“It is a rare and beautiful moment when you find love among people and in places that are so completely different from anything you’ve ever known.”

We have sun for the first time in days. The morning is chilly the way fall mornings are. The rain and the wind blew pine needles and leaves off the trees so the lawn, the driveway and the deck are covered. The leaves are yellow.

I hope my memories of Ghana and the Peace Corps don’t make you yawn. They appear here often because they are still so much a part of me, even after all these years, and much of what I think, love and respect came from those years. Living for a little more than two years in Africa is mind and soul expanding and that never disappears.

I think I was destined to be a Peace Corps volunteer. When I was eleven, I made a vow to travel. When I was in high school, I joined groups like SNCC believing we all had social responsibilities. In college, among other things, I picketed for the grape workers, marched against the war and tutored Spanish-speaking kids in English. The Peace Corps seemed a perfect fit.

I applied in the fall of my senior year in college. The application was multi-paged and took what seemed forever to finish. When it was sent to Washington, all my hopes and dreams were in many ways attached. The answer didn’t take long. In January the all important letter came inviting me to train to be a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, in Ghana. I sent my acceptance the very same day even though I had no idea where Ghana was. The worst part in the process would be next, telling my parents.

I called home.

My mother said little. My father said it all: no more money for school if I choose to go, Africans stink, and he forbade it. Okay, that last one gave me a chuckle. The phone call ended when I hung up on my father because of his anger. It would take a while but he did finally accept my choice.

I remember how nervous I was leaving home on the flight to Philadelphia to staging and then on to Ghana. I was twenty-one.

Training wasn’t easy. Coupled with homesickness, eating strange foods and suffering from a variety of ailments I sometimes had the urge to leave, but I didn’t. I chose to stay. During training, after our live-in, we had to make our way to the next training site by ourselves. That was when I started feeling like a Peace Corps volunteer. I was on a bus with mostly Ghanaians and traveling for hours to go south, and I got there with no problems. I ate food sold alongside the road, drank water from dubious sources and peed in a hole.

I thrived in Ghana. I came to love Ghanaians, sweet, warm people always willing to help. Teaching was difficult at first but then got easier as I learned to teach. If I needed to, I could travel anywhere by myself and often did to get to Accra, 16 hours from where I lived, to Togo, the country to the east of Ghana, and to what was then Upper Volta.

I was at ease in Ghana, confident in myself, and loved being there. My homesickness disappeared. I felt at home.

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15 Comments on ““It is a rare and beautiful moment when you find love among people and in places that are so completely different from anything you’ve ever known.””

  1. Rowen Says:

    Never a yawn. I found Coffee looking to be exposed to new sounds, and ended up an avid reader. I always enjoy my armchair travel with you.

  2. Morpfy Says:

    Amaretto Chicken & Creamed Noodles Casserole

    Ingredients

    4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can cream of celery soup
    1/4 to 3/4 cup amaretto
    1/2 soup can water
    1/2 soup can of milk
    1/2 cup cooked green peas
    8 to 10 large mushrooms sliced
    1 medium chopped onion
    1/2 cup sliced celery
    1/4 cup pimientos
    1 medium green pepper, sliced
    1 small package sliced almonds
    1 package (12 ounces) wide egg noodles
    2 Tbsp cooking oil
    1 bay leaf

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Quickly brown chicken breasts in a tablespoon of oil. Drain well on paper towels.

    Mix the soups together and add the amaretto plus 1/2 soup can of water and 1/2 soup can of milk.
    Mix thoroughly.
    Place peas, mushrooms, onions, celery, pimiento, green peppers and the almonds in a large casserole dish and mix to combine.
    Place browned chicken breasts on top and cover entire casserole with half the soup mixture.
    Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile,cook the noodles according to package directions,
    adding 2 Tbsp cooking oil and bay leaf to the water.
    When the noodles are done,rinse well and put them in a bowl with the warmed remaining amaretto-soup mixture.
    Keep hot until ready to serve with chicken.

    Yield: 4 servings

    • katry Says:

      morpfy,
      The amaretto sounds like an interesting ingredient. I don’t think I’ve used it in cooking. The whole recipe looks tasty and interesting!

