Leila (3/3) “Traveling through Ghana – on my own. As a white woman”

And then I traveled on my own through Ghana to the Ivory Coast.

Although I have met other people on my way I was alone in many places. On my last stop before I traveled back I was in a kind of resort. There were many small huts and I had my own; there was a kitchen and the dream beach par excellence. I was alone, no other guests were there. One time, in the evening, a family with two sons arrived who were also German. I joined them and played games with them.

But in the afternoon on the beach I was all alone and that felt pretty strange.

Surprisingly, I was not a moment afraid of what could happen. There was one situation where I thought “now you go better keep walking”. There were a few men and a man who was tied to the chair. They stood around him with a machete. And I just thought “I’ve got to get out of here”.

On the street I was always addressed

I could not even take a taxi without people have starred at me from outside.

There was also a very sweet situation when a school bus passed me and all the children ran to the other side of the bus and waved.

When I arrived in the villages it was pretty wicked because partially people have never seen a white woman. They were thunderstruck. They even smelled my skin. That was kind of very strange. I also had ten children holding my hands. My hair was totally fascinating for them. The women asked me why my hair is so smooth, why my hair is so light.

In general they have a very strong body contact. Sometimes I have been wondering. For example, I once was waiting on a long bench in the hospital. A woman came and also wanted to sit down she didn’t on the other side of the bench, as you would do in Germany. She sat down so close to me that she almost sat on my lap. She held her food in my face and asked “do you want some?”

Those were moments that I was not used as a German. But there it’s rude to go someone out of the way.

What my host father also explained to me is that if you have something to eat you have to offer something to the others because they don’t have anything.

On the one hand I found that strange. On the other hand I thought it’s so beautiful! Because you don’t know, maybe the person next to you is hungry and but can’t buy food. They always take care of each other.

You can tell that everyone doesn’t have much. Sharing is a matter of course. Imagine that in Germany! To offer someone in Germany something to eat on the train.

Traveling by bus

The bus stops are at major intersections and there are a few vendors. Thousand minivans that stand there and then you should find your minivan. There are no signs that say where they are going to. I asked around and people take you and show you where you need to go. They care. No matter where.

You sit with 21 people in a minivan with 9 seats. I had three children on my lap, it was 40 degrees and someone had dried fish. Everyone was singing and having a good time. They loved that I tried to sing and clap along. It was a great community, regardless of whether they knew each other.

They are all very affectionate with each other and they face life cordially. Although there is not much and they don’t have much.

Once we ate at a booth on the street and the food was something slimy. It didn’t taste well. So I asked what is and she pointed to her stomach and kept saying “goat”. And I did not know if she meant “intestine” or whatever that is. It was really disgusting.

At the hospital they had lunch and dinner for the patients, they have put a pot of rice and a pot with something else in the hallway and then they could get their food – if you had a bowl and could get out of bed. If you couldn’t run you had a problem. But the patients took care of each other. Well, and I had time to bring them food.

It’s common sense to take care for others, I have experienced this quite different than in Germany.

Back in Germany

When I was back in Germany I was first overwhelmed. I went to the supermarket to buy groceries and it was just too much choice. I went out again because I didn’t know what to buy.

I was also impressed by how much I can get enthusiastic about a washing machine. After each trip I’m looking forward to on my bed.

I became more aware that you should appreciate more the things you have. Even if it’s small things.

In Germany people often complain about what they don’t have.

But it would be much nicer to celebrate what you have! My biggest lesson I have learned was to appreciate and be aware of what is around me.

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