I made it! After about 19 hours of travelling, I’m in Ghana! My flight landed yesterday (Sunday) around 7:30PM, and everything since then has been a whirlwind. We took buses from the plane to the airport, went through temperature screening and got checked for yellow fever vaccinations, and finally through immigration and customs. That whole process took probably another hour, which is obviously EXACTLY what I was in the mood for after flying all day.
After that though, everything was great! All of the things I was worrying about went by without a hitch. My bag didn’t get lost, I connected with my ride at the airport, and I didn’t feel like too much of an idiot at any point! Okay now that I wrote that out, I feel kind of stupid that those were my measures for a successful first day. That’s typical though. Me worrying about all of these things that I can’t control.
I got picked up at the same time as three other volunteers, and we drove to VCO’s volunteer house in Accra (the capital of Ghana). The other volunteers had already arrived and were asleep by the time we got in, so we had a quick briefing by the staff and got SIM cards for our phones (I have data, so you can email me!). I didn’t even realize that I was hungry, but I absolutely demolished the dinner they had ready… anddd then I passed out.
This morning, we had orientation where we learned about the program guidelines, basic Ghanaian etiquette, and a few words in Twi. In Ghana, the official language is English. However, there are a ton of different local languages. Nine of them are “government recognized”, but in reality, there are far more than that. We learned some Twi because it’s most widely spoken in the regions where we’ll generally be. Let me just say that the lesson could have gone better… it is NOT easy. And just to give you an idea of the language chaos, Twi will definitely be useful, but the village where I’m placed speaks a different language, Ewe. So that’s good. Two more languages to attempt to learn.
Orientation was finished before 11AM, and the next step was loading up the van to drive out to Frankadua, my new home for at least 6 weeks. The van ride was about 3 hours, and I got my first real look at Ghana (it was dark by the time we left the airport yesterday).
Here are some first impressions:
1. Taxi drivers are the same no matter where you are in the world. Kind of crazy and love their car horns.
2. You couldn’t pay me to drive a car here. There will be long stretches of nicely paved road that are rudely interrupted by a HUGE (canyon-like) pothole, and people drive wherever they need to in order to avoid it (towards incoming traffic, off the road, etc).
3. People can seriously balance anything on their heads. It’s awesome. I must learn.
Anyway, it’s getting late and I’m losing steam. I need to get ready for tomorrow because not only am I going to help out at the farm tomorrow morning (at 5:30…), but they also needed more people to help out at the summer school that some volunteers started a few weeks ago. It’s pretty cool because it’s totally voluntary, but the kids are so excited to learn that it’s really taken off.
Since I can’t say no when someone asks me to help with something, I’m getting thrown into my first teaching experience tomorrow. No big deal. Just leading a class with one other person who’s never taught before. Eek! Talk about things that scare me… Deep breath. I got this.