Saturday, July 25, 2009

Reflecting on Melissa's Arrival

I cannot believe my sister is here in Ghana with me. It is still surreal to her but also to me, especially since it means that we will be leaving in three weeks to go to Kenya. It’s crazy to think that I have already been here in Ghana for two months. It feels like just yesterday when I was at LAX, crying as I left my mother and sister for my seven and a half month long African Adventure.

On Friday, after a morning of organizing things at the orphanage, Raymond and I were to leave for Accra. He was to come to my hotel around 2pm and pick me up. Two o’clock came and went and since Raymond wasn’t at my hotel to pick me up, I decided to take a much needed nap. I was awoken at 5pm when Raymond knocked on my door. He informed me that he had spent many hours of the afternoon at the post office trying to pick up the box of reading glasses that Sherry had sent. The Immigration Officer who only works every other week day was on break – slowly sipping on beer at a ‘chop bar’ located not too far away. A few days earlier, Raymond and I went to lunch at this particular chop bar and saw the Immigration Officer there. We wanted to pick up the package that day but the Immigration Officer said it would be awhile before he returned to work. Great, huh?

Raymond was finally able to pick up the box and dropped it off at his house before picking me up. I quickly put my stuff in the tro tro and we drove the four hour long drive to Accra. We went to Raymond’s uncle’s house, where I thought we were staying for the night. Raymond and I ate dinner, watched some tv on their big, flat screen television, and played with the uncle’s young grandson, Sammy.

Raymond then informed me that we would go to our hotel. I was initially confused but learned that Raymond’s uncle had another guest staying with him who was occupying the guest room that I had stayed in on my first night back here in Ghana. We were driven to the hotel by Raymond’s cousin in his nice Audi.

We checked in and were taken to our rooms. We slept in and awoke around 9:30am the following morning. We hung around the hotel for awhile before heading out and starting to walk to Raymond’s uncle’s house. We saw Phannuel, Raymond’s cousin with the Audi and he picked us up and drove us the rest of the way. Breakfast was served and we spent the early afternoon hanging around the house and watching television.

After we relaxed for awhile, we left the house and headed over to the internet cafĂ©. It was so nice to have such fast internet – almost as fast as at home. Unfortunately my laptop was sick and I was not able to take full advantage of the fast internet speed and upload any of my pictures. We also finally made it to Shop Rite, the market which I had wanted to go to upon my arrival in Ghana. Two months late but its all good. Raymond was a bit in shock by the market, which is much like any American market. I was happy to be there and to be able to stock up on some regular peanut butter. I had purchased peanut butter a week earlier while in Ho but after one taste of it, I decided to give it away to some of the locals. It was so much different than the peanut butter I had brought from home and had been eating over the previous two months with my breakfast. Shop Rite had regular peanut butter as well as some other snacks that I decided to pick up.

I explained to Raymond that a few weeks earlier when we took two of the other volunteers to Accra and asked to go to a supermarket, this is what we were talking about. In the villages, the idea of a super market differs greatly than what we Americans and other foreigners think of. It was funny to see that probably about half of the shoppers in Shop Rite were foreigners.

After checking out of the market, Raymond requested that we walk through the rest of the mall so that he could see it as he had never been to the Accra Mall before. I would describe the Accra Mall as being on a similar scale to that of the Topanga Mall. It is most definitely not as big as the Topanga Mall but there are many brand name, expensive stores such as Nike, Puma, Levi, Swatch, Panasonic, etc.

After running all of our errands, Raymond and Alex dropped me off at the hotel so that I could shower. They told me to call them when I was ready to be picked up. I showered and made a few phone calls before calling Raymond back and requesting that he come pick me up. He said they would come and get me. A few minutes later, he called again and said that they had to stop somewhere to see someone but they hadn’t forgotten about me and would be on their way soon. As it was only about 6pm by this point, I was okay with this and decided to take the time to relax for a bit. By 7pm, I was really curious as to where they were. I called Raymond’s phone probably 20 times but every time I called, it said the line was busy. I tried texting him, asking where they were but got no response. I started freaking out as it reached 7:30….7:45…7:50…7:55. I called Dina, Raymond’s wife to find out if she had Raymond’s uncle’s number so I could try to reach him there. She did not have the number and told me that I should just keep trying to reach Raymond. I tried a few more times but continued to get the busy signal. I called Dina back to ask for Alex, the driver’s phone number. I knew that he was with Raymond and since I couldn’t get ahold of Raymond, I wanted to try to get ahold of Alex. She did not have the number but knew of someone who did. She told me that she would go get the number and call me back. I was starting to freak out. It was 8pm. My sister would be landing at the airport in 20 minutes and I was stranded at a hotel.

There was a knock on my door. I couldn’t have been happier to see Raymond standing there. I asked him what happened to him and he explained. I then inquired about his phone being busy every time I called. He informed me that he had given his phone to someone else to use and they must not have switched over when I tried calling. After about 20 calls, you think anyone would get the hint that it’s something important but I guess not. He apologized and told me to calm down. We called Dina back and told her that I no longer needed her to find Alex’s number as Raymond had finally shown up.

Immediately after getting into the tro tro, I opened my phone and saved Alex’s phone number so that I would hopefully never be in a similar situation. We headed to the airport to pick up my sister. I was so excited and anxious to see her. We went inside to wait for her, something that I didn’t realize was allowed as I had always been picked up outside the airport. A number of white visitors came out but not Melissa. Some white women with black babies walked by but not Melissa. Then, finally, I spotted Melissa at the Customs area. I pointed her out to Raymond and he went right up to the area and introduced himself to her. She finished answering some questions about her trips to Ghana and Kenya and then walked out to see us. I was so excited to see her and I think she was just about as excited to see me. We gave each other a big hug. I couldn’t believe that she was finally here.

As my computer has been having issues for quite awhile, I had to wait for Melissa to arrive to start working on my blog again. I will update you on the last few weeks which I have neglected to tell you about as soon as possible. Sorry for jumping ahead in the story within filling in the hole but I will let you in on the middle parts soon!

No comments: