Writing is not …

Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it… It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else. — George Orwell

I have been agonising for a long time now over many things.  Am I a good writer?  Is this really the path I want to take?  Is there something that will be better suited to me? Will I ever be successful? Will I ever be content with just one thing for the rest of my life?

It is non stop.  Are these self-doubts and fears normal, or am I just sub-consciously sabotaging my dreams because I fear I will not live up to my expectation, or expectations from others of what my future SHOULD hold?

Well, I have made a decision to stop.  A revelation that came to me just today.  I will write as much as I like until I get bored (as if that’ll ever happen).  Until my fingers ache from arthritis.  Until my eyes too blurred to see words on a page.  Until I can confidently say this is not what I love to do.  Writing has been a part of me for as long as I can remember (well at least since I was 9 years old).  I would sit on my 90’s style computer in year 3 writing about families and school adventures.  Strangely, I even wrote a story of a baby being born- from the babies perspective.  Let’s pretend I didn’t just admit to that.

No matter where life takes me, no matter what job I land in the near future, or what is waiting for me tomorrow or the next day, I must continue to write.  Anything and everything.  It really is a joy and celebration that lightens up my mood every time.

Thank you George Orwell for sparking that reflection.

Love

C

x

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Goodbye 2013…

Goodbye 2013

And WELCOME 2014! Yes, I have nothing else to write about except for the coming of the New Year, because I am so original.

For me, 2013 has been a year filled with love, laughter, tears, excitement, adventure, travel, engagements, friendships, family, babies, and lots of fun! It has definitely been a good year.

But how can I make 2014 even better? Well, first of all, 2014, for me, will be the year I begin to develop a stable career.  It’ll be the year I save my money, get a good job (or work my butt off for a better position in my current job- but I think I’d prefer the former) and prepare myself for the future.  It’s also going to be there year I look after my body and get fit & stick to it (yes, I know, I know, everyone says that! But I mean it).  ALSO, it’ll be there year I finally cut ties with so called ‘acquaintances’ and steer all my energy toward the people in my life who are actually my friends and in the true sense of the word, not just friends, but friends.  If that makes any sense at all? I don’t want to waste my time worrying about people who don’t worry about me, is basically what I am saying.

It’s strange to think that 2014 will come and go as fast as 2013, the years are just flying by and I can hardly keep up.  I feel like it goes so fast that I can’t even remember what I have for breakfast most days!

It seems today is all about what people are going to be doing and who they are going to be with at midnight.  But I have never really understood why?  What is the big deal about December 31st anyway, its just another day isn’t it?  It’s a day like any other that is followed by another day that just so happens to be January 1 of a new year.  They are just dates and times.

I think the most important thing is how you feel within yourself on the last day of the year.  That is, have you achieved what you wanted?  Are you happy with how the year has gone? How can you make the next year better?  For me, I am very proud of the year I have had. I had a goal at the end of 2012 and I stuck to it and achieved that goal.  I had an amazing adventure in Africa for 2 months and it is something I will never forget.   And I will drink to that tonight- to the fact that I set out to do something and I did it- on my own.

So that’s it for my New Year’s post, because I don’t want to drain your lives with something you all clearly don’t care about.

Until next time 🙂

C

x

Home Sweet Home

It’s been 7 whole days since I have returned from Africa.  There is nothing better than your own bed, especially after 2 and a half weeks of basic camping.  My experience in Africa was amazing and most likely will be the best experience abroad of my life; I would go back in a heart beat.  But nothing beats being home.  The anticipation of seeing your loved ones after so long at the airport arrival gates; the comforting feeling of walking through your front door; the smell of your own bed; the long luxurious showers; the unpacking of souvenirs; the slideshow of photos; and the first home cooked meal are all the things I will remember about my return home from Africa.

