As a final goodbye to our new Ghanaian friends in Tamale, we went out to a music concert hosted in their giant football stadium and took another shot attempting to dance ‘Azonto’. We had a great time dancing in the stands, clapping along, and enjoy the rhythm of their lives one last time! The next morning we piled back onto the bus to head back down to the coast. By now we’d all spent a good chunk of time on the Metro transit system and were SO happy to be back on the ‘Luxury’ buses. Hello again to air conditioning and leg room!! We traveled down some now familiar roads, stopped at the usual rest stops where we now easily found our way to the trench toilets, bought our coffee in bags, egg sandwiches, fruit, and of course dough balls, before tramping back onto the bus. We were all in pretty good spirits and the long bus ride gave us a chance to really catch up and to spend some time reflecting, journalling, napping, reading… just recharging after a busy few days. It took more hours than we can even remember before arriving in the dark dusty bus stop of a small town where we managed to arrange for a big tro tro to transport us the rest of the way to Green Turtle (I think it was upwards of 18 hours total for the trip!). After likely the bumpiest ride we experienced in Ghana (and that’s saying a lot!) we arrived at Green Turtle resort at 2 a.m. , so dark you couldn’t see the ocean but the sounds of the waves crashing so loud that you knew it was only steps away! We were just so happy to be out of the tro tro that we didn’t fully appreciate our surroundings until the next morning. The beaches and the huts took our breath away. It’s a piece of paradise and we were so excited to spend the next 4 days there. The next morning the manager commented on what a good mood we were in despite the long trip, late arrival and having to search and wake the owner to let us in!
Some of us girls hitched a ride in the back of a truck through the thick forest and past seaside fishing towns to a laidback beach town to learn how to surf. It was a day full of side-aching laughs, wave tumbling, and cheers of encouragement or success when any of us "caught a wave" at Busua Beach. With shoulders burnt and what felt like half the beach in our hair, we found the locally recommended Mama Florence's to enjoy choco-banana pancakes before returning to the rest of the group at our heavenly haven at Green Turtle Bay. We all went back the next day and, as always, the trips in to town were “exciting”. Megan, Sinbad, and Crystal hitched a ride with the resort managers and halfway through the journey were informed that the truck didn’t have any breaks (not even the e-break). Megan and Sinbad were sitting in the back of the truck and had to evade some tree branches when we took an impromptu detour into the forest to avoid an oncoming vehicle. Always an adventure in Ghana! Our last night at the Green Turtle involved a lobster feast, words of encouragement to each other, games, and midnight skinny dipping in the ocean to top it all off.
The next morning we all piled in a tro tro that was seriously only meant for 8 people by Ghanaian standards. We had bags strapped to the top and popping out the back door and had to stop several time to readjust and restrap our cargo! While heading back with everyone crammed in the trotro, hot and tired, Kristen pulls out a bag of skittles from nowhere (apparently her husband Anthony had stashed away in her bag!!) and begins sharing them around. It was so hot that they instantly started to bleed colour on to your hand when we passed them out! Those skittles made the tro tro trip back manageable, thanks R-Anthony! :)
After a delayed flight (ending up in an overnight stay in a luxury hotel), we were off. Most of us chose to extend our layover in London or to head off on other travels before we headed back to “real life". Saying our good-byes to each other at the end of this trip was bittersweet; we knew we'd be returning to loved ones, graduating from nursing, and beginning our careers, yet we had come to learn and love one another like sisters and Ghana was like our second (extremely hot) home. It’s been about 10 months now since our journey ended and the next group of students are getting ready to head off on their trip of a lifetime. All I keep thinking is that it’s amazing how quickly you can adjust to a completely different pace and setting in life and then when you’re out of it again it feels like a bit of a dream. We are happy to say that we still keep in contact with each other regularly and try to catch up whenever we can. Life has changed for all of us in the last year, not just in what we do but in who we are. We’re all so thankful that we had this opportunity to step out of our normal lives for a while, to see some more of the beauty that the world holds, to be forced to get to know our friends on a deeper level, and to be so gratefully amazed by the beauty and strength we found in each other. We hope that this experience will continue to impact us and how we live our lives forever. Thank-you all for sharing it with us and for your support and encouragement along the way.
Signing off one last time - The Ghana Gals of 2013