Good morning Ghana
An early wake up to my alarm at 5:30am brought on the new day. The whole city was still asleep (even the church that usually woke us up) and we were just starting our adventures. We loaded into the bus and left at 5:56 to be sure that we would be on time for our class with the National Theatre in Accra at 8:30. The drive was peaceful, aside from Kwesi and Mercy’s constant chatting in Twi, but I plugged in my headphones and enjoyed the drive. The sky was only just starting to gain light from the slow rising sun and the city seemed so peaceful as the shop keepers had just risen to set up their roadside stores for the traffic that would soon be heading into Accra. I love traveling in the morning, the world is so peaceful and sleepy, unlike the night. There is light creeping on the horizon and with it a promise of a fresh and beautiful new day.
We arrived at the National Theatre at 7:10, a whole hour and 20 minutes early. Plenty of time for us to get prepared for our class. We walked up to the third floor of the theatre and my heart lept as we took off our shoes and entered the studio space. It was huge. A giant room with a vaulted ceiling, big windows, a wall of mirrors, wood floor and a stage where an array of drums sat. We began to warm up with some stretching and yoga as we waited for the teachers and performers to arrive. Once they did we began our class. A fun warm up activity, stretch and across the floor routine (accompanied by their crazy drummers) brought us to the end of our class. We said our goodbyes, but before we left the theatre we went into the auditorium to see the stage.
Even if we hadn’t planned to walk on the stage I don’t think anyone would have been able to keep me off it. I took off my shoes and, after gaping at the size and build of the backstage, went straight to centre stage. Looking out at the empty seats of the audience, I realized how much I missed being onstage. Traveling with performers as good as Claire, Megan, Leilani, Joe and Mercy gave us all a connection as we were awestruck by the beauty of something as simple as a stage. I think we all had that shared experience of feeling the rush of energy and excitement that you get when performing to an audience, and, I at least, missed that sweet familiar energy.
We left the National Theatre after that and headed off to the Art Market. A place where hundreds of merchants set up hoping to sell their wares and would shout things like ‘beautiful lady! Come to my shop’ or ‘There is no charge for looking’. We split off into partners, 1 Obronie (Twi for foreigner) and 1 Ghanaian, to go and see if there was anything that interested us. We found a few treasures and then walked down to the beach that was nearby. Mounds of garbage could be found in all the places where the waves had not cleared it. Stacks that built up beside the small shanti’s that were scattered all around, the difference between this beach and the Cape Coast was remarkable. While the Cape Coast did have some litter on its beach, it was nothing compared to this. Claire told us how a few years back the government had decided to clean up the beach and make the whole area nicer. So they demolished the shanti village, hundreds of homes, but did nothing with the land. So years later, the people are rebuilding on the land and the whole area has become a garbage dump. It was so sad to see, a few days earlier we had gone to the new site for the DMC and up on that hill the view was incredible, the beauty of Ghana was so pronounced and indescribable. And yet among all that beauty there could be a place that is so neglected and dirty.
We got back onto the bus and we headed to the mall so we could pick up some lunch. But on our way there our driver heard something and pulled over to the side of the road luckily near a car lot. Because sure enough he had heard the belt of the engine snap and we were left on the side of the road for 3 hours while the mechanic from the car lot helped us get a new belt and replace the broken one. Half of us sleeping and the other half hungry, we walked to a supermarket nearby and bought some potato chips (Crisps for those in the UK) and snacks to tide us over. When we were finally back on the road we headed home to the DMC and had an hour of down time before getting back to work on our collaboration dance. After working so hard on it, we were happy to get it all choreographed and have 3 days to work on making it look perfect for our party on Sunday.
After a very fast paced run through of our 4 dances, a delicious dinner and many fits of laughter during our daily ‘Highlight, Learning, Observation’ I was ready for bed. Yes, it meant that one more day was over and we were a step closer to the end of this amazing trip but, this trip, unlike others, has made me excited to go home. I know the things I have learned here won’t fade away once I land on Canadian soil again. If anything, they can finally be put into action. So, while I’m sad that we are one-day closer to ending this trip, I am excited to see where this experience will take me and the future I will have because if it.