A lonely time in the life of a girl is when she is halfway across the world from her friends and family without the ease of modern communication. It’s so easy to pretend you are tough when conveniences are close at hand. It pains me to say that I am not dealing with the situation of being alone in Accra Ghana very well. I mean, I’ve gone through the motions of getting a cab to a nearby hotel to wait out the hours until I can fly out again. Had I not had my friend, Samson, here helping me – I think I would have gone to pieces. We have spent the afternoon together shopping for good souvenirs to bring home to the family and then ate some street food before hopping in a taxi to take me to the airport. Our first choice in taxis proved to be poor when at an intersection we stalled. After an onslaught of honking the driver hopped out and pushed the car to the side of the road. I thought it was such a funny experience at the time, and of course, it will soon be again. I jumped out and took pictures of the event my thoughts towards blogging about the smoking taxi. But, even though we jumped quickly into another taxi I was still just 5 minutes shy of being able to board my plane. I begged and pleaded with the Ghanain ticket officers. They wanted nothing of my bargaining. When I had exhausted that route and was headed toward the airport door I spotted flight attendants and a few pilots that were from my flight. I ran up to them and solicited their help in trying to get me aboard their flight and to their credit they went above and beyond what I ever expected anyone to do for me but in the end, even with a call from the handsome Dutch captain to the airport manager, I still was not allowed on the flight.
So, here I am at 2am in an airport hotel in Accra. I feel stupid for being so careless with my time. I am beginning to get the slightest inkling of home sickness. And to know that at this point the trip could be 1/3 over and I have a long hard road of negotiation in front of me tomorrow morning and afternoon, the largeness of it is exhausting even in thought.
This morning has brought no advancement in procuring a ticket home. I know my friend Christian was working with Delta last night to put me on another flight but I have no way of knowing if she succeeded because the internet is down here and that is my only form of communication with home. I suppose, really, that I could make an international call, however, at $2 a minute to a country where everyone is asleep in their own beds isn’t the best of options right now. After grabbing 2 cups of Nescafe (I really had thought I was done with that stuff…I’ve lived on it and Star beer for 2.5 weeks..I’ll miss Star) and trying unsuccessfully to get online and smoking a cigarette by the pool that is under heavy and loud construction, I asked the front desk whether they had a toll free line to Delta I could call. They are all smiles when they talk to me and their expressions seem amused that this white girl is trying to solve an African problem with American solutions. “Okay” they say which is how most Ghanains start their sentences “okay, there are no free calls here.” “Like, don’t you have toll free numbers, 1 800 numbers?”
“um, Okay, no free calls, we will charge your room”
It’s not like they are being fierce because these people are the kindest population I have ever encountered. I have met a few swindlers like our last taxi cab driver last night who wanted to take me to a “very nice hotel right next to the President’s house” which had I been alone would have sounded great. Being that Samson was in the car and knew the area he said “No, boss, this woman is a guest in our country and she has missed her flight and we need to find her a place that is safe for the night. I do not like the neighborhood you are speaking of” The taxi driver switched on the dome light and turned around whilst driving down the street to look at Samson in disbelief. Samson laughed and said “You do not have to look me in the face to know that I am telling the truth.” Thus, the taxi dropped us at the Airport View Hotel in Accra and Samson went up to the front desk with me and through this amazing dance of negotiation got me a discounted room rate and free internet.
More people than not have been incredibly helpful. Yesterday, when my 2 other travel companions and I were dropped off at the STC bus station in the outskirts of Accra we were approached by a cab driver. I told him I was going to see a friend but needed to use his phone to make sure Samson was waiting for me. I let him call Samson so that they would understand completely where to meet and after dropping my 2 friends off at another bus station for their destination east, we headed through the crowded streets towards my friend’s house. Samson called while we were enroute to check on me. Then when we got closer the cab driver said “You call your friend when we are there to know where he is standing” “Oh, that’s alright” I said “I’ll find him, just drop me off” “Okay, you flash call him now” “No, really, just drop me off, he’ll see me” “Okay, you call so I am not dropping you off at the street by yourself” When I didn’t say anything he started looking through his phone and said “Is this your friend’s number? I’ll call”
So, he called and Samson apparently told him we had passed him by 200 feet because the cab driver said “He said to turn around” Which is what I thought we’d do but the cabbie put her in reverse and drove backwards IN BETWEEN on coming traffic until I said “There he is!”
I haven’t had a dull moment in Africa and that is a fact!
After our mission the group took a long bus drive down to the coast and stayed in a reasonably posh resort called the “Coconut Grove” in a town called Elmina. On the way down I was reading in my guide book and found that the CG had horse back riding on the beach. “How Cool”, I thought, and spread the word through the bus that we should get a group to go with us. Two other girls, Caroline and Jeanette, who traveled with me to Dixcove the next day signed up and off we went the next morning to find the stables. The front desk told us that the guide was sick and wouldn’t take us but we said “No, we are medical personnel here from America, we can give him medicine for his fever.” I thought they were just putting us on to keep from going out but one look at the guide said that he quite possibly had malaria. We gave him malarone and Tylenol and he saddled two horses with the only 2 saddles he had, English saddles, and gave one of us the option of riding bareback. I chose the bigger of the two saddled horses and although I could tell he was a bit feisty thought that I could handle him. I didn’t feel comfortable upon getting on – I had two different stirrups and one was rusty and my shoe once in wouldn’t easily come out. We walked down through the trees and onto the beach and I was having trouble controlling my horse. “Whoa” didn’t seem to work on this one. Walking in the sand seemed weird and I thought “What am I doing? I am in Africa on a beach with a lovely view, but I could get hurt and that could be a problem out here in the remote village” But then I thought “Yes, but where is your sense of adventure, Jocelyne…you’ll be fine.” So, we walked and I tried to gain confidence and when the guide turned around and said “Would you like to canter?” I agreed and off we started. Just as he said that I spotted our handsome Italian anesthesiologist walking toward us after having a swim in the ocean. I kicked my horse and he started following the guide trotting and then without warning breaking into a roaring gallop right towards the water in unsure sand “WHOA…WHOA” I cried while pulling tightly upwards on the reigns “Whoooaaaaaa” I cried as started to lean towards the left for sure about to fall and then that stupid rusty stirrup broke and off I went into the Gulf of Guinea and a bed of sand. I sat in the water for a few full seconds letting the shock wear off and the relief set in that I hadn’t felt a thing. I was thankful for the stirrup breaking as I could have been caught and dragged. Then, I remembered the Italian. And all I could do was laugh because I realize what an awesomely goofy sight I am sometimes and it’s better to embrace that than run from it….because, you know, I’d probably trip.
So,enough feeling sorry for myself. I am a grown woman and have had a great time in this country and people miss their flights all the time and I am going to work it out. I will let everyone know when I arrive back home. I can’t wait for you to see my fantastic winter tan! Thanks for listening to my ramblings, there was nothing else to do but write. Well, I have become interested in a Ghanaian soap opera….I am dying to know what happens to Efua because she was accused of stealing a large sum of money but I know she didn’t take it and now has lost her job.
After 3 hours in the Delta ticket office and with the use of big fat American tears I have a ticket in my hand that gets me out of the country tonight! I will certainly miss this place however, I can't get out fast enough. It's time to be at home with friends, family and coworkers. I can't wait to sleep in my own bed, shower do laundry! Long set of flights ahead of me - I'll talk to you guys soon.