Story and Photo by Sarah Dittmore
I am now 2,500 miles away from Ghana, but the burn of that sun and the taste of those pineapples are still fresh in my mind. There are a lot of things about living in Accra that I miss, but here are the top ten things I miss the most.
- Fresh fruit
Every day I would pass a woman who cut up a fresh pineapple and served it to me for 50 cents. On the same street I could get a $1 fresh mango, or 4 just-picked bananas for 50 cents. Though I do love the Union Square Green Market, I miss the fresh tropical fruit being sold dirt cheap on every street corner.
- The prices
As you may have realized above, everything is so cheap in Ghana. In one week, I could get away with spending a grand total of 4 dollars. That is impossible in Florence (where I am now), let alone New York City. My wallet is trying to adjust to the euro and desperately missing the Ghanaian cedi.
I wish I could properly explain the heavenly bliss that is red-red. When you take a bite of this amazing dish, your life will forever change. I have tried to recreate the black-eyed-pea, gari, kelewele, and palm oil magic. Still, no version I make in my kitchen will ever be able to compete with authentic Ghanaian red-red.
- Saying please
One cultural norm in Ghana is to say please before every sentence. “Please ma’am, how are you?” “Please sir, may I have a sandwich.” “Please driver, I am going to Osu.” These are phrases I miss hearing now that I am in a city again where “please” is practically a taboo.
- The colors
Ghana is big on colors. While we all don black for funerals in the States, they deck out in red. One person’s casual daily outfit will likely host a wild pattern with bright shades of orange, yellow, and green. The shops on the side of the road are all painted purple, red, blue… you get the point. The black umbrellas and grey coats that line the streets of New York are not nearly as inspired.
- Custom clothing
The number of clothing items I made in Ghana is ridiculous. But I have no idea when I will be able to pick out my own fabric, create my own design, and have a clothing item sewn to fit my body again. At least not for $10. And yes, that is USD. Which is why I had no shame in coming home with two dresses, a pair of pants, two skirts, and…maybe I shouldn’t continue.
- Blue skies
Every time I looked out my window the sky was bright blue, with the occasional puffy white clouds dotting the horizon. In Florence it has been raining for weeks, and I can only imagine what it was like to suffer through this winter in New York. Bidding adieu to the sapphire skies and moving to grey clouds and rain, I am mourning the loss of the precious tan I fostered over four months there.
Just imagine this: a giant, firm, sweet banana. Now grill it. Or fry it. Or boil it and cover it in sauce. In other words, prepare your mouth for a delicious journey that it is not likely to forget.
- Friendly strangers
In New York City when you see strangers looking at you, you put your headphones on and walk faster. In Accra, you are expected to stop and ask about their family’s health. Sure, when you’ve gotten used to being invisible in the streets of NYC it gets exhausting talking to every Ghanaian you pass. At the same time, there is a pervasive friendliness that fills every inch of Accra.
- 90 degree weather
It is outrageously hot in Ghana. I complained about the sweat-inducing weather a lot while I was there. Now that I am back in the cold, I dream about the shorts and flip-flops that sit at the back of my closet. I dream about the sun, and I dream about my amazing time in Ghana.
This story appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Baedeker.