Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zen and the Art of Sleep Deprivation

Subtitle: The Epic Tale of a Traveler's Homecoming

Welcome back to the United States of America, Molly Bryant.

I arrived at DFW Airport after 17 hours in the air. I was feeling pretty good, I had just traveled to Africa and back by myself with no problems. All was going well, and it looked as if I would have no traveling woes at all. Too soon? Yes.

I bought a round trip ticket from Dallas because I am a cheap, savvy traveler who likes a good deal. And this was the best I could find. So when I left for Ghana I did not have a way to get from Dallas to Tulsa but I was not concerned. I had my mom purchase the cheapest ticket she could find which so happened to be on another airline. No problem. I would just get my luggage and then re-check my luggage with Southwest. Right? Wrong.

Molly: Excuse me, can you tell me how to get back into the DFW terminal? I have to check-in with Southwest and I don't know where to go.
Immigration Officer: Oh sure. Well, isn't Southwest at Dallas-LUV?
Molly thinking explitives but saying: Hmm, yes I believe it is. Well, maybe not.
Immigration Officer: Maybe there is one here.
Molly knowing that there is not one there: Yes, maybe there is. Thank you.

I then proceeded to calmly go through immigration and walked up to an old man at the information booth to make sure that I was indeed at the wrong airport. Sure enough, yes, I needed to be across town in roughly one hour to board my plane. I needed to get a taxi or shared transportation to take me. So I went outside to find my way. No one knew how to get there and no one really cared to help.

Most would have had a breakdown at this point. I had just traveled from Africa to America by myself. I had been awake for 32 hours straight. At one point, I attempted to cry but my eyes were so dry from being awake for so long that nothing came out. That was only my only breakdown, it was about 5 seconds and I just made a weird face and then gave up.

I found my shared taxi cab, hopped in with three businessmen who looked absolutely disgusted at me. Here I was, the hippie with hair legs and an African dress and messy hair, sitting next to a man that did not hide his utter disdain for my appearance. I really could not have cared any less. I had reached the point in sleep deprivation where one becomes delusional. I sang along with the radio, I sneezed and then somehow felt that I needed to justify my sneeze by saying "I've been awake for more than 30 hours straight, sorry," I did not care. And more than that, I was having a relatively nice time because I had refused to freak out. I also think that I like myself a lot more when I haven't slept. I am more daring and I can make myself laugh a lot more.

After we dropped the businessmen off at their swanky hotel, the driver and I proceeded to Dallas-LUV. We chatted about my sleep deprivation, the humor in being at the wrong airport after traveling so long, his children, my family and then he gave me a tour of a fancy neighborhood where the Dallas Cowboys owner lives. Stellar. He told me that it would have been very expensive to get a taxi by myself, good thing this is a flat rate for everyone.

Molly: By the way, how much is that flat rate?
Driver: $21.00
Molly: Okay, cool.

I did not have $21. I did, however, need to be at Dallas-LUV ASAP. What's a girl to do?

I got out of the car at LUV, handed the man all of my money which did not quite reach the flat rate, rummaged through my bags to see if maybe I had anything else.

Molly: Well, I have a Euro and some Ghana Cedis?
Driver: No worries, love. Consider it on me.

And the tale ends at hour 45 (of being awake) with the woman next to me saying "Wow, it will feel really great to get off this airplane." We flew from Dallas to Tulsa and the total flight was 38 minutes. If there was ever a time that I was to punch a 65 year old lady in the face, it would have been then. But I did not. I went home, ate chicken and went to get some much needed sleep.

P.S. As this whole thing was playing out, I was thinking "What a great blog!" And I had all these quips and silly comments but they are lost on me now that I have slept. Too bad. I am a lot cooler without sleep.

Apologies and A Couple Photos

First of all, I realize now that I should have written a blog this morning to inform you all that I arrived home safe and sound after 2 days of travel. I realized this at about 4pm today when I had received numerous text messages, phone messages and emails asking if I had returned. Only one was a little frantic.
So... I'm back in America! I slept in my own bed last night and drank coffee on my back porch this morning.

