Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Holiday adventures of a traveling vegabond

     "Make sure you write a blog before you leave for vacation Danielle..."  "Oo of course I will Mom, Don't worry!"  --Oops.  So I sit here now in the Hethrow airport with a 3 hour layover, and I figure now is a good time to update you all on my where abouts the last few weeks! 

The last few weeks have really felt like a weird limbo.  I feel like a wandering vegabond just visiting places that I don't actually belong.  The 2 weeks surrounding Christmas I was in beautiful Ghana!  The ship was on holiday there- just a time for the crew to relax in a semi-developed country.  And WOW did I have some reverse culture shock!  There were stop lights, and cross walks, and a MALL.  I was in a car that went faster than 30mph for the first time in 5 months, and I almost had a  panic attack!

I had fun exploring some of the touristy areas of Ghana, as well as the local markets in Tema and Accra. 

 It took me a while to settle in and get use to being away from Freetown, and deal with a lot more of my ship-family leaving, but we had a great Christmas that helped to make me feel more at home in Ghana.  A lovely Christmas play put on by the kids, a Christmas eve service complete with a bell choir, and a fun night of gift opening with friends!  But one of the best parts was being a part of the crew that made Christmas brunch!  My Norwegian counterpart and I, also known as the "culinary nurse food presentation specialinsts" (it's kind of a big deal, ok),  had a blast setting up a fruit and dessert table and making everything look beautiful for a wonderful, homey, Christmas brunch!

After the Christmas festivities, I took my vegabond travels northward to Dakar, Senegal to visit the one and only Kelsey Staudacher!   I had an amazing hostess and tour guide to give me a great taste of Senegal in one short week.  here are a few points to sum up my Senegalese week:

1. Don't let West Africa fool you, it's COLD!  What a shock to arrive during the cold season when my body is use to the Ghanaian heat!  Granted, it was 70-80 degrees, but I'm getting wimpy :)

2.  If you want to go to Senegal, make sure you speak French, Wolof, or have a great translator, because nobody speaks English!

3.  If the public transportation is on strike, no problem, just hitch hike through West Africa!

4.  I have never been so afraid of food in my life.  I started to get anxious as meal time came closer every day-- we would sit around a big shared bowl, and the cultural thing to do is to make sure the guest eats as MUCH as possible.  Even to the point of bursting.  For every meal.  Thank goodness Kelsey stratigically planned for us to skip some meals!  and I have had about 10 years worth of MSG-- my blood pressure is probably 160/100 by now.

5.  We didn't enjoy watching fireworks on New Years Eve, we went one step further and enjoyed being IN a firework!  No firework laws equals insanely dangerous explosions all around you!

6.  I have perfected the African bidet and scoop shower, but I am looking forward to a HOT shower without the 2-minute ship limit!

7.  We walked all over the country, but probably the most intersting walk was a 10K hike through the back streets of Dakar following a Bifal (basically a very interesting Muslim Rasta) in the dark.. oo the memories! 

8.  and lastly, the Senegalese people are so kind and welcoming, despite being a vegabond, I felt very welcome and at home!

So now here I sit in the Hethrow airport, paying way too many Euros for internet, waiting to begin my next week of vegabond life in Europe with the family!  Then it's back to the ship to make a new home in Lome, Togo for the next 6 months. 

As always, thank you all for your prayers and support! 

Prayer requests:
- for fun, safe, and memorable travels with the family in Europe!
- For the people in Togo who we will be serving soon, that their hearts will be prepared for amazingness, and we will be able to make the biggest impact on the most amount of people in only 5 months.
- For my language learning- that I will learn French quickly and have the courage to use it!

Due to the not-so-hot internet speed and weird british keyboard, I will be adding pictures later! stay tuned!