Wednesday, May 10, 2006

3 continents in one day..

The wind is whipping through my hair and I stand watching aeroplanes take off in Schiphol Aeroport in Amsterdam. We are all a little weary but so joyful, and the sun is shining and Ben is playing the Barenaked Ladies “Brian Wilson” on the guitar, and we are singing along, running along the platform, jumping up and down and having one foot races. Nobody speaks the obvious; in 8 hours we will be stepping off the plane into the bustle and cosmpolitan unknown of Accra. We won’t see each other a lot all summer, but these friendships we’ve formed are incredible - and its such an indescribable feeling to know that you are all full of the same anticipation and joy and wonder and apprehension and you can share it in silence.
The 22 people I have met this week are so phenomenally hopeful and very interesting. Ian from Newfoundland who loves the ocean (anything else is just a “pond”..), quiet but so thoughtful, Jeff from New Brunswick, who sings little comical songs when he gets excited, Elisa from Guelph, quick to smile and play, and slow to judge, Jamaal, hands moving when he talks, face mobile and full of smile, Ben from Waterloo, a kid for whom Frisbee is full of grace and quantum physics a casual hobby, Chloe from Victoria, empathetic and free, Bryn from New Brunswick, thoughtful and serious until he breaks into a crazy falsetto and plays air guitar, Jeff from Ottawa, infectiously joyous and animated, and so many more. I could write for hours on these people. With 27 people in total in our cramped house, for a week, not one argument was heard - and the most remarkable thing about this group is everyone’s smiles. Brilliant and always genuine.
This has been the hardest week of my life; I’ve had to reevaluate my life and my sense of self and my motivations until my every thought is naked. Why am I going? How can I best use my skills to help my friends in Ghana? How can I identify my every single weakness, so that I can grow and learn? I have learned so much, but I have only scratched the surface. There is an expression in Tamil; All that you know is the sand in your hand: all that you don’t know is the sand in all the deserts and beaches of the earth.

We are flying over the Sahara desert right now, and it has finally finally finally hit me - I am in Africa. According to my friend Jamaal, we are apparently over Algeria, and I’m dumbstruck. Crowding with my friends, quietly, just looking out through the portholes of the aeroplane, shivering just a little bit;

We see dunes. We see wide undulate oceans and rivulets, snaking paths carved into the golden shifting sand. The vastness, the emptiness, the fullness - it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. (Keeping in mind, that four times over the last few days, I’ve claimed something is “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen”, and I’m sure to exclaim it endless instances this summer..) And the sky is stark with the moon hanging oddly in midday. Odd, because I left my watch at home and I couldn’t even guess what time it is. Cloudless, we can see every sharp demarcation on the land below, sand, and more endless sand, and then the crisp lines of roads, white and stark, carved into the desert.
Every moment of my childhood has come into some crystalline pinnacle as I see the desert below me. I know from geography that soon it will break into sharp, rough scrubland, and the rolling grasslands and baobabs of the Sahel; and onwards into the lush rainforests of Ashante-land in the heart of Ghana. And then the ocean, the blue, endless and powerful Atlantic. I know these things. I have read them in books. But to see them for real? Unimaginable. It will be another few hours until we land, but I am ready now. My new home for the next four months in Salaga, East Gonja. Every stupid and petty fear I have had about “drinking the water” and “getting malaria” have gone out the window. I know, I know that something called me here and I enter this place with trust and so much joy in my heart. So much joy.


At 10:52 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds awesome man!!!!
I hope you're having a great time.
I looked at the course calendar, it finally came out. you have a conflict between 60.341 (molecular bio) and 76.286 (i dont remember which one that is but its one of the anthropology ones, whichever one is in first term.) what do you want me to do? email me if you read this and you can, and if not just post something

At 8:29 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are happy to hear your ventures. Keep writing and keep doing what you do best -loving the whole world!Take care.LOVE.

At 9:06 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

T-rex dude. you better give a giant kelsey-style hug to one of those baobabs! (and take a picture! please, please please!!)

also, Darcy says 'hi!' and that she is ultra jealous.
Miss you, miss you, miss you!


At 9:42 p.m., Anonymous Alex said...

Wow that sounds breath taking!
Maybe we can take some anthropology courses together I might be taking Plagues and People and I'm taking the course recommended to you in the calendar under minor

At 9:19 p.m., Anonymous Mel said...

Poor Apoorva, she probably hasn't touched the internet in a whole two weeks!

(j/k, I was thinking of you, and you hadn't updated, c'est tout. I biked out to Plum Ridge Organic Farm over the weekend, and Betty Kehler was talking about her trip to Africa 15 years ago. This spring she was cleaning out and found a box of wraps she wore there - she's going to make a crazyquilt out of them!)

At 4:50 a.m., Blogger Apoorva said...

hey dudes!!
keep tuned for tomorrow when i'll post at least 5 blog entries with PICTURES!! ah-ha!!

but for now, thanks to my own stupidity, i'm in an internet cafe (i saw a sign for 'tamale polytechnic university internet cafe' and walked 7 kilometres to find it -!) with all my awesome entries on my laptop, which has not even 1 minute of battery left, without my adaptor, etc., etc., - so RAWR!!!
we are in tamale for a training (just 11 of us, Robin and Louis) with the Ministry of Food and Agric. Its like a giant fieldtrip that we've all been looking forward to for a while! Tamale - The Land That Has Internet. Soon i'll be getting a phone and its free to recieve calls, so i'll post the number on here :)

more and extensive details will be posted on my blog regarding my amazing last few weeks :)

in other news, i don't have malaria, haven't (!!) got the runs, ... yet, and am generally well. i have a bicycle (OMG UTAHRAPTOR!!!) named Moushou - Gonja for 'bee' and my family is great!

shelley, i will figure it out in the next few days and email you re: the conflict (damn! they are both only one section?! aaaugh!!)


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