Friday, April 2, 2010

Ghana Plans: Pediatorkope

I've been so distracted by Ghana plans lately that it's hard to focus on school. I'm really excited about a new addition to our trip plans: some of us decided to fly out a few days early and stay a few days late for a layover in Amsterdam. We had been juggling a few options: stay a few days in Kumasi, go up to Tamale and do a walking safari in Mole National Park, or maybe cross the border to Togo or Ivory Coast (not very feasible given visa hassles).

My wonderful uncle Ben suggested a great idea: why don't we just hunker down in a village for a few relaxing days and get to know the people and their lifestyle. It sounds like a wonderful idea--we had been getting a little stressed out arranging the details: if we went to Tamale that involved an 11-hour bus ride plus 3-4 additional hours to Mole. It would have been expensive and stressful.

Ben suggested the island of Pediatorkope. It lies at the confluence of the Volta river and the Atlantic Ocean, about two hours east of Accra. I found a few pictures of the island, and it sounds like a tropical paradise: mango groves on the edge of the river; colorful canoes plying the water, going from island to island in the river delta; the locals live in thatch huts; the women pound fufu and the men fish. There are a few nonprofits operating in the area--we'd be able to visit with them and learn more about what it's like to operate in West Africa. There's a little church on the island, so we could hold a service there on Sunday.

As I constructed this romantic picture of life in the village, I started to see difficulties they face: the Volta River is very polluted, teeming with typhoid, hepatitis, and other exotic diseases; the Akosombo Dam has significantly lowered water levels and fish populations downriver; the people live in poverty and have no power or light.

I am very curious to see what village life is like. We will be staying with families there, probably sleeping on concrete under mosquito nets. We'll eat whatever they eat (and hopefully not get sick), go fishing, explore the islands by canoe, sing with the kids, pound fufu, and learn how to cook.

I'm so excited to go, but I wonder if my current lifestyle is too cushy--I don't know how I'll be able to sleep on concrete, in stifling heat, under a stuffy mosquito net. I probably can't even deal with 20 hours of jetlag. I hope I don't get malaria, or typhoid, or food poisoning.

I'm conditioning myself to sleep on the floor. It's kind of pathetic. I took a nap on the couch yesterday and afterward my hips ached because I didn't have a pillow between my knees. How will I live for a week (or good portions of a month) without a pillow? I guess I have some toughening-up to do.

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