Saturday, August 30
Cape Coast, Ghana
I’m suffering from a bit of traveler’s fatigue.
I’m lacking motivation, not looking forward to discovering each new town like I was during the first two months of this trip. I’m sick of putting on the same worn clothes each morning, sick of brushing my teeth with bottled water in dirty bathrooms, sick of eating greasy food and drinking soda.
The negative vibes are partly due to the constant headaches that pain me here. In the States, I get migraines once or twice a month and can usually fend them off with medication. But because I get them when I’m tired, and I often don’t sleep well here, either because of noise or simply because I’m in a strange place, I find myself popping headache pills far more often. Africa — with its screaming babies, music blasting in the streets and people who shout rather than using normal voices — is not a good place to have headaches.
Perhaps my sour mood is due to my lack of running, the exercise that keeps me sane at home. It’s possible to jog here in rural areas, but my knee has given me so much trouble lately that I’ve had to forego running altogether. (I could cry now just thinking about how much I miss running! And my gym. And feeling in shape!)
Or maybe the 10-week travel mark, which I’m about to hit, is one of those hard spots, kind of like when marathoners hit “the wall” around 20 miles. Any experienced long-term wanderers out there want to weigh in?
Yes, I did say 10 weeks. I’ve been on the move now for nearly two and a half months, traveled all the way from Dakar to Ghana’s coast. In one week, the first leg of my six-month journey will be over, when I fly from Accra to Cameroon.
In southern Ghana, I’m surrounded by travelers who are preparing to return home after spending the summer here, mainly university students who worked as volunteers in orphanages, refugee camps and schools. Even my German friend Cedric, who I met in Timbuktu and am planning to see again here shortly, plans to fly home mid-September.
But I’m continuing on, a bit nostalgic for my reporting job at home, knowing I’m missing election season and a hurricane barreling down on the Gulf Coast.
So, with all of those gripes out in the open, I’ll do for you all what I do for myself when I’m sick of living out of my backpack: Detail what magnificent thing I did — or saw or smelled or met — during the past few hours.
Today it’s the castle I just explored in Cape Coast, a city that once was a hub for the slave trade (Click here for map). I walked into dungeons where slaves wept and died, saw marks on the floor from the shackles they wore, looked out over the ocean where they were taken from their homeland, never to return again.
That helps me remember why I’m doing this. It’s not to “find myself,” as one friend half-mocked me before my departure. I already know who I am. But there’s a lot about this world and the people who inhabit it that I don’t know. So I travel to learn, and learn far faster and broader than I would sitting in my comfortable chair in the newsroom, fully rested and energized from a run, enjoying a burrito and refreshing my homepage.
That’s why I’m going to get up from this whine-spot and find myself for dinner something — anything — that’s not drenched in oil.