WOW! I don’t even know how to begin to describe this trip. Life changing is the first thing that comes to mind.
This past weekend we went to Mole National Park. We drove 4 hours to Kumasi on Thursday and stayed in a really nice hotel! Once we got there Thomas showed us around the Kumasi market. I don’t think any of us were ready for how extremely crowded it was! We were all in shock and trying not to get lost from the group…no time for shopping that’s for sure. We were attracting a lot of attention. People were asking us to say hi to them, people tried to hold our hands, everyone smiled at us, someone tried to kiss Alana, Ben met a new friend, a 6 year old boy named Ali, who followed us for about 10 minutes through Kumasi. It was a great experience.
On Friday we traveled about 11 hours to Mole park. The drive was long and BUMPYYY! The last 3 hours were non stop bumps. We drove through little villages, markets, and some beautiful scenery. We got there at night and Alana and I stayed in the very far room, next to the barbed wire fence, which we assumed was the only thing blocking us from wild scary animals. In the morning we realized we had been mistaken because the view was AMAZING from our room. We went on an early morning walking safari, which was one of the coolest things ever. We got really close to elephants, crocodiles, warthogs, antelope, cute monkeys and baboons. We got really close to the water and were watching the elephants leave the water and taking pictures, when we saw a crocodile’s eyes super close! It was awesome! A couple of us then went on a canoe safari as well! It was quite the trip. At first when we pushed off we were exactly level with the water, and the canoe was leaking, so we had to paddle back in. The guide got out and asked if it would be alright if he didn’t come. We were quite confused, but the next thing we knew we were with two paddlers that spoke very little English and no guide. It was so cool though! I was the designated water scooper outer because the boat was taking on A LOT of water. Natalia and I tried to ask the paddlers about snakes. This turned into quite the conversation. We basically came to the conclusion that the snakes in the water could pull us under, wrap around us, and eat us. The paddler didn’t quite understand, but was agreeing with us. We then realized that he was saying the SNAKE would run away if it saw us, not that WE should run away. We thought we were in a very dangerous/awesome situation for a minute there…
This morning we went to our service sites. James and I work at a school called Sankofa, which is about 45 minutes to an hour away (or 3 hours depending on how many times we get lost in the taxis…). I love it. I love the kids, I love the atmosphere. Last week my little friends Sophia and Abeva played with my hair so much it was in knots when I got home. This morning it was raining, and on rainy days they do not go to school. The school is outside…pretty much just walls and tin roofs. So James and I went to the orphanage where a lot of the kids live that go to Sankofa. We played with the kids all morning, talked to some other Americans and Germans that work there, and just hung out. The kids are so happy and so fun. We went back to the school closer to lunch time to see if many kids went back to school, and there were some kids, but no teachers. I was chatting with a couple of 8 year old boys, when I looked in the room behind them and saw a little girl, Stella, copying the teacher’s drawings of animals the teacher had drawn the day before on the chalkboard. This little girl had a FREE day with no school, and she went to her class and was writing on the board. I went over there and sat down. I asked her if she would teach me. She named the animals, pointed at them, and had me repeat them. She was so happy. I love the kids at Sankofa and their desire to learn, their willingness to let me into their lives and homes (they showed us around the village), and how helpful they are to me.
Our lessons at SARD are super fun too! We are learning so much. I am a terrible singer but I have a solo, which has actually been kind of fun, I definitely had to overcome that fear real quick. Today we were singing a new song and Mr. Hooper asked me to sing it by myself, I must have not sounded too great because he stopped me mid-song and asked Joel to sing it instead. It was pretty funny. Nick and I are dance partners and we have been having a great time making up the back row of the group.
Tonight we went to an anniversary party for people we had never met before. We were welcomed like we were part of the family. It was amazing. It was right on the beach and the live band was AWESOME! They were so fun and lively and happy. Most of us dancedddd the night away. It was a great time and everyone was so friendly.
Anyway, I am loving Ghana and the people I am meeting! We are so lucky to have the opportunity to experience this!