Departure day was hard. Jeremy and I both had our fears that came out during the days leading up to Departure day, so leaving him was especially difficult. Leaving my loved ones has always been difficult; it was during the days leading to this one that I realized I love Jeremy very much.
I kept crying throughout the day because I kept thinking about how much I would miss him. I am only gone for a month, but Jeremy leaves for his own adventure about half way through my trip: he is going to Kimberly to act in two plays until sometime in August. Before he and I started dating, he went to Fairmont with his family for 3 days. I didn’t get to talk to him for those 3 days. I remembered how that was torture for me, and that memory filled me with panic and tore me apart. I knew I would miss him dearly.
Before I knew it, it came time for him to leave me at the airport. I fell apart. I just wanted him to come with me, or for me to stay, or something. I didn’t want to leave him. But in the end, we let each other go, and I pulled myself together for the group of students who had never before been to Africa and who were all of the emotions I felt when I first left for Ghana two years ago.
This time around, I am travelling as an assistant to the professor and 8 English students: 7 ladies and 1 gent. They all seem very proficient with regards to English courses from what I experienced in the classroom seminars before leaving. I am excited and interested to know how the trip will go, given that the group had some time to get to know each other better before leaving to a foreign land. Culture shock is a given, and adjustment is an individual process, after all.
Everything went smoothly through customs. My only loss was a pair of leopard-print scissors that I had forgotten was in my pencil case. I got my last Starbucks for a month and chatted and joked with the students for a while. And before I knew it, it finally came time to board the plane. I sent Jeremy one final text message before doing so and then I was off to Ghana.
The trick about being a student, especially one that keeps as busy as I do, is that I spend 8-10 months of the year not doing mindless or fun things like watching TV and movies or playing video games. Thus, that is how I spent my airplane rides to Ghana. I watched the pilot for “Once Upon a Time,” which seemed really interesting. I wanted to watch more, but they had no other episodes on the in-flight catalogue, so I watched an episode of “How It’s Made,” followed by an episode of one of my favourite shows, “The IT Crowd,” and the movie “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.” Then I decided sleep was a good an idea as any and partook in it for a few hours.
First, we stopped in Amsterdam. We had a 7-hour layover there and so we intended to spend it on exploring the Centraal and seeing the Red Light District. A few hiccups later, we finally did… briefly.
The first hiccup was realized when we were on the opposite side of the airport. The professor had forgotten his copy of the book “Faceless” on the plane. By the time we returned, all of the airplane staff for our flight had gone and the doors that partitioned the airplane from the terminal was locked. We spent about a half an hour trying to figure out how to retrieve the book. It appears that the Amsterdam airport doesn’t really have a help desk, let alone a kiosk specifically for the needed airline, and the locked door couldn’t be accessed by anyone who worked at the airport… but staff for the airline. We managed to catch the attention of a groundsman who retrieved the book from the plane from us, but even he couldn’t get through the door from the opposite side. So, the book was on the floor on the other side of the door with no way of retrieving it. We all tried to talk to people to find out how to get the book when one of the students accidently hit a button that made the alarms go off. Perhaps it was my lack of sleep that made me so amused by this, but I just laughed while she freaked out and said, “Well, we’re bound to get someone’s attention now!” And we did. A couple minutes later, someone came by, opened the door, retrieved the book for us, and insisted we run away from the area before security came. So we did.
The first hiccup was a minor setback. We then got ready to go into Amsterdam Centraal by putting our carry-on luggage away in lockers and buying train tickets. Then comes hiccup number 2. We got onto a train only to realize it wasn’t the train we needed just as the doors locked and the train started driving away. So we wound up in a random place, having to take another train to get to downtown (by the way, the word ‘downtown’ means nothing to people from Amsterdam). Finally, we got downtown, had some lunch, had a very short time to walk around and look at the Red Light District before going back to the airport. I did get to try croquette for the first time, upon request by my beloved, and I loved it! I’m going to try more food on my way home.
|Menu from the restaurant we ate at.|
|Croquette and chips! Though I think I'm cheating because it's not from the street...|
Then before we knew it, we were off again, this time to Accra. I was pretty tired, but knew if I slept the entire flight to Accra, my sleep schedule would be messed up when I got there, so I spent half of the 6-hour flight sleeping and then watching two more movies: “Broken City” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Both were really good, especially the latter.
|Accra coast line and my busty reflection.|
And then we started our decent into Accra. I’m pretty sure I squeaked when I saw the city lights from the plane. Stepping out into the warm, humid air was so refreshing for me on many different levels. It reminded me of the last time I arrived in Ghana and also the times I went to Florida. The cool thing about landing in Accra is that you walk off the plane on steps and take a shuttle to the airport from the tarmac! I always think that’s the neatest part of the flight. We whizzed through customs, collected our bags, turned down proposals of all sorts, and then were out of the airport. Osei, our driver from last trip, saw me and ran up to me! I hugged him tight. Then Kofi, the other assistant also from last trip, hugged me too! It was such a wonderful feeling… I was filled with joy and a feeling of love.
Leaving the airport was met with some resistance. There were many men who overwhelmed us with trying to help us with taking our luggage to the van. Despite our denials, they forced their way in helping us and then demanded that they get paid for this help. We tried to explain to them that we didn’t ask for their help, nor did we want it, and that we shouldn’t be expected to pay. We even gave them some money and they asked for more. This seemed to really upset some of the students, and it wasn’t a good first Ghanaian experience, but I feel it was a necessary first lesson towards teaching the students about an aspect of their culture. The ordeal left me with some bruises on my right leg, as I had fallen into a gutter due to these men crowding around the students and me. Some of the other students had some injuries too from carts pushed into their ankles and whatnot… not fun.
|My wounds from the time I got in a fight with a Ghanaian gutter.|
We had dinner at the restaurant outside of the airport, which was the same place we had dinner the first time that I came to Ghana. I should have remembered that they would not have most of the food on the menu available to us for various reasons. The time it took to prepare the food was also a lesson to the students. It always takes more time to prepare food in large groups, but in Ghana, it takes time for everything in general, so oftentimes we are waiting twofold for things. But after a bit, we all had our food, made it to the hotel, and the evening was quiet. Nobody knew I was here and safe. I knew from my previous experience that the rest of the trip would be fine, but the first few days always seem the hardest, being so far away from home and so disconnected. I didn’t take time to set up my room, as I was exhausted, so I just put on my pajamas, looked at Jeremy’s picture, cried, and went to bed