My reason for not writing yet is that I have a really great travel story to share (it's epic!) and it deserves some effort... right now, I am completely zapped of energy and my sister and brother in law just got in from Europe today, so it's coming soon.

Until then, here are a few photos to keep you interested in my life. More will be revealed after Lauren and Lesley get the full viewing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I love Nuns

On my flight from Accra to Amsterdam, I was seated next to a Ghanaian nun. We sang a song together in a local dialect and then we watched the sun rise over the Holland countryside. I am not even exaggerating.

And I showed her how to buckle and unbuckle her seatbelt, open the bag that contains the blanket, how to open the bathroom door and many more airplane phenomenoms. She pretty much kept me sane. Nuns are wonderful.

In Amsterdam I Got Quite Crazy

4:30 in the morning, my time, and I am being so very Euro-African as I sit in the airport sipping my latte and eating a scone... whilst dawning the Ghanaian dress that I received as a gift. All is well. I left Ghana last night and the whole ordeal seemed like an awful blur of chaos, farewells and food. But we all made it through, although I must admit that yes, I did cry. But I think that it is perfectly fine to express emotions, so I went for it. However, it was not nearly as dramatic as two years ago.

I now have 4 hours to walk around Amsterdam... Schipol Airport. It has taken so much self control not to walk out into the city. Only a select few understand the gravitational pull toward Dam Square, the Cleft or Dwazezaken. Ah, I cannot even think about it! So I was leisurely meandering through the gates and saw the exit and customs... I started to move toward it and thought, should I? But then I realized that if I left, I would never come back. Thus, I am eating my scone. I just have to remember that someday in the future, I will get to spend plenty plenty time in Amsterdam... when I move here.

I have not yet grasped the magnitude of my trip to Ghana, now will I ever, I imagine. And I definitely have not begun to deal with leaving my loved ones again... that will take time, and probably quite a bit of it. But right now, I am content and sleep deprived and really not looking forward to DFW. Bleh. I think I might go make a European friend... wish me luck!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Top 5 Things I Am Looking Forward to in the States:
-Coffee, not the crappy Nescafe taste the spirit of Africa packet, but real coffee. Strong and black (wink, Katherine)
-Non-tomato based products... food is a big deal to me. I like it and I always have. So bring on the sushi, the hamburgers, the mashed potatoes and the enchiladas because mama's coming home
-Euro Cup? Have I missed it? Tell me I haven't missed ALL of it. If I have, then I will change this one to "Frisbees"
-New music, such as the new Coldplay CD which I have yet to hear with my own ears but I dream about the genius of it often
-MY SISTER! She comes back from Europe the day after I come back from Africa, aren't we cool? And we will finally make it in the States at the same time... thanks to my gallbladder, but I'm not bitter because it get to make puns and cook and gang up on my parents with m'seastar

Top 5 Things I Will Miss about Ghana (not including people because that's just too hard):
-Kelewele... the best fried freakin' plantain dish in the world, only served at night in the cities
-Ghana Time... meaning, you never have to be anywhere on time because no one else will... it's actually more than perfect for me because for those who don't know this, I usually don't make it anywhere on time and I have a fear of being early
-Church... filled with dancing and singing, the best part is you don't even have to be a good singer to lead worship and that makes me happy and accepted
-The Prayer Garden... every night in the village I spend an hour or more in a garden run by my dear Mr. Sheri who owns a tortoise that has an uncanny resemblance to him... the garden overlooks to the village of Biakpa and you can see as far as Lake Volta, it's about as close to heaven as anywhere
-The vibrant colors of the fabric, the homes, the environment, the food... everything is so colorful

Summer In the City

Apparently whenever I try to upload pictures to the blog, the computer freezes completely. It's unfortunate because I would love show you all the lovely faces of my friends and family here, but it looks like I will have to save that for when I get back to the States... which is all too soon. I will be arriving in Tulsa on Tuesday night after a super long flight from Accra to Amsterdam to Dallas and then finally the homestead. In Amsterdam though, I plan to meet with a man who is a bigwig when it comes to the anti-trafficking of women in the Red Light District... it's perfect! If he doesn't show up, then I am going to make some unsuspecting boy buy me a cup of coffee and possibly a waffle. Only time will tell.

