (The taxis aren’t much better:-) Add in a hot flash here and there and I’m a limp puddle. I bought some talcum powder at the mall last night but it smells like antiseptic!
So many things we take for granted are luxuries here. The power is mostly reliable in our hotel although there are brown outs. At the church today they were running off a generator. The buildings are old and in disrepair. It looks like many structures have not been updated since the 50’s or 60’s.
The people are Ghana’s greatest asset. They are kind, welcoming, and happy and there are tons of them! We have been greeted warmly and welcomed everywhere we’ve been. People smile and acknowledge us on the street. All our hosts have been gracious.
Akwaaba Akwaaba Akwaaba (welcome)