Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A safe landing

January 16, 2007

Arrived in Ghana after a flight from Toronto to London, and then London to Accra. The flights themselves - about six or seven hours each - were uneventful. I read, watched movies, and slept a bit. I flew to London alone but four of us were on the plane to Accra from London.

I was incredibly nervous and agitated on the flights over. It's hard to let things go for eight months - the cats, my family, my creature comforts. As much as I like the idea of traveling and international development work, I'm a homebody at heart. This kind of transition is especially tough because it's eight months long - longer than I've ever been away before. And the assignment is challenging. Figuring out what I'm able to contribute to human rights reporting in Ghana will take time.

I'm so happy Janet's coming, but it would have been nice to have her with me today.

The landing was also uneventful, which you could say is good news! I didn't even feel the wheels hit the runaway. As I stepped off the plane, I tried to absorb the atmosphere. It was muggy and dark, and we had to cross the tarmac to the terminal. It was a very small airport for a city of 2-million. It seemed to only have one terminal and just a couple of gates.

We got through customs quickly and went out the front door of the airport to find Ato, the head of Journalists for Human Rights in Ghana. He was to greet us and take us to our hotels and apartment, in my case. It was odd - there must have been a couple of hundred people there to greet passengers - entire families must have come out. There were also about 50 women with bedrolls on the ground in the entranceway - didn't get a chance to ask Ato what that was all about.

As it turns out I was put up in a hostel that night. The person hadn't yet vacated the apartment that Janet and I have rented for the next eight months.

First awkward moment with a local: Two guys carried my bags out to the car and I hadn't yet changed any money so couldn't give them a tip.

First moment of deprivation: As I write this diary, they called my room to say they were cutting the power for the night. These kinds of blackouts are apparently common to conserve electricity. So much for reading before bed...

- Mark

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