There is a lot I miss about Canada. Foremost, I miss my family and friends. I miss grocery stores. I miss multicultural food. I miss nacho chips. I miss pedestrian-first traffic laws. I miss cool weather. I miss hot showers. I miss having no electricity or water outages. I miss blending in. I miss my bed and duvet. I miss functioning social services that serve all people. I miss plenty!
But no matter how much I miss it, there are days in Ghana where I am sure I could liver here forever.
I recently had one of these days. It was after a long stretch of being really busy with work. I was tired. I was physically and emotionally drained. My brain was barely functioning. I had recently got over yet another bout of malaria. More of my thoughts were tending to missing Canada. I was in a district about six hours away from Tamale (my home city) travelling with one my EWB colleagues and we were heading back the next day.
It was pitch dark at 2:20am when my alarm went off. We were told the bus could leave the station anytime between 2am and 4am. I decided that 2am was a RIDICULOUS time to get to a bus station, but 2:30am seemed somehow more reasonable. We walked the 15 minutes from the guesthouse down the silent street, hardly earning a sleepy look from the goats that littered the way, still snoozing. We arrive at the station with no bus conductor in sight, but grab a seat on some benches with other bus-travellers, waiting. Again, I consider the hour. Two thirty A.M. should never be considered morning; if anything it should be reserved for a late night out, but never a morning, and never a bus ride.
I joke with some of the people there. I use my go-to joke when a new friend requests for me “to send him to Canada when I go back” – “Oh! No problem, I’m sure you can fit in my suitcase-oh”. It garners laughs all around despite the hour.
Finally at 3:30am the conductor comes and we purchase our tickets (~ CAD$4) and board the large MetroMass bus (a large, less spacious – 6 seats across – Greyhound). I snag a window seat and we push off loudly just before 4. I continue to be amazed at how early Ghanaians get up, by 4:30am, although it is still pitch dark, people are up and about, preparing their charcoal fires to start cooking giant (exercise ball sized) iron pots of porridge. I listen to the call to prayer from the mosques as we pass through small villages.
The road from Wulensi to Bimbilla is verifiably the worst road in the Northern Region. My head bangs against the window over and over again as the giant bus violently rocks and sways, unsuccessfully trying to avoid table-sized potholes and small lakes that constitute the road. But I watch the sun rise up over the newly formed yam mounds. Small plots of land diligently cared for by small farmers. I wonder if this is the most beautiful place in the world.
I’m suddenly overcome with the feeling that Ghana IS going to develop. Despite all the development partners interventions and inefficiencies of government. Ghana doesn’t need my ‘help’. Look at all those hardworking Ghanaians, up and about in the early morning light. Ghanaians are going to make this country develop. And I want to be here as nothing more than a spectator. Watch this beautiful country that I love develop.
My head smashes against the window again and I smile. I could really stay here forever.