It hits you all at once the moment you step off the plane. The first gulp of monstrously humid night lets you know that western civilization is over and you’re in “the third world.” From the comforts of the air-conditioned airplane, equipped with the latest technology and staffed by a blue-suited British flight crew to a makeshift warehouse-like ‘terminal’ crowded with African and Western passengers trying to make sense out of the chaos.
We had just left The Polar Vortex of the U.S. which was experiencing record-breaking cold temperatures, to the ungodly heat of sub-Saharan West Africa. I was caught off guard because my previous trips to Kenya had proven a hot climate but without humidity. Not so in Ghana, just a couple hundred miles north of the Equator, blanketed with an invisible haze of thick air. Outside the airport, mosquitoes and moths swarmed the lamp lights, bustling, honking taxis and rickety vans coated in red dust clogged the main road as throngs of people moved about carrying bags, luggage and baskets on their heads. One can’t help but fully absorb where they are and how far they’ve traveled when faced with that immediate shock of climate and culture. I had missed that exquisite rush. Continue reading “The Despair of the Privileged” »