May 25, 2013
When the plane landed, the first surprise was that there was no taxiway to deplane. It shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, but I had just given it no thought before. We then made our way to the passport check. The building appeared to have been built in the 60s and never touched since, with the exception of putting up mobile phone ads all over the place. We passed through customs just fine, then surprisingly found out luggage within 10 minutes.
After having our papers checked one more time, we headed to find the rest of the group. The next thing I noticed, people everywhere. And more accurately, people everywhere trying to sell you a service. At the airport, it was primarily taxi somewhere. I had 3 people run me down after I walked by, just to make sure I didn’t need a taxi. When we met with the whole group, we headed to a restaurant across the street from the airport. When we stepped out of the airport, I was greeted with even more people, as well as bright fluorescent lights and a couple of food booths. there is no comparison to any of the other airports I had been through on my travels.
We walked across the street and had a fantastic chicken and rice meal while sitting outside. The rice was a Ghanian recipe called jollof rice. It was also served with a spicy sauce called shitto, which was amazing. The group chatted some, the first time the folks from Iowa City had seen each other in over 30 hours. It was time to go to Winneba. We headed to the van, only to find that it wouldn’t start. The solution, grab the battery out of the other van (which was carrying our luggage) and carry it over to ours, jump the van and head on our way. Luckily the van stalled only a couple more times, starting up again with no problem each time. After driving for a bit, it was just fine.
One of the first things I noticed on the drive, mobile phone ads everywhere. I am sure there is a detailed story somewhere about the fight for mobile phone service in Africa as a whole, so when I get back I will have to look it up. (Note: I have not found anything yet, but this was an interesting article) I am also guessing that ad money goes a lot further here than in Europe, so it is plastered everywhere.
As we got further from the airport, we had to drive through Accra to get to Winneba. The things I noticed on our night drive, not in any sort of order:
everyone honks, all the time. more of just a “hey” not being aggressive. Shacks on the side of the road. I still don’t know if they are housing or a place to sell their wares, but along the road, there would be 20 little shacks in a row. People, everywhere there were people walking around, congregating, dancing, etc Fluorescent blubs, I have not seen an incandescent bulb yet. There are no major highways. This meant we had to drive through all of Accra (at least it sure seemed that way) out of town. Looking on a map before we left, it is about 40 miles from Accra to Winneba, so I assumed maybe a 45 minute drive. instead, it was over 2 hours since we had to drive through stoplight traffic and security checkpoints nearly the entire way.
When we got to the hotel, it was just past 11 local time. The room does have an air conditioning unit as well as a ceiling fan. That was the good news. The bad news was there was no running water. This did get resolved pretty quickly though. After the long drive and the minor shock of the room, it started to hit me a little bit. Lots of “what have I gotten myself into” and a lot of “I miss my family so much”. After a few minutes, I also figured out that in the course of the last 36 hours, I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep. I then hoped that some of this depression was a side affect of lack of sleep.
This morning, I can say that it was mainly the case. I am still in a bit of shock, but can handle it a lot better. It also helped to get a shower and shave in. off to breakfast and church, feeling more excited than nervous again, so that is good.