Travel: Ghana "What is the Problem?"
Ten years ago, we were teaching school in Ghana. Jill got an infection from a bug bite, she became feverish, and her arm swelled to twice its normal size.
We grabbed a $20 bill and a bottle of water on the way to the local hospital. No doctor. We drove two hours on dirt roads to the regional hospital. Two Cuban doctors on a mission trip.
Jill's fever rose, despite the IV antibiotics. Worried, I called the nurse at our insurance company and told her that we were in trouble. At her urging, we drove another two hours to Nyaho Clinic, the best hospital in the country.
While Jill was being treated, I walked between the hospital, the hotel and the store, fetching water, filling prescriptions, and finding food. I had to borrow money for everything, since our bank card would not work.
Our new friends made the four-hour drive to check on us. I will never forget Andrea, who had known us for one week, feeding her bank card into the ATM machine. "Here's $100... here's another $100... how much do you need?"
After Jill recovered, I told our wise, young host, Makafui Amenuvor, that we could NOT let that happen again. I had never been alone, in a foreign country, in trouble, without resources, unable to pay my way or talk my way or think my way out of a bad situation. I need my stuff... now.
"Send lawyers, guns, and money!!" as Warren Zevon used to say.
Makafui says. "Your wife is healthy now. You are going back to Hohoe, where you have food, lodging and transportation. Soon, you will fly home. Your friends are here, and you have $400 in your pocket (maybe the only person in Accra with $400 in his pocket.) Please help me to understand. What is the problem?"
Umm... "Never mind," I mumbled. "Not sure what I was thinking. Sorry about that."
I never felt such shame. Why did I need so much control? Had I forgotten that our friends and our host and our nurse were looking after us? Had I noticed that God (or fate or karma or the Universe) was providing for us?
I had a revelation on that street corner in Accra, and I vowed that if I am ever tested again, I will trust in myself and others and God (or fate or karma or the Universe) and NOT in the mistaken belief that I control things.
Ten years later, we are tested again in Ecuador. This time, the situation is more manageable, the threat is less severe, and we have some experience.