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Gone From Ghana

We know when it’s time to go. Unlike the guest who stays at your house too long, travelers reach the intuitive destination called, “move on.” Not only do we see the countries of Ghana, Togo, and Benin, but we taste them…feel them. Surviving the initial shock of over-population and people defecating along the streets, as they have nowhere else to go, we calm their aggressive manner of communication, by smiling. We then find a warm, welcoming people. Probably the best part of West Africa lies in the friendly people. We have little worry of being robbed or car-jacked, but still take precautions. After all, we’re from the United States.

            Harsher conditions in the French-speaking countries of Togo and Benin make Ghana seem like West Africa “light.” Still, we feel like we see all there is to see. We pass on visiting the waterfalls, and canopy walk, been there and did that in places from the Amazon to Multnomah Falls, Oregon, to Havasupai Falls in Arizona. We are hot, exhausted, and totally filthy. The open sewers become resting spots where folks sit and talk, and sometimes sell wares, including food, which continues to assault our senses. 

After one month of utilizing public transit, from seven people in a tiny taxi, to fifteen folks in a Tro-tro (small van) to three on a small scooter, we tire from sucking in the dust, smoke and relentless heat/humidity. As Mare says, “The only time I feel good is when submerged in water.” I agree with her.


Experiencing West Africa in this manner, including witnessing a genuine Voodoo Ceremony, will stay with us forever. Eating goat, and the rodent, “Grasscutter,” with Fu-Fu, along with Banku, Okra Stew, Red Red, and other culinary delights remain a highlight as well. But we have our fill. We could live here, eat and drink well, for about $300 US monthly, but why would we want to? We seem to be the only tourists in these countries. The only other non-Africans that we encounter are volunteers, or here on business. And they are few and far between. 

Located by the Men's Dungeon in Cape Coast Castle

We will never forget the impact of the slave trade. The pain of slavery becomes more real to us than can be conveyed by history books. Unfortunately, a less visible form of slavery seems to exist here, in how the employees of hotels, etc., work a seventeen-hour day. No wonder they move so slowly. They have barely enough time to sleep, and then need to get ready for work. They get no days off. Only for a funeral, or tragedy, and they better not take too long or they will be fired, from their $200(US equivalent) monthly wage. 

New Friends - One Love

Still this is a culture of proud people, friendly despite primitive conditions. They teach us the power of the human spirit, the choice of attitude we all make to either whine and complain or celebrate and enjoy. I feel like a fraud to despair over taking a “bucket-shower,” which is much better than nothing. At least I can wear shoes as I walk through the sewer streams in the streets, unlike most of the children here. It’s one thing to see the images on television of poverty, but to walk among it for one month changes us forever.    

"We are the Children"

So where do we go next? Our plan is to head north through Burkina Faso, into Mali. However, we receive numerous emails from the US State Department, warning against travel to Mali, especially the northern region, including Tombouctou, which is of course where we want to go. This is due to the increased threat by Al- Qaeda to kidnap US citizens. So, while it is time to “move on,” maybe not to Mali.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. By all means…stay clear of Mali..
    While you are having your style of “fun”, we would like to have you return, safe and sound.
    Great pics…
    We anxiously await your return to HOME!


    November 21, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Glad to know we are missed and that someone might notice if we don’t return! We miss our friends too and have had serveral conversations about the trade offs for this type of travel.

      On another note, we had some technology issues and did not receive email for several days. So, if anyone sent an email to our personal email addresses recently, we are not ignoring you. The issue has now been resolved, but those emails are lost.

      November 22, 2009
  2. Ma Mitchell #

    Your Ma & Pa heartily agree with Skip….

    November 22, 2009
    • Hi Ma and Pa,

      No need to worry. We are re-thinking our travel strategy, and will attempt Africa from the North, through Spain. We can get to Morocco for sure, and will take it from there, depending upon the situation of course.

      I love you and miss you.

      Go Steelers!


      Your Son

      November 22, 2009
  3. Ann #

    Yes, listen to the warnings and stay safe! These last few weeks seem to have affected you deeply. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. We are learning vicariously through you.I can’t wait to read your journals and talk with you about it someday. Ann

    November 22, 2009
    • Hi Ann,

      I look forward to sitting down one day with you, and talking about life in general. But don’t forget…we’re having an experience we will never forget!



      November 22, 2009
  4. Pat #

    A very powerful chapter to your story. Thanks, Ron. And stay safe!

    November 22, 2009
    • Hi Pat,

      Thanks. I’m glad you can enjoy it. We are very safe at the moment!



      November 24, 2009
  5. Mark Stodola #

    Your story is a wonderful antidote for all of the painful discussions about layoffs and Arizona’s F’d up economy. Certainly puts things in perspective. We can’t wait to see you back here safe and sound.

    November 22, 2009
    • Hi Mark,

      Yes, I agree…everything is relative. See you at Hamburger Works in a couple of months!



      November 24, 2009

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