So here I am, safe and sound in Ghana after a long flight from Atlanta. When I got to Kotoka Airport, it took a very long time to get through customs. In the two years since I’ve been to Ghana, the airport has gotten quite high-tech, and I had to have my picture taken, as well as my fingerprints. The line was made extremely long by the fact that the entire male population of the Ethiopian Airlines flight that landed the same time as mine decided that it was fair for all of them to cut one of them in line before. But I got through that without problems, and the real wait came for my luggage. It was a free for all for luggage, and people were throwing luggage places and the luggage were coming out piled on top of one another. But after yet another long wait, I finally assembled all of my bags. Then a man helped me with my things, and I immediately remembered that workers all want a little something for their work. However, in this situation of someone who works for the airport, I kindly told him that had he not showed up and put my luggage on the cart for me, I would have simply done it myself. That and the only money I had were large American dollars. Ghanaians are warm and friendly people, so I can be a bit taken aback by the ones that are only being nice because they think that an American will shower them with money afterwards. My favorite moment at the airport, however, was when I had the final check on my passport, to make sure the name on it matched the name on my luggage, the young man smiled at me and told me I looked very pretty in my dress. Before I finish the story, I should state that I was wearing a traditional Ghanaian shirt and top combination that my co-workers had made for me as a going away present last time. However, those measurements were…a bit off…as I had not been out of the hospital post malaria and gastro-intestinal infection, and was now kind of tight on me. Let’s just say going to the restroom was always an ordeal. To finish the story, however, he then asked me if I had something for him. And I was about to repeat what I had said to the luggage hand, when he winked at me, and I realized that he was wondering if I had something for him. I simply walked away. It’s nice to know that my luck (?) for strange situations has not waned.
George, my boss, met me at the airport and we took a taxi to his neighborhood, called Atomic Down. It’s a quiet neighborhood, with lots of shrubbery and trees, so it also feels nice and cool. He has a nice and simple home, but the best part is that I have my own room! But I think I will be spending most of my time in the living room with the family. It will be a full house with George, his wife, one of his daughters, and his niece. Lots of 20-something year olds running around. They are really concerned with my enjoying myself however. George affirms that I will have lots of friends in no time. He also wants me to make a chart with him of all the foods we will try (safely cooked!) or places I might want to see. He said unless I am completely averse to trying something or am allergic to it, we should put it on my list. I like that. And living at the Baiden’s home means that I will have a ride to work in George’s 9-seater Range Rover. Riding in style? I think so! My favorite part of the house, however, is the garden. It has lots of different fruits and vegetables such as avocados, mangos, oranges, cabbage, coconut, and many more that are slipping my mind right now. I had fresh coconut and orange juice awaiting me when we arrived.
Lots of things in Ghana had changed, as I watched the scenery on the way to Atomic Down, but there are many things that remain the same. Tomorrow I start my job, and I am very excited for the first phase of planning the empowerment program for girls to begin!