As I sit here and reflect on my journey here in Ghana, I am astounded by the roller coaster my emotions have taken me on. Only 3 weeks ago I was crying because there were ants in my clothes and dirty toilets with cockroaches. And here I am crying again, except not about the conditions, but about the fact that my roommates from Germany are leaving, and I will soon have to say goodbye to everyone too. Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing more than to return to America. I miss wearing scarves and boots, watching Gossip Girl with my sister, dabbing to every rap song, and eating way too much chicken Parmesan pizza. But in Ghana, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing meals, engaging in discussion, and exploring the Brong Ahafo region with a some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. I didn’t think I’d become attached at all, but beyond the language barriers and cultural differences, I grew to love the natives and the visitors here.
I definitely won’t miss the nauseating car rides, never having hand soap, or not having electricity every few hours. I won’t miss the aggressive flies, the intrusive mosquitoes, or the lizards that frequented. I won’t miss being stared at because of the way I wear my hair, or being called a “bruny” because I’m from America. I’m not particularly sad about not seeing C-sections and hysterectomies everyday, and I won’t miss peeing into a hole in the ground and getting it all over my feet. Nor will I miss the impatience of taxi drivers, causing them to casually drive in the opposite lane (this literally happened every day, I almost lost my life 21 times).
What I will miss, and am already missing, is the laughter of my Aunt Judith whose sandals got swept up by the ocean. I’ll miss intentionally being asked questions about education and racism in America, and being told of history in Europe. I will miss asking Peter our cook to toast one more slice of bread, and then wondering why he disappeared, only to realize he biked all the way to the market for more bread. I will miss Fanny doing her shimmy every time a surgery was about to start. I will miss the bluntness of Ghanian students, who asked me everyday if they could “be my friend”. I will miss Professor asking every evening if what we are eating is considered “stew”. I will miss being told Awkwaaba (welcome) every where I go and I’ll miss talking about music with my cousins. I’ll miss watching horrible Indian television shows, and poorly directed African movies. I’ll miss Sister Patricia’s hugs, and I’ll miss being cooked for day in and day out. I will miss being thanked over ten times for giving people American deodorant and toothpaste, and will miss hearing “enjoy your meal” every night before dinner. I’ll miss holding the hands of frightened mothers during delivery, and wiping the tears of children whose parents weren’t around for their surgeries. I’ll miss 4 year old Henry and 9 year old Boabeng playing ball outside our hostel, and then running towards me with open arms when I walk back from work. I will miss only paying $5 for a beautiful dresses and the Multifrutas juice served at dinner. I’ll miss hearing stories of my grandmother and mom when they were younger. I’ll miss picking tangerines and starfruit in the woods, and seeing goats walk around like they’re humans.
Ghana is really a beautiful country, and while they do not have half the luxuries of the United States, there’s so much life in everything they have here. The weekend long funeral celebrations, the endless lush green trees, the children who knew little English but had great smiles — God helped me find joy in everything. Gratitude isn’t a big enough word for how I feel about having the opportunity to stay here. It’s not your typical tourism country, but you learn a lot about yourself and about others when you step out of your comfort zone in a place like this. People have been asking me all week if I would come back here, and for awhile my homesickness was speaking for me. But Ghana’s got a little piece of my heart, so it won’t be a goodbye, it will be a see you later.