Harlem man shares months-long Ghana stay as an indefinite expat
Travel entrepreneur Rashad McCrorey shares how his new life in Ghana is going after choosing to live there indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
We often hear stories of the American Dream. From the time of Ellis Island until this very day, we are used to hearing stories of foreigners from around the world journeying to America in search of a better life.
Little is spoken, however, about the African Dream. It’s the dream of many sons and daughters of the African Diaspora; a yearning, a calling to return home to the motherland. Some yearn to explore their African roots, some looking to escape systematic oppression, while others look to explore nature and embrace Africa’s natural resources.
As I previously shared on theGrio, while visiting the West Africa country of Ghana on a business trip I made the unexpected decision to stay in Ghana indefinitely rather than return home to New York City due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For the last 55 days, I have been living the African Dream. I am currently taking refuge inside of the Aburi Botanical Gardens located in the Akuapem Mountains of the eastern region of Ghana.
When I arrived in Ghana on Feb. 27, it was strictly for business. Africa Cross-Culture, my return to Africa tourism company, served four guests touring the country from March 3 to 9, to celebrate Ghana’s 6th March Independence Day. After my guests departed, I still had a full itinerary of events and meetings.
Those plans, however, were canceled due to the pandemic. After a string of events from travel bans, border closings, and government-mandated lockdowns, instead of returning home when the opportunity presented itself, I made the decision to stay in Ghana.
Here’s how life in Ghana is going so far:
Hygiene and Sustainability
I wake up every morning and prepare my morning bath. I draw 2 to 3 full buckets of water from the bins located outside my home, take half the water, and boil it in a pot. Once boiled, I pour and mix the hot water with the cold. This routine is how I enjoy a nice warm bathing session twice a day.
I was born and raised in Harlem, New York. For the first time in my life, I am regularly visiting a farm, picking fresh vegetables such as cocoa yam from the ground and fresh fruits like cocoa, plantain, and papaya off trees. At the town markets, I purchase all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Many of them much sweeter and in some cases larger than in America — especially the mangoes.
If the natural fruits are not bigger, as in the case of bananas, which are significantly smaller, all the fruits have seeds in them. I remember as a child introduced to seedless grapes and watermelon. Little did I know fruits with seeds in them would become a missed rarity in the United States. When I do eat meat (veggies and vegans do not kill me) seeing the chickens that I will be eating has brought my awareness to how we eat in America. I witness the chicken actually eating real worms from the ground. The chickens are fed natural rice and corn, not enhanced steroid-filled corn.
Since I was 2, I have suffered from chronic asthma. As much as I would like to share that I found a natural remedy, as of now I have not. However, all the pharmacies near me have my asthma medication at a significantly reduced price. You can purchase five days’ worth of prednisone (a medication used to treat someone who has already had an asthma attack), an asthma controller inhaler, and a relief inhaler, both of which last for a full month — all for around $12 a month.
The most significant inconvenience that I am experiencing here is that many of my internet memberships have locked me out of my account. I am actually trying to download a book I’ve been writing on my Amazon Kindle. I am deep into my book and want to start formatting as I begin sharing my release date, but Amazon will not allow me. My website hosting page will not allow me to make edits to my website; I will have to pay someone to update my site from the states since once again my account is flagged for trying to log in from Ghana.
No guest, no events, no meetings, just life. How long will I be here? As of now, the plan is to stay indefinitely. I experience homesickness; I miss my children, mom, and friends. I worry about my apartment; I still do not know how I will make rent long term. On the bright side, I will not garner heavy electricity and gas bills. A flight is said to be helping U.S citizens in Ghana to return home mid-May, I will consider taking that flight, but I am still comfortable here.
If I have to leave, I would prefer to leave too early than too late. Nevertheless, the reality is now I still feel safer and healthier here in Ghana than I would currently be in New York City. My home city is still facing over 300,000 cases of the virus, and I have yet to see compelling evidence that things are improving enough for me to leave this remote mountain location for the big city.
Another timeline I have decided to go by is my business schedule. We currently have a planned group trip to Egypt for the week of August 7 to 13. I speak to my Egypt staff weekly to keep me abreast, as Egypt was actually one of the first major world tourism-focused countries to close and currently has the highest virus count in all of Africa. I am open to staying on the continent until that trip is completed or postponed. It is a realistic possibility for me to go straight to Egypt from Ghana and then to return home to America, after Egypt in August.
Sometimes I wonder why I have been chosen to experience the African Dream during what I believe is the greatest world crisis since WWII. I am happy, healthy and prospering. A Black American, chronic asthmatic, has been relocated to the mountains of West Africa, inside of a 160-acre garden, in the middle of the woods. This is my blessing of a location during the spread of a highly contagious virus.
Before his passing, my dad shared with me that a written record is better than a mental memory so I will continue to share my story. I ask you all, please keep me in your prayers, meditations, and positive thoughts. Just like the American Dream, the African Dream isn’t perfect, but it is where the ancestors want me to be during this critical point in history. When we are past this, I pray I am in a position to help you live your African Dream also.