Life in Ghana: First impressions and learning customs


IMG_0089 The sun set during Harmattan


The beach is lined with fishing boats and in the morning fisherman pull in their nets while singing

Here I am, just sitting at my plastic table on my plastic chair, listening to Bob Marley in 90 degree heat, drinking water out of a plastic bag. There is a kitchen being built next door and the sound of a pounding hammer is only slightly drowned out by the thumping of Ghanaian music at the beach front bar down the street.

My feet are dirty from walking around town which only has a few paved roads. I went out to get some bananas, buttermilk bread and apparently, harassed. Everywhere I go kids shout out, “Obruni, obruni!” Which means foreigner. Most will run up to you and either put out their hand for a high five or just go right in and touch your arm and even sometimes pinch! I spend most of my walks to town waving to the shouting children, only with my right hand though because waving with your left hand is offensive. There is poor sanitation in Ghana and custom is you use your left hand for self cleaning. These children love practicing their English and love saying hello to the “obruni.”

The days are hot, hotter than a New York City subway ride in the middle of summer but the morning and evenings are a relief as the ocean brings a breeze and the sun takes a rest. I’ve been spending the early evening, just about at sun set, walking the beach, collecting shells and dipping my toes in the water. The slope is very steep here and the waves are massive, so swimming is a bit dangerous. I’ve been able to go for a dip but usually quickly come out as the current tries to pull the other direction. Right now it is Harmattan, which is a West African trade wind that blows from the Sahara and brings dust and sand creating a haze in the sky. The effect this has on the sun is absolutely beautiful. The sky around sun set is a light gray brown  and the sun stands out against that backdrop glowing a beautiful bright orange which fades into a burnt orange as the haze passes over.

As the sun fully sets and the night takes over the music gets a bit louder. I’ve been spending my evenings cooking with my “obruni” neighbors and new Ghanaian friends. Then I quietly slip into my mosquito net, pull out my journal and write.


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