The flight to Ghana on United was most definitely the easiest, most comfortable international flight I’ve ever been on. We left O’Hare right on time and arrived in DC an hour and a half later. I connected to my Accra flight within the hour and because the flight is new as of 10 days ago, I had an entire row in Economy Plus to myself. I also have to give a shout out to my neighbor Mark for the Economy Plus seats. Thanks Mark!
I sat at the D.C. airport, made a few last minute phone calls and observed a healthy mixture of US college students, Ghanains, and volunteers boarded the plane. I quickly made made friends with the white man sitting across from me, from the bay area. He told me that he was simply vacationing in Ghana for two weeks and had rented a house. He asked me a few questions about my travels and we both agreed that Ghana is an exciting place to vacation. After chatting a bit longer, I learned that this was his third time visiting Accra for vacation..see, there are other people who enjoy this place as much as I do!
We departed DC at 10:40 pm, I took a sleepy pill and I was stretched out and sleeping by midnight. When I woke, we were about 1.5 hours from Accra. In other words, I got a great night of sleep and due to the time the flight left and got into Accra, I am feeling zero jet lag today! The anticipation began to build as the announcements of arrival came more frequently and we learned that Accra was slightly overcast and the high was 80 degrees. Not bad. We touched down, departed the plane and I instantly felt that equatorial humidity that I had prepared myself for, although the Atlantic Ocean breezes made things completely tolerable.
I went through customs with no problem and was greeted with a big smile and hug by my friend Rahman, who was on time and had actually gotten there early, at noon…my flight arrived at 12:50. He told me that his friend would be picking us up and taking us to the Paloma Hotel. Without fail, his friend pulled up along with a white girl named Ashley (obroni) from Toronto (apparently they were married last weekend…no more details were shared) and the four of us had a fun drive to the Paloma Hotel chatting about volunteer jobs around Accra. Ironically enough, she is teaching computers (ICT) in an orphange right now. Together, they were trying to convince me to stay in Accra to volunteer.
When I arrived at the Paloma Hotel, check in was a breeze, my room is fantastic and after showering, I met Rahman down at the hotel bar. We cruised to Osu, the nicer neighborhood in Accra, ate a yummy lunch of chicken and rice at a restaurant called Papaye, drank Guiness and watched the Netherlands beat Brazil.
We walked a bit after lunch and eventually made our way to the cell phone store where I picked up a Samsung touch screen phone for about $140 USD. It cost me another dollar to buy a SIM card and the memory card from my Droid phone fit so that saved some cash. There are no cell phone plans here. You simply buy a phone, a SIM card and for 2 cedi (about 1.40 USD) and a scratch off card with a code that you type into your phone keypad which initializes your talking minutes. Texting is very cheap and uses next to no minutes. Apparently telephone wi-fi is free in Ghana. I still haven’t figured out how this is possible but it seems to work so far and I haven’t been docked any minutes yet.
(I’m just now realizing that the guy on the right is wearing tighty whities…yikes!)
At this point, game time was a mere 45 minutes away so we hopped a cab and went back to the hotel. The Paloma Hotel is fantastic and has a great tiki bar with flat screen TVs. We scored two amazing seats in front of the TV. I was surrounded by Ghanains and Obronis (white tourists) and we cheered for a few hours, drank 22 oz. Star beers and until the shootout that cost Ghana the game, spirits were incredibly high.
Rahman went home after the game and I spent another hour chatting with some young guys from Switzerland who were here to volunteer starting on Monday. Overall, I couldnt have asked for a better first day in Ghana!!!
This morning at breakfast I chatted with a guy from Portland, Oregon and a guy from New Jersey while drinking coffee, eating toast/jam and an omelette outside under the palm trees with Bob Marley playing in the background. They invited me to the U.S. Embassy tomorrow for the 4th of July party and I’m going to try to squeeze that in before leaving for Kumasi! Rahman is on his way over now and we are going to hit the Accra Mall and do some drumming at the Arts Centre! The weather is gorgeous…sunny, breezy and about 80 degrees. Much less humid today.