10 May 2012

three tourists (not peace corps volunteers) in ghana

taccranight02the boys smoke cigars.

taccranight01you don’t participate, but you sit with them anyway because you do love the company.

it’s the final night at the transitional conference. your last moments as a peace corps volunteer before your official split from the organization. you say goodbye to peace corps, but not to your friends.

tcapecoastelmina01the next day, you’re no longer a volunteer. you’re no longer under peace corps’ umbrella. you’re no longer associated with anything. you’re just a tourist in ghana.

tcapecoastelmina03and where do tourists go in ghana?

tcapecoastelmina06to cape coast. 

tcapecoastelmina04and why do tourists go there? perhaps the ocean? the forts? the slave castle? the beach? the history?

tcapecoastelmina05all of that, of course. but there is also a personal reason.

tcapecoastelmina02exploring ghana is nothing but an excuse to enjoy the last moments you get to have with your yala yala buddies before each of you scatter off to different parts of the world.

tcapecoastelmina08this one is going to ___________________________________.

tcapecoastelmina12and this one is going to ________________________________.

tcapecoastelmina07all of you have ideas. but what will each of you end up actually doing?

tcapecoastelmina09what was supposed to be a single malian peace corps two year path has now split into three very different futures.

tcapecoastelmina10the blanks are empty for now, but they are sure to be filled in later.

tcapecoastelmina11that is what hurts the most.

tcapecoastelmina14the abrupt end to what this friendship was going to become.

tcapecoastelmina13it’s not that you won’t remain friends. and not that you aren’t already close. but those two years in mali was going to have built something.

something. you don’t have the words to describe it.

but it doesn’t matter – it won’t be happening now.

tcapecoastelmina19but no need to mope.

tcapecoastelmina15you three are healthy. alive. safe. eating well. drinking well too. and most importantly, together in ghana.

tcapecoastelmina16so off to exploring former slave castles! an ka taa! let’s go!

tcapecoastelmina18here, history isn’t really seen. it’s felt.

tcapecoastelmina21chills go through your body as you learn more and more about what people went through here.

tcapecoastelmina17history. it tends to linger, doesn’t it?

tcapecoastelmina20three tourists, three cameras, three very different sets of eyes – you can’t wait to see what their photos of this day are like.

tcapecoastelmina22guinness. again, like the cigars, you don’t participate. you had one sip, they laughed at your reaction. but in the end you won because you’re the one who ordered chicken with a curry sauce. and had the best lunch of the three.

that’s right. tourism, photography, beer, curry chicken– these are the steps you are taking to readjusting back to your pre-malian lifestyle.

they’re steps backwards – to the things you used to do before mali, but they’re steps forward as well – you are nowhere near the same person you were before.

tcapecoastelmina23then you climb up.

tcapecoastelmina24and here you realize just how flat mali was, because your thigh muscles don’t have an easy time.

they haven’t been properly used for six months.

tcapecoastelmina25the day ends with a nap at the beach.

tcapecoastelmina26you wanted to swim.

you really did.

but those waves were relentless.

Back Cameraand the trash.

that is one thing that didn’t differ too much between mali and ghana.

you politely turn down the invitation from the atlantic to swim. tempted, yes, but in the end you decide you’re better off staying dry.

tkakum01the next day, you head away from the coast.

and toward the rainforest. 

tkakum02with the yala yala buddies, of course.

tkakum03here you love the vines.

tkakum04everything is together. intertwined. twisted.

tkakum05there’s also canopy bridges.

however, no photos from you – you were too terrified to do anything except focus on reaching the end.

but these two probably have beautiful images from that high unstable angle.

tkakum06you accidently take the wrong path.

tkakum07but it was only “wrong” because the guide said so. otherwise you were perfectly fine on it.

tkakum08in any case, you make it out of the rainforest.

tkakum11luckily, right before it rained.

tkakum09it wouldn’t be a rainforest without rain, would it?

tkakum10you wish you could’ve spent more time exploring the forest – but two reasons stop you. one: this national park has strict rules. and two: you have to go back to accra to catch your flight out of ghana.

tkakum12so it’s back to accra. when you step into your blue tinted room, you’re momentarily scared. not of the place, not of its seedy nature, but because you’re the who booked it and you’re afraid your yala yala buddies will be angry at the dump you found.

tkakum13but they love it.

tkakum14one last full day in accra feeding the chickens together before the taxi to the airport. before the mali path diverges into three hazy futures.

tkakum15and just like that.

a banna.

the end.

oh, you don’t want to click “publish.” you really would like to leave this entry unpublished forever. because once you do, there aren’t any more things to go back to. there are no more photos. there are no more yala yalas to reminiscence about.

it’ll be europe and the united states after this point.

but it has to happen. stories have to continue, even if they no longer take place in west africa.

1 comment:

Stephanie Griffin said...

Cathy--this post is BEAUTIFUL! Both your photos and commentary are amazing :-)
Hope you're doing well post-PC. I miss you!