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Echo’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 16 Oct 2007

Location: Gambia

MapSo now that I am back in Gambia I am going to write some stories about Ghana. What an amazing country and I really saw nothing! I really want to go back to see the rest of the country and see it proper. We stayed at an amazing hotel on the beach. It cost more than I would ever pay but lucky for us the school picked up the tab and it didn't cost us much.

The ocean there is completely different than the ocean in Gambia. In Gambia there is very rarely waves, the sea is calm most of the time but in Ghana there were huge breakers, making swimming in the ocean pretty impossible. Plus the fact that we were in the largest city in Ghana means that they probably dump a lot of stuff into it. The beaches were pretty littered with garbage but it still did not smell as bad as some of the beaches that I encountered in South America.

I also love the people of Ghana. Everywhere we went the people were so friendly and helpful but not in an annoying way. I think in comparison to Gambia many more people in Ghana are educated in colleges and universities. The level of conversation I had with all walks of people in Ghana was amazing and I would not even be able to write you a script because everyone I talked to was worth talking to.

The atmosphere in Accra is also very laid back. The first night we were at the hotel we decided to go for a walk down the beach and we stumbled upon a little reggae bar with a few rastas hanging around. It was wonderful. The music was good, the beer was good and the vibe was good, and there were other good things too (use imaginations here but don't go to far). We hung out there almost every night cause it was a great place to go.

While we were in the city we also managed to go to the market everyday for the last three days. The first day we went it was nuts. I have to say that it was crazier than any of the markets that I went to in South America. The people all want you to come see their booths and they will hunt you down and pull you this way and that way and they just do not give up. We went from the very first aisle of booths to suddenly a couple of shacks sitting behind the whole market area looking at carvings of these four rasta boys. Then I found myself being dragged across the football pitch to another store. I was pretty overwhelmed and thankfully we didn't stay to long but we went back the next day.

The next day when we showed up a couple of the guys we were dealing with the day before saw us again and we went over and hung out in their shop. This was much better cause we just hung out and told them what we were looking for and they ran through the market looking for what we wanted and brought it to us for us to make choices and then we would barter there. It was fantastic and took a lot of stress off shopping. I ended up getting a few things but I wish that I would have had way more time and way more money.

So enough about what I did for fun in Ghana, I really truly was there to work. One of the days we were there the school that was organizing the conference took some of the people from the conference to some of the organizations that their students volunteer at. The choices of organizations were a special needs school, a women's group home/daycare, or an orphanage. Rebecca and I both chose the orphanage. When we first got there we went into the building with the babies and toddlers and oh my god. It was really sad. There were about 10 kids from about 12 months to 24 months in the front part, many of them crying in their cribs and then there was about 12 babies from 2 weeks to 12 months in another part. Walking through those kids was soooo hard, as soon as I walked through the door this little boy ran up with a big smile on his face and held his arms up so I immediately scooped him up and he molded himself to my hip and glued himself there. Many of these kids are not able to be adopted because many of the families will not give up custody instead they are using the orphanage as a drop off and when they can they will come back to pick up their kids, sometimes many years later. Several of the kids have aids, which is really not a big deal because it is very hard to get it by just holding a kid. You cannot tell which kids have it but you can tell that some kids are very sick and do not get any treatment or medicine.

I held the little boy for as long as I could but we were told to try and make sure that we held as many of the kids as we can while we are there so that they get enough human touch as well and to try and take them outside so that they can have some sun on them and some fresh air. After I put down the first one I went over to the baby room and picked up some of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen. I am sorry that I do not have any pictures of them but we were not allowed to take photos of the children without a lot of permission. One of the little boys I picked up was just frantic in the crib so I picked him up and he settled down immediately, after about 10 minutes he fell asleep so I went to put him down and as soon as I did that he woke up and started to freak out even more, so I picked him back up and one of the orphanage nannies gave me a bottle of milk to feed him. I am telling you it was so amazing holding these babies but it was soooooo sad.

I will continue this story later today....