Monday, February 8, 2010

Day One - Snapshots of Ghana

Wow, I'm here. In Africa. My first time ever and I can't quite believe it myself. After an exhausting flight and suffering a complete reversal of my body clock, I still can't stop grinning just to be here.
My hosts are lovely. An Australian couple who just decided one day to pack up their family and explore the world with their two daughters in tow. Since then they have been teaching in international schools and travelled extensively for over fifteen years. Their zest for life and fascinating stories remind me just how important travel is to broaden your mind and how hard this can be when you live in a country like Australia. Especially when you live right down in Melbourne and it can take many hours (and many dollars) just to get out of the country. In Europe, Asia and Africa you can just jump on a bus or train and within a few hours be in a completely new country: new language, culture and completely different environment. I have a friend who lives in London who has been known to go to Italy on weekends just to catch an opera!
When I first came back to Australia after living in France, this is what I missed the most. Even though we were dirt poor I still managed to get to the Bologna AND Frankfurt book fairs just by travelling overnight on the train to cut down on accomodation costs. The thought of getting to the Bologna Book Fair from Melbourne nowadays seems like a pipe dream.
Anyway - enough about Europe. Let's get back to Africa. Here are my impressions after only half a day here. I will try to attach some photos as soon as possible but, until then, imagine these as photos in words.
Babies tied onto backs with a piece of fabric. (Unfortunately the above is not my photo - I never seem to have my camera at the right time!) Forget all those complicated backpacks and front packs with confusing clips and buckles and straps, I will never cease to be blown away by watching how simply and easily African mothers tie their babies onto their backs. I was fascinated to watch the woman in front of me on the plane, swing her sleeping baby up onto her back, pull out a large square of cotton and just tie him on. Imagine getting out of the shower and wrapping a towel around your chest, except with a baby tucked into the back. That's how easy she made it look. And the baby didn't even stir - just kept right on sleeping with his head lolling about in the most awkward looking angle.
The light. It is the end of the season called the Harmattan here, where dust from the Sahara blows into Ghana for about three months and covers everything. Even though the Harmattan season has officially past, the light is strangely yellow from what remains of the dust still in the air, bathing everything in a warm glow. Photos to come - I hope I can somehow capture this light despite my pathetic photography skills!
Speaking in doubles. Not a photo as such, more an expression I am fascinated by. What I understand by this is that instead of using the word 'very' Ghanians say a word twice to convince you of its meaning. Something very small is 'small small', something happening very soon is 'soon soon'. I'm guessing that this use of these double words provides a different emphasis depending on the context, because I had lunch at a school cafeteria today called Zoo Zoo. (Don't know if this is meant as a description of the school or the food - I will keep you posted on this. So far the kids have been delightful and I wasn't served anything that resembled zebra for lunch.)
But that's all I have time for today. So that I don't get into trouble trouble, I'd better log off and prepare my next worksop. Back soon soon!

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