TULSA OK: The trip has started off very well. My amazing and dedicated family stayed up crazy hours helping me get packed. They (and all of the people who are “helpers” to the “travelers”) don't get enough credit for their part. I explained to the kids last night that even though mommy might be giving the donations, them helping to load and sort and pack them is also a bit part of the service that needs to be done. We are all working together as one body to accomplish a single goal.
I was blessed this morning that they didn't just drop me at the airport curb. They all came in to make sure everything went okay with the checking of the luggage and getting through security. Sweet ones. Not only did it go okay, but they didn't charge us a single penny for baggage that they could have technically charged us $150 extra for (it was over-weight)!! They might let me get by with a few extra pounds here and there, but extra DOZENS of pounds? That has never happened to me!
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: It's 9:45pm and we're getting ready to take off. The flight is PACKED! I tried something different and chose a seat in the very back (41c). So far, so good. The seat is back in a quiet corner by the bathrooms and galley.
I'm setting next to two cool guys. They are BOTH university professors. One is American, going to Accra to set up a study exchange program. The other is Liberian, currently teaching in America, going “home” to finalize talks to become the English chair at a major university in Monrovia. [Our flight goes on to Monrovia after Accra.] Ironically, one of the things he teaches here in America is American Religious History!
It's always nice to connect with the people you're sitting next to for 10-11 hours—makes it less awkward when arms and legs touch, and snores and slobber doth occur. These guys are going to be perfect because I can tell we're going to be friendly (exchanged contact info) but not chatty. I do NOT need chatty on a long flight! If truth be told, I sort of adore that many hours in a row of being alone with my thoughts and not needing to interact with anybody.
I have my second (or is it 3rd? 7th?) wind right now—energy I really no longer need. The goal for the rest of the flight will be to stay awake until they serve dinner, then try my best to sleep for the first time in over 36 hours. [I usually cannot fall asleep on a plane.] When I get off the plane the plan is to check into the hotel and then head straight over to meet with the Kairos 10 group (search Kairos 10 on Facebook and/or Google). There are several exciting things happening in that organization. We've wanted to meet for a while so it's interesting that it will happen in Ghana (instead of Tulsa, OK, where we are all from)! Hopefully I will catch my next energy burst right when I need it!
SEVERAL HOURS LATER: 1.5 hours to go! It's amazing to me to say, but I actually got a bit of sleep. Hard to tell how much sleep because I never looked at a clock. It was something though, and for that I am grateful. A few random thoughts floating around in my mind...
*For ladies that wear make-up: It makes me feel refreshed to bring a pre-moistened cleansing cloth and wash my make-up (and dried sweat, by that time!) off my face during the flight. Then, at 2 hours before landing I reapply make-up to look fresh when I get off the plane (for about 2 seconds, until the heat hits)!
*I really need the next wave of energy to hit because I am exhausted and I have a full day ahead. My eyes keep trying to roll back into my head and go back to sleep!
*Get the money you want to exchange into cedis at the airport situated before you land. You don't want to be in a situation where you pull out a big envelope of cash and start counting it out in public. Have it in a easy-to-locate place so that you can have a seamless transaction at the airport money exchange booth.
*Don't trust your opinions on things the first (or maybe second?) day you're in Ghana if it's your first time to travel to a developing country. The jet lag and the culture shock are REAL things and they will literally make you see and feel things that are not there. They will change your reality. Give yourself until the 3rd day to start making major decisions. Even your hotel might start looking better on day three!
MANY HOURS LATER: Well, it's now 9pm in Ghana and unfortunately I've caught another “wind.” My brain is just desperate to write! I think I've been writing (or talking) to people in my head since the moment I left Tulsa. Does anybody else do that? Someone could make a bundle if they figure out how to allow people to post through thought alone!
I'm at a new (to me) hotel in Teshie called BeachComber Guesthouse. It's a bit off the beaten track, but I guess you expect that if you're staying on the beach. It's about ½ mile from Ramada. If you've ever been to Next Door Beach Resort, imagine if Next Door had a hotel. It's sort of like that! They have their own little Next Door-ish restaurant/bar that is great. They've added little round huts they call “chalets” which are totally private. Then they have two “apartments” which are like suites (living, dining area, bedroom, with kitchen area and bath). No hot water, but A/C for an extra 10 cedis a day. I have my little chalet for 50 cedis a day ($35). They told me today the apartment is 60 (70 w/ A/C), but website says 80. Still, that's like $40-$45! The beach is very dirty, like most in Ghana. However, the ocean breeze, and the sound of the waves, and the smell of the salt water is all here! When electricity went out just as I was going to try to cool down and rest (of course!!!!) all I had to do was step out side and relax on the terrace to soak in the ocean breeze. The biggest reservation I have is about transportation. Don't know yet how difficult it will be to get a taxi out of here. We'll find out soon enough! All in all, I'm glad to have experienced the place.
My plans to hang out with the Kairos folks totally bombed. That's what I get for writing down the wrong phone number. =-( Thankfully there is another day planned. =-) Instead, I got to hang out and talk at length with my friend and colleague, J. He's always full of good information and food for thought. So much cannot be said by phone or email in this culture. Certain conversations only take place in person. I personally don't understand it, but I accept it. If nothing else, catching up with my Ghanaian friends is always exciting! I never know what I'm going to hear next!
I think I will try to post this and then really make myself go to sleep. Ms. Ambien is waiting in the wings for me, and she shall not fail me. This is unlike the book I read with much interest for the past few weeks that I finished as I ate dinner tonight. It had a HORRIBLE ending! I felt totally betrayed by the stupid book!
P.S. I don't think I have much internet units so I can't upload photos tonight. Nothing but ocean and hotel photos anyway. The connection is so slow that I won't mess with spell check. Just remember that I'm going on about 3 hours sleep in the last 48 hours!