Good evening from Tamale, where we are choking on a haze of wildfire smoke and exhaust, occasionally punctuated by riper smells. Tamale is a stopping point for us en route to Mole National Park, where I hope to ride an elephant and possibly punch a crocodile in the face.

My role for this blog post is to give a newcomer’s perspective to living and traveling in Ghana. So far, it has been a strange mixture of the utterly alien and the disappointingly mundane.

The details of daily life and traditional culture here are the most alien to me. The peasant farmers in the Kongo area live in very basic and small mud huts with thatched roofs, have no modern amenities, and have essentially no money.

The least alien aspect for me is how much the people here are like people back home. Their values are not much different than ours, other than being much friendlier than Americans. It’s easy to relate to the people that speak English well. As I told my mom one night, they’re just “people doing what people do,” and they’re more like me than I expected. Maybe expecting otherwise was just youthful naivete.

I can’t fail to mention the cuisine, which as you all know is an area of great interest for me. I discovered that I love the traditional dish of beans and plantains (a banana-like fruit), and the local staples of rice and guinea fowl are just fine.

To Kristin and Mike: this place is totally posh. I don’t know what you were so worked up about. Wink wink.

Peace out from the Motherland!

DJ / Dave