Posted by: devonhamilton | October 8, 2010

Ghana: The Gateway to Africa

After that long layover in Amsterdam, we finally arrived in Ghana on Monday night. When we got in at 7pm it was completely dark, and the humidity hit me like a wall as soon as I stepped off the plane. We spent two days in Accra doing orientation with Fred, our program officer; and Jane, our program manager. Fred is Ghanaian so he has of course been invaluable to us as we have tons of questions about everything.

On our second day in Accra we went to meet the Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana! It was interesting to be able to talk to some CIDA staff members about partnerships between Ghana and Canada. After that we had dinner with a Canadian woman who has been living in Ghana for over 15 years to hear her experiences with culture shock, and being a Canadian in Ghana. During this conversation a man came over and asked if we were from Canada. We were surprised that he didn’t guess American first. When we said we were from Toronto he said “Newmarket?” It turns out this guy actually lives in Newmarket so we were both a little blown away to run into each other in a Chinese restaurant in Accra. He also gave me his number to call in case we need anything!

There has been a bit of a change in plans in our project: we are starting in Takoradi instead of Koforidua. We drove to Takoradi yesterday and it took about 4 hours. I couldn’t resist sleeping and listening to my ipod but it was also interesting to look around. People sell things on the street and walk up to your car window to sell you food and other necessities. During this drive we bought “Fan Ice” which is ice cream that comes in a little bag. You rip the corner of the bag off with your teeth and squeeze it into your mouth! It was really sweet – it actually taste like icing. We tried vanilla but I heard that there is also chocolate and strawberry so I will be on the lookout for that. I have been enjoying the local food. The first meal we had we ordered a bunch of dishes and split them so I’m not 100% sure what they all were, but they were really good. I tried red-red which is fried plantain with baked beans and yesterday I had groundnut (peanut) soup with rice. The food I have tried hasn’t been particularly spicy, but I’m not very tolerant of spice so I am still adjusting. Last night we went out for dinner but none of us could resist the pizza and salad on the menu!

I think that my research really helped to prepare me for Ghana, since I read about it extensively before coming here. I also found a ton of blogs on the internet that were incredibly helpful. Even though a lot of it has been what I expected and pictured in my head, I’ve also learned that nothing can actually prepare you for being here. Walking through the busy market yesterday with people selling things and saying things to us in Fante was a bit overwhelming!

We had our last day of orientation yesterday and Monday we will be teaching a workshop at a local school on the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). We did a bit of workshop planning today which was helpful. We aren’t too sure what to expect with this first workshop so I’m sure it will be a big learning experience. I’m so excited to meet the students!

I think I am adjusting well. We have experienced power outages and our water has stopped running a few times. I took my first bucket shower today and it was a lot better than I expected – any shower is better than no shower. It gets pretty hot in the day (in the sun) in Takoradi but we are also on the coast so we get a nice breeze which is much appreciated!

Thanks to everyone who emailed or messaged me to ask how I am doing. My access to the internet has been limited/non-existent until this point so that is why I didn’t get back to you. I have my cellphone now so feel free to call, text, or skype it – get the number from Jord or my parents.

And of course thank you for all the words of support and encouragement! More frequent updates to come as I am now settled in Takoradi until November.


  1. Hi Devon Great to hear from you on your blog..sounds so exciting…long flight though isn’t it? The pictures are great to see..are you able to go swimming since you are so close to the water?
    Enjoy..take care of yourself.
    Love Ann

    • Hi Ann! Haven’t gone swimming yet but that is our mission for this weekend 🙂
      Great to hear from you. KLM was wonderful but I made the mistake of watching “Sex and the City 2” which was absolutely dreadful !

  2. Glad to hear you landed and you are doing well. Enjoy those bucket showers!!!

    Keep updating, we are living vicariously through your blog. Canada is slowly getting colder (although today was pleasantly warm) so we need your updates to get us through the beginning of winter!

    Peace out,

    Sconnie Chynoe

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