Uhmah Park

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4. Damn.

Cut to December 2019 instead and OJ never stepped foot in the Seychelle islands. What happened? In April of that year, my father told me that he had pancreatic cancer. By July I had experienced the worst day of my life, so far. My trip was scheduled for August. I was in no shape for the island hopping or instagraming the flex turn up in the beautiful African seas. The death of my father coupled with month after month of very poor decision making by my former employer meant I had to cancel the trip. My father and I were very close. I am beyond devastated on multiple levels. 

Over the entire course of 2019 I started to see more and more videos about The Year of Return on YouTube. The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, declared 2019 as the Year of Return for all Africans in the diaspora; and it was gaining momentum. All year I watched videos of Black people in Ghana reconnecting with their ancestral homeland. I watched a couple of those videos with my Dad while he was in the hospital. He was happy to see an African leader call for Black people in America to come home. I dreamed of him beating cancer and us getting to participate in the Year of Return together. A few months after he passed away, I decided to go by myself for New Years Eve. I’ve always wanted to bring in the New Year in another country and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Add to that I’ve always heard that there is a lot going on in West Africa in December. Perfect. “A lot going on,” is who I am as a person.

My plan was to leave 2019 behind in the United States and start 2020 fresh in Africa. I’ve never made a new year’s resolution. I was never a “New year, new me, new stuff, fresh start” kind of guy. But I decided to give it a shot this year. I needed something to help me move on from 2019. I wanted to come back rejuvenated and optimistic about 2020. The Year of Return is the new plan. 

When I went to purchase my plane ticket, I noticed prices were a lot higher than they were when I checked a few months back when I was only thinking about going. Damn. There were also a lot less flights with a lot less options. Double Damn. Since it seemed that seats were going fast. I booked the best available flight with the most internet access that would take the least amount of time. A flight offered by Emirates; 16 hours to dubai, 12 hour layover, 8 hours to Accra. That’s an insane amount of time to be on a cramped plane next to a stranger. Could be a problem. I found a 7 day Ghana experience offered by tastemakers Africa as I was planning everything out, but when I went to purchase the tour package it was sold out. 

Triple Damn. I’ll figure that out later since I already bought this ticket. There were decent hotel options when I first checked. When I go to decide on a hotel, everything is basically booked. I went to AirBnB to try to find something. It was the same story there as well. I prefer a hotel over AirBnB because I love room service and having my room cleaned every day. I’d have my house cleaned every day if I could. Being nice and friendly is in everybody’s job description at a hotel. I get fresh towels every day. There’s usually food available 24/7. I love the whole hotel experience. I’m also one of those “everybody doesn’t live how I live” people. What I’m trying to say is that I am indeed bougie as hell and I was worried about everything not being “comfortable” enough! 

When I went to Cuba, I didn’t plan any of that trip, I went along for the ride. My adventure travel time friend, Liz, is also a Gemini like myself. We have the same standards in life, nothing to worry about. The Seychelles trip was all planned out, on a boat and  there was a whole itinerary. Nothing to worry about. This Ghana trip was all on me since I missed out on the tour. I’m starting to get very worried about this trip. In the back of my mind, this flight is bothering me because I don’t like to fly. I’m tall and I usually get hurt on every flight, somehow some way. If I don’t get a premium seat, It’s going to be an uncomfortable flight. That means every flight cost an extra $200 at the very least. I used to be one of those kids who would cry when the plane takes off and lands because my ears pop. The pain let up a lot as I got older, but it will wake me up if I’m asleep. I also have some sort of ridiculous travel anxiety. Every time I go to another city, I have the hardest time eating. My appetite goes haywire and I have the hardest time staying still. I’m never my complete self when I travel. I always find a way to make it work but if I’m ever spotted outside of the greater Los Angeles area by plane ride, I really wanted to be there and it was a struggle. 

With all of this I get discouraged and I cancel my trip, again. Usually I’m spontaneous adventure time OJ but 2019 beat me up and I wasn’t my normal self by the end of the year. About a week passes by and in this time my Mom and a close friend have convinced me to take another look at hotels and make it happen. Plus, the homie Panama mentioned he was going to be in Ghana around the same time. Panama is one of the only people to ever drink me under a table. I knew that if I did actually make it out there, if I ran into P, I was guaranteed at least one good night while I was there. So I put a little bit more effort into my search this time and I lucked up and found a room. But I’m still nervous about this flight in the back of my head so I decided to upgrade my seat to business class. It was expensive, but I noticed that those seats can lay flat. Seemed like a dream for somebody of my height. The other listed amenities lead me to believe that the flight would be a lot more comfortable than I’m used to. 

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