Happy New Year!

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is having an excellent start to 2012. I have to apologize for the long delay in writing this post. December flew by too fast with work, an EWB country meeting and then an unfortunate and drawn out battle with malaria that took me right up until Christmas.

It was a holiday season of firsts for me. There were a lot of things I was missing: it was my first Christmas away from home, family and friends in Canada, my first winter holiday away from the cold and away from skiing,  my first holiday without a Christmas tree or candy canes. But also a lot of firsts I was thankful for: it was my first Christmas in Ghana (or in any other country, for that matter!), my first Thai food Christmas dinner, my first Christmas spent on a beach and wandering markets, my first African print stocking, my first holiday with a partner, my first New Years spent beside a bonfire dancing to Ghanaian drums, my first New Years spent laughing and reflecting with amazing EWB friends, my first opportunity to be a tourist and explore more of Ghana.

I dearly missed my family and the traditions of home, but had a blast here in Ghana. My partner, Sean, courageously joined me from Canada and we go to explore some of the southern regions of Ghana. We first travelled to the Volta Region – full of jungle-covered mountains, hidden waterfalls, banana trees and monkeys. It reminded me of Vancouver and its mountains that I miss so much. For the second half of the holidays, we travelled back west, through Accra and on to Cape Coast. Cape Coast is home to white-sand beaches, fishing villages, fifteenth century forts (later used for the slave trade) and canopy walks. We were joined by the rest of the EWB staff that were still in Ghana for the holidays to celebrate the beginning of 2012 together on the beach.

 

Wli Falls in the Volta Region – highest waterfall in West Africa

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At the mona monkey sanctuary in the Volta Region 

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Sean and I on New Years Eve

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At Kakum National Park on the canopy walk

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Playing tour guide to someone new to Ghana was amazing: it was amazing to see Ghana through new eyes again, and it was the first time I realized that I’m no longer new in Ghana. Ya! I can get around in the hectic city of Accra, figure out what tro-tro station I need to be at to get to another region, I know what delicious food to eat on the street and how much it should cost, I know how to bargain with taxi drivers like nobody’s business, I can small-talk with strangers in my Ghanaian accent endlessly, I can stand waiting for transport tirelessly and I can swap money for treats out the bus window with lightning speed. I hadn’t realized these small parts of everyday life are now second nature to me in my new home of Ghana.

I can’t believe how much happened in 2011 – I finished up my last term of university, travelled to San Francisco with my best friends, received my Iron Ring, went to graduation, did some skiing, had a few months at home, went to Hawaii on a whim, started working for EWB, moved to Ghana(!), moved from the district to regional level here, been challenged on every skill and comfort level and here we are – 2012. 2011 was a year of change, I hope 2012 becomes a year of making it. 

I have a ton of ideas for new blog posts and promise to get them up soon. I hope you all had an amazing holiday!

Lots of love,

– Joyce

P.S. Thank you to everyone who donated to my Perspectives campaign this holiday season. I was blown away by the support and kind words. Thank you all for helping meet my goal.

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