We drive a bit through Accra but the hour is getting late and we are hungry, hot and tired. We are taken to Frankie’s which was the local restaurant I went to last year on my last day in Accra. It has wonderful American type food and I am thrilled because I know this will probably be my last Diet Coke for a while.
We are brought to a newly renovated hotel in Accra. We drive down a rutted dirt road and I am questioning the locale as safe destination but soon we drive into a courtyard with brick pavers and a hotel that has obviously undergone some recent renovations. We are surprised to be treated by private rooms for each student. The rooms are clean and new sheets, bathrooms and best of all, air conditioning. After carrying in our 44+ boxes and suitcases we retire to our rooms for a long awaited shower and rest. I guess the water fairy is not on my side again this year because I have a lovely bathroom with new tile and sink but no running water. I sneak down to a student room and after trying 3 different rooms I finally find one room with a trickle of cold water. At this point it feels like a luxury and I quickly shower. I hope this is a minor plumbing glitch that can be resolved in the morning.
Prior to my shower I start to give out some of my gifts to Kwadwo and his wife (who has joined us tonight). I have given him a used laptop for which he is very grateful for. It will help him with his work with AFRICED. I am feeling bad because it is a few years old and not too fast. If anyone has the inclination to donate a newer or new laptop to AFRICED I would be happy to arrange for shipment to Kwadwo. I will tell you more about AFRICED in another entry.
I reflect upon the day’s events that we have experienced. Some of the sights, sounds and smells are the same. A few of the roads appear better but then very quickly they deteriorate into a rutted dirt road. Ghana is making progress but it is sporadic in some areas. We are stopped by the local police at least 5 times as we travel to our hotel. It is a bit unnerving to be stopped at a roadblock with police in combat fatigues and large rifles on their shoulders. It is the Ghanaian form of police oversight but it feels a bit weird to be stopped and have the flashlights shinned into the vehicle.
I have had a conversation tonight with our new friend, Nicholas, from the Education Ministry( I think he is some sort of protocol officer). He is trying to educate me about the relative safety of Ghana but also some of the traps that are present for the obviously white tourists. I am encouraged again by the attention that NSWB has garnered from upper levels of government here in Ghana. There will be more to report on that later.
We also met a Ghanaian woman in the airport in London who is a nurse at Johns Hopkins hospital. She is home for a holiday and has invited us to come to her home. I am reminded of the friendliness of the Ghanaian people. This woman, who is a stranger to us has just invited 11 of us to her home. I also am reminded of the poverty as the people swarm our bus as we disembark and try to ask us to purchase little trinkets or just to give them some money. It is a bit of a shock for the students to have this so visible on their first few hours in Ghana. The students will have many more eye opening experiences and I can see them trying to acclimate to this type of human suffering that is not so apparent in their comfortable suburban life.
The halls are quiet. It is about 3 am and I need to wake up by 7 am for a 8 am departure. I am sure my body will crash sometime tomorrow. All the students are in bed and I am now going to sleep myself. Tomorrow will be a busy day and I will have a second entry later on tomorrow as long as I can stay awake to write it later tonight.