Blog from Abroad: A few of my favorite things

Idyllic beaches are abundant.

Idyllic beaches are abundant.

My blog post last week dumped on Ghana a little bit. So to balance that, my blog post this week is devoted to everything that I love about Cape Coast. I really like it here a lot more than it sometimes sounds.

1. Beaches

Sure, they might function as Cape Coast’s public landfill site and permanent port-a-potty, but there are a few spots on the beach that are reliably cleanish and breathtakingly beautiful. Palm trees ripe with green coconuts, ocean faring canoes the colors of a Fauvist painter’s palette, that salty sea breeze riding in and out on the crests of waves. If these beaches were in Florida, they would be covered with high value high rises, but here, the beach is such an integral part of survival and everyday life that it would be impossible to cover it with fancy real estate. No matter where I am in the world, I can always find a sense of calm next to the ocean, even if I’m sharing the view with some trash.

2. Fruit

Fruit ladies are everywhere, hawking fresh pineapples that they slice right in front of you, peeled sour oranges, bunches of tiny sweet bananas, and papayas the size of my head. And the fruit is so abundant and casual that it’s impossibly cheap, working out to about 50 cents for an entire pineapple or papaya or five oranges or bananas. I probably have the highest vitamin C intake of my entire life combined right now.

3. Dancing

The basic set of rhythms and movements in Ghanaian dance are completely different from the assumptions accompanying typical music and dance back home. Nobody awkwardly steps back and forth to the beat or bashfully wiggles their hips; they go all out. The basic resting move for girls is to bounce the booty and the basic resting move for guys is to get low and forcefully swing their upper bodies side to side. But there isn’t much resting. Usually, dancing is an athletic feat that takes incredibly strong things to take you down low and keep you there, that swings you around at break neck speed, that moves you to every corner of the dance floor in every possible way you can imagine getting there. I will never move like a Ghanaian, but I love to dance and dancing here is so much more fun and free than dancing at home.

What's even better than fresh fruit and beaches? Fresh fruit on the beach.

What’s even better than fresh fruit and beaches? Fresh fruit on the beach.

4. Egg sandwich ladies

Considering all of the amazing things that come from the United States – tachoes, lightbulbs, Beyonce – it continues to astound me that we have yet to come up with the simple concept of the egg sandwich lady. These ladies can be found around town from about 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and literally all they do is make egg sandwiches. Two eggs fried omelet style with some tomatoes, peppers and onion into a fluffy circle of perfection and stuffed between toasted slices of bread. They are everything that they’re cracked up to be. Take these to the U.S., add some cheese and Chilua, and you’ve got yourself the next hit food truck.

5. Stars

Have you ever noticed the way that stars literally twinkle? They dim in and out of their circles of prominence with a magical pulse, surrounded by little rainbows where their light trails off. Maybe I’m just super unobservant of the night sky at home, which is entirely possible, but there are an unbelievable number of pulsing stars in the skies here. When the power goes out at night, which usually happens about three four nights out of the week, I’m especially aware of just how beautifully abundant the stars are. The night is bright here, not because of street lights, as I first assumed was the source of light shining through my bedroom window, but because of the intensity of the stars.

Spending a long time in a foreign culture is difficult, but I try to take things one day at a time and make the best of them. I know that I’ll miss a lot of things about Ghana when I leave, and with that in mind, I’m trying to soak in as much as I can in these last few weeks before I return to my familiar, less fruity reality.

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