Technically it is 12/29/09 but just barely. It is about 2 am but my body thinks it is about 8 pm. I am sitting in my hotel room at Accra. We landed a few hours ago after a fairly uneventful flight where I really did not get much sleep but managed to watch a few movies. The back of the plane (the economy seats) was packed with mostly Ghanaians returning home and a smattering of UML students and ironically a UML faculty on her way to spend her sabbatical teaching Biology at the University of Ghana. There were plenty of open first class seats and I tried to negotiate my services as ‘the on flight nurse’ in exchange for one of those nice seats but unfortunately the cabin crew could not grant my wish.
The heat of Ghana is overwhelming as we descend down the stairs of the giant British Airways plane. The sights and sounds are rushing back to me. As I enter into the customs area I see my friend Kwadwo waving at me from beyond the check in kiosk. And to my great relief there was an American Lieutenant Colonial from the US Army assigned to the US Embassy who is assisting us through customs and immigration. He obviously has some pull and we were whisked thru immigration and one of the students who was without her visa was easily able to acquire one onsite at the airport. Gathering of our 22 boxes, 11 large suitcases and at least 22 carry-on items is a huge but somewhat painless process. The hardest part was navigating our carts through the line of Ghanaians who were also toting large carts with suitcases.
Instead of leaving out the customary door to the chaos of the parking lot we were whisked to an alternate door leading to a private lot with a large air conditioned bus awaiting our arrival. I am amazed at the ease of this process as my recall of last year was one of chaos and frustration and essentially being on our own. It has helped tremendously to work with Kwadwo and AFRICED volunteers who are our escorts and coordinators for this trip.
We have caught the attention of the Minister of Education whom we will meet with tomorrow and later on in the trip we will meet with the Minister of Health. They are appreciative of our efforts and have helped us overcome some of the barriers from last year. Of course it is with the intent of creating a lasting relationship with UML and future benevolent trips to Ghana. I am VERY grateful for any help that can be provided to us at this stage.