Flying with no plane

Continued from previous post

So it was Easter again, and this year, I was not going to miss out on my dream! I had already learnt how possible it was to have some rewarding experiences outside my comfort zone.

One common-sense but still noteworthy lesson is this: expect the unexpected, welcome spontaneity, but always begin with a plan.
You cannot walk into a party with no connections, no game plan, an empty wallet, and leave it all to chance that enjoyment go kill you. That happens in real life only once in a blue moon.
On the other hand, don’t get OCD planning every step of the trip – leave room for spontaneity; for… mystery.
So, on the rainy morning of Good Friday 2017, armed with ample personal research on what I was going in for, plus our plans to spend little on lodging, enjoy the Paragliding experience, and see a bit of the Kwahu festival, my friends and I set off on our hired bus (we named “The Grasshopper”) for the Eastern Region.

We reached the guesthouse our group organizer had confirmed on the booking site, and lo and behold, the unexpected we should have expected occurred – the surprisingly shabby place had no room for us! After minutes of wrangling over the unfairness of the situation, we asked them to show us somewhere else which might have space, and thankfully, they did. On this day that spontaneity decided to wake up on the right side of the bed, the place 3mins ahead we were pointed towards – Rojo Hotel – turned out to be the best choice in the area. The clean, considerably sized hotel was smack in front of the breathtaking Kwahu mountains, with a view of the Paragliders who were having their turn that day. As should be expected by now though, it was not cheap. But considering our situation, it was nothing to complain about either.

Just like for my weekend trip the month before, I had budgeted GH800 in total (again, hoping to spend not more than GH700), with the knowledge that the place we had booked charged about GH50 a night. But the people at Rojo’s told us the few rooms they had available went for GH250 each, though we could comfortably pair up and share the cost. Oh and also, they were already booked (😒 ), HOWEVER, as at 2pm, the guests had still not made their mandatory 12pm check-in… So we grabbed the opportunity and most likely did to others what had been done to us at the shabby guesthouse (thank you, to those who stole our spot! 😏 )

There was no lingering in our functional rooms at all – the mountains were calling!
We hopped aboard The Grasshopper, braved a 2-hour traffic queue snaking its way up the scenic mountain and finally got a taste of the famous Kwahu ohh Kwahu! 

Sorry to burst bubbles, but the festival was, in my opinion, an incredibly more congested version of the Chale Wote street art festival minus the art & culture, plus scores of unruly attendees (and their SWAT-style strapped-to-the-neck policemen to match) and obscure acts constantly hogging the concert stage. There was, however, some delightful fufu and apɔnkye nkrakra, so yayy!

Now, on to the MAIN DAMN THING!

Have you ever dreamt of flying with nothing but your own body?
If you haven’t, don’t worry – cruise with me.
Imagine lying face down in the backseat, being driven down a highway at a cool 75, on a lovely, breezy day.
Now imagine yourself in the same position, going at the same speed (or accelerating, if you want), but now with no vehicle underneath or around you, your body up in the clouds. I imagine that’s how it would feel to just… fly.
Now, imagine yourself sitting in the car cruising without a care, at maybe 25, then imagine yourself still going – no car now, up hundreds of feet above the ground, with the houses and farms and roads quite visible, not a sound but the wisps of air kissing your ear.
Add an expert pilot behind you and a few strings attached to some large cloth above – THAT is how it felt to paraglide. Safe as being driven to the beat of Beyonçe’s Party.

But first, let’s talk a little about something a little deeper than our fun experience – solidarity.
The morning after we visited the Kwahu festival, we had a filling breakfast and got a ride with the pilots to the paragliding grounds. (We’d returned the night before and met with providence! The pilots’ parachutes were bundled at the front desk of our hotel! THE PILOTS WERE STAYING AT OUR HOTEL!)
So we made the climb up the beautiful mountain (no traffic this time) in their bus, getting to chat a little and prep ourselves for the adventure.
We got to the take-off grounds and met a small crowd. After a few minutes, the name checking and late registration begun. And guess what? We were first on the list.
A few people who missed their turn the day before were already set to go before us though, so we settled down and watched, and freely joined everybody else cheer whomever was about to take off.
And that’s what I mean by solidarity. Everybody knows how daunting the task looks. Everybody knows how fast their heart beats even with the calmest demeanor. Everybody knows that the next person could use a word of encouragement.
The pilots were super nice. The crowd whistled, cheered, applauded…

And one by one, each of us had our turn.
And no matter how awkward or scared or nervous somebody appeared at take off, each and every one braced themselves, jumped off the cliff to applause and soared!

