Illova Blog #5: Thanksgiving and More African Travels
Dec. 3, 2012
Senior women's tennis player Tatiana Illova is studying abroad in Ghana, Africa for the Fall 2012 semester, and will be blogging to share her experiences during her time over there. Tune in for updates over the next few months to see what she has to share.
Since my last post I have experienced many new things. Classes are over and we are all preparing for finals. I have taken some exams and I have three more to go. Since the finals period lasts 6 weeks, we also have time to explore a little more. I have visited many new places. I hiked the mountain, swam in a waterfall, fed monkeys, visited neighboring countries and much more. One of the best experiences was when we were hiking to the waterfall we were passing through this amazing forest full of fruit trees. I saw trees/palm trees such as mango, avocado, papaya, coffee plants, coke trees, pineapple and many others which I cannot remember the names. We tasted this little thing which was very sweet, and when you drank some water afterward, it tasted like a fruit juice.
Baboons, antelopes and ostrich: I saw all of them when I was hiking Shai Hills. It was great to hang out with monkeys and share my ground peanuts and bananas with them. In addition to those animals, I saw giant spiders and different kinds of insects. While we were hiking, we saw this one particular insect and our guard (who was leading us) told us to move on a side, before he picked it up and threw it away. We asked him what it was and he said that it was a poisonous insect we could die from if it stung us.
Illova feeding a baboon Illova rock-climbing
Every two months, I have to extend my visa, so my friends an I decided to travel to Togo. When I crossed the border I was shocked. Of course there were the usual overwhelming people who were touching us and trying to sell us stuff, give us rides and exchange money since they use a different currency. Once we passed that area, everything was completely different than Ghana. They ride motorcycles which they use as taxis. The country was colonized by the French, so no one spoke English. Fortunately, we had our French friend with us who was translating and bargaining everything for us. We got on motorcycles and drove along the beach to the hotel.
The beach in Africa
In Ghana, when people see you on the street they scream, touch and try to sell you things, and even tell you they want to marry you and so on. But in Togo, nothing like that happened. When we said one time, “no, merci” (No, thank you) they left us alone. It was nice to see a different African country and its culture. We spent two days in Lome which is the capital of Togo and then traveled up North to Kpalime. We ate some French bread and had amazing coffee, which we bought from one man on a street.
Since I am here with big group of American people, we had to have our Thanksgiving dinner. Our program coordinator invited us over. Four girls and I arrived five hours early to help a friend cook for 40 people. It was so much fun. We decorated tables in her garden and cooked. We piled massive amount of potatoes, made macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, turkey, ham and many other dishes. We had a lot of fun that day and I missed all of my friends with whom I used to spend Thanksgiving. I am very thankful for this amazing experience I was given, and for meeting so many wonderful people here.