Monday, April 26, 2010

Ghana Time

I made a list just a few short weeks ago when I realized my time in Ghana was coming to an end.

I wanted to write down everything that I wanted to do before I left. I wanted to be sure that I did everything I could possibly do while I was here for the last few weeks.

I wanted to make sure I climbed a mountain, had a beach weekend, and even find a way to attend a Ghanaian funeral. After all, Ghanaian funerals are unlike any funeral most Americans have ever seen. Glittered with intricate fabrics of red and black, lots of shouting and screaming, funerals tend to be a true celebration here in Ghana. Few, if any, dwell on the tragedy, and instead embrace the life that has been lived.
I glanced at the list the other day, realizing I haven't gotten around to much of it. I won't be traveling to Ivory Coast, I may not make it back to the Volta Region to do some hiking, and I may not even get to a funeral before I leave.

But, Ghana has never really been about the lists. In fact, it's never really been about checking things off, getting things done. Ghana is much more about letting things come as they will and just going with the moment. That's probably one of the biggest reasons why I really just love it here.

When you walk down the street, adjacent to the night market, being sure to watch where you walk (you would hate to fall in the gutter. Seriously. We have open gutters in many places in Ghana…), you might see a friend and talk for 20 minutes unexpectedly. You might grab an egg sandwich—of course with laughing cow cheese (you know, cheese that doesn't need refrigeration)—or you might just grab a mango.

When you go to catch a tro-tro you never know what you might experience. Just the other day, I rode on a tro to Kissemahn alone. Just me, the mate, and the driver. While I know they wanted more people to get on so they could get more business, I secretly liked riding alone because I got to ride shotgun. One other time, coming back from Kokrobite, the mate and driver let me help them out a bit. I screamed out the places we were headed, coupled with the hand signals, and for a minute felt like I could be Ghana's next greatest mate on a tro-tro. This past weekend when we went to Makola market to get fabric we expected it to be a quick process; you know, get in and get out. But, shopping here doesn't tend to work like it does when you enter Super Wal-Mart back home and you can pick what you need and move right along. Instead, we became immersed in the world of fabric, contemplating which colors were best, which designs were the most suitable, and of course had to work our bargaining skills. I will say, even after 4 months here, I still can't bargain well at all. This, on top of making friends with the women selling the fabric, led us to taking our time and enjoying ourselves, despite the heat, close spaces, and the beckoning market women.

We run on a thing called Ghana time. At first, it was so hard to adjust to. I couldn't possibly understand why a class, a program, or a service would start over 45 minutes later. It didn't make sense. But, once you start living the Ghanaian life you begin to see a little more clearly. Things move a little slower, a little calmer, and you learn to just take things as they come. In the grand scheme of things, it just isn't that big of a deal.

I try closing my eyes, imagining what things are like back home. I've always been that girl, running from one thing to the next, trying to get as many things done as I could. It's always been like that. Even in Ghana, I can still be that girl walking fast, always headed somewhere. I think it comes from just being an intense person. But, I feel different now. If I'm late, it's okay. If I need to get things done and it takes longer than expected, it doesn't really matter.

You know what the best part is?

It's the truth. It really doesn't matter.

Because, at the end of the day, if you are doing what you love, enjoying life, and embracing the people around you, well, then you really can't go wrong.

I may not get everything crossed off of the list I made a few short weeks ago. I'm not worried though. Because in the last 21 days that I have here, I fully intend to spend my days just being here. I know that at some point I will begin the mental, emotional, and spiritual process of leaving. But, that day has not yet arrived. And so, I am here, and I am living. I am living on Ghana time, and I don't think I would have it any other way.

1 comment:

  1. I love you. I love your writing. I can't wait to meet the new, older, wiser Heather Michelle Newell.
    ♥, Michelle