 

Of Beaches, Cocktails & Flying with no plane

Seeking adventure? Willing to be homeless for the weekend? Ready to party from dusk till dawn? Love random conversations with strangers on a beautiful breezy beach over beers or palm wine, about anything from deep thoughts of the cosmos to tickled musings on how Wanlov manages to tread hot, stony, weedy or manure-filled paths with his bare feet? Resilient enough to carry your suitcase-on-wheels from the campsite across the hotel street to the swimmers’ bathroom every time you need to take a bath, so you can keep an eye on your stuff? (You will love this part of the story!) Want to have a “bona fide bucket list experience?

Happy May Day! You’re employed, you earn a living… even if not, you’re alive, and hopefully healthy. Thank God it’s Monday!

And thank God it’s not too late to have those experiences you dream of, the kind that you just ache to share with your best friends, or grand kids, or fun people at a bougie mixer, or just random ones on the Internet like I’ve been moved to do (but have been feverishly procrastinating) since 4th March 2017, even as I made friends on the bus to Busua beach, Western region, for my 1st taste of Asa baako (which means “one dance”) – Ghana’s “Bush fabulous” (self-described on their website), popular but still quite underground beach music festival and jungle party.
(Here’s a tip: You may not have the time to read this in 1 sitting, but if you leave it open in your browser and remember to go back to it for those dumsor times or long waits in traffic, you’ll enjoy the whole flight!)

Now first, I would just like to state that I am aware of how difficult it is for most people (especially myself) to plan, save and embark on a trip anywhere – even one as seemingly simple as a weekend away from Accra, in the Western Region. But sometimes, a chunk of the difficulty is from a lack of information on the different options available. So by the end of this post, I hope you will realize how possible and fulfilling it is, and be inspired to expand your world, perhaps for the next holiday wink

Continue reading Of Beaches, Cocktails & Flying with no plane

Continuing the Convo

I’m not ecstatic with myself.
I have not done half as much as I hoped to do (life!), especially with this blog.
Yet.

One main thing I promised myself was to not be lazy with feedback – to respond honestly to comments as soon as I could.
But alas! 4 months, 4 posts, and I’m now really getting down to it.

Still, better late than never!

I may not yet have a large audience, but to all you cool peeps who read, and give me feedback, whether on here or off, bless y’all!
I really appreciate it.

Not only does it make me confident that I am saying something relevant…
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@armahhesse You actually highlighted a part of the story I thought would rather not be the 1st point of focus (since it dwelt a lot on how we aren’t taught such “lessons on survival” in school). Ayekoo! 

It brings attention to how we can be in very different situations, but still share the same or similar sentiments.
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@Kofi Thanks for making those of us who may be jealous of your lifestyle think again 😜  

It keeps me on my toes – inspires me to keep at it, and do more…
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Charley, I had to Google “cultural appropriation” and read on Wikipedia after that ohh 😅
But I love that you gave me something to learn and write further about! @Bev
Please send me a virtual kick in the butt if I don’t do that soon! 🙆🏾

It opens my eyes to the struggles of other people – some, even very close friends whom I may have never known were going through such difficulties.
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@RMCFIsEternal I’m sad you’re having to deal with all this. But I’m glad you’ve consciously planned to have a positive outlook. Stay strong! And maybe, listen to the wisdom in the comment below…

It reinforces my faith in a subject – better yet, a lesson – I keep having to remember from time to time.
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😘  Amen!

Aaaaaaand a lil’ ego boosting doesn’t hurt 😉
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Thank you all again!

Let’s continue creating thoughtfully, critiquing constructively, thinking rationally, and sharing sharing sharing! 😁

Peace out!

