Hello All from Ghana! I first have to send out a Happy Mother’s Day to my mom back home!
I have arrived safely and soundly in Ghana. The journey was long and tiring, but nothing I am not used to. My mom thought that my absent-mindedness might kill me, but now that I am here there is nothing more to worry about. (That’s for you mom) The reason that mom was worried was that I happened to forget after reading my flight departure that I was to leave in the PM and not the AM. The evening before planning to leave at 7AM the whole family went out to dinner to celebrate mother’s day and send me off to Ghana. We went to a great Chinese restaurant and my fortune interestingly read: “You are about to embark on a most delightful journey!” A good sign. When we arrived home it happened that we discovered that my flight was to leave at 7PM and I still had a whole day ahead of me in the States. Oops.
I have to begin my first post from Ghana with a disclaimer: There is no way that I can completely or even remotely express and capture the full Ghanaian experience. There is no way that I could even claim to have the ability to write in such a way.
Day 1 & 2
At the airport all the study abroad students met up to check in. We all were quite excited and began awkwardly talking about our hopes and fears of traveling to Africa. Many students had said their friends made jokes and asked, “Why Africa?” There really is no answer one answer for everyone and I wonder how many just played along with the joke. We made it through security and boarded our flight across the Atlantic. Many students had never crossed the Atlantic, this will build their waiting ability in Africa. British Airways is a very nice airline (or so we thought) with jovial stewards serving food and libations in their beautiful british accents. Each seat was outfitted with a screen and high-tech options for movies, music, news, etc. I watched the ‘Freedom Writers’ and ‘Last King of Scotland’. I will share my review of those movies later.
Arriving in London, the only way you could tell it was London was because of the constant rain and the small british cars. The airport Terminal 4 was not too exciting and there was a lot of sitting and learning Twi, the main language of Accra. In the airport I had my first real world test of french as a man asked me where I he could go to smoke. I fully understood him and had to reply that I had no idea. After sitting around for a long while, we then boarded our plane to head to Ghana. The flight was delayed I found out later. I had fallen asleep as we sat in the plane waiting to take off. Our first greeting from the African continent was a blazing red sunset – absolutely beautiful. Many studetns commented taht they would not believe that they were going to Africa yet, until they were actually there.
After much rest and a long plane ride we arrived in Accra, Ghana to the Kotoko Inernational Airport. We were welcomed by a slight drizzle.The green, red, and yellow colors of the Twi saying: “Akwaaba” (meaning welcome or ‘you have gone and come back)shone brightly as our first glimpse off of the tarmac. It was roughly 10PM and as soon as you stepped off the plane there was a heat and humidity that you couls almost taste because it was so thick. We enter the country and passed immigration with no problem, but our luggage did not arrive with our plane. For some reason British Airways decided not to send it along. Kotoko Airport is like many in Africa – a hint of colonialism in decay with many people walking around in official uniforms. After waiting in long lines for tickets to claim our luggage the next night, we boarded our University of Ghana bus and headed out into the nearly empty night. The bus was nice and air-conditioned, but had an odd smell of human sweat circulating. Accra looks much like Kampala, Uganda. However, I would say that they should call Uganda the Ghana of the East, not vice versa. The similarities are frightening, but I will touch more on the city later. One big difference is the bill boards celebrating 60 years of independence of Ghana.
The hostel is not far from the airport and is quite nice. It is definitely a luxury in Accra. There is AC, a television, a mini-fridge, private bathroom, and a type of bellboy. The Ghanaian music on Music Africa is great and we watch football (soccer) before bed. It is a very nice place to stay for a few months in Ghana.
I am a bit behind in my writing, but be sure to check back for Days 3 & 4 and more pictures.
Index of blog post series on Ghana.