I’ll write a few blog posts about my vacation travel adventures. Today, April 17th I plan to travel Oduom to get ready to travel the next day. I plan on leaving Antoa for about 2 weeks. That means that I need to go around and tell all of my friends that I’m traveling. As expected, most of them asked me to get them something. I guess it’s expected in this culture to buy something for your friends while you travel. I’ll probably only get one for Bush and a few others as I don’t have room in my bag to get something for everyone that asks me. I end my farewells at Andrews where we shared some food before I catch a car. I take my route through Kumasi to visit some friends and tell them my plans. After about 5 hours I get to Oduom. Summer is the only one there, but I’ll be meeting the three new employees when they get back later in the evening.
For the rest of the afternoon, summer and I just relax and listen to some music. Soon after I meet the three new employees replacing Spencer, Tasia, and me. One of them has already lived in Ghana and the other two seem really excited to learn the new culture. Even during our conversation, I even give them a “test” for the one replacing me. I mentioned that it is alright if they don’t get the cultural rules correct because they have a free pass being an Obroni. That’s when Rachel, the one replacing me, says that she doesn’t care about the free pass; she wants to make sure she gets it right. That’s exactly the attitude we need for all of the future employees. I really hope they all maintain the same attitude and give a good impression of Americans. After that the new people leave to get some food and it gets quite enough for me to sneak off to bed to get ready for the travel day tomorrow.
On Friday, April 18th, I wake up early to travel to a place called Kwahu. When people pronounce it they say the h so fast that it sounds more like the h is silent. Last time I visited the Janneys, Jennifer told me of her family members travel every year to Kwahu for the big Easter celebration. Apparently the tribe from Kwahu doesn’t really have a big celebration like some of the other tribes, so they have turned Easter into a big event. Most of the people living in the town are very rich and live in as big business people in the major cities. The only times they come home is for a funeral or Easter. The celebration is so big that most people in Ghana know of Kwahu, whether they’ve been there or not. All of my friends that I told about Kwahu would laugh and tell me “Oh, you will be enjoyingooo.” Somewhere along the line some people came from the UK and set up a paragliding spot at the top of the mountain. I’ve heard of people dying and there’s something about paragliding over a thick forest in a developing country that tells me I should skip this adventure.
That all takes me to the Friday before Easter when I set off to meet Charles at a town called Nkawkaw, pronounced in coco. The rest of the Expo staff is also leaving this morning, but they’re going to the beach in Takoradi. My plan is to meet them all after my Kwahu trip to catch the tail-end of the beach experience. The ride to Nkawaw is very easy and a friend I met on the rie helps me find the right place to get down, called “new station.” I meet Charles and we take a cab and start climbing the mountain roads. Not much longer, we are in front of a story building. Story building here just means a building that is more than two floors. On the second floor, we meet Charles’ family. I meet Charles’ dad, his dad’s two brothers, one of their wives, and three of their children. I sit down on their balcony and the older brother of the dads comes out to sit next to me and get to know me. In Ghanaian terms that means he grills me with every question that enters his head. The type of questions and attention to detail really surprise me, as it’s very different from the normal script I go through with everyone else. After some more chatting and introductions, Fufu is served. Since Friday is the big travel day, the night is starting slowly.
At about 22:00, Charles Junior asks if I went to walk to the next town and see the celebration. We leave the town we’re in, called Obomang, and walk to the net town over, called Obo. As we get closer to the center of the town, the crowd is thickening quickly. There are companies set up with booths and food on either side. Every few shops there is another huge sound system, playing a different song, trying to out do the people on either side of them. When we get to the center of town, there is a stage with the biggest sound system of the whole place and some men, one with a wig, in a dance competition. Junior tells me that they’re just some employees trying to attract people to try their product. On the other side of the stage we continue to the other edge of town and Charles shows me a few huge mansions before we head back through the crowd.
One thing I start to notice is people commenting about me being there. Two things I start to pick up from the Twi are people telling me that I’m tired and I should go rest and that I should go back to my town. Junior tells me that most Ghanaians believe that white people are soft and think I will only get hurt if I’m here. I’ve definitely noticed this opinion continually reinforced with people I’ve come across in Kumasi and Antoa. The common opinion I’ve heard is that white people are physically weak, but mentally fast. I think there is some truth to this when you look at averages and how our cultures reinforce these in the daily chores and activities. They also believe that Ghanaian people are physically very strong, but mentally weak or somehow wicked. I think the big trouble is when the average statistic is applied to the individual. Anyway, I laugh at the ignorance of the comments and try to give some fun replies to get people laughing. Another thing I notice through the crowd is that it seems like there are more macho men her then at other festivals that I’ve attended. I’d say one in three groups of men I walk by are walking around looking for a fight. On the way back I even had a couple people pushing me through the crowd or trying to trip me and walk over me. One guy even jumps and hangs on my back, but he’s very light and I don’t feel any danger with him trying getting close to my neck. I don’t really think the proportions are any different from any other crowd of young people at night, but I think my experience is a little off because I’m somehow more of a target for the drunk people, being one of the few white people walking around. Aside all of that negative attention, I had a really great time walking around and people watching. We get back close to 01:00, which is normally close to when I wake up, so I quickly go to bed and get ready for the next day.