One moment we miss the people, the next we miss the food, then the climate. But do we miss the trip, the camaraderie, or the country itself? Perhaps we are nostalgic for a combination of both, for even the airport holds memories for us.
I miss the simplicity of life (perhaps not so simple in reality, but possibly less stressful than America). I miss the dynamic of constant newness (which probably wears off once you’ve been in Ghana more than a week). I miss being fed regular, balanced meals (which I wouldn’t get if I traveled to Ghana on my own). What is missed seems to exist mostly in the context of the NYU-sponsored trip alone.
Yet not completely. For today, meeting one from Ghana and sharing with him about the food and culture revives warm memories — of Accra, Cape Coast, and Elmina. His Ghanian accent alone brings back the warm, sunny climate. He recalls his homeland fondly, while expressing concern over its political state. But still he will return to visit — soon, he hopes. When one stays away from a developing country like Ghana too long, he says, there are too many changes. One must return often to be able to connect. Thus through the people we reach the heart of the country, which may exist wherever Ghanians are.
As for the continent of Africa itself, no longer is it just another continent out beyond the Atlantic. Rather, it forms in my mind’s eye a concrete locale centered around Accra, where I’ve walked the streets. Istanbul, too, is brought into context with the layover in the Turkish airport.
I may miss the trip, but more than that I miss the sense of being far away in the warmth of Ghana.