Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dancing into the New Year

Before zipping off to the US for the holidays, what better way to end my 2010 in Ghana than to dance out?  My plane didn't leave until after 11:00 p.m., so I figured that final Friday should be spent with the people I adore most.  We danced, drummed, sang and cooled off with frosty beverages.

When I dreamed of living in Africa, part of the fantasy was spending each evening with rhythm.  I envisioned the pounding of drums and feet while the sun set.  I knew this to be part of the African culture and tradition and wanted it to be mine.  Now it's a part of me, and nothing lifts my spirits higher.

On that balmy Friday evening, we ended the year and kicked off the holidays with the blessings of one another.  Sweaty and high on life I took off for the airport and left many of my friends in the house behind me and still beating.  It was perfect in so many ways.  I guess I should also add that halfway through my US holiday trip, I felt homesick.  There I was in the land of Starbucks, smooth roads and instant gratification, and I longed to bargain for my cup of tea, buy a snack at the stoplight or bounce on a pothole.  The malls and restaurants just seemed so sterile and impersonal.  Where were the handshakes (we Ghanaians have a special handshake with one another), shouts at the neighbors as I pulled out of the driveway and someone to say "you are welcome" when I came home?  Not one single person called me "white lady."  Perhaps it was the incredible send-off and the lasting joy that came from the soiree that made the first world pale in comparison.  After all, experiences like that one leave an impression.

Now I am back in Ghana and in my home.  One of the greatest compliments I've received came from the immigration officer, my first point of contact.  When I approached his booth, I said to him, "Eh, Boss.  Good afternoon.  How is the day?"  His reply, "I think you must live here."  The following day Samuel showed up on our doorstep.  His initial greeting was to Glynn, a long and warm hug shared between the two of them.  And to me:  "Hey, Chale!"  On my first day back to work, the traffic on the main road was backed up further than usual, so Samuel took the "fast way" by barreling over the bumps and humps of the dusty shoulder, weaving around bushes and muffin sellers.  As we passed the stalls selling random biscuits and phone credits, the yard of spoiled buses, cars and machinery, and the broken down dump truck with rocks behind it's wheels to hold it in place, I thought to myself, "Wow!  THIS is where I live!"  I gave up a smooth ride but never have a dull moment.

2010 ended with me dancing out of Ghana, and 2011 began with a warm welcome home.  My plan for 2011?  Keep the beat, lift the spirit and enjoy the small things.  Cheers!

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