Right now, I am in the capital, Accra where life is hectic and crowded and hot. It's drastically different from the village which was nice and calm and very few people cared I was white. Here though, I get lots of stares and exponentially more proposals (even the ring that I wear on my left hand to deter suitors is living up to its potential). However, I'm making the best of it and getting to see some very dear friends.

Yesterday, my BFF Ghanaian-style, Dinah and I took the town. We visited with our old housemates, the Badjies (can I get a woop woop, LK and Les?) They are absolutely wonderful. And my baby, really... if I can ever claim another child as my own, it would be this beautiful bundle of energy, Maa Justine. Lauren and I used to take her to school, on our backs, as a baby and now two years later, she's a walking, talking noise making machine. When I walked into the room, she looked up at me and said "You're my auntie! You're my auntie!" And then led me by the hand to her photo album, sat on my lap and showed me pictures of her three white aunties. It was absolutely priceless. Aah, it was only too short of a visit. After eating some rice and stew and a pleasantly long conversation with Brigitte Badjie, Dinah and I headed off to the beach. Before we left though, Maa sang and danced and made up a song about me being her auntie. She even taught me the Black Stars theme song for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Sidenote: I had planned to go to see a soccer match today with the Black Stars and was absolutely giddy about the whole affair... but plans changed, as they always do. And you know what I ended up doing? Sitting at a Chinese/Ghanaian Restaurant with two African men. Soccer or awkward lunch? It's a toss-up for sure.

I will continue to blog, even when I get back to the States, because there is so much else that I wanted to share but I didn't have the internet... and I want to put up pictures. If you all want to see them. Really, I feel like a mother who wants to show off all her children's boring awards and pictures and tell really awful and stupid stories that are only interesting to her because she is their mother and she drives a van with an Elementary Student of the Month sticker stuck crooked on the bumper. So if this is the case, I apologize. I never intended to turn into that girl.

More to come, tech lovers.


Thursday, June 19, 2008


Virtual Friends (and hopefully, real ones too),

I have had a change of plans. I have been here for a month now and just made it back to Accra. I have very little time at this internet cafe, but the news... I will be gracing the States with my presence on Tuesday the 24th. Yah. Apparently I have a malfunctioning gallbladder. No big deal. But really, what do you even need your gallbladder for? So... I promise to blog again soon. And it will be sillier and clever-er than this one.

P.S. I think I'm actually African... just a little paler than the rest.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Everything Is Illuminated

Everything is illuminated here in Amedzofe. Life, purpose, significance- all become clearer and more vibrant. My soul finds rest here. I am forced to slow down and quiet myself each day. The multi-tasking, super efficient minded characteristic of my college life becomes unimportant. It does not matter.

Instead, I find my satisfaction in the unknown and the uncomfortable. I do not know why God has chosen to take me back to Ghana, and I do not know if I will ever know the fruits of my labor. Maybe it is not about what I have done for these beautiful people but more so what they have done for me. I know that they have had an incredibly large impact on my life, but have I really done anything for them? It is unknown and I am perfectly satisfied without the lack of understanding. Because, honestly, it is not about me anyway.

Most noticeably, I have learned to despise the comfortable in life. I do not know if this makes sense, but to me, it is my goal that I am constantly striving to reach. I want to force myself outside of the cultural, traditional, mental, physical and mostly spiritual comfort of what I have always known. I have found over the years that when my greatest moments are found in the uncomfortable because that is where God works. I must relinquish my control and completely surrender. It is in the uncomfortable that I ironically find peace.

