Accra Travel Blog› entry 2 of 19 › view all entries
Wow. What a day! In so many ways Africa is so different yet somehow it kind of feels the same.
The trip yesterday was terribly long! I had a 10 hour flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt. I sat next to a woman named Eva who was from Denmark. She was in her 50’s but looked excellent! Her husband actually lives in Marina Del Rey as well, right down the street from my new place. She comes for 3 months at a time usually two times per year to visit. She also walks her dog at the park by my house so maybe one day I will run into her again. Upon arrival I got off the plane, walked down a very long terminal and immediately boarded my next flight as it was already boarding. On this flight I sat next to a guy named Marus from Norway. He was traveling to Lagos for work and it was his first time out of his country as well.
I didn’t have my Visa because I was told I could get it when I got here. When I told the officer that he was not very happy. I was worried I wouldn’t get it. I had to go into a room with three other officers but they were very nice and when the main one found out I was volunteering he immediately granted my request for a visa. I got my bags and headed outside where there was a huge group of people. They have an area sectioned off to wait in so that the taxi drivers and men to help you won’t bother you. Unfortunately I let one of them talk me into going outside of that thing. He let me use his cell phone to call Gunadiish (my coordinator). I waited about one hour for him.
As for the drive to the home where I’m staying….looooong and scary. The seat belts don’t work on the cars here and people drive crazy! Not fast, but everyone merges and drives off the roads to get around. Most of the roads are paved, or at least half. I got a briefing on the city, the school (mostly how they discipline), etc. When I arrived I met Amanda, one of the two girls currently staying here.
I am having some problems with the power converters. I’m not sure my plug is going to work how I’d like it to. My room is small and simple. They don’t use blankets here because it’s too hot! So far the pillow hasn’t bothered me yet even though it is nothing like a pillow. Even In the night it’s REALLY hot and just sticky all the time.
I’m waiting for gunadiish to arrive now to show me around the city. I’m home alone as everyone’s left for the school. There is a school next door to where we live because I can hear little kids repeating lots of stuff. They keep repeating the alphabet over and over. English is common here but is everyone’s second language so the little little kids can only speak very little usually.
Rachels’ birthday was on Monday and they ended up having a terrible experience. They were out late and had gotten drunk off beer and though there is very little crime here, they were mugged.
Things I’ve forgotten already….a towel. Kind of important. Today I’m out to buy a mosquito net. Amanda has only been bitten once but Rachel has been bitten a lot. We’ll stop at the bank to exchange money, etc. This weekend we’re going to Tekreta or a city that sounds like that. We’re going to try to camp at the nature reserve there because you can see the leopards, lions and elephants more so at night time then during the day. Saturday we’re going to a village that’s built on a lake. They’re not sure how really (or at least gunadiish isn’t but he’s never been) but it’s built on stilts. Should be fun. Sunday we will visit the beaches and then come back to Accra.
My first day of school is tomorrow but it won’t be a regular day. They are opening a computer lab and a small library so there is a big celebration. Parents are invited and they will have singing, dancing and drums. Rachel is teaching English, Amanda is teaching biology, and David is teaching P.E. I think Brent is doing arts and crafts? I was planning on assisting but I guess it’s really quite easy so I’ll likely be teaching English and art (considering I brought loads of art supplies). The hardest part will be dealing with the discipline. It is customary here to cane children when they have been bad and the children in the schools are not well disciplined. A teacher will sit in on my class just in case any children get out of line then they will cane them. It will be hard to deal with but I also have to understand it is another culture. They are working towards changing it but unfortunately the children don’t behave at all if they know they will not be caned. I’m hoping I can use stickers and toys to keep them all happy. The school apparently has no decorations. It’s a blackboard, desks and textbooks. That’s it. Rachel and Amanda said they have tried to decorate a little to make it more pleasant for the kids.
It’s so strange to be here. I already appreciate lots (I.e. running water and air conditioning). Also, the cost of living compared to ours….wow. Gunadiish pays $55/ month for rent and that is for a very nice place. Most people pay $25/month. I see why it’s hard for parents to pay fees for school because a working person here makes between $150 and $300 per month on average so $25/child for school is a lot. My minimum expenses back home would make me live like a queen here. Quite literally. I told Gunadiish my minimum expenses and he about had a heart attack. Everyone is extremely friendly though, just as they all said.
I best get going now. Gunadiish should be here any minute. I will write more later.