Thursday, October 7, 2010

Accra to Kumasi

Our house is supposed to have broadband internet access, but there have been some delays from the owner of the house changing providers. There are a million things I want to say about my trip to Ghana so far, but since I’m typing this in an internet café, much of it will wait for another day. Oddly enough, the Internet café is in the sports stadium, which is only five minutes from our house, and it turns out that the Black Stars are in the middle of playing “a friendly match against a local division one side” (as noted on Ghanaweb). I’ll have to go watch some of it when I’m done here. 

I met Dorella, a fellow volunteer, in the hotel restaurant for breakfast yesterday morning. Just knowing one other person in Ghana changed the entire feeling of my trip. On my first day, I was feeling rather alone and overwhelmed and was starting to wonder why exactly I had decided that moving to such a foreign country was a good idea. Piece of advice: a Western-style business hotel is not the best introduction to a country like Ghana that is known for being friendly, as the cool, detached atmosphere of the hotel gave me a false impression. But with Dorella by my side, any travel issues and problems became much more manageable. From my short time in Accra and what folks here in Kumasi have said, Accra is much like any other western city, with the benefits (a mall) and problems (less friendliness) that come with it.

We got to the airport plenty early enough for our flight to Kumasi. Intercity air transport in Ghana is much more like the trains in Europe. There’s a fixed price and the planes run at the same time every day, although sometimes later flights get cancelled due to thunderstorms. I don’t think they don’t fly at all after dark, so the latest possible flight is 4:30 pm.
We had reservations but had not yet paid, so I ponied up a $100 bill for my $91 flight and got a really great exchange rate for my change in Cedis, giving me some small Ghana bills. CityLink limits each passenger to 20 kg in checked luggage and one bag for on the plane. But they only charge $1/kg over the limit, meaning that for only $54, I got my two huge suitcases and my roll-aboard and backpack here to Kumasi.
The flight to Kumasi was low enough for LJ to skydive from the plane—only 12,000 feet max. The beverage service was juiceboxes and water. Watching a nicely-dressed man in a business suit drink out of a juicebox straw is a sight to see. In the last few minutes of the short flight, the daily afternoon thunderstorms caused enough turbulence that I lost my juicebox into one of the nice little bags provided for just such an occasion.
At the airport, we expected Benee (our house owner) to be waiting for us, but he was not. Luckily Dorella had his cell phone, so after waiting for about 20 minutes, I used the phone in the CityLink office to call him. Benee brought two taxies for us and all our bags. We arrived at the house and met our third compatriot, Steffi, who had been in Ghana since Monday.
We will leave the beginning of my time in Kumasi, including my first experiences at the schools, for another day. Pictures will also be posted when I have time to sort through them and a faster Internet connection over which to post them.

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