It was an early morning to begin with, but with the nap of a sleep I had it felt even earlier. I mustered the energy to wake-up for a shower, knowing that if I had one I would likely feel more awake and alive. Well, it worked. Had a nice shower and then called home, because although it was not Avery’s birthday yet in Canada it had been his birthday for six hours or so in Addis. It was really nice to hear the voice of Avery and Mom, the pleb turned nineteen toady. I look forward to buying him a beer in a pub once I am home. Think that will be the first order of business. After saying our goodbyes, I finished packing because my shuttle to the airport was leaving at 6:30 and I had not yet eaten breakfast. Got ready with time to spare for the buffet, and enjoyed some fresh watermelon juice with a very nice ensemble of Ethiopian breakfast dishes. It was not long before I began to load my two suitcases into the shuttle, traveling to the airport with a French and Arab man.
Once we got to the airport, I began to realize that I was flying to what would be my home for the next four months- and that was a wild feeling I must say. Getting through customs was a different experiences because although it was very similar, the sense of time was different. But I went with the flow. There were three waves of security to get to the gate, similar to what I had experiences in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. The sense of time continued to be apparent, as once we boarded the plane we were grounded for another hour as paperwork was completed for the flight to be authorized, or something like that. But, with Ethiopian air serving us a lovely meal and a variety of movies to watch, I couldn’t help but enjoy the enmities since I was too tired to sleep. I was sitting beside someone who appeared to be a Ghanaian. This gentlemen was definitely exemplifying man spreading, in a very emphatic way. You would think sitting beside a guy over six feet would deter such action, but apparently not. All things considered it was not a big deal because the flight would only be around six hours. After having fish and jollof for lunch, with some nice French red wine, I figured it was time for a nap. Basically fell in and out of sleep until we began out decent. Descending into Ghana came with such an exciting feeling, as I realized what had been theoretical for so long was soon becoming reality. Seeing the landscape and architecture kept my mouth wide open while my ears were popping and I was perfectly content with that. With another brief delay on the track, we were finally disembarking from the plane and were, ironically enough, greeted by a US Air Force Carrier Plane… it was huge. As soon as I landed, I discovered I had to fill out a declaration/immigration form, even though I already had a Ghanaian Visa. To make matters more interesting, when I got to the first check point and they asked for my Yellow Fever paper, I quickly realized I did not have it. Yep. That was not good. I just landed in Ghana with a nap of a sleep from the other side of the continent, without the necessary paper work I needed to stay in the country. Was I about to fly back? I didn’t know. Thankfully, I had my prescription page and receipt of immunization on me, so I was able to have a new Yellow Fever card written for the small fee of $20.00 USD. I don’t know how that was legal, but I was happy because it meant I did not need another shot and got into the country. This delay however, was around an hour, so my next concern was my bag. Many smaller airports will have the luggage for three or even four flights on ones carousel. I had never lost luggage yet, but figured this was the best opportunity yet for something like that to happen. Thankfully it only took squatting for a photo and answering some questions, for me to pick up my bags and begin my search for the “University of Ghana” sign, outside of the airport.
It was no time before I found the marker and met Alberta and Rudolf. Alberta and Rudolf are both recent graduates of the University of Ghana, who are completing their mandatory service (which is any public service mandatory to complete for one years following your undergrad, as a Ghanaian). Apart from the abrupt change in heat and my desire for a shower, I was in awe of the reality I was living. It was so good to finally step on Ghanaian soil and be home, at least for the next four months. After all that I was worried that they’d all be waiting for me, but due to everyone having delays I was one of the first out. Once Suoji and Sujin from South Korea and Yuki and Yuto from Japan were ready, we all were on our way. I landed in the morning and left the airport in the early afternoon, so thankfully traffic was not too bad. This was when I first laid my eyes on the Legon Campus, and I was both intrigued and excited all at once. Right away I noticed that rules of the road were more suggestion based than law based, and the campus was huge. Thankfully upon arrival I was able to check into my new room and fill out the required paper work. Then with the promise of getting to the nearby Accra Mall by trotro, I did everything in my power to stay awake while settling in. Trotro is the term used for the public transportation in Ghana. They are fifteen seater vans, similar to the airport shuttle vehicles in Canada, with yellow license plates. The vans, apart from the front seats, have one way in and one way out.
Later that day I had my first Trotro, street-food, and rush hour experience, all on that same short sleep and a fifteen minute nap. Once I got my phone set-up, money exchanged and toilet paper purchased, I began the journey with my comrades back to the International Student House 1 (ISH 1), my new home. What a day. To top it all off I got to see Chelsea and Isaac, two friends of mine from Laurier who had been working in Ghana for the summer through the Queen Elizabeth’s Scholars program. It was a blessing to see them and get a set of bedding from Chelsea, thank you Chelsea!
I want to apologize for my lack of blogging thus far of my experience. This experience has been excellent, but also supper busy. Each day full of things preparing me for life in Ghana and at the university. Therefore, before Sunday I will post a recap of this past week, as it was mostly waiting in line and filling out paperwork, before beginning a pattern of posting once every two days, or so. Love you all and miss you. God bless!