  3. Morpfy Says:

    Olive Garden Pasta Frittata

    Ingredients
    12 ounces spaghetti cut into 2-inch pieces and cooked
    3 ounces sliced green onions
    3 ounces thick bacon, cooked and chopped
    Vegetable spray or margarine
    3 heaping tablespoons shredded Fontina
    Grated Parmesan Cheese

    Frittata Batter:
    6 medium eggs
    2-1/2 cups half and half
    5 teaspoons cornstarch
    Dash nutmeg

    Instructions
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    Make frittata batter:
    Beat eggs,half and half,cornstarch,salt and nutmeg thoroughly until all ingredients are completely blended.
    Blend the 2-inch spaghetti pieces, green onion rings and bacon pieces in a bowl until evenly mixed.
    Coat a 1-1/2-quart round baking dish,including walls,with spray or margarine.
    Empty the spaghetti mixture into the baking dish and spread evenly.
    Add the frittata batter to cover the fillling mix.
    Bake in a 350-degree F oven for about 25 minutes until center is set.
    When center is set,cover the frittata evenly with the Fontina and bake until cheese is golden.
    Turn off the heat and open oven door.
    Let the frittata set in the open oven for 15 minutes for the batter to set more firmly and make removing from the dish easy.
    Before serving,sprinkle with Parmesan and cut into 4 wedges.

    Yield: 4 servings

  4. Birgit Says:

    Yawn. No, not because of your post, today we finally cut down the big tree in the garden and I’m exhausted and tired. Coincidentally we’ll get an extra hour sleep tonight, summer time ends.
    I love to read about Ghana and your travels. I wouldn’t have been so courageous when I was young. Nice picture! Any news on Gracie’s visa?

    • Birgit Says:

      Oops, Grace’s visa, not Gracie 🙂

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      I figured out the Grace as my Gracie isn’t prone to other than domestic travel. Grace hasn’t tried again. She is using her money to finish the house she is building in Bolga.

      I can imagine being tired after cutting down a tree. Take a wonderful afternoon nap.

      You are a week ahead of us-our clocks go back on Nov. 1st.

  5. olof1 Says:

    No risk of any yawn coming from me. I only wish we had had something like peace corps here.

    I read that You tortured spanish speaking kids and at first I didn’t react but then I started to wonder 🙂 🙂 🙂 I had to go back to see what You really wrote, I’m still laughing about that 🙂

    Strong winds and cloudy here, not so much rain as predicted but lots of places are flooded after the all the rain that has been falling lately.

    I watched two movies today, the latest Godzilla and X-Men the days of future past. Godzilla is so bad that I got surprised. Lots of bad acting, I especially loved how the two experst looked all the time. The female one looked like she was going to throw up the entire time and the male as if he had a heart attack 🙂 🙂 🙂 The special effects were pretty bad every now and again too. It was so bad I loved it 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I did like that Mothra was in it too, I know they called it something similar but it must have been Mothra. I also loved how the military just refused to listen to the experts and naturally wanted to nuke the monsters 🙂 🙂 🙂 I would call it a charmingly bad film 🙂 A film so bad that I always will enjoy watching it 🙂

    The X-Men movie was a bit boring but well done as always.

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      You made me laugh by what you thought I’d written. Maybe when I was an assistant principal I tortured them!

      We had sun for part of the day but it didn’t stay long. I emptied all the rain from my outside candles and had my deck cleared of leaves and needles. It is time to put the deck to sleep so I’ll work on that this week.

      I think Godzilla is always meant to be bad, but I too watch them drawn by how bad they are!

      Have a great evening

  6. MT C Says:

    Temps here are reluctantly retreating, but still no real indication that winter is just over the horizon. If this is global warming, I’ll deal with it until something better comes along.

    Travel to anywhere with a little stay certainly becomes a part of who we are. Just to realize that there are other ways to live, think and deal with life is truly an amazing experience and expand the way we behave.

    For one I really do enjoy living your experiences with you. Brings to mind many of mine. And that gets a big THANKS from me.

    Carl

    • katry Says:

      Carl,
      We had a cooler than average summer and now we’re having a beautiful fall. The days have been warmer than expected. I’m just fine with a long autumn and a late winter.

      Visiting other countries gives us a new new view of the world, more tolerance and a greater understanding of different cultures. There is also the food!

      I appreciate your thanks. I’m always afraid of Not that again!


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