Yesterday, Calliope summed up our parents perfectly: "quirky but benign".
My dad had left me a message asking for the name of my travel specialist. I later learned the reason: my parents have decided to go to Ghana in 6 weeks time. They have assured me that this is not a problem as there is a direct flight. What a relief!
Here is where Ghana is located, just in case you were wondering:
Why Ghana? Well, for the last two years, their parish has been home to a visiting priest from Ghana - Father Dominick - while he has been doing advanced studies at the seminary. In about a month, he will return to Ghana after a trip to Rome where Pope Benedict will be making him a Bishop. This is a huge source of pride for his community in Ghana, where his father is the Chief of the tribe. So, my parents and some other parishioners have been invited to accompany Fr. Dominick to Ghana for the festivities. So, they are planning on going.
After my initial freak-out about my parents going to Africa, here's what I learned about Ghana:
- English is the official language
- it was the first independent post-colonial black nation in sub-Saharan Africa
- it has a democratic government (politically stable for the last 20-25 years)
- about 69% of the population is Christian
- the country has natural resources such as gold (it was known as the Gold Coast during the colonial era), cocoa, timber, diamonds and other minerals, plus light crude oil was just discovered there, so it is not as poor as some other former colonies
- 1 US Dollar = 10,099.0 Ghanaian Cedi
- crime against tourists is usually limited to pick-pocketing, credit card fraud and the like
At this point, I would say that it is a 50/50 chance that they will actually go. I think that they may have their own freak-out after they visit the doctor and realize they need a Yellow Fever vaccination, along with Hep A & B, Meningitis, Rabies, Polio, and Typhoid. Oh, and they will have to take anti-malarial drugs while they are there. There is also some risk of dengue fever, leishmaniasis, river blindness, African sleeping sickness and schistosomiasis. No vaccines for those things. But there is a direct flight.