So, some of you may be bored with all of my details. I apologize for that but want to revisit why I started the blog in the first place. It was recommended I “journal” my experience for everyone to live with me – but the other reason is this: if in the future, you or another person decided to travel to Ghana – they will know exactly what to expect. If you just scan, I understand – you’ll just miss my little bits of humor I throw in there..and you’ll fail the test at the end – just kidding! This is the internet – I quote Robert Fulghum – read some now, some later – you don’t need to read it all now. It’ll still ou be here later when you pick it up again.
Anyway – I landed in Accra, it had a sulfur-like smell. Like after you burn “snakes” I made it through the entrance from the ..I dunno what it’s officially called – the area where the runways are – and enter into a confusing area. About the size of a high school basketball court I see three signs – one for immunizations, one for visas..ok, there were more than three – several for Ghana nationals..several for “Other Nationals”…and a table. Fortunately, through chatting – I knew the table (like when you go to the bank and fill out your deposit slip) was for our landing card. They don’t give you instructions for the card – there are several line items that are left up to you for your discretion: Arrival is one of them…flight number? place? Airline? eh?
Standing in line to go through – it was hotter than hot, everyone was sweating..I was a few feet back from the person ahead of me. A woman asks “Are you in line” I tell her yes..she pulls her stuff up just in front of me….I stand there, see how many lines there are – 2 – but she made it into 3. OH, the lines..organized? Nope..not really…no barriers…just a clump of people..so, I’m standing there..and her son/husband goes up and stands near her…he hits me with his backpack..no sorry..then it is resting on my arm – we were that close..I was a bit perturbed..so I gently pushed it..so he knew it was on me. He glanced back..no sorries, whatever! I think they were from the Netherlands, if I heard them correctly.
Well, I ended up being near other Americans..I use that term loosely..and we chatted. They were going to be working with a shelter for women that had been sexually assaulted. Bunnee feared this for me. Anyway..make it through..chaos, utter chaos. I got a trolley for my bags, free in Accra – $4 in Columbus. Then, as I’m assessing the situation, I decided it was probably best to go to the bathroom NOW verses later when I had all my bags.
Go to the bathroom, come out – not sure which
of the 2-3 baggage carousels mine is on, it’s not exactly marked like Sky Harbor or Columbus. I ask..Ok, that one. I see my bag..I walk around to it..it’s gone…phew, it has just being stacked with my other one. All right, I can handle this. I put my two bags on the trolley and a man comes up to me and says I’ll get VIP treatment…umm..Rosemond warned me, don’t accept help from anyone other than an official. Well, he didn’t have any tags…he DID have a yellow vest in his pocket….is he official? Well, he wouldn’t leave..then I couldn’t find my third bag – THE bag with ALL the school supplies, well most of them. I describe it – he found it, ok.
At this point I realized the end of my duffel was ripped – after assessing what was missing it was a box of crayons, lotion, hand sanitizer, pepto bismol, my phone charger, the peanut butter Amy suggested I bring, bubbles, my creams – cortizone cream, etc. Shoot.
So, this man wanted me to file a claim – um, I didn’t want to, frankly, so we didn’t. THEN, he tells me “You need to give me little something, then we don’t go through this line – you don’t want that line, they open your bags.” ALERT ALERT..uhhhhhhh…..well, I looked around – tired, confused..we start going down this ramp, I’m trying to figure out what do to…ummmmmm….well, we stop – he told me again to give him something…well, through chatting with my friends – I decided to keep small bills in the front of my money belt so I wouldn’t drop the load all over the ground..I reach in…pull out $10..nope, too big…then a $20..uh, nope – come on hands, work – mind, calm down. Say a prayer! I grabbed $2. He says “no no..you give me a $20, I take 5 give $15 to the official.” SO, I’m like..did we just go through customs illegally!? I told him I’d just go back up the ramp – he was visibly frustrated and told me i didn’t want to do that…I say, well, I have to meet people…he let me go – well, “let me go” – he wasn’t holding me hostage. I’m sure his “boss” was upset with him..but, uh…no. No. No. NO.
I round the corner..see “Amanda Kaiser” – smile, give hugs..exchange names, head outside. There were 2 women…where’s the man? He met us outside. This part was all a confusing exchange of Fante. Later I said “Um, I don’t know what just happened…what are we doing?” They explained it to me 🙂
Dora was going to stay at her brother’s a bit away. Kwasi and I were going to stay at Esther’s. On the way to Esther’s they asked me what my expectations were…honestly, I didn’t have many – it wasn’t until I mulled over this question that I came up with answers. I explained some of the movies about Rwanda and such I’d seen – wasn’t sure what sort of housing to expect, food to eat, the facilities, etc.
We arrive at Esther’s where I was shown my room. I’ll post pictures when I make it home. We took all 500 pounds of my bags to my room (exaggerating, of course!) Then Esther made me my first Ghanaian meal. I didn’t think of taking a photo. I made Kwasi eat first so I could watch what he did. It was rice and vegetable stew (cooked veggies and sardines) and some water. I never had sardines before….ok. Not too bad!
Head to bed…it’s about 1ish. I had this OCD moment because I had to sort my things out – not knowing what tomorrow brought, I wanted to be sure my stuff didn’t end up in the schools stuff. That took me till 2ish…to bed. Luckily, there’s a fan!