I am 3 days away from landing on snowy Canadian ground.
There are so many emotions going through my heart its very difficult to even begin to describe them. I know many will ask a plethora of questions when I arrive and to be completely frank I'm a little afraid of them all. How will I ever do any of this justice? The layers and complexities of just the one city I spent most of my time in are infinite. How then does one grasp it all.
(Rahama, Fadil, Salma, Raouda and Fahima - my heart)
(Fadil, Binsu, Hafees - my heart)
I'm hoping and wishing that my brain has recorded all of the colours, bumps on the roads, rhythms, textures, little hands going through my hair, the oh so many fabrics flowing in the wind, the sound of thunder grumbling accompanied by lighting in the distance and then the moment when it hits the roof followed by the thought "I hope the electricity doesn't go out". I want to remember the heat, the flavour of sachet water and how incredibly refreshing it is to drink one while walking through the busy market. I will miss the constant lessons to be learned like if you want to make it across a street bustling with cars, motos, pedestrians, cows and goats, the safest way is to follow a women who has something on her head. She can be holding anything from an absurdly large basket filled with veggies or plastic doodads made in China to a sewing machine. I've even seen a women carry a full out wooden wardrobe style dresser. Either way, nobody wants to hit that women because she is usually carrying her livelihood on her head. I want to burn to memory the image of 25 women wrapped in 80 rainbows worth of colours piled into the back of a motor king because its cheaper than a taxi and the 50 to 60 men piled into the back of a huge truck holding on with one leg over the side and playing drums while driving out into the forest to hunt. I want to remember how hilarious, and also sad, it is to see cows and goats piled into the back of a truck, tro, motor king, or bicycle. The majestic baobab tree, the redness of the earth, the joy of finding an avocado, laughter that comes after attempting to say a few words in Dagbani, they all need to stay vivid. I want to take with me the strength that I feel here.
(The baobab looking over)
(I may or may not be bringing back 10 of these)
(CFTC team that we shared the project and office with)
( I will not however miss the butts hanging out)
There will never be another Tamale circa 2013/14. It was my first. The friends I have made here will always be the most amazing group of friends. Weather or not I spent a lot of time with them or just a little I have never felt less judged and I have never felt more like being just me was totally ok. We were all here in Tamale and we were family. In this whirlwind of a life we are family.
Things I have not done in 11 months
- drive (been in so many taxis BUT have also riden around on the back of many many motorcycles. I will miss that)
- eaten a raspberry (oh sweet sweet raspberry! I can't wait)
- taken an instagram photo (no iphone means no insta)
- worn any kind of coat or sweater (I brought some silly me)
- been cold, like really cold (there were a few chilly mornings and they were celebrated accordingly)
Things I have only done 1 to 3 times in 11 months
- gone to a play (once in Accra, they sang a song with my name in it. I cried)
- gone to a mall (2 times in Accra, it was overwhelming)
- heard an acoustic guitar (once at a party. Phil played and sang what felt like the most beautiful music in the world)
- worn close toed shoes (once, my running shoes, to run with Courtney on the beach. Otherwise the running shoes were used to kill spiders in my room)
- gone to the movies (Courtney and I went to see Captain Philips. Ghanians laughed when the Pirate said "I'm the captain now")
- watched a hockey game (one full one where the Canadian women won GOLD and a second, only half and on a computer screen - the men won GOLD too)
- been to a grocery store (in Accra, wowza so many options. I decided not to buy the 14$ nectarine)
- worn makeup (yeah it only melts off)
Things I have done for the first time in all of my life
- leave Canada
- ride on horseback
- weave part of a basket
- go on a beach holiday
- see fruit trees that produce something other than apples
- touch a crocodile
- see elephants
- see monkeys
- see camels with desert men
There are certainly a million other things to add to these lists. It has been a magical ride. This was my Africa, Ghana, Northern Region, Tamale, Choggu Yapalsi. It has been a humbling, frustrating, inspiring, growing, teaching, crazy, extraordinary, epic experience. I am vowing to myself that on my death bed this will not be "that year I spent in Ghana". This continent is too large, too diverse, too complex, and too awesome to truly think that by being here I have even begun to understand AFRICA. I will be back.
Thank you for following me. Its probably not the last you have heard of me, since I like this writing thing quite a bit. Stay tuned.
(the sun may be setting on this chapter but it will rise again)