Orientation Day

Somebody is going to die today.
Another will lose their home of 35 years in a flood – or a foreclosure.
One student will walk out in the middle of this class.
And six of you will drop out within 2 weeks.
Good morning, class.
Welcome to the School of Real.

  ,” I texted my best friend Anne, sitting 3 rows behind me.
“I’m scared. But excited!! And anxious!! All at the same time!!!”
Leave it to Anne to get hysterical and abuse punctuation in the middle of Training Day.
I turned around to look at faces – see if I was the only one freaking out, or maybe I was dreaming…
But no, every single face echoed my thoughts:
if this is just the 1st day of high school, WTF have I gotten myself into?

Madam continued:

In a few years, some of you here will get married. Some will have children. Others will look on in envy. While the married ones stew over the walking-out-the-house-when-we-want times they so terribly miss – “the good ol’ days.”
Some of you will get high paying, high-octane jobs that can own your souls, while some others get on their knees – literally – for their daily bread.
Others still will wander around in their 50s, not quite sure of anything, of their neighbours, of just what to do with themselves…
Most of you, in any case, will use only 6% of what you learned in school in life.
And ALL of you, at one time or the other, will look at yourselves in the mirror and intensely dislike what you see.

But ALL of you, will also have moments – no matter how fleeting – of inexpressible beauty! The taste of water on a parched tongue, maybe after a grueling workout… the first words of a child… your first orgasm… a perfect slam dunk… a prestigious award on an international stage, or a “thank you” from a stranger for an unexpected kindness… overwhelming emotion that moves you to tears… infectious laughter at the dinner table… cooking delicious jollof and sharing with hungry friends…
And these are the times you must try earnestly to appreciate – to fully experience, to treasure, absorb into your bank of memories. The times that can inspire greatness bigger than any one person, times like the moment in a garden under an apple tree as one apple fell in the breeze and changed human understanding of the universe forever…

Now, go out and stretch for a 10-minute break.

How does anybody do it these days?

Hello, Friend.

There is one question on my mind this cloudy Monday morning. One baobab question with many branches…

Tell me, how do you get out of bed every morning, give your soul some chicken soup, and head out into the unknown? How do you step out the door every time, knowing even without reading the news, of yet another act of violence some kilometres away? And if it’s 10,000 kilometres away, knowing your Auntie May, or Cousin Edem, or Daddy dearest is “up” there, striving to send “down” some of the famed milk and honey? And if you’ve got all those you love safe and sound just a drive away from you, knowing Abu and Issah – only a couple of the loan sharks you owe – will be visiting your workplace today? And if you are free from all debt, all student loans, all utility bills, all social security taxes, knowing you can count your bank balance on the fingers of your 2 hands? And if it’s more than your 2 hands, knowing you have to go and face that horrible boss who makes you want to pull a Motherfuckah Jones? And if the boss is rather as benign as The Office’ Michael Scott, knowing you have to sit for 8 hours listening to airhead Ani endlessly talk about who is going to fund her next weave? And if all of work is sugar n spice n everything nice, knowing you have to go back home to face four walls and talk about your day to fluffy four-legged Koko, because you’re either alone, or there’s nobody who’ll understand? And if there’s actually someone who’ll understand, you can’t begin to express all the feelings, can’t unload all the weight, because you fought bitterly with her this morning over the lumpy porridge she made for you?
I’m genuinely curious. Take a minute to let me know.

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P.S. I hate to sound cheesy, but first, just breathe. And realize – If You’re Reading this, You’re Alive, And It’s Not Too Late.

Peace,

Zara.

No title really suitably describes all that the human race is going through right now

I am no journalist. I am no expert. I am no criminologist…

I am in no way qualified to give a professional analysis on the current state of the United States (concerning police brutality and race) from my squeaky office chair in Accra.

I just have a head and two hands. And the Internet. And common DNA with any other organism identified as “human” (as well as organisms identified as bananas – but we can talk about that another time).

So it is only natural to care and talk about important things happening to other human beings, even if they are 10,000km away.

