Friday, July 23, 2010

Culture Shock

As we emerged from the plane into the busy Atlanta Airport, my senses were immediately assaulted by bright lights, flashy American advertisements, noise, and the usual US rush-rush hustle-bustle. I literally gasped in shock. Too much noise, too much "slickness," too much consumerism....

Driving home on smoothly paved roads, I don't feel any bumpy potholes. The other drivers stay in their lanes, come fairly close to maintaining the allowed speed limit, and don't blow their horns constantly. Quite a change from my experiences of the last couple of weeks.

Once home, I looked at our neighborhood. There were no high fences topped with constantine wire or broken glass to deter robbers as is common in the cities in Ghana. A neighbor, on his riding lawnmower, waved at us. I remembered seeing some men with machetes, hacking at the grass in front of a home in Tema...

I take a deep breath and smell....nothing, really. But the scents of acrid smoke, sweat, sea, animals, and fumes from vehicles all linger in my mind from Ghana.

I loaded the washing machine, added detergent, turned it on and walked away. Then I remembered Aggie and Maggie, sitting on low stools, scrubbing our clothes in a tub and hanging them across the fence to dry. water and a long shower, feels absolutely delicious. Though the tepid-cool showers in Ghana were a pleasure there, cooling my skin temporarily.

Gazing into the mirror, I suddenly realize that this was the first time I'd seen my image in nearly three weeks. Didn't have a mirror in Ghana; didn't need one. It didn't occur to me that it would matter what I looked like.

Taming my hair with hot rollers to make it conform to my "American standards"... why do I not think I can just let it go here, like I do in Ghana? The breeze blows it dry, the little bit of natural curl I inherited makes it wavy.

My husband comes in, bringing some groceries. We put things neatly away in cupboards and in our refrigerator. There's a gracious plenty of food -- we could live off of the food in our cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer for quite some time and not even have to go to the store. There is very little refrigeration in Ghana, even in the urban areas that have electricity. Most meals take a long time to prepare: peeling and cutting the fresh fruits and vegetables, slaughtering the goat or chicken or cleaning the fish, simmering the spices over a stove or a fire all take a long time.

On the counter, David places two ripe fresh plantains. Neither of us speaks -- but we both smile. We'll have a taste of Ghana at dinner, tonight, just to help us remember.....

1 comment:

David Lee Waters Sr., said...

Every meal, I wonder... what are the kids in the dump having today? It is sooo hot here, I told my neighbor I'm going back to Ghana. It barely hit 90 there.