I just spent my first Easter in Africa. It started last night, with a service at the church which was supposed to start at 7, but didn’t actually begin until about 7:45. It lasted until 11! It was ridiculously long. I had a bit of a headache, some stomach pains, and was feeling very tired, so sleepy that when I rested my head on my hand I fell asleep, so I didn’t really appreciate the extreme length. There was a lot of dancing and jubilation throughout, but since I was feeling so crappy, I didn’t participate fully. I watched the others as they danced and clapped and celebrated, but kept my joy (or lack thereof) to myself.
Something very strange and unexpected happened during the service. At the very end, the priest told everyone to wish each other a happy Easter. For about fifteen minutes, everyone went around hugging each other and wishing each other a happy Easter as the choir sang an upbeat tune. They did the same thing at Christmas and New Years, but for both of those I was feeling joyful, not sick, and less jaded, so I was as joyous as the rest. This time, I stood politely at my place, but if someone (like a nun I know or a stranger I didn’t) came up to hug me happy Easter, I hugged her back. I was, however, feeling quite lonely, like I didn’t really belong there.
I watched Sister Suzy go around the church hugging almost everyone a happy Easter, knowing she would never bother to greet me. However, much to my surprise... she danced over to the row in front of mine, pulled the plastic chair away that was in front of me, and gave me a huge hug and said, “Happy Easter, Kate!” I was so shocked but at the same time touched. Maybe she’s finally warming up to me?
Back at the house, we snacked on mini-donuts that Sister Constance had made in her room. I don’t know how one makes mini-donuts in one’s bedroom, but apparently that’s how they do in Africa. There were other snacks and drinks, but I didn’t partake. I was so unbelievably tired. I have no idea why. The rest of the house gathered around the television to watch a Ghanaian film. Ghanaian films are generally terrible, so I excused myself and went to bed. I was asleep by midnight.
I had considered going to church again in the morning, because it was Easter and I was curious to see how it was celebrated in Ghana, but yeah, I definitely didn’t get up in time. I slept in until 8! It felt lovely. When I got up, I went for a 50-minute walk, came back, showered, and went downstairs. Sister Anne was lounging on the couch in her pajamas watching the end of Free Willy on TV. I wanted to wait until Sister Juliana and everyone came back from church to eat, but by 10:30, I realized they must have already eaten before church... how could one go so long without eating?
When I had asked them what they do for Easter, they said they go to church and eat a good meal. The “good meal” was a sausage (a fried hot dog, more like) and cheese with the bread. I ate alone. Sister Julie didn’t come back from church until after 11! It had started at 7. She said I would have loved it because of all the dancing, but honestly, I was so churched out from the lengthy service the night before that I wasn’t too disappointed to have missed it.
For lunch we had rice, chicken, salad, and ice cream! The ice cream was a treat. After lunch, I went to the school to use the internet, but both my computer and the school’s wireless are having problems, so I didn’t accomplish very much before the internet stopped and my computer crashed. Lovely.
Frustrated with my computer and with how fat I’ve become, I took another long walk in the afternoon during which I reflected on how different this Easter was from the four Easters previous. Four Easters ago was the day I turned 19. I spent it alone at college working on homework for my Shakespeare class. The next year I was home for Easter, and spent the day partaking in traditional Easter activities with my family. Two years ago, I went to church at Notre Dame, and afterwards had a picnic lunch with two of my best friends at the Luxemburg Gardens in Paris. That night, we went out with some friends and drank a bottle of cheap wine at a Chinese restaurant. After dinner, the girls wanted to have an Easter egg hunt, and the boys wanted to go to a bar, so we compromised by having an Easter egg hunt inside a bar. That was definitely an unforgettable night, made even more unforgettable by the fact I met my French boyfriend Alex that night in the bar. He was fantastic. Oh, and last Easter, I spent the weekend in Philly/New Jersey/NYC. I went to church at my friend’s parish in the Bronx where she sang all the songs for the mass. I spent Easter afternoon wandering around Central Park by myself... also unforgettable.
Easter wasn’t as great as I thought it would be here. Sure, we did have wine with dinner tonight, which was a treat, but it was nothing spectacular. This Easter will be unforgettable, however, just by the fact I spent it in Africa. Now, I’ll only miss 4 more holidays away from home... Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and 4th of July. I’ll spend Labor Day in America!