Sore Thumbs

Over the course of this week, while I have not actually sustained any injuries to my thumbs, I have begun to understand what it means to “stick out like a sore thumb.”

Earlier in the week, my Global Fellows partner Andrew and I were walking through downtown Kumasi to get lunch and saw a brand-new Mercedes G-Wagen — the Jenner's vehicle of choice — driving along. We both watched it go by, towering high over the flow of dilapidated taxis. We told each other how out of place that car seemed, but we did not think too much of it and simply went on with our day. As the week progressed though, I have begun to realize that I am the G-Wagen.

The stares and overt kindness (who’s motive you can not help but question) have begun to phase me. As we spend time in public, it seems as though people see two dollar bills walking along instead of two individuals. We are constantly being pulled into shops and having food/other goods shoved in our faces. Whenever we take a cab, drivers, without fail, will try to overcharge us and will give us a very hard time upon negotiation. All of this noise has become an obstacle that has begun to keep me from seeing all of Ghana’s beauty that I mentioned in last week’s blog.

In the midst of this dilemma, this weekend, Andrew and I went to Cape Coast to see some of Ghana’s coastal attractions. We spent two days at a beach resort that was right on the water and made outings to Kakum National Park, Elmina Castle, and Cape Coast Castle (see photos below). Despite being a tourist attraction, Cape Coast is much more poverty-stricken than Kumasi is. Seeing these newfound heightened levels of poverty gave me some clarity as to why we stick out so much.

Our appearances and accents, to many locals, are indications of our alternate lifestyle. I have my own room in an upper-middle class Northern California neighborhood in a house that has a fridge full of groceries, and a shower with warm water. That is quite a contrast to how many Ghanaians live. As a result of their marginalized lifestyle, it is no wonder that they feel compelled to scrape a bit off of the top of my glamorized American lifestyle. Even just a small piece of what I have is miles more than they do, and I have been trying to remain conscious of this in the midst of the inconvenience and hassle that it causes me. By next week’s blog, I hope that I will better grasp and internalize this concept; until then, I will continue to do my best to see through the obstacles it causes.