So, I miss Janine. Like a whole boat load's worth of missing. It's weird being in this house and not having her here with me anymore. The nights are quieter without her laughs, lonelier without her voice, and darker without her smile. It's hard to remember that she was once here laying beside me in bed, but I'm still happy she came nonetheless. We made some great memories together in Ghana.
I can still vividly remember the excitement I felt picking her up at the Airport in Accra. It was amazing, well except for the actual waiting part. An 18 hour trip later followed by another 12 hours of hanging out in Accra felt like a lifetime! I was so excited to see Janine that I went to the airport extra early just in case her flight came in a few hours ahead of schedule (a guy can hope right?...). Well lucky enough for me the flight did touch down about 20 minutes earlier than expected. Once I saw that her flight has landed I anxiously waited outside of customs to greet her as early as possible. It felt like an eternity waiting for her to pop out, so long in fact that I had to relieve myself at the bathroom. As I was walking back to the Arrival terminal I spotted her walking out with her backpack ready for an adventure. I felt kind of bad that I didn't get to greet her like all the other people waiting with signs at customs, but it didn't matter once we caught each others eyes. A few moments later and I was engaged in the best hug ever. The actual hug itself wasn't comfortable considering the huge backpack blocking my arms, but it was the best because of how long I had waited for it. I knew in that moment that we were going to have a great 5 weeks together.
We spent the next couple of days in Accra together, going on some walking adventures, hanging out at the beach, and enjoying tasty food. Who could have guessed a year ago that I'd eat Chinese food in Ghana? I sure didn't, but it happened! After leaving Accra we headed to Cape Coast. We started at this really gross guesthouse because I didn't think I'd have to book ahead, and it turned out that almost every hotel was booked solid. The next night got way better, which is to be expected when you go from the worst hotel to the best one. At Brenu Beach we got a comfortable bed and warm water to go along with a great shoreline. The roll of the sea waves and the smell of the ocean air only made the beer that much better. Whether it was in Osu or Cape Coast the beaches were always the best, definitely our style, hey Janine? But the best moment that sticks out from the trip to Cape Coast is meeting my friend Koby. Janine and I visited his shop because I liked the tie-dye shirts he had hanging outside of his stall. We went in to check it out, and met Koby, a super chill rasta guy. Right away I could tell that this happy dude was someone I wanted to talk to, and he invited us to the back of his stall to burn. What followed was a long multi-hour discussion about Rastafarianism, philosophy, and politics among other topics. At one point his best friend Daya stopped by, and he was also super cool. We rounded out the group with Koby's animal friends, One Day the cat, and Zion the dog. The two were some of the most loving animals I've ever met, probably a reflection of Koby's very warm temperament. After leaving his place I was feeling overwhelmed over the connection I had just discovered, as it honestly felt like I had met a brother from another life. I ended up having a pretty emotional moment on the beach with Janine that I won't forget for the rest of my life. I definitely look forward to going back to visit Koby the next time I'm in the south.
The rest of our trip was cool with visits to Kumasi and Tamale, but nothing super exciting went down. I preferred our time spent together in Sandema. Backpacking for close to two weeks is a bit exhausting, so it was nice to get back and relax a bit. And living alongside Janine and our two kittens gave me a feeling I had been missing. The movie nights, dinners together, and adventures around Sandema made it feel like I had found home again. But for the first time ever I felt like I had built a little life of my own, with my own place to stay and a nice little family. Even though I knew it was temporary, it still felt pretty cool to imagine what my life might look like over the next few years.
Eventually it came time to go, so we decided to spend our last weekend together in Mole National Park, a giant forest reserve in the north-west region of Ghana. We saw all sorts of amazing animals on our forest walks, including elephants and baboons. Wait, I wouldn't say baboons are all that amazing, because their butts are really disgusting to look at. So red and swollen.....yikers. We also did this neat little boat tour on a river, and got to sit on top of a jeep while it was driving. It was all pretty awesome! After that we travelled back to Accra and stayed at Joska Lodge again. I figured we might as well end the trip at the same place we started it. All I wanted to do over those last couple of days was to remember the feeling of us being together in the same space, so that I'd have something to look back on once she left. I often think back to those last few hours on the bed together, and all I can remember is laying there and thinking of how much I was going to miss her. And then like a prophecy the next day I felt it. I awoke to an empty bed, in an empty room. My heart sank, and I might have cried. The week would have been a lot harder if I didn't have a football match in Kumasi with friends to look forward to. I may not have said anything but those days spent with them made the transition way easier. And to Janine, I love you so much! I'm so happy you came to visit I can't wait to see you in December.