(I just read an article called, “How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind” and it was a wonderful wake-up call that even though I find what’s happening in the US to be devastating, it’s not what I have to think about 24/7.
Confession time: I wake up every morning and I log onto Facebook or Twitter or scroll through new articles from the New York Times, the Atlantic, or the Washington Post. And 9.5 times out of 10, the news this past week has been bad.
Of course, I’m heartened by the 5 million members of our international community who took a stand against Trump and everything he stands for. Of course, I’m thrilled to be from Minnesota, so I can be represented by Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar – who understand the importance of education, women’s reproductive rights, civil rights, diversity, religious freedom, environmental justice…the list goes on.
But also, being outraged is exhausting. So…I’m going to take advantage of the fact that Chandler and I decided to leave the United States. No, when we left last July, we never could have foreseen how far our nation would fall, but we weren’t exactly happy there either.
But here, in Accra, our lives are good. And I shouldn’t tell myself that’s something to be ashamed of. And it doesn’t detract from the positive things I’ve been able to do for the movement: march, send postcards, and email. I’m still working on the whole phone call thing : )
So I’ve decided I don’t have to live every moment outraged. Instead, I can live in the moment and be grateful for past, current, and future experiences. Including our trip to Mole National Park with my sister this Christmas. We had plenty of ups and downs getting there and back, but our time at Zaina Lodge was incredible.
I’m currently reading a book by Frans de Wall called Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? And spending a week near them has further convinced me that only ignorance on the part of humans could lead us to believe that animals aren’t incredibly intelligent.
Take elephants, for example. They will leave food they’re interested in if it’s out of reach to find a box/stone, kick it back over to the food, stand on it, and eat. They return to water holes hundreds of kilometers apart year after year. They use dirt/sand as sunscreen/bug repellant. Female elephants will charge to protect an infant, even if it isn’t their own. They mourn and “bury” their dead. They work together – something humans could learn a thing or two from.
I’m sure you can tell, the elephant was my favorite visitor of the trip : ) But we saw other incredible animals at Mole, including baboons, vervet monkeys, and patas monkeys. Monkeys have long been considered intelligent in the scientific community: their ability to use and even make tools, problem-solving capabilities, facial recognition, and more.
We also saw roan antelopes, kobs, bush bucks, mongooses, and warthogs. Each drive revealed something new.
Not to mention the birds! They were beautiful and we only got photos of some, but our guides were constantly pointing out things we would have otherwise missed on our own.
But, contrary to these photos, our whole trip wasn’t spent driving around safari style. We did plenty of relaxing at the pool – Brittany was always in it, Chandler was always reading near it, and I spent my time in between. We also gorged ourselves on their incredible buffet…something I’m not used to saying, since buffets are often filled with mediocre food. But the meals at Zaina were always great and any time they felt they hadn’t made enough vegetarian options for us, they’d bring an additional meal to our table.
Mole National Park is nowhere near Accra. It requires a flight to Tamale (or an eight-hour drive), followed by another two-and-a-half-hour drive from there. And since arriving in Ghana, we haven’t had the best luck with flights and working air-conditioning. But this was a vacation that was definitely worth it. Perhaps it even helped prepare/relax me for the fight we have ahead : )
Too soon, it was time to say goodbye to the scenery, the resort, and, hardest of all, the elephants. But it was the perfect place to spend our first Christmas in Ghana.
Note: These photos were taken by a number of people, myself, Brittany, Chandler, and a guy named Andrew who was visiting his sister, who’s a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana (small world).