I am yet to delve into the incredible-ness that was my final 2 and a half weeks in Africa-while on Safari through Southern and East Africa.  So here I go:

Johannesburg to Victoria Falls 23 November – 1 December 2013

Day 1 – Arrived in Jo’Burg early in the morning and headed straight to the hotel- Sandton Holiday Inn.  Had my own room, which was grand! Decided to have a shower and sleep for a little while.  Woke up then went for a walk to Sandton City, a large shopping mall in the area.  I was amazed at how different and westernised Johannesburg is compared with Ghana.  I met my tour group that evening at the briefing, you had Tam and Sam (sisters from Canada), Ian- a pom from northern QLD, Dan from Wales, Lynne from London, Sally from the UK, Jim from Windsor, Sharne from NY, Tony and girlfriend Dorothy from Hungary and Germany, our guide was Timone from Zimbabwe and driver was Ruawan from South Africa.

Day 2 – Drove for about 10 Hours to Rhino Sanctuary, saw Black Rhino, White Rhino, Warthog, Impala, Springbok, Antelope, Giraffe, Tortoise, Jackal, Zebra and lots of birds.

Day 3 – Early start with 7 hour drive to Maun, Botswana, nice campsite with pool and bar so made use of both.

Day 4 – Headed out into the Okavango Delta by Makoro, being poled through small canals and hippo invested water.  Camped on a small island within the Delta with everything being cooked on open fire and no facilities for the next two days.  Went on evening walk and saw Elephants, Zebra, Hippos and Antelope.

Day 5 – Morning nature walk saw Elephants, a dazzle of Zebras, and an Elephants skeleton.  Had a go at poling later in the afternoon, tricky but didn’t fall in at least.  Evening campfire with traditional songs and dance performed by locals.

Day 6 – Left the Delta heading back to Maun, back to the same campsite for washing and relaxation. Was finally able to have a shower after 2 long days in the bush!

Day 7 – Went on scenic flight over the Delta, saw 100’s of hippos, Elephants, Giraffes.  Became air sick after 15 minutes so I enjoyed the rest of the flight with my head between my knees. Travelled to Elephant Sands.  The evening game drive was a bit of a let down on the animal front but still enjoyed.

Day 8 – Early start to head into Zimbabwe and Vic Falls.  Spent a good hour in the Wild Horizons store trying to plan all my activities for the following 3 days.   Went to Elephant Sanctuary n the afternoon where you can meet the elephants and ride them on a safari walk.  My dreams came alive when I was able to connect with the gorgeous Izibulo who was 10 years old.  After that we met Sylvester the Cheetah.  That evening I bid farewell to the rest of the crew as they continued on to Kruger National Park, while I was due to spend a couple more days in Vic Falls then head to Kenya.

Day 9 – The day had come for me to face my fears.  I was so reluctant to do White Water Rafting, but Ian convinced me to do it, and since I was in Victoria Falls, I figured, what better place would there be?? Our Crew was made up of two guys working in Zimbabwe, myself, Sally, Lynne, Ian, Sharne and Mike at the ripe old age of 78.  It was absolutely amazing and hands down the best thing I have ever done! Went through rapids graded from 1 to 5- with 6 being the highest.  Feeling PRETTY proud of myself at this point.  The hour long climb back up the gorge was not much fun, but totally worth it!  That afternoon went to a lion sanctuary to walk with the lions, bit touristy but least I can say I have stroked two lionesses and a cheetah now.

Victoria Falls on my lonesome

Since my next tour wasn’t starting for another couple of days in Kenya, I stayed a little bit longer in Victoria Falls.  I decided to visit the notorious Devil’s Pool on the Zambia side of the Falls.  This was AMAZING! I had to swim through Croc & Hippo invested water to get to the pool, but it was completely worth it.  The pool is a small section of the falls where you can jump in and literally lay on the edge of the falls.  It was scary at first but so much fun! The next day I spent exploring the town of Livingstone and Victoria Falls.

