Kumasi…the ups and downs

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Made it back to campus after our first adventure outside of Cape Coast! Seriously, praise The Lord we made it back. So many things went wrong and yet so many things went so well. Lemme just tell you all about it.

So we went to Kumasi. Kumasi is the second biggest city in all of Ghana. It has the largest market in all of West Africa. No joke. That is a solid fact. We left Cape Coast at 4:15 in the morning I repeat, 4:15 IN THE FREAKIN MORNING. We got to the market at around 10:30 or so and we decided that we were going to split up because walking around with 8 people can get a little stressful. So…myself and three other people went one way and the other 4 went another and after one hour, we were going to meet up at a bank.

So we got to a part in the market where there were a lot of clothes and myself and one other girl got away from the other two. There were literally like 3 or 4 people at a time pulling me asking for me to come into their “shop”. Two ladies were grabbing my butt and legs telling me how good I would look in their clothes. I literally got felt up by these ladies. One of the most awkward and uncomfortable moments of my entire life. After that happened, myself and the other girl, Robin, we just wanted to get out of that area. We walked away and into another part of the market and looked at some fabric to make dresses and skirts out of. Gorgeous fabric. But it was so loud and overwhelming, we didn’t buy anything. Then we started walking through more of the market and found more clothes. The people were less grabby but still very overwhelming. I looked at my watch and we had about 15 minutes till we had to meet up with everybody. So, we decided to start heading back. One problem, we had no idea where we were or how to get to the bank. So we were walking and walking and walking and we still couldn’t find the street. HUGE problem. Walking through the meat section, oh gosh, i can never do that again. Too many sights and smells I will never forget. We asked a couple people how to get to the bank and nobody have us the right directions. Finally we got to the street and found a couple police officers and they told us how to get there. Only about 15 minutes late, but hey, at least we got there!

After that market adventure, a new one begins. We left the market and decided to go to the hostel and put some of our stuff away. For us to get to the hostel, we had to take a tro tro. A tro tro is like a community taxi. The tro tro is going in a certain direction, and if you need a ride to that place as well, you hop in. So our friend, Chris, is very familiar with the city so he talked to the tro tro driver and got us all in the van to get to the hostel. Evidently the driver had no idea where to go. So, we went in a huge circle. In the middle of us trying to turn around, the tro tro breaks down. As in it’s not starting. So we stalled in the middle of an intersection and nobody can go around us. Three or four people come up and start pushing the tro tro from behind. With us still in the car. Ever watched ‘Little Miss Sunshine’? Yeah, it was exactly like that. Flippin hilarious. The car finally started working and it got up the hill. We had to stop at a mechanic shop to fix whatever was wrong, but it ended up taking like 20 extra minutes. Long story short, it finally got fixed and we made it to the hostel.

After the hostel, we went to get some lunch since none of us had eaten all day. Grabbed some rice and chicken and I was ready for the next adventure. So we got in another tro tro and went to the Culture Center to shop in some art and craft shops. These people were a lot less grabby than the ones in the market, but they were still pushy which I totally get. Some of the other kids bought a few things and then we headed out. Our next stop was the zoo. We walked about 10 minutes and got there a couple minutes after it closed. They said we can still come in and there was a guide waiting to take us on a tour. First stop in the zoo, a baby elephant. And guess what. WE GOT TO GO INSIDE AND PLAY WITH IT. OMG MY HEART STOPPED. I literally got to pet and play with a baby elephant. Yup. You can be jealous. After the elephant we went to see some birds, snakes, porcupines, turtles, monkeys, camels, and donkeys. But lemme tell you about this one monkey. There were three chimps in a cage and they all had something wrong with them. Just various tumors that we could see and physical ailments. So one chimp put its hand through the cage and I held it’s hand. I let go and one of the guys next to me grabbed it’s hand. The monkey looked at the guy, Jason, and started screaming, pulled his hand closer to the cage and then let go. The monkey had a serious mental breakdown right in front of us. It started running through the cage, screaming, rolling on its back and just going bananas. Pun totally intended. Oh my gosh I just about had a heart attack. So funny. After that, we went back to the elephant and played with him a little but more. We ended up leaving a little before it got dark.

When we left the zoo, we had to walk a bit through town to get a tro tro going where we needed to go. This was the scariest part of the trip. The streets were so crowded and it was getting dark, fast. I was right in front of One of the guys and we were behind everyone else. We were just walking up a hill and the guy behind me comes up and says that he thinks someone just stole all his money. He frantically searched through his pockets and sure enough, it was all stollen. Someone ran straight into him and took the money right out of his pocket. I got really scared at that point. We had to walk through the streets to get to the tro tro and within a matter of minutes, I had at least 5 or 6 people tell me to watch my bag. People with their heads outside of the cars were telling me to watch it and people coming behind me telling me to keep it close. Seriously, I felt like such a target. We finally got in the tro tro and made it back to the hostel. It was about 9 at night when we got back and everyone crashed.

When we woke up in the morning, we took a short tour of a campus near by and then headed to a historical site in town. The site was in the middle of a hospital and it was where a sword was planted into the ground and if the sword were to ever be removed, the entire Ashanti Kingdom would fall. The sword is in nothing but land and it has been there for over 600 years. I think. I can’t really remember the date. There is a lot of spiritual stuff that has to do with that sword and nobody wants it to be removed. After checking out the sword, we got on another bus and started our trek back home. The bus left at around 11:30 and it was supposed to only take about 4 hours to get back. I was so ready to get back to my peaceful coast town. On the bus ride home, there was a lady with a chicken. Alive. In a bag. The chicken would just randomly wake up sometime and start freaking out, throwing feathers and squawking. Too funny.

While that trip had a lot of downs, it also had a lot of ups. This trip brought two really big realizations to me. One, I am in freaking Africa. Up until that point, I felt incredibly safe and thought I already had a lot figured out. Psych!! Not at all. There is still so much I need to learn and I still need to be really careful. Second, this trip made me really think of Cape Coast as my home. When we got back, I felt very relived and was so glad to be back in my little town. This trip was such a learning lesson and I couldn’t have asked for anything else. I sure and glad it’s over, though!!

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