Max's Semester at Sea: Fall 2010 travel blog

Hello everyone from off the coast of western Africa!

(Currently off the coast of Namibia, but too far to see land)

We arrived in Takoradi, Ghana on Wednesday September 22nd. Stacy and I are in a Global Music class on the ship and are required to do 2 field trips so we decided to do our first one in Ghana. It was a “Drum and Dance Workshop” and it was right away on the first day. Right when we got there, about 10 men were playing 5 different drums, a tambourine like shaker, and also a bell. In front of them was a single female dancer performing a traditional Ghanaian dance. Traditional Ghanaian dance incorporates all kinds of movements on the body, from your feet, to your hips, to rotating your ribcage, to swinging your arms, and also moving your head accordingly. We got to see numerous different kinds of dances from all over Africa by about 12 men and women dancers with the same 10 men playing those same instruments for most of the time. We went to grab a quick lunch at a nearby hotel and then took the bus back to the workshop. They proceeded to teach us 4 different Ghanaian ‘steps’ and 2 different Ghanaian drum beats which was all very interesting. The music was very loud, intense, energetic, and passionate as they claim that music and dance is about bringing all the elements of nature together including the Earth, the community, their ancestors who have passed, and the sun and sky. At the end, we were able to ask questions of the dancers who ranged in age from 18-25 and the director or teacher was a little older. They said that for some this is a full time job to do classes, teach at elementary schools (even though most of the learning takes place at home growing up with celebrations), and obviously doing workshops for groups of tourists. For others, this is just a part time job, something to put food and water on the dinner table. They said dance is not a prestigious occupation in Ghana by any means. If you come from a wealthier family and say that you want to dance, your parents will tell you ‘no, go to school to be an engineer/doctor/businessman.’ But for most of the country, your parents don’t care what you do as long as you bring home a dollar or two per day. At the very end we were able to just chit-chat, I played soccer with some of the younger kids. Everybody was sooo nice.

After the workshop, we went to walk around the market for a while. Wow! You wouldn’t be able to find shampoo, but every ten steps you came across someone selling BBQ fish… the whole fish! Flies and bugs landing on it and they would just swat it away. There were also crayfish being sold, tomatoes, spices, and Stacy got a bottle of water for 35 cents. Everyone was staring at us, but many said hello. I’ll put up pictures on Facebook of all of this stuff on my profile page under my pictures.

That night we went to have dinner on the boat and slept on the boat as well.

The next morning, it was raining, but Stacy, Nick, Kelly (Stacy’s friend), and I packed up our backpacks and took an hour long taxi ride down the coast toward The Ivory Coast to a place called Ankroba Beach Resort. Half way there we stopped for gas and the car broke down. Two guys pushed us for about 50 yards to get the car fired up and we were on our way again. Fewfta! We made it to the resort and it was very cool. While it was nice, it still was pretty cultural. It wasn’t your typical hotel, but rather a bunch of bungalows along the coastline. The bungalow was nice though with a big bathroom, no hot water though, and pretty decent size living area. It was owned by a German family and served tourists and the wealthier Ghanaian families. We swam got to swim in the ocean and it was a little rocky but the water was very warm. We also drank a lot of coconut juice. The food was fantastic! The last night I had the ‘Lobster Termidor’ which was Lobster with garlic and cheese, and because we were in Ghana all the food was reasonably priced! Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed our two nights at the bungalow, hanging out and getting some much needed relaxation time as we hadn’t done a beach day in any of the countries yet.

All of the Ghanaians waved to us, people carried everything on their heads (the taxi driver said up to 50 kilograms or 100 pounds), all of the men had names like Fred, Richard, Peter, and John but with crazy last names (thanks to colonization), all of the girls over the age of 3 had their ears pierced already, they all asked if we knew Obama, and they all had huge smiles on their faces when they saw us. Morocco compared to Ghana was like night and day, AND GHANA IS THE MUCH POORER COUNTRY! I’d recommend visiting Ghana at one point in your life if you ever get the chance.

My favorite country so far; it was hard to leave knowing life goes and the poverty there will continue unless the developed countries can form an alliance and hammer out some long-term solutions. That’s life though; it makes you appreciate even the smallest things in life.


P.S. I am soooo sad that my pictures won't upload onto this page, but please please please go onto Facebook in 10 days if you want to see some! :)

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