Kenya & Tanzania

Day 1- Arrived in Nairobi in the early hours of the morning and head straight to the hotel.  I slept the day away as I was catching up on some well deserved rest.  Met the rest of the group that evening at our briefing.  Only four of us in this group and they comprise of Victoria from Argentina, Yaroslav from Russia and Anil from the UK.  Our guide was Daniel from Kenya and later we were joined by our driver Alex and cook Ester.  Daniel took us into Nairobi to get dinner, after spending over an hour in traffic we finally made it to a very authentic Kenyan bar with live music where we were able to try the local cuisine.

Day 2- Head off early to Kisii.  Slept in a convent, enjoyed a lovely dinner and explored the small town.

Day 3- Lake Victoria on the border of Kenya & Tanzania.  A stop over in at Kisii Soapstone place where we  watched the production of soapstone ornaments in a small manufacturing plant.  Bought so many beautiful artifacts to bring home.  Once we arrived at the campsite, we set up our tents. explored the small fishing town, watch the sunset over the water and just spend the afternoon relaxing at the bar.

Days 4 & 5- Headed off to Serengeti National Park.  Covering 15,000 square kilometres, it takes us over 3 hours just to reach our campsite within the park from the entrance gate, seeing lots of African wildlife along the way.  Had our first taste of the Maasai tribes- who are more like farmers that dress very tribal. An afternoon game drive led us to see amazing leopards.  Another game drive the following day in Serengeti, where we saw all the big 5 bar the Rhino.  Saw lions for the first time in the wild, and to top it off we got bogged in front of the lions.  Also saw Cheetahs and more leopards.  It started to rain pretty heavy so couldn’t take too many of the beaten up tracked routes as we would have most likely been stuck there. Had giraffes and hyenas at our campsite.

Day 6- Game drive out of Serengeti and into the Ngorongoro Crater.  The exist point of the Serengeti was invaded by elephants and was able to get so close to them!  Got to our campsite on the crater and just enjoyed the view from the top of the crater.

Day 7- Game drive in a jeep down into the Crater which is about 19 square kilometres big.  Amazing to see all the different animals who live in such a unique habitat.  This is where we had lions right next to our truck! Amazing!  Headed to Meserani Snake Park where we were taken through all the species of reptiles in Africa.  Not my cup of tea.  I held a baby tortoise though!.

Day 8-  Headed off nice and early back to Nairobi.  Stressed out all afternoon about the possibility of missing my flight home due to traffic as well as the fact that the following 2 days in Nairobi was their 50th Anniversary of Independence which was adding to the traffic!  But made my flight successfully!

There are no words to describe how utterly incredible Africa is- I wish I was still there! But I am so happy to be home with the people I love most.

Until next time.

C

x

Around Africa in 7 Weeks

I have seen 5 African nations in the past 6 weeks (Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia) and there is such a vast difference between each.  Ghana was vibrant, bustling, welcoming and to me, epitomised all my expectations of Africa.

Moving onto South Africa, and more specifically Johannesburg, it was modern with large freeways, high rise building, beautiful shopping malls, restaurants and hotels.  I must admit, I was only in Jo’burg for the total of one day and one night, so I know I wasn’t able to take in the whole city, but from what I saw, it was very much like any other city in Australia.

Botswana, surprisingly, is so remote.  I sat in the back of a truck/ bus on a tour which took me from the south of Botswana to the North East (a total of 6 days) and all I saw, beside the odd hut and service station here and there was land- vast land of African Savannah.  It was beautiful, but I could never spend more time than what I did there- I think I would go mad! The one major town we visited in Botswana was Maun, which was just like any other country town, with a small shopping mall.  Seeing any kind of civilisation was refreshing by the time we got there, so it was nice.  I can’t imagine anything would compare to the Okavango Delta, though.