As a result, I am once again embracing the fact that I do not understand everything. And I don’t care to understand it all. But one thing I am sure, in Ghana, it is clearer… life just makes more sense. It is a beautiful culture and I cannot even begin to adequately explain my love for the people and the country.

Health Report

Dearest Friends,

Over the past week and half, I have been rather sick and unable to eat much food. As a result, it looks like I may need to come back to the States early. Home is calling me back and despite my stubborness and inability to convince my body to get better, it seems I will be coming back in a couple weeks. However, if I feel fine over the next few days, I will stay. Please be praying that I feel better and can stay as long as I intended.

Your Friend,

Ninja Love

This is an actual conversation that took place over two or three days in Amedzofe. Surprisingly, it is not altogether uncommon.

Disclaimer: I lie about my status, for reasons only white American girls who have lived in Ghana would understand:

Francis: Oh you are welcome. What is your name?
Molly: Molly. How are you?
Francis: Oh I am Francis. You are Mary? Like you are the mother of the Savior?
Molly: No, Molly. M-A-L-I.
Francis: Oooh, Mary. Okay.
Molly: Yes, Mary.
Francis: Mary Magdalene, where are you from?
Molly: America. My people send their greetings.
Francis: Oh, America? Oh what a nice place! How are your peoples? Will you marry me?
Molly: No, I won’t marry you.
Francis: You have a man?
Molly: No… well, yes I do.
Francis: Has he promised to marry you? Is he a white man?
Molly: No he is a black man.
Francis: No I want to be the black man. I want to marry you. Marry me?
Molly: No no no. I am sorry. I can’t.
Francis: Okay, well have a good day.
Molly: Thank you, you as well.
Francis: I am a ninja.
Molly: No you are not.
Francis: Oh fine, have a nice day.

Two days later:
Francis: Hello.
Molly: Uhh… hello.
Francis. Ninja!
Molly: Oh yes, hello.
Francis: Okay, goodbye. I love you.

True Life: I live in Africa

Over the past week and half, the Ghanaian in me has revealed itself once again, accompanied with my inevitable accent. Africa is like second nature to me. The smells, the food, the bugs, the way of life. As of yet, I have encountered numerous large, no enormous, insects and rodents in my house. Since it is only my friend Dinah and I in the house this time, we are forced to deal with them all by ourselves. I have successfully refrained from screaming while a mouse brushed past my foot and ran out of the kitchen, moved a millipede the size of my foot from my room with a stick and some prayers, completely obliterated a snake-ish creature that is said to be poisonous from the hallway, and multiple spiders have lost their lives and countless ants have been crushed by my fingers, feet and utensils of some sort. Maybe my destiny is not to live in poverty but to be an exterminator.

Home Sweet Home

Oh Amedzofe. We arrived in the village before dusk Saturday evening. I already see the changes that two years can make. The road up to the mountain has been paved several miles further than when I last took the road, and driving up to the village seems much faster. Of course, driving is relative. We walked a good portion of the way up the mountain because the tires on the car that we borrowed from a friend in Accra began spinning on the rocks and pebbles of the road, so we had to get out of the car, with thunder booming across the valley, and sprint while the car drove upward without us. It was silly, and it was priceless to see Uncle Yawo run up a mountain (that is an image specifically for Lauren and Lesley).

I was so excited but getting a little nervous about arriving back to my Ghanaian home. Would people remember me? Do people even know I am coming? What am I going to do? What have I gotten myself into? All of these worries washed away the second I walked into the home of my dear, dear friend Esenam. I will not even attempt to describe this beautiful, strong and precious woman. She is Esenam and she is my sister- that is all that can be said without losing her character in translation. She saw me, screamed “Aaah Sister Molly!” and literally picked me up off the ground. It was better than any reunion I could have imagined. Seriously. We laughed and hugged some more, exchanged a few greetings and just could not believe that we were staring at each other face to face. Nothing has been lost in those two years. Maybe we did not know the details of each others lives, but we did not need to. I was back and all was well.

I am back!