Ghana: our arrival

Ghana. What a beautiful place.
My first impressions after 24+ hours in transit from Sydney to Accra, the capital, were of surprise. I was shocked to see the streets set up in a grid from my sky-high view. It shouldn't be surprising, but I didn't expect properties to be lined up in a perfectly grid-like arrangement with street lamps at each corner. As it turns out, this must be only on properties near the airport as it is not like this in most of the city.
We landed on solid ground with a bit of the jump. I flinched. I didn't expect to bounce onto the runaway. We got off the plane through a sheltered staircase (top notch!) and entered the immigration building with its beautiful red archway. The immigration process is never much fun but we made it through and collected our bags and boxes with no problems. We were both a little overwhelmed by most everything at this point, overwhelmed by a need to sleep in anything that looked vaguely like a bed. A man and his friend found their suitcases had arrived missing their brand new laptops. I wondered why anyone would pack brand new laptops into checked luggage. I guess it made sense to them. Dazed, K and I headed through customs. The officials found great pleasure in searching through our boxes of glasses and decided that they might want a few pairs for themselves. We were upset by their actions but half expected it. I guess what really gets me is that they were stealing from their country men, not from us. That just seems remarkably unkind. Especially in a nation that is so friendly.
On high alert, we got into the wide world of Accra, helped by a lovely group of taxi drivers to figure out where we were going. After much discussion, many phone calls and a lot of confusion, we managed to get ourselves to BaseCamp in Kaneshie First Lights. We were so glad to have made it. There were perfect bunk beds, a flushing toilet and running taps of water waiting for us. This is the life.
It's funny how quickly I become accustomed to a world without all of the products I have at home. It bothered me little that there was no hot water. It bothered me little that I forgot to bring body soap and instead needed to use shampoo. That I had to brush my teeth with the small amount of Sydney water I still had in my bottle. That I was sleeping under a flattened mosquito net because it was too tall to sit upright underneath the fan. I was so impressed by the quality of our accommodation. I think I had set my expectation levels to be somewhere around the accommodation we had in remote NT. Instead, it seemed comparatively high standard.
We slept for all of five hours, thanks to K sleeping for almost all of the flights here. Me, I was still tired but I am used to a lack of sleep! We had our breakfast, a delicious omelette, fresh bread and a milo, before doing some yoga and relaxing for the morning. As it turned out, one of the boys who works at BaseCamp was taking his brother on a tour of Accra on the same day so we tagged along to see the markets, take the tro tro (public transport), sample traditional Ghanaian food and see the beach.
The beach. Wow. To stand on the southern edge of West Africa, knowing that there is little aside from water between you and Antarctica is just mind blowing. I stood in the water, pants rolled up, playing with the sand, sinking my feet j to the ground under me, letter the waves run between my fingers as I stood folded in half. It took a lot of self control to keep myself from jumping in fully clothed, but having my camera, phone and paper money in my pockets was a pretty logical reason to control my limbic system.
We headed back to BaseCamp to relax for the last few hours of 2011. I finished off my year in the longest conversation with one of the staff, J, who wanted to share his world, understand mine and to make friends. What a lovely way to spend the last hours of my year. I learnt so much about Ghana in those hours and a few words of Twi, the local dialect. I feel a kinship with this place.
After all of our adventures, I was exhausted. I struggled into bed and fell asleep instantaneously despite the yelling of the priest at the church next door. Sound restrictions don't work quite as well here as they do in Australia.
Today, the first of 2012, we relaxed. I hope this is a reflection of being a little more relaxed this year. I have a tendency to burn myself out too much. We read, I napped, I wrote. We arrived at the Telecentre, our next accommodation, to be shocked by how fancy it is. I am still overwhelmed my the marble floors, fridge and telephone in the room. It's nicer than my place at home! I don't need this level of fancy! A mattress, running water and electricity are luxuries enough for me. How much does it matter what things look like on the outside?


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