Zimbabwe, by far has to be my favourite Southern African country.  Livingstone was a beautiful town, with a rail line running through, almost like the town in which the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was based.  Warthogs roamed the streets, opposed to the donkeys, cows and goats I was more familiar with in all the other towns, the sound of the roaring falls in the background, the greenery, the amazing hotels, the people selling billion and million dollar notes from their old obsolete currency and the cute African stores and markets.  It all just worked to make the perfect tourist attraction.  Not to mention the endless adrenalin and wildlife activities that were on offer.  One thing I would say is, if you want an authentic African experience, I would opt for somewhere like Ghana as Victoria Falls, being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is highly touristy.  It is definitely worth a visit though.

I have seen and done so much in such a short amount of time, and with one week left before I have to fly home, I am so grateful for the experiences I have had.  Experiences that so few people will ever get to experience.

I have learnt how to bargain, ridden Tro-Tros, met so many amazing people who are struggling with the simplest things in life- things we all take for granted, have contributed to a major national newspaper in a third world country, experienced life as a solo traveller, travelled Africa by road, camped with millions of caterpillars, the big five and the small five, been less than 5 metres away from a Black Rhino, seen Zebra’s fight in the wild, fulfilled my dream of seeing a herd of wild elephants on safari, rode an elephant named Izibulo, walked and patted alongside lions, sat next to a Cheetah, went white water rafting on the Zambezi river which runs in between two countries, swam in crocodile and hippo invested waters, laid on the edge of Victoria Falls in what is called Devil’s Pool, spent a total of nearly 40 hours in the air, made friends with a taxi driver who became my personal tour guide, canoed down the rivers of the Okavango Delta, went on walking safaris, been in the back of a safari truck, seen many African sunsets, had bucket showers, cold showers and gone without showers all together, used a ‘bush toilet’…. I guess I can go on and on and on! There are just so many things!

Unfortunately, I am unable to share any pictures in this post, however I will endeavour to share more in my Gallery Page in about a weeks’ time.

I was so sad to leave Ghana, though.  As much as I have loved my adventure experiences to date, Ghana became my home away from home.  There is nothing about Ghana that is remotely similar to anything I am used to, which is why I enjoyed it so much.  I was out of my comfort zone and that in itself is an adventure.  I was doing something worthwhile, I met so many friendly and intriguing people, witnessed a way of life unlike any other, and at the same time observed some of the happiest people I had ever met.  Yes, I was sick every second week but that is just because I don’t have the stomach of steel like native Ghanaians.

I’ve just arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, ready to jet off on my next on road camping trip through Kenya and Tanzania.  You will hear from me again once I arrive back to Melbourne!

Until then.

 

C

xx

 

I wanted to experience all of Ghana, and boy did I get my wish!

It’s basically guaranteed you will get sick in a developing country if you are a westerner.  I definitely expected it.  I expected to have a transitional week at the very beginning of my trip as my body gets used to the climate change, food and time zone. But other than feeling very jetlagged for a couple of days, I was fine in my first week.  Even hit the clubs on my second night here.  Midway through my second week, however, I started to feel a bit uneasy.  All of the other volunteers and I decided to go to a French restaurant for dinner.  I had steak and chips- it was amazing! Best meal I had eaten in Ghana to date.  I ordered my steak rare, and it came out bloody and juice, just the way I like it! My stomach didn’t like it so much the next day, though.  There I was running to the bathroom every hour, sweating profusely and just could not eat a thing.  You see, the thing is, on that night, while I was enjoying my juicy steak, I forgot I was in Ghana.  I forgot I was in Africa.  I forgot people urinate in the street here and discard their faeces in the open gutters where flies land and contract disease where they then fly off and land on the food that we consume spreading the disease from the faeces and urine.  Yes, this is disgusting, I am aware.  But just merely saying my steak was bad, would not suffice.  It was my fault really, I should have known better than to order barely cooked meat in a place like this.  But, I guess I can take comfort in the fact that 80% of travellers to developing countries will get travellers Diarrhoea at least once during their travels.  I was fine after a couple of days.

