Lesotho

Trip Start Jun 23, 2006
1
7
Trip End Jul 17, 2006


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Friday, July 21, 2006

I am back in Lesotho now. I thought I should finish writing my blog to wrap up my trip. I have a week's worth of life in Ghana to write about, but I think I will make it short. I went to the other slave castle in Elmina. That one was pretty much the same as the Cape Coast Castle. It was originally built by the Portuguese but was in Dutch hands for 200 years and was their main place of slave exportation in Ghana. Structurally, it was better to tour since renovations and re-modeling hadn't been done over the years...it basically looks the same that it did in 1590 when it was built. That same day, I went to Kakum National Park. Hundreds of years ago, a rainforest stretched from Liberia to Nigeria along the coast. Most of it is gone today throughout most of those countries. Kakum is the only bit remaining in Ghana. Kakum is famous because of a canopy walk that was constructed in 1995. A suspension bridge was built 40 meters above the ground, on top of the rainforest. I will hopefully attach a picture so you can see what it was like. I am not a person afraid of heights, but I did not particularly enjoy the experience. It took me about 20 minutes to walk across the 7 bridges that made the whole thing. It was pretty cool being able to look down on the rainforest. On a side note, I was very lucky that I didn't have much rain while on my trip since I was there during the rainy season. Ironically, the most rain I had was when I went to the rainforest. But the gods were with me because it rained on my way to the national park. It stopped while I was walking on the canopy. And it rained again when I was in a taxi leaving.

I then went to a place called Kokrobite. It is about 30 kms west of Accra. It is a beach that is famous because of a music academy as well as its concentration of Rastafarians. I spent three days there, just relaxing and reading. This was the place where I ran into the biggest concentration of tourists. It was nice just talking to people and seeing what brought them to Ghana. I met a Canadian woman who had been in Ghana for 4 years and is returning with two adopted children. I met lots of British volunteers who were in Ghana for the summer. I met a woman from Oakland who went to UC Berkeley and has lived in Ghana since 1973. In fact, this woman hasn't left the continent of Africa since 1973.

I went back to Accra and stayed with Emma for my last two nights. Sunday, I had my hair done. I now have a huge respect for what African women go through when they get their hair done. First we had to buy hair to be weaved into my own hair. It was difficult finding hair to match my color, but we found some blond hair that was close. We went to the salon, called "Amazing Grace Beauty Salon." The woman first had to treat my bought hair. It took about 45 minutes for her to clean and nourish the fake hair. Then, they started braiding my hair. It took about 4 hours to get it done. I was so tired of sitting afterwards...you basically waste a whole day getting your hair done. I was warned that it would be painful. It wasn't painful when she was braiding my hair, but a few hours later, and the first night when I slept, that was when it hurt. For the first day, I thought I looked really weird, but now I am used to it and I like it. Everyone is talking about my hair, here in Lesotho and in Ghana. People like it. I don't know if I will get it done another time but it is fun right now.

Some observations...in Lesotho, no restaurant can make good French fries. This is a common discussion and annoyance amongst us here. In Ghana, they know how to make them. I am going to miss good French fries for a while. Everywhere in Ghana are American flags. They are painted on the sides of taxis, they are the designs on air fresheners that hang from the rear view mirror on cars, small shops are painted in the flag. Ghanaians tell me that they love America, but to me, it seems a bit excessive to see so many American flags in a country that is not America. In Lesotho, it is not appropriate to wear shorts. I wear them running and around my village, but will not go to any other place in shorts because of the negative attention I would get. If I had gone on vacation to Ghana without ever having lived in Lesotho, I would have been wearing shorts the entire time I was in Ghana. On this trip, I didn't wear shorts once. I was amazed at how acculturated I have become to Lesotho customs and how that has taken over the culture that I grew up with in America when it comes to appropriate and inappropriate clothes. Also surrounding clothing, I was amazed at how strongly I reacted seeing westerners at the beach in bikinis. My thoughts were 'why does she have to walk around half-naked? She should cover herself up.' Never has that thought ever crossed my mind at any other beach. But once again, I think it has to do with what I have gotten used to in Lesotho about what women should wear. And I don't think all of the cultural requirements women are expected to follow here are bad.

It was really sad leaving Ghana. I had a great time there and I met some wonderful people. Emma and I were both crying when she left me at the airport. I was so happy that she and I became such good friends and that she just wasn't taking me around because I am a friend to her brother. It was also hard leaving a female friend my own age because I don't have those here in Lesotho. I forgot how nice it is to have female friends just to talk with and cook with and go shopping with. When I was sitting in the airport in Jo'burg waiting for my flight to Maseru, I was thinking how I have carved out a pretty cool life for myself. I have friends all over the world. I have lived all over the world and have had experiences that very few people can say that they have had. I don't know where my life is taking me and where I will end up, but I am enjoying life right now.

It is nice being back in Lesotho, but IT IS COLD. I miss my Ghanaian summer. I am happy to be back in my village and see my friends here. I think it will take a couple of days to get used to 'this' Africa again. It seems so foreign to me. Boys riding on donkeys, people wearing blankets...I am expecting to see the ocean and palm trees everywhere and eat fresh fish, but Lesotho is my home now and it is good to be home.

I am glad that this blog was successful and I will hopefully do it for subsequent trips.
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