As I write this I’m watching a desk being put together, a room coming together, and the chaos of moving slowly dissipating. The life of two, fit snugly into a u-haul. It feels like only yesterday I moved into the most recent Pasadena apartment, but that was six months ago. And now, I’m 400 miles away. I thought I would be at least a little upset with moving, and while saying goodbye to people and places is always hard, it has become to me, disturbingly easy. Home has ceased to be a physical place, but a mental state of familiarity and comfort. Transition has become my “home.” I feel little attachment to a physical location, but rather of memories and people, and no matter where I am, there are plenty of memories and friends to be made. Continue reading
As soon as I publicly complain about the unfriendly nature of other westerners we meet a couple (an American from outside LA and a Brit) at our lodge, who were easily the nicest people we’ve met so far. We were all leaving, so we were able to share transportation into town. Unfortunately, they were headed to Yengi to grab a ferry down the Volta and we were headed to lake Bosumtwi, they seemed like a perfect couple to travel with. Everyone seemed disappointed we weren’t all heading in the same direction, especially given the advantage of strength in numbers. Either way, it was refreshing to meet friendly and engaging fellow travelers.
Alex and I sit awkwardly next to two Americans as they yell at our cab driver at the Wli National Park. From Hohoe we had found a share cab to the falls and picked up two others who happened to be from the US. The ride was filled with pleasant conversation, the usual “where are you from, why are you here.” When we arrived however, the mood dampened. The driver had told us 1 cedi a person, but when we got out, he said he actually ment 2. As in 2/person, not 2 for both. We all assumed he was trying to rip us off. After all, this happens an unfortunate amount. He came inside the guide office where our fellow cab-mates continued a yelling match. It became quite clear the problem had been language, we paid, thinking it was settled. But the other girls wouldn’t have it, out of principle, they claimed. And I have sympathy for them, I too am a bit jaded from the constant mark up for westerners, which is the norm in all developing countries. Then a woman in the office uses the argument we’ve heard before, in Peru when a tour guide almost tricked us out of $40: “You’re rich, it’s nothing to you.” Of course, this set one of the girls off, who throws her hands in the air and exclaims “fuck this country, I can’t wait to go home.” Though she did eventually pay. And the temper didn’t end, on the tricky route down, she slipped on some loose rocks-most people do, we were lucky not to have fallen, and as she hits the ground in a controlled fall, its clear she’s done. She screams more profanities about the country and lack of tourism infrastructure and cries. All of the emotions of the day, fueled by physical exhaustion, I feel for her. But I have to say, this is a bit dramatic. As we leave the park, we tip our guide well, certainly, he deserved it.
The past day or so has been pleasantly, uneventful. After a a hectic weekend, the slow pace has been a welcome change.
Yesterday, the day was spent at the University, mostly in meetings. In the computer lab, Sheban, Jame’s graduate student found me and informed me we had a meeting (of which, I had just learned). He led me to the graduate student’s conference room, and long, narrow dim-lit room with a white-board in front. He handed me a marker and requested I went over Elisas with him. He sat down expectantly. I did my best, I’ve never been a strong teacher, but he seemed to understand, and I was able to field his questions adequately. We spent the next hour talking, I learned where he had gone to University (Cape Coast), and that at 28, he was finishing his master’s program. This is very common, many people work for several years before attending university to save up money. Public education costs about $1,000 USD a year for room and board, average incomes range from $1,000/yr-$3,000/yr. The government officials of course pull in six-figures.