Malaria Transmitting MosquitoHere I am thinking that I got my illness out of the way for my entire trip and that now my stomach could handle anything.  Boy was I wrong, again!  This time, however, I experienced something much worse.  It started the day after eating out at a Chinese restaurant (I know what you’re thinking, I’m in Africa, and all I’m eating is French & Chinese food! Well you’re wrong, my homestay family cooks meals for me most nights and my work canteen only sells Ghanaian food, so when I get the chance I like to mix it up).  The food was great, but the next day my roommate & I both felt unwell.  We blamed the shrimp in our noodles.  I had to go to work that morning to file my article, but I left before lunch and spend the rest of the day in bed, it wasn’t nice.  I thought for sure I would wake up fine the next day, as I did a couple of weeks before.  In fact, I woke up worse.  I was drenched in sweat, yet I was cold with Goosebumps; my head was pounding; my body was aching, especially my back; my throat was swollen and in so much pain; I was nauseous and hot and dehydrated.  I decided to rest, sure the symptoms would fade.  Then I decided to begin reading my travel health book.  All of my symptoms were to the T of the symptoms described in the book for malaria.  I called my volunteer coordinator and asked him to take me to the doctor.  5 excruciating hours and two tests later the results were negative for malaria.  I had the results in my hand waiting to see the doctor again for his confirmation, when I finally go in his little room again, he said although it says negative, he still believes I have malaria and it could have just been a bad sample of blood.  Great! The past three days I have been sedated (not really) on medication, taking 4 small yellow tablets every 12 hours as well as panadol for my fever and nurofen for my back pain.  I am in Africa, and I contracted Malaria.

There are positives, though! I am now immune from getting malaria ever again! And I can now say that I experienced everything there is it to experience about Ghana!

I was really surprised at how frivolous malaria is here.  I suppose people get it so often so they know how to treat it well, however millions of people still die from it each year.  I realised, if not treated right away and if treatment can be afforded then this must be the scenarios in which in becomes fatal.  As well as there being a more severe strain of malaria that can cause complications.  It is treated as ‘just malaria’, similarly as we treat the flu.  I guess it’s a good thing to know that it is not seen as serious for westerners, most likely because we can afford the treatment, that isn’t even expensive anyway.

Well,  the last 5 days have been interesting, I’m sad that I had to spend my last weekend in Ghana in bed, but at least I have recovered and well enough to continue my trip on safari through east Africa!

Until next time.

C

xxx

Here there and everywhere in Ghana

I had some mixed feedback from my last post, so I wanted a few days to settle before I posted my next.  I want to clarify that I am really loving Ghana- the people, the culture, the food & all! I want to talk about my first couple of weekends in Ghana.  As I work full-time at the Daily Graphic while I am here, I only have my weekends to explore.  It’s been really good because the other volunteers I am staying with have been amazing at organising weekends away so I am so glad I have had the chance to travel Ghana a little bit.

Children Playing at Kokrobite Beach, Ghana

Children Playing at Kokrobite Beach, Ghana

My first weekend in Ghana, the volunteers and I went to Kokrobite Beach which is about an hour or so away up the coast, to the west of Accra.  It was a rough road getting there & we had some issues with our taxi driver, actually both groups had issues with their cab drivers- the taxi in front of ours actually hit someone! So, we had agreed on a price with the taxi driver before leaving Accra, as you do, however he wanted us to pay more once we got to Kokrobite because he didn’t realise it would be so far- not our problem!

The place we stayed was fairly basic.  There was a massive spider in our room which we noticed as soon as we walked in- this made us super paranoid all night because it creeped away before we could attempt to get rid of it.  It made an appearance the following morning, however. I was expected to be the one to kill it because for some reason being Australian makes me fearless.

