This week, I have the privilege of crossing the ocean on a big airplane (yipe) and visiting Ghana.
I went about this time last year, and it was definitely one of the defining trips of my life. I always wanted to visit Africa, and when my church presented an opportunity to serve, I jumped at the chance. Especially after hearing about the tanzania safari one of my friends had gone on recently, it seemed a perfect chance to explore a different culture.
Had I ever been out of the country? No. Was I crazy about that reeeeally long flight (can’t remember exactly how long, but it’s LONG)? Of course not. But these things are meant to be.
You can read my entire mission blog from last year, if you wish, here. But now that I have a somewhat-successful food blog, I wanted to share the story of the one and only time I really got to try real, no foolin’, not-prettyed-up-for-the-Americans Ghanian food. (Most of the time we ate American food at our hostel and had either hand-packed lunches or – get this – Chinese food. Our gracious hosts wanted to make sure we were comfortable with our eats, but I wanted to try local stuff, too!)
Our group was working one day at a mission church in a village out from Accra. Long story short, I didn’t catch wind that I was supposed to be back at the church at a certain time, and my translators and I traipsed the community for hours, until someone called one of the translators (yes, cell phones work great there) to see what was up. They were more than a little freaked out that we hadn’t returned. It had been so long, in fact, that our leader asked me to just “stay put” in the church office for a while. I guess I was grounded. 😉
So, here I am, moping a little that I caused trouble. About the time I’m feeling really sorry for myself, a bunch of local women bustle into the room, carrying coolers of hot food. It was lunchtime.
Soon, I am eating kontomire stew and plantains with my right, bare hand (as is tradition there), chatting with the women and learning a few words in Akan, their native language. We shared, laughed, and talked about our children. I discovered that, in their culture, if you finish your plate, you want more.
We bonded, over a meal, as people have done for thousands of years. I’ll never forget it.
This trip, I hope to have some more local food experiences, and not just for the food itself. As technology allows, I’ll let you know what I find as I find it.
(And I hope it includes this.)