Friday, April 8, 2011

Road Babe Dispatch From Ada Ghana

Culture shock is something every traveler understands. It’s part of the gritty, harsh truth that no experience can be prepared for, especially when talking about immersion in a foreign world of unknown traditions, foods, languages and perspectives about life. For me, this is the impetus to go. The discomfort, the confusion, and ultimately the epiphany of what it means to be human, reveals who we are underneath the cloak of our context.

In Ghana, my culture shock was like one of those gnarly roller coasters, the rickety kind, that start off with a slow climb, reach a peak and drop you face first through a series of loops, twists and turns. As I traveled North, through jungles and into the dust, away from the salty breezes of the beach, I was changing languages, topography and customs. I was even changing myself.

A realization found me in Ada, after I’d returned to the Southern Volta region and was walking on the beach with a friend. I was traveling through Ghana the same way it was traveling through me, both comprehending it and yet transforming with it - hot, tired, irritated but awed, disoriented and unsure of everything. After traveling through the diverse tribes and lands of Ghana, I found myself asking who I was.

Just as I was contemplating the global phenomenon of lands affecting the people who inhabit them, I saw a man crouched down at the edge of the water. Although he was off in the distance and I couldn’t see his face, I had the distinct feeling he was pondering the same question. He was gazing pensively at the ebb and flow of the ocean, a force that connects humans around the world. I mentioned it to my friend who laughed and said, “I don’t think that’s what he’s doing.” “Don’t shit on my moment,” I replied, but on closer look, I saw a tail silhouetted in the sunset.

Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.

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