For those who know me, I am a massive clean freak.  I don’t like dirty sheets or walking in foreign showers without thongs (flip-flops) on and I carry hand sanitizer with me everywhere! The Dream, which is the hotel we stayed at, was a perfect example of a place that I do not do well in as a germ-a-phobe! But when in AFRICA! It was fine really, I mean I had a bed and that’s all that really matters.  Once you see first hand how so many people live here, it really makes you appreciate the simplest things.

Huts on Kokrobite Beach, Ghana

Huts on Kokrobite Beach, Ghana

So we spent most of the day at the beach, which was nice.  I loved watching the children play in the water enjoying themselves.  I had my first experience of the pirate-like fishing boats that are everywhere along the coast of Ghana! They are pretty but don’t look very safe.  There was also a shack next to where we sat playing African music which was cool. I found it so strange that so many men will just come sit with you at the beach and chat.  I think there were about 4 people that came to talk to me in a matter of 2 hours.  They all said they liked my ‘specs’. It was definitely an experience.   That evening we had dinner at an Italian restaurant near by.  I experienced the best pizza I have had in, dare I say, my whole life! Shamefully, I can only get good pizza in Ghana, go figure?  But the restaurant was run by an Italian woman, so she knew what she was doing! That night I decided to have an early night in while everyone else went to the reggae night.  I would have loved to go, but I was still jetlagged and very tired because I hadn’t rested properly since I had arrived in Ghana some 3 days prior.

The night before we left for Kokrobite, I joined the volunteers on a night out in Accra.  Little did I know what I was in for.  We went to 3 different places each getting more wild than the other.  I was still so tired that night but I tried to make the most of it.  I enjoyed the dancing and the music.  The clubs were interesting but not unlike anything we have in Melbourne.  The only difference I would say is that the men are all so confident.  Enough so to be grabby and forward.  But they were fairly respectful and backed away once politely rejected. I was very overwhelmed after that night.  I mean I had pretty much just landed in a foreign country and my personal space felt so violated! I haven’t been out since this night, but I am sure I can fit one more night in before I leave next week- I mean, why not?

Tro-Tro to Cape Coast

Tro-Tro to Cape Coast

The weekend after Kokrobite we arranged to go to Cape Coast.  It was definitely an adventure getting there.  It took close to 4 long hours on a tro-tro.  A tro is like a mini bus which seat about 16-20 people.  They are usually very run down, worthy of Pimp my Ride and they are NOT smooth by any means.  We got a taxi to Kaneshie’s main bus station and from there we got a tro to Cape Coast.  Never have I felt so claustrophobic in my life, let me tell you! It was hot, the seats were leather, it was sticky, loud and bumpy! I had my back pack at my feet and no room to move or get comfortable! It started raining on our way there, which was the first time I had seen rain in Ghana.  It was so refreshing! It even cooled down drastically with the rain to the point that I actually had goose bumps- absolutely loved it! It was still fairly muggy though- you can’t escape the humidity here.

We finally arrived in Cape Coast where I learnt there would be 16 of us to a room.  It felt like school camp again, there were bunk beds scattered around the room with no bathroom- just communal toilets and showers outside the rooms.  It was nice though, I liked it much better than the place in Kokrobite.  We spent the day strolling through the streets and markets.  I spent the majority of my money which I thought would see me through the whole weekend, so I had to hunt for an ATM.  Pretty typical of me.   Ah well!

Cape Coast, Ghana

Cape Coast, Ghana

It was interesting to see where and how people lived in Cape Coast.  We had a lot of children following us around, some of whom were wanting food, which was really sad.

Me with the Puppies in Cape Coast

Me with the Puppies in Cape Coast

We also came across a woman with a whole heap of puppies, they were adorable! But it was so sad to think about where those puppies would end up because people don’t keep pets here, they just wander the streets looking for food. There were a lot of pigs, goats and dogs in Cape Coast.  There were heaps of pigs on the beach- somewhere you would not expect to see pigs!

That evening Cydney, Lauranne  (volunteers I am living with) and I strolled the beach to enjoy the amazing sunset! It was amazing to see the beauty of the beach and the sun on one side of the beach, yet when you look at the opposite side, all you see is pollution and dirt everywhere!

