I traveled from Lagos to Accra in January to see my childhood friend Gabi, who over the years has become my family. Visiting Gabi feels very much like a visit with my sister—warm and comfortable.
Outside the arrivals area at Kotoka International Airport, past the crowd of people waiting to recognize familiar faces, I spot my friend standing off in the corner. The concentrated look on my face gives way to a wide smile as I hurry over to her; we meet each other halfway in a tight hug.
I last saw Gabi more than a year ago, when I was a bridesmaid at her wedding in Nigeria. Now in Accra, as we talk in her car on the way home, I don’t feel like that much time has passed. We pick up from where we left off in our WhatsApp chat, unencumbered by the usual 8hr time difference. I think about how familiar I am with maintaining relationships from a distance and how the inevitable time apart only makes me cherish our time together.
Over the weekend, we visit Black Star Square and Freedom Park, where Kwame Nkrumah’s statue and museum sit. We stroll through the park and museum, learning more about Ghana’s first prime minister and the fight for Independence. I eat the Ghanaian version of Jollof rice for the first time (to Gabi’s surprise) and enjoy it. In a souvenir shop on the corner of a busy street, we buy a variety of keepsakes—a puzzle of the regions in Ghana, jars of Shea butter, postcards I hope to send out this time, and gifts for my family and friends. At an open-air mall, we stop at a sweet-smelling stall for tubs of sugary popcorn; the tastiest kind.
In Akosombo, a town in Ghana’s Volta Region, we spend part of the afternoon seeing the Volta River by speedboat. Harmattan fog blocks out any glimpse of the sun, and colors the sky a light grey. I run my fingers through the river, enjoying the rush of cool water against my skin.
At the top of a treehouse overlooking the Royal Senchi Resort, we race against a timer to put puzzle pieces together. Excitement floods our faces when we finish before the clock runs out. Outside, we eat a late lunch (pasta bolognese for G and a carbonara for me) facing the resort pool and the copse of green palm trees that form a semi-circle around it. Through a narrow space between the palm fronds, I can see the deep green waters of the Volta River running calmly in the distance.
The weekend doesn’t end for me until I’m hugging Gabi goodbye outside of the airport’s departure area. I’ve never liked goodbyes and their apparent finality, so I hold back tears as I release her from the hug and tell myself I’ll see my friend again soon.
This travel story is dedicated to Gabi & Kojo. Thank you both for making my weekend in Accra wonderful & especially for driving us out on my last night to satisfy my craving for Agbalumo (Alasa) ❤️.
Thank you for reading!
All photos shot by myself & Gabi on iPhone 11 Pro
Same Footprints, Different Sands