Semester at Sea

This semester I will be on a ship taking classes and traveling to different countries. I will visit Cadiz, SPAIN ~ Casablanca, MOROCCO ~ Takoradi, GHANA ~ Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA ~ Port Louis, MAURITIUS ~ Chennai, INDIA ~ SINGAPORE ~ Ho Chi Minh City, VIET NAM ~ Hong Kong/Shanghai, CHINA ~ Kobe/Yokohama, JAPAN ~ Honolulu/Hilo, HAWAII ~ San Diego, USA.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

"I'm black like a piano...can you be my keys?"

We’re in Africa!!!!!! Morocco was Africa of course, but it really didn’t feel like it. For the seven days we were on the ship from Morocco to Ghana, Ariel and I played ‘Oh Africa’ and ‘Waka Waka’ on repeat every day because we were so excited.

So yesterday we woke up around 540am because the sun was supposed to rise at 556am (I’m trying to see all of the sunrises as we pull into port…I’ve seen them all so far!). It was really cloudy so it wasn’t a pretty sunrise, but we could see land so we were still excited. There were a ton of little fishing boats (really small ones…not much bigger than canoes), and it was so cute because every time we passed one, the people in them stood up and waved. Then, we saw a school of dolphins!!!! It was my first time to see dolphins, and there were at least six of them! It made my morning.

Most people had signed up for SAS trips or had FDPs that they had to do for class, but a few of us didn’t. After customs cleared us, we got off the ship and headed toward the market. This port was definitely different from the last two because it was like there was a crowd ready to greet us. As we walked everyone either smiled and waved or came up and talked to us. The first people we talked to were two businessmen. They came up to us on the street and asked where we were from. One of them said he had seen many of our friends and was curious who we were. It was nice because it showed me how we are finally in a place that isn’t touristy. He asked for all of our email addresses and gave us a big, sincere “welcome to Ghana”. It went pretty much the same way all day – people kept asking us where we were from (they got really excited when we said America. Apparently they love us…their approval rating is 90% which is an interesting contrast having just come from Morocco where it is 16%), asking for our email addresses (who knows how many emails we’ll have by the time we leave. haha), and telling us “welcome to Ghana.” It was so refreshing to meet such happy, friendly people.

Anyway, it was a long walk from the ship into town, and then we spent almost 30 minutes in line at the ATM because only one ATM in the whole town took our debit cards. We got money, stopped by the post office and then wandered through the market. It was definitely a market for locals because it was mostly food and stuff like that…It was really cool though. There was a lot of fish and meat but also spices and crazy vegetables I’ve never seen before. We did find one lady selling beads, so we stopped and bought some. Some people we passed at one stand stopped us and asked our names. They weren’t able to pronounce them, so they asked when we were born. In Ghana you are named according to the day of the week on which you were born. My Ghanaian name is Abena.

After we had been through the whole market, we were ready for some lunch. It was too late to get lunch on the ship so we asked around about restaurants. We found out that they don’t really eat at restaurants so our only option was to go to a hotel. We took a cab to one, and it was BEAUTIFUL. It was right on the beach and right across the street there was a little shop with crafts. We ate and then went into the shop. They had a lot of awesome hand crafted figurines and stuff like that. I got a really pretty painting; it’s of two women carrying babies on their backs and baskets on their heads…which is cool because that really is how EVERYONE carries things here. We also talked to these guys for a while. I guess they were rappers…we asked them if they like Jay-Z and they started singing Empire State of Mind. Haha It was so crazy to hear Ghanaians sing about New York. They were really cool though, and I’m so thankful I got to talk to so many people throughout the day. Moroccans were a little closed off, so being able to talk to the Ghanaians really makes the experience more meaningful and helps me see the culture.

We took another cab back to the ship. The driver was funny…he had an American flag with Obama’s face on it on his window. They sell those flags everywhere.

Back at the ship, Shannon and I got in the pool to cool off. It was really hot outside, but I didn’t think it was as bad as everyone was saying it was going to be (Speaking of which…we’re at the ‘center of the world’! Takoradi is the closest spot on land to where the equator meets the prime meridian). We all hung out for a little while on the ship before we went out. I wasn’t planning on going out at all, but I’m glad I did because it was SO much fun. While we were getting a cab outside of the port, there was a big group of Ghanaians trying to make us bracelets and sell us jewelry…one guy yelled at one of the SAS girls, “I’m black like a piano, can you be my keys?” haha…we all thought it was hilarious. The bar was definitely a pool hall, but we turned it into a dance floor. Our one mission was to hear ‘Oh Africa’, and after requesting it about eight times, they finally played it! It was the highlight of my night. They also played ‘Waka Waka’ right after which was awesome.

When we were worn out we went back to the ship and got some sleep. This morning hasn’t been very eventful. It’s been raining nonstop, so we didn’t want to go back out. Now I’m just getting ready to go to the orphanage this afternoon…I can’t wait!

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