Cape Coast, Ghana

Cape Coast, Ghana

The next day we visited Kakum National Park where we did the canopy walk.  I had done a canopy walk before in Apollo Bay, Victoria.  It was nothing like that! It was high, rickety and felt very unstable.  We were assured that there had been no accidents since it had opened, so it was deemed 100% safe based on that statistic.

Kankum National Park Canopy Walk

Kankum National Park Canopy Walk

Kankum National Park Canopy Walk

It was literally a plank of wood from one tree to another with rope netting on either side reaching to about your shoulders.  So if you were to lean too much to one side, it felt like you would fall over.  It was fun though, and got some great pictures!  After that we made our way to Elmina, a small fishing town near Cape Coast where we toured a historic fort (or castle) and learnt about the progression of slavery in the area at the hands of the Dutch and the British.  It was pretty interesting to hear all the stories.

Elmina, Ghana

We made our way back o Accra after that as we had made a deal with our taxi driver to take us around for the whole day for 170 cedis (40 cedis each or $20 AUD).  One of the taxis, however, had a bit of a problem with their tyre exploding randomly from wear and tear.  We had to wait for the 3rd taxi to catch up because of course he was the only one with a spare.  Like I said, the journey to and from Cape Coast was definitely an experience!

So that was my first two weekends in Ghana! I hope you enjoyed the run down & the pictures.

Until next time,

C

xox

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener, BUT it’s Definitely Worth Checking

Apparently it’s not rude for a Ghanaian to hiss at an Obruni walking down the street to get their attention; nor is it inappropriate to grab & hold an obruni’s hand randomly while walking side by side; and it is also considered okay to ask … Continue reading

An Australian Journalist in Ghana

I have been in Ghana for nearly 2 weeks now.  I have had so many eye opening and life changing experiences already.  I am absolutely loving it here.  Granted, there are aspects I can do without, but overall, it really is an amazing & intriguing place to be.  I will go into more detail about the people, culture and surrounds in a later post because right now I want to talk about what exactly it is I am doing here.

If someone would have told me this time last year that I would be in AFRICA in 12 months time working as a journalist for Ghana’s equivalent of the UK Guardian, I would have laughed at them!

I have been with the Daily Graphic now for 7 days and although I have no published work to speak of just yet, I have learnt & seen so many things.

The Daily Graphic can be found on Graphic Road in Accra. It’s a major road and only busy with cars, it doesn’t feature the notorious, car-weaving, hassling street sellers nor any of Accra’s famous market stalls.  It does have a brew house, however.

My first day I was given a pass which labels me as a “Graphic Intern”, giving me exclusive access to anywhere I want!

The Daily Graphic is Ghana’s best selling and most read newspaper.  I have learnt quickly, that many people, businesses, organisations and NGO’s are very eager to feature in the Graphic.  I have felt considerably more respect from people once they learn where I work (not going to complain about that!).

Many of my closest friends and family would know that I am an aspiring journalist, and have been trying to break into the industry for a number of years now.  I have worked in newsrooms back home for short amounts of time as well as written freelance for women’s health magazines- which have all been great opportunities and steps toward my career goal.  Ghana is another step.  In such a competitive industry, I needed to be able to stand out from the crowd, especially if I am to get my dream position in the editorial department at the Age newspaper in Melbourne.

The Daily Graphic

So, I decided I would volunteer abroad and work for free for a while.  Only a month.  In hindsight now though, I wish it could be longer, but its a fair amount of time nonetheless.  I don’t really know why I chose Ghana.  I guess it’s because Africa fascinates me and Ghana seemed like the most peaceful country to visit (and it really is!), so I reached out to Projects Abroad who set it all up for me.  I was lucky enough to be placed at the Daily Graphic and it has been amazing!

