ACCRA, GHANA

The way to my new, big, loud home

June 11, 2014

In the morning, after the 7-hour flight from Cairo to Accra (Ghana’s capital city), I finally set my foot on Kokota International Airport. It was raining at that time. Needless to say I was super excited as my adventure had just started!

Dizzy and enthusiastic as I was, firstly I passed from the migration control, where I showed my yellow fever vaccination certificate and I handed a filled form with some details about my stay in Ghana. Still looking undescriably stupidly excited, I was wellcomed by a policeman:
“Akwaba”
“Hello”
“What are you doing in Ghana?”
“I am a volunteer at a school” I answered with confidence.
“What will you teach?”
“I will be teaching English” I replied with much less confidence.
“But you do not know how to speak English! Haha” The man said laughing.
“I do. I am just a little tired right now.” I muttered red by shame thinking, that my accent made him question my English skills.
The man did not seem to be convinced though.

This was officially my first conversation in Ghanaian territory. After a while I came to realize that the man was making a joke, hard for me to appreciate at that time.

Later, while waiting for my luggages, I was looking with vivid curiosity the other travelers. This time most of the travelers looked Ghanians. My attention was caught by a big strong African woman, dressed in a colourfull traditional attire, who had bent and placed a small baby on her back, that was now parallel to the ground. The baby was standing there comfortably, not worrying about the fact that he/she was not secured, till his/her mom eventually wrapped him/her with a piece of cloth around her chest. After she tied the baby she lost no more time. She picked up her big heavy bags, as now her arms were free, and headed to the exit. I was staring at this peculiar image, probably with my mouth wide open by awe.

Suddenly, I realized that my wet with¬†rain and broken by reckless transferring backpack was on the baggage carousel making pointless rounds. I rushed to pick it up and found the exit. I decided to change some money, as by that time I only had Euros in my pocket. I gave some euros and got a whole bunch of Ghanian notes. I was waiting for the woman to give me a receipt, but she never did. Didn’t matter! I was happy with the mass of my new money. Later thinking on the event, guessed that my parents would not be very proud of my financial arrangement. A man stopped me at the exit and asked me, if I wanted a sim card. “Yes. why not?”. It cost only 2 GC (my first Ghanaian buy!). But after some weeks I realized that this company did not have the best deals, nor the best signal.

Once I passed from the arrivals gate two boys from the NGO were waiting for me with wide smiles. We took some dark pictures, where I looked tired and silly happy of course. Then they negotiated on the taxi price with the driver and, when they reached an agreement, we rolled to the interns house!

On the way I was looking through the window bombing at the same time Prince with countless questions about Ghana. The route to the house was surprisingly familiar to start with. We took the main avenue from the center to Madina, that I would cross every day. Close to the airport area you could see a big block of high buildings in green and red colours and many more under construction. They were actually not many high buildings in Accra so you could see them from far away. I was told that they are hotels.

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One thing that I found unusual and interesting was that people were approaching the stopped cars in the traffic trying to sell them various both unknown and common for me objects. Women were carrying their merchandise on big platters. Eggs, Bread, toilet paper, chocolate, phone credit, placed masterfully on their head. Inbetween the platter and the head there was a piece of cloth so that it stays in place.

When the distance to the home shortened and we left the big fancy highstreet, I noticed that the scenery was changing. The street was not covered by cement so often anymore, but by red soil. The neighbourhoods now were consisted by ground houses only. In the sides of the street, there were deep uncovered ditches, for the rainwater. Actually, I was informed about them by my kind local escorts, when i stepped out of the taxi. They also have a funny name, obroni traps (white people traps), obviously because there have been many accidents of carefree white people walking around and all of the sudden finding themselves in the obroni traps.

Entering the house I run into many new faces, waving friendly at me and introducing themselves. It was impossible to remember all these new names and even faces. I needed to at least exchange some more personal informations so as to keep a name in my mind because of my poor memory. What I noticed straight ahead though is that my new house was full of new interesting personalities, coming from different parts of the world. Brazil, Benin, Ghana, Costa Rica, Ivory Coast, China, Botswana, Netherlands, Nigeria, Togo, Germany, France, Burundi, were all represented in the house! The house itself had a big living room, one shared kitchen, four bedrooms, one bathroom and a separate toilet.

I went straight to my room to meet my new roommates. The girls were lovely, willing to introduce me to the secrets of Ghanian life. That way I found out that there is no water supply system in Ghana. Because of that lack every now and then the person responsible for the house orders water that is stored in big buckets. This water is not drinkable though. It is used only for bath, laundry, flushing the toilet. The shower was also another adventure. Of course there was no hot water, as it came from the buckets, but was not also running by anywhere. We had to take a smaller bowl, sink it in the bucket and then pour it so as we finally wash. Before we used the water, we needed to use a some Detol for cleaning it properly. It was not a big deal after all. I kinda liked it. I was informed that for the rest purposes, meaning drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, we had to use water from sachets, that could be found at any mini market. Practically you can buy big plastic bag (that cost 2,5 gc) which lasts around a week and includes many smaller sachets.

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The clothes are being handwashed, something I really sucked at. Although many of my new African friends tried to teach me how to wash properly not using a lot of water, I failed. The house is cleaned by the interns once a week by a fair way of duties division. We randomly select a small piece of paper, in which the place of the house that should be cleaned is written. You can guess that noone was looking forward to see TOILET appear as opening the paper! There is wifi in the house, that when ther power is on is going fast. Oh yes! It is very often incident for the electricity to be cut down without prior notice for many hours. Usually during the night. So I realized that a hand charging flashlight, that i was given by a friend before i left Greece was one of the most useful gadgets I had in my bag.

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After I settled down in my room, selecting the high bed in a bunkbed, I will be introduced to my new school. Can’t wait to finaly meet the kids that will spice up my life in Ghana!

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