Day 2 – Tuesday, May 10th
When the plane arrived in Ghana, it was late, but I was oh so awake. I’m not sure if it was because we finally landed in the country I was waiting to see for such a long time, or if it was the four-hour jet lag that kept me so aware in the heavy atmosphere. At any rate, we were there and it was great. We were warned by Dr. Montgomery about merchants that would be on top of us with their goods to sell from the moment we stepped off the plane, but it may have been too late in the afternoon by the time our plane flew in, because there were scarcely any people around at all. When we did finally step off the plane, I felt a little uneasy, wondering if I was allowed to take pictures with what looked like the military all around me. I believe they were actually the police force, and I decided to put my camera away before it was confiscated from me.
The air was hot and humid. Being the kind of guy that enjoys hot and humid weather, I loved the transition from cold Detroit to hot Africa.
After getting our identifications stamped, we went to the Luggage Claim area and prayed that everything arrived okay. Luckily, everything we brought did make the trip, and thanks to our professor who was talking with one of the baggage distribution ladies through the hole where our luggage came through, the whole group was set and ready to go in a short period of time.
We then made our way out of the airport to a van with enough seats for everyone. There, we also met Dr. Montgomery’s “father” (through ritual), and quickly said goodbye as our van took off into the crowded African city night. As we made our way to Jangles Hotel, where we would be spending the next few nights, we discussed many topics of Ghanian culture, traditions, and symbolism – like their flag.
The rest of the night and following day could be no better described than by Professor Galster (in photo, right).
Into the darkness teeming with unseen transactions the bus window wind filled with humid laughter perfumed with wood cook fires and diesel exhaust our journey repetitively inspired by spiritual sayings brazenly lettered on the back of taxis honking their way toward the next traffic jam or perhaps oblivion until finally escaping into the blessed countryside minivans packed with ghosts careening past disappearing down the black highway to god-knows-where slowing only for the obligatory police “income supplement plan” we would call ”shakedowns” past barbed wire topped walls of the rich flanking markets formed of cleverly adapted steel shipping containers each proffering impossibly specialized goods illuminated by proprietors’ flashlights until the need for sleep conquered the quest for profit only to be awakened at 3:30 AM by an insomniac rooster whose internal clock was set to GMT (not Greenwich Mean Time but Ghana Maybe Time) crowing that it was already hot but it never got too hot to deter the greetings of “OBR)NYI!” (oh-brawn-yee) — “white foreigner!” from male passersby the improbably balanced loads of paraphernalia perched atop the heads of statuesque women strolling toward life the tide of giggling children pouring from the schoolhouse begging to have their picture taken shaking your hand welcoming you with a Ghanaian smile you cannot shake