Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sweet delicious African sunset...

There are few things more beautiful than Accra from above at sunset.

From the moment we stepped out of the back of the plane it was more than apparent that we were on a different continent. What I immediately assumed was hot steamy air from the jet’s engines soon proved to be nothing more than typical evening air in Accra. After taking a ten second bus ride (no joke) to the airport terminal, we entered the customs lines. As was the case in Amsterdam, all the dignitaries just glanced at our Canadian passports and waved us through without asking any questions. When the 23 of us got outside we found 4 long term EWB volunteers waiting to help us get cabs to the hostel/hotel thing they found us.

I take a lot of things for granted, and from the moment we met the volunteers I found one of what is sure to be a long sequence. In trying to secure us cabs all four of the long term volunteers had to bargain/yell at the drivers for a good ten or twenty minutes before they finally got a decent rate (which was then upped from 40,000 to 45,000 cedis as we got in the car, but they were tired of fighting by then). The drive itself was crazy; the driver was calmly whipping around cars and pedestrians (despite having no working speedometer), honking at almost everything that moved. He was a very nice man who was working long into what should have been his retirement in order to ensure that his son and daughter can go to university in Accra.

I spent most of the drive staring open-mouthed at the window. Not a single thing in the city seemed familiar—cars, buildings, clothes, vendors, advertisements… everything was very obviously unique. After several minutes of silence in the back of the cab Kyle looks over at me and says: “Ever have those moments that you know you’ll remember for the rest of your life?” To which I replied
“You mean like that comment?”

After checking into the hotel we went down to what they call “circle,” which is a seemingly endless series of street vendors, stands and tro-tro stations. As we were told in training, we were always the centre of attention, to the point that most every car honked and people constantly came up to us to shake our hands and talk. The excessive pleasantries were nice, but put me ill-at-ease, as I sensed that many of them were looking for a chance to take advantage of us. A few kilometres later on, I was proved right when a lady overcharged me for my meal (11 000 for a 5000 meal…but I successfully told her off to get my money back). I was especially glad because Jon, who had ordered and paid before my and was seated when I ordered/paid, was actually overcharged even more than I was and never realized it until I told him about my adventures with the lady at the cash.

It’s hard to articulate just how different everything is here, and how it feels overwhelmingly alien yet almost comfortable. From ordering food, to the smell of the air, to the greetings and interactions, everything is so markedly different from what I’ve known from now. And though I tried to visualize what everything could possibly be like here before coming, I am awestruck at how beautifully unique everything is; it is proving to truly be beyond my wildest dreams.

Man, that’s three entries in three days. Don’t expect this trend to continue though; we’re bussing up north tomorrow, at which point electricity and internet will be a huge question mark. I’ll try to update as much as possible after that—we’ll see how it goes.

Take care,


At 2:11 p.m., Anonymous Katie said...

Ouch! Careful of those overcharges!

It sounds like everything is fantastic - I've enjoyed reading your entries.

I hope that you'll be able to make a few more entires before your trip is over -- if not, I hope you post it up here when you get back so we all can read about it, though I know there will be a huge amount of stuff you won't be able to put into words.

Take care,

At 5:13 p.m., Anonymous Jenn said...

It's about time! I know Gran and mom have been wondering how you have been. I was actually thinking of you on my way home today, which despite the past three days that weren't so great, turned out pretty good.

Even though I hardly think I can begin to imagine what everything looks like, I'm siting reading this intently imagining from only pictures that I have seen or can come up with. They sound so amazing.

Job well done on not getting overcharged.

I know what you mean by that "numb" feeling. I get like that sometimes when anything exciting or tragic happens. When mom and I went to Cuba I didn't know how to react when we were taking off, landing, arriving or there. But it'll sink in eventually and it'll all be amazing.

Hope you're having a lot of fun and can't wait till your next update(s).

Love ya! Take care,

At 5:28 p.m., Anonymous Mum & Dad said...

Hello Bryn, Nice to hear you made it to Africa safely ...and now the adventure begins. Take care.
Lots of love,
Mum & Dad

At 10:46 p.m., Anonymous Michelle said...

Bryn, I'm glad I got to speak to you today for 30 seconds. I love you so much, and what you're doing is so inspiring to me. Good luck, my wonderful friend, I miss you SO MUCH. Byeee :-(.

At 12:07 p.m., Blogger Sarah said...


Jenn said "it will sink in eventually"... but i wouldn't count on it... I'm leaving Europe in about a month and I still havn't registered it... just reading your entries gives me this awsome adrenaline rush, so inspiring, I reallly really hope I can do something along the same lines someday. Keep up as many updates as possible, take tons of pics... I hope you enjoy yourself, even when things are hard..... ok
Take care!


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