When I was thirteen my parents told me we were moving to Ghana, West Africa for a year. That’s not the kind of new that most thirteen year olds expect to get, but sure enough, two months later, on July 28th 2006, I found myself in the middle of nowhere, hot, sweaty, confused, oh and it was my birthday. I spent my first night at a Ghanaian “resort” where there was no air conditioning, we were surrounded by mosquito nets, everyone kept calling me Obruni (I later found out that meant Pink Faced Monkey), and because Ghana didn’t have a trash/sewage system, swimming out in the ocean filled with plastic bags. It was somewhat of a disaster. No one could have expected what the reality of Ghana would be like.
When our house got sold out from under us (the first week we were there) we had to find a new one. We stayed in a youth hostel for the first week, while my mom and dad looked for a new house. It was crazy. On the streets of Ghana, I got pinched and poked by the locals who alternated between trying to buy me from my parents, and skipping the middle man, coming straight to me and telling me they wanted to “make beautiful babies (with me) in America”. I was a walking green card to them. And my parents were walking Greenbacks.
A couple months later, I got malaria, and had my first run-in with the Ghanaian hospital.
I became really involved in the Chilren’s Home, a Ghanaian Orphanage that our church volunteered at. I would trek out there bi-weekly to help out with the children. I especially bonded with Praise, the bossiest little 5 year old you will ever meet. She would always call me “Silly Obruni-coco” and swat my hand.
Long story short, it took a lot of getting used to. We had no idea what to expect. But by the time the year was up, I could haggle on the price of Mango or Avocado darn good. I became an expert with chickens (we even got a couple of ones who lived in our back yard). I could ride a Tro-tro (Ghanaian equivalent of a van), hail a taxi, politely turn down the excited local men, and squat a mosquito quicker than lightning.
Ghana became forever imprinted on all of our hearts, we had become almost Ghanaian.
Even now, when I’m back in America, and I go to visit my family, we will still use our common Ghanaianisms, and laugh about all the mistakes we made back then. My dad will sometimes try to whip up some Groundnut soup and Fufu, and I can proudly say that he has gotten much better at it lately. Ghana was such an adventure for us, and I can’t wait to go back.
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