Homes, Sweet Homes

Trip Start Jul 01, 2009
1
6
Trip End Aug 21, 2009


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Where I stayed
Home in Toronto

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Hey Everybody,


I have arrived safely back in Canada, and, as such, this will be my last update about my trip. In my last week in Ghana, I was lucky to pack in a lot. On Friday, after a morning drum lesson, Ledzi and I went to Accra for the weekend. Ledzi is studying accounting at a university there on Saturdays, and I needed to do some last minute shopping for people back home. Getting to Accra was quite an adventure, but I now I have learned to expect a little excitement while travelling. The first step was a motorcycle trip through the bush. Then we were the hopped on a huge bus that was going to Accra, and we were the only two passengers. After watching French Kung Fu movies for a couple hours, we arrived in Accra and took a tro tro to Ledzi's house. That night, we went to a 'jazz’ concert in Osu. I quickly learned that a ‘jazz’ concert in Ghana means a live band is playing, no matter what style. We watched some the band play covers (from Bob Marley to Bob Dylan) for a while before calling it a night.

On Saturday, while Ledzi was in class, I went to the Cultural Centre (tourist market). I have never enjoyed shopping as much as I did here. Everything is based on bargaining, and once you learn to handle the overwhelming sales approach of the shop owners, you can have a great time. Everyone in the market uses the same phrase ("It’s free to look", “You’re from Canada? I have friends in Canada!”, etc.), but it’s always fun to try and get the cheapest price possible.

The next morning, Ledzi and I met up with Kwasi in Accra. We waited by the roadside for a while, and when they stopped at the side of the highway, we hopped in. Together, we went to pick up two Canadians who came to spend a week in Dagbamete. Anna had been to the village twice before, and decided to return to Ghana with her father, Brian.

The next day, I decided I wanted to buy kente scarves, a traditional style of weaving, for my family. I quickly learned that I had left this, like everything, to the last minute, but with the help of my friends in the village, we were able to work it out. First of all, the weavers lived in Abor, about 20 minutes on motorcycle from Dagbamete. The first night, Kwabla (the local necklace maker) went to Abor to see if they could do it. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell him what style I wanted and what names I wanted on the scarves. This meant that the next morning, at 5 am (before drum lessons), we both had to go back to the village. I would not advise anyone to ride a motorcycle (even as a passenger) at 5 am. Waking up while going 50 km/h through the bush is a terrifying experience. We made it to the village, worked out the details, and got back in time to go around Dagbamete with Kwasi greeting everybody (literally everybody!) in the village.

In the last two days, I tied up all of my loose ends. I ended up buying traditional drums (kagan, kidi, sogo, and 2 kpanlogos). On Wednesday afternoon, Ledzi helped me prepare these for packing, and, as I went to put them in my bag, I realized that only 1 fit inside. And so the search for bags began. I was lucky that Wednesday was market day in Akatsi, however, I was unlucky that we got to the market as it was closing. After running through the market, trying to find the biggest size bags (that nobody stocks), we were able to find two large bags. We got back to Dagbamete, only to realise that one of the drums still didn’t fit into any of the bags. Luckily, Kwasi was willing to lend me the biggest bag I have ever seen. I finally solved my packing problems on Thursday morning (I left the village on Thursday at noon).

The last excitement of my trip came on Thursday at noon, when I was supposed to leave. Initially, I told Kwasi that I wanted to leave the village at 10 am. This would give me the whole day to sort things out at the airport (I was also including some extra time for the usual Ghanaian lateness). Somehow, Kwasi convinced me that I should leave at noon, which still sounded reasonable. My flight was at 5:30 pm, and the village is 2 hours from the airport. Then, at 11:30, Kwasi took the car to go to Akatsi on an errand! He returned at 1:30 and I quickly got in the car and left. This meant that I only arrived at the airport at 3:30, and, after sorting out some baggage issues, I was literally the last person to board the plane. However, the rushed departure from Dagbamete did take my help to take my mind off of the fact that I finally had to leave the village.

Now, you may have wondered why I chose the title ‘Homes, Sweet Homes’. During my trip, I realized that Ghana has become my second home; and, as with any home, I will certainly be going back. I felt welcome everywhere I went, and everyone that I met treated me like I was family. Thank you to everybody in Ghana that helped make my two months in Ghana the most wonderful experience I could have hoped for. Also, thank you to everyone in Canada that helped make my trip possible. Finally, thank you for following my adventures. Writing these blog updates has helped make this whole trip sink in. If you have any more questions about my trip, feel free to contact me at derekgray333@hotmail.com

Hope you enjoyed my stories,

Derek (Kwabla) Gray

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