Each day since I began, I have been shadowing other reporters venturing out to different places reporting on various types of events.

Day one with the Daily Graphic, reporting on the opening of the Apostolic Church World Conference.

Day one with the Daily Graphic, reporting on the opening of the Apostolic Church World Conference.

My first assignment was the Opening of The Apostolic Church World Conference at Accra’s Conference centre where I got to see a real religious celebration with music, gowns with glowing colour, drums, amazing singers and passionate faithfuls.  It was an amazing experience.

My second assignment was attending another conference called the Ghana Summit which was a gathering of policy makers and investors to talk about the financial future of Ghana.  This was quite interesting, however if I had gone a day earlier I could have met the Vice President of Ghana.

My third assignment was quite far from the office so I spent half the day in the Graphic bus & tro-tros.  We went to a place called Medina, where we attended a ceremony for new students of the Local Government Institute.

And finally (for now), my fourth assignment, was a press conference about an organisation called NAP+Ghana who are wanting to appeal to the government to make HIV/AIDS drugs more readily available by having them locally produced.

It has all been so interesting so far, and also so different to back home.  Firstly, the office has no WIFI & the internet connection seldom works on the computers.  It is lucky I have my own laptop & internet USB stick because the computers are pretty much first in first serve, as not one reporter has their own desk- they all just float around to find a spare computer/ spot on the desk- as do I! Secondly, the daily assignments are written out on a piece of paper and left on a clip board to float around the editorial department for each reporter to see what her/she will be doing that day- this seems like such ancient practice to me!  Further more, the writing style is taking a lot of time to get used to! Long sentences, subheadings in short articles, lack of visuals and so forth.  Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t negative things, it’s just a different way of practice; and it works quite fine for them.  I am also so relieved that the office has air conditioning- it is a welcome relief from having to withstand the heat at all other hours of the day.

All in all, I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience the culture of Ghana in such a unique way, whilst writing and doing what I love to do!  I hope it is the beginning of great things for me.

So, in the coming weeks I hope to be able to share some of my published work from the Daily Graphic in Ghana with you all!

Stay tuned & keep smiling 😀

C

My first week in Ghana

Five days ago I embarked on a journey with little expectations of what that journey would be like.  My bags were packed, my passport was ready, my heart was pounding and my mind was in non-stop mode.  I was about to depart my beloved Melbourne, family & friends to start my adventure in Africa.  Months of planning has gone into this trip.  Months of research, preparing documents, getting vaccinations (7 needles!!), going shopping and much, much more in the anticipation of this trip.  And now I have finally arrived.  Ghana is almost indescribable; it is unlike anything I have ever experienced.  The more days that pass, the more I fall in love.  The bustling streets, the intense smells, the market stalls, the happy kids in the streets, the friendly strangers, the pushy street sellers, the tro tros; it is just absolutely everything!  Well, almost everything; the heat can be quite unbearable at times.

I must admit, however, if I were going to write this blog entry only a day ago, my opinion would have been very different.  Ghana needs a chance to charm you- it does not happen right away. This is especially so if you are coming from the western world were everything is polar opposite.  It takes some getting used to.

One thing that has really struck me about Ghana is the vast poverty of the country.  This is something I was not prepared for.  Nor was I prepared to hear constant rooster cocking- all through the day & night! Not to mention the high pitched ice-cream-truck-like song which is played by the garbage truck every morning from 4am!

Despite all of this, Ghanaians seem to be some of the happiest bunch of people I have ever met.  They are passionate, especially the street sellers & artists, and they are ever so welcoming.  You almost can never walk more than 50 metres without someone wanting to say hi to the Oburoni or ‘foreigner’.

I hope to explore more of Ghana’s intriguing culture and surrounds in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for more updates & for the Gallery of images.

Now to get some shut eye.  Or should I say attempt to get some shut eye- it is not always possible in this heat with merely a slow ceiling fan to buffer the heat.

Goodbye for now.

C