When I left Accra in February, I promised myself I would return for another run of fun during the Christmas holidays. That’s when every other Ghanaian in the diaspora returns to be with family and have fun. Unfortunately, somewhere between studying for the Boards, drowning in medical articles, and fielding consults I forgot to buy a ticket for my travels.
Don’t I feel stupid? By the time I remembered, the price was out of what I considered a reasonable price to pay and I didn’t want to put my budget at risk. Of course there were several other factors, but this has been my excuse de jour. Sooooo, here I am – stuck in the US of A when I have two perfectly good weeks of nothing to do!
Kchie! Kchie! Let this be a lesson.
So as a consolation, I find myself back in Northern California – not exactly sun and beaches and especially no mangoes – but then again I’m not in below freezing weather witnessing a record making snow season – all before winter technically begins!
The last time I was in California, 2005, I had gone all out to celebrate my survival of intern year of medicine. Ticket in hand, hotel chosen, 7 whole days to explore San Francisco all by my lonesome self! I ate in Fisherman’s Wharf, saw the world-renowned seal lions in Pier 39, cruised to Alcatraz and toured the prison (that was eerie), went to the Wax Museum (thank goodness it was a “free” admission – I would have hated to actually spend money to see this rip-off), the Exploratorium, and the Museum of Modern Art. I toured San Francisco including the famous Chinatown, and Golden Gate Bridge, and even caught a bit of the Gay Pride Parade. I went to Yosemite and was wowed by nature, visited Muir Woods and Sausolito. I tried to become a wine connoisseur touring Napa & Sonoma wine countries and even rode the historic cable car all courtesy of the GO! card.
So what else was left to do one could ask?!
I came to visit a friend from medical residency. I saw the myriad of ways the Vietnamese eat shrimp, experienced different styles of Hot Pot, ate Sushi off the boat that goes around, and Dim Sum – the kind with the carts going around. You could say, I did a quick tour of Eastern Asia in my two weeks in California.
We drove the 17-mile drive along the Pacific coastline and paid $9 for the pleasure of seeing the “Pebble Beach” golf course and luxury mansions, because honestly the Pacific coastline is more than 17 miles! Although it was a foggy day it was very beautiful and worth the trip! I can only imagine what it would look like with the warmth of summer or the glow of the sunset. Gorgeous!
We visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium which brought memories of studying marine biology in college. However, I can summarize the visit as “otters, jellyfish, and great white shark”, because although it’s been a while since I visited the New England Aquarium I recall it being more stunning.
The one fish that did wow me however, was the Mola mola ie. an ocean sun-fish, which I tried over and over to take a good picture of. I’ve never seen anything like it. It reminded me of the coelacanth which has held a special place in my heart ever since I learnt of its existence in Class Six. Interestingly, the aquarium is located in a former sardine cannery in the historic now defunct Cannery Row.
We also visited Napa and tasted excellent wines however we didn’t get to visit the vineyards like I had in 2005 and we seriously missed out on a Victorian tea!
And how could I forget? Body Worlds! I caught the second exhibition in San José. I had always wanted to see this ever since I crossed paths with the first exhibition in London several years ago. It was a sore reminder how much better I could have done in my anatomy classes in medical school! The dissections are superb! Of course the exhibition brings up other thoughts such as is it really okay to display human beings like this, why the perpetuation of gender roles – I mean the few women included were all in feminine roles – why can’t the skateboarder be a woman, right?, and the VERY clear message of tobacco cessation.
As I wandered through the exhibit nostalgic for my anatomy classes, and actually engulfed in the phantom smell of formaldehyde on the one hand and the equally phantom smell of bovie separating layers of tissue and cauterizing blood vessels in my surgical rotations however, I couldn’t help but wonder what thoughts were going through the average person standing next to me!
All in all, it’s been a good break from endless consults.