Yesterday, after waking up to the news of yet another innocent black life senselessly taken by the Police – barely a day after a similar incident – I texted my best friend in outrage:
If only there could be a new law like only non-whites can join the US Police!

Of course, I was merely venting like a wronged child, and the irony was not lost on me. But his answer unsettled me even more:
The black Policemen are just as bad.

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Ok, ok, before you rush to any conclusions or name-calling (yes, not every dissenter on a number of black issues is racist), I will have to do something the media and virtually anybody with an opinion rarely does – put the subject at hand in context:

First off, after a long debate with the bestie about how he had no right to say such a thing without adding facts and figures, I realized I had not correctly provided a setting or even a premise to justify my venting. Allow me to break it down properly:

Had I started with something like, “$£*%! Another black man killed by white police!” (because he had actually not learnt about it yet), then followed it up with my vent, his wildly intelligent self would most likely have answered differently.

Had he however maintained that “the black Policemen are just as bad” after that background story, then I am confident I would be justified in the questions I came back at him with:

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Because I AM aware that a large number of policemen in the United States – whether Black, White or other – tend to be particularly rougher and tougher when dealing with minorities, especially black people.
BUT do the black policemen SHOOT AND KILL whites or their own people at just the same rate? For me, that is one big question!

Anyway, the debate went on for a while, and I kept feeling a restless hunger to be better informed. So I put the office WiFi to good use when I got some free time, and discovered a few things, some of which are in the screenshots below:

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I DO ADMIT THOUGH –
The screenshots above are taken off the Daily Wire, which is described on Wikipedia as a conservative news & opinion website. For all I know, some of the information may be biased, although they cite data from the better regarded Washington Post.
Unfortunately, I could not find a more liberal or ideally neutral source to answer my “killings by black cops” question, though I certainly  don’t plan to stop here.
(NB: Every body who would like to be considered not stupid should know and do this – Research on your Sources of research and news.
OR be like the people who first hailed this guy :

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So I challenge you: If you are touched by this topic or simply want to know more, please dig further.

For comprehensive statistics on all civilians killed by the police in the US, please go here:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/series/counted-us-police-killings
(The Guardian is a well respected British news outlet – their compilation in the site above has actually been recognized by the FBI chief in the US.)

I strongly wish that this did not have to be the subject of my first blog post. I wish I could be writing about everyone on the planet gathering to celebrate the completion of the biggest radio telescope ever, with its 1,650-foot-wide dish set to scan the heavens for alien life among other things, from China. Or maybe something about the #Dab dance…

I also wish it will be clear to intelligent people that some of us – no matter our race, nationality, experience and exposure, or lack thereof – will talk about important issues when we feel the drive. And we will not merely jump on the train for any relevance or popularity, but will simply say what is on our hearts because we just can no longer keep silent.

I know that I do not have a black or white (figuratively speaking) answer to the questions I begun with, but at least, I know I have gained more knowledge than I had yesterday – even if 0.9% more.
This post does not promise any answers – only a provocation of your thoughts 🙂

AND NOW…

If anybody reading this is one of those walking around with a mindset that mindlessly subscribes to statements like “all lives matter” (BUT THE ISSUE NOW IS THE DISREGARD OF BLACKS, WHOSE LIVES ALSO MATTER) “black people kill more of their own people” (BUT THE ISSUE NOW IS THE MURDER OF BLACKS BY THOSE SWORN TO PROTECT) “the Dallas cops deserved it” (NOBODY DESERVES TO BE SHOT AND KILLED), then by all means, please, close the page and remain in your hole, or follow Mr. Williams’ advice:

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There is nothing wrong with having an opinion. There is nothing wrong with voicing it out, even in the midst of controversy. In fact, these are wonderful and good and NECESSARY – most of the time.
WHAT IS WRONG IS SPREADING MISINFORMATION, NON SEQUITURS AND PROPAGANDA, ALL OF WHICH LEAD TO HATE.

Do your research, people. If something really matters to you, DO NOT keep silent. But voice things out – AS LOGICALLY AND CONSTRUCTIVELY as the brain in your head was optimally designed to allow you to.