After breakfast, Gunadiish and Christian lugged our bags into a vehicle, helped us to buy phone cards and exchange money. The nearest bank told me that only the main office in central Accra will cash travelers checks. Unfortunately, that was just too far away. I headed instead for the nearest ATM.
Having tested my new Visa check card by making a purchase in the US, this was an interesting time to learn that my card has a different pin number than my husband’s with whom I share the account. Mine I do not know. Nothing could be done about it today, nor will there be an opportunity this week. With the vehicle loaded up as tightly as the night before (minus Gunadiish who wished us luck and said the seatbelts in this vehicle were working) we set off on a three hour journey toward the Volta Region… to a village with no banks or ATM’s. With a small bit of money on me, I’m not in too much trouble but I’ll need to sort this out by next weekend.
I’ve found my way back online after two weeks with little withdrawal… or so I thought. Signing on actually gave me butterflies.
I have been writing a great deal and will begin posting soon. For now, I can tell you that I have been working hard AND playing hard. I sleep little, eat a lot, and today I met Have’s village chief for the first time. He invited me for a celebration on Thursday in honor of my presence and in gratitude for all the items you have sent with me. Tomorrow I will be making donations to the school but I have been working on the Environmental Development Youth Movement farm otherwise. Amazing work they do there!
You wouldn’t believe how much I have been learning. I love it here and will certainly feel a geat deal of sadness when I go. More news soon.
I hope you all are well.
Tim, I tried to Skype but you aren’t connected. Web service here is touch and go at best. I’m pasting this from the memory stick… Glad we planned for that. I don’t now when I’ll next be in touch. Cell phone is acquired and I will buy minutes today. I’ll be in touch ASAP and I love you.
I Made It!
As I write, I am in Accra at the home of Gunadiish, the In-Country Coordinator (an all around jovial and hospitable guy). Since he guarantees that I’ll pass out shortly, as most early morning arrivals tend to do, I won’t fight the moment when exhaustion trumps excitement. For now, that hasn’t happened.
How It All Went Down
JFK’s Delta terminal was a madhouse yesterday, teeming with those who were stranded like me the day before. I found my way to the automated check-in kiosk but was told I had to see a ticket agent. That’s when I discovered that Accra has it’s own check-in area, with good reason. The number of bags people were transporting was astounding. One guy was charged nearly $500 with the new fees and he was less than prepared for the big surprise.
Once checked in, I met a family in security. Better stated, they met me. Two young boys going to Ghana had a million questions about where I was going and why. By the end of our conversation, I had been adopted. They were from Long Island so I scored points for having a husband from Brooklyn. When we got to the gate they were sure to tell their mom, “We need four seats, three for us and one for her.” I then heard stories about how their aunt and uncle owned a bank in Accra. “They don’t just work there, they own it. That means we’ll get FREE MONEY when we get there! FREE Money!” I didn’t have the heart to tell them anything different.
Today felt like most other days. I woke to the whirr of the air conditioner, the 14 year old cat who still wants to suck on my shirt and kneed my fleece, the dog who (once he actually got out of bed) spun in circles to be fed, and my husband, Tim, whose eyes were still no more than slits but whose smile was running at full power.
“It’s Africa Day,” he said.
Then it clicked… and I cried (again) at the thought of not being able to share my amazing experiences with the person I cherish most in the witnessing of each other’s lives…
Up and Running
There was much to do by noon but nothing motivates me more than deadlines and lists. (Deadline dependence is a sickness. Truly it is.)
First up was to print a Dewey Decimal System summary to share with the newly renovated library in Have. Once on the OCLC web site I learned that printing the four volumes of instructions would require packing a tree. Another site said “You can’t learn this in a day.” Really? Holy crow, I would think not. As luck would have it, while saving some teaching documents from the Village Volunteers site, I read that Maia, another volunteer who will be in the village at the same time, currently works with the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland as a librarian. Check.
I moved on to collect additional lesson plans at readwritethink.org. (Thanks for the tip Elliot!), and printed copies of my passport, license, credit cards and contact info for Tim. He got the address for the American Embassy and punched holes in my preprinted pages about farming, health, teaching, etc. I ran off photos of him, the pets and our home while he repacked the duffels so I wouldn’t break my back.
Shoving things in a bag takes little effort. Making them FIT requires far more…
Two of my most successful space savers were the ever important TPs (toothpaste and toilet paper). Removing the packaging from 72 tubes of toothpaste, I was proud to earn the blister on my thumb, particularly since they now take up a third of the space with far less waste. I also rejoiced at my ability to squeeze six rolls of toilet paper into the space of two by carefully removing the cardboard tube and standing on the rolls with all my weight.
Next came the first layer of both bags.
It’s official. I bought my ticket to Ghana.
My happy dance scared the dog.
This happened on Tuesday. Wednesday was spent ironing out travel insurance. And today I’m faced with how to handle the blog.
This space has been dedicated to Kenya from the start. The name Alfajiri is a Swahili word. The banner and almost all my posts have been central to this particular country and I’ve been somewhat struggling with how to transition.