Friday, October 2, 2009

A Military Escort

For our last day in Ghana I went back into town for lunch and shopping with Ana. The street vendors figured us out very quickly and asked Ana and I if we were from the ship. They told us that many students had purchased things from them and that they would even give us ‘last day deals.’ I bought a few small items but was saying ‘No, thank you’ much more than ‘Yes, please.’ While we had stopped for lunch the sky opened up and a short but heavy rain storm passed through prompting Ana and I to enjoy our spicy chicken sandwich and cokes at a very slow and casual pace.

The rain passed and we continued with our shopping before getting in a cab to take us to the grocery store and post office. The drive was another exercise in faith and fear; a number of the roads had turned into rivers and at best were dotted with small lakes. The cab driver was great and while he did have to ask where the grocery store was multiple times he was patient as I ran in to purchase my two bottles of wine. Going into the grocery store alone was a neat experience and being the only white person in there made it even more so.

Upon reaching the port gate the cab driver could go no further. So Ana and I got out walked through the gates and proceeded to look for the SAS shuttle from the gate to dock 11 where the ship was. Realizing that we had come in a different gate than normal I was prepared to walk but Ana started to ask around as to where we got the shuttle. Various gentlemen in military uniform said they didn’t know anything about a shuttle. Ana explained that we were on the Semester At Sea ship and that we had a shuttle from the gate to the ship. We were passed off to a few different people. "Oh, the tourist vessel" we heard in reply.

We were told to stay where we were and some time later a cab was brought in for us. We told the guy that we were not going to pay a cab and asked if we could just walk to the ship. After a slight hesitation he finally gave us the 'okay' and we began the mile walk to dock 11. While we received many inquiring glances as we did not have a reflective vest on and clearly didn't belong there we just kept walking making way for semi trucks and other equipment. Along the way we were happy to find a duty fee shop and used the opportunity to spend the rest of our cedi. Ana got some chocolate and I got a case of coke. Feeling inspired by the culture and more so my weak arms, I chose to carry my soda on my head.

Overall I was pleasently surprised by my time in Ghana. I really didn't know what to expect so maybe that helped. As our interport student told us, the Ghanaians are very friendly. From tour guides and children, to street vendors and waiters everyone had a wonderful smile on their face and was happy to help. Of the three ports so far I think Ghana would be for first place that I would return to.

The next day we crossed the equator and had a big ceremony to mark to occasion but I'll save that story for next time.

Cape Town here we come!

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