Being Adventurous

Although I've been coming to Ghana on and off for several years, I haven't traveled much alone in the country/region. Most of the time, I work so much that I rarely leave Accra. When I do venture farther afield, it's in an office vehicle (if it's for work) or with friends who have cars. That is to say - although people may think I'm off living an adventurous life in Africa, it's all been very easy and safe.

View from my balcony in the suburbs of Accra

So when I was preparing to meet up with a coworker from the US in Benin, I found myself surprisingly nervous about making the trip by myself. Compounding my nervousness was the general lack of information about the journey (transport options, cost, travel times) available on the internet, and the fact that I speak very little French.

I fretted over what transport to use and how to negotiate it if I don't speak the language. I worried over whether I'd have enough time to get to Benin in one day. I wasn't sure if my Ghanaian phone would work, and if i'd be able to get in touch with my friend if something went wrong. To be honest, if I hadn't been meeting Charice, I might have talked myself out of going.

What's that you say? Didn't I spend 3 months traveling alone in countries like Georgia and Armenia where I can't even read the language much less speak it? Am I the same person who climbed the highest mountain in Africa, went to Iran despite warnings from the State Department and just about everyone else, and spent two years living in a small town in Honduras? And I'm feeling intimidated by a little weekend trip to the beach?

About to dig in to a plate of iguana in Honduras in 2006

Despite all of my travels, I don't consider myself adventurous. My friend Rachel calls me the most responsible person she knows. I research, I plan, I prepare. I make a LOT of spreadsheets. My primary drive to travel is not for adrenaline-fueled adventure, it's to learn and grow and have a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the world around me. I can embrace the adventure once I'm in it, but that's not what pushes me out the door - and in fact sometimes the fear of it holds me back.

Feeling skeptical about hitching a ride on the back of this flatbed truck in the Dominican Republic in 2004

It only took a couple of hours into the Benin trip for me to find my travel groove again. With the radio playing and wind blowing through my hair as the shared taxi flew down the highway (at a reasonably safe speed), finally the nervousness and doubt took a backseat to the excitement of a new adventure. And it felt amazing, as it always does. Oh yeah, I CAN do this. 


  1. Enjoy!!! Love hearing about it.

  2. Ummm we are SO alike. I am cracking up! Great post. (Finally reading your blog, yay!)


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