Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wli Waterfalls & Immigration Office

So it’s been awhile since I have updated my blog. What’s new? It seems to me like I have begun a lot of my recent blogs this way and then go on to give you an excuse about why I have not updated you earlier. This time, my excuse is that my computer was infected badly by some viruses and spent the past few days with someone who works on computers. Long story short, my computer is almost back up to normal and is now totally free of viruses and will hopefully stay that way.

Back to Wli Waterfalls about a week and a half ago. I don’t remember how much I told you about the trip to Wli Waterfalls so pardon me if I repeat myself here. The day we went to the waterfalls, I arrived at the school compound to find all of class one and class two waiting outside quietly as the teachers and volunteers made sure everything was in order and all the children were accounted for. We piled into two tro tros and headed off to the waterfalls. Upon our departure from the school, the children started singing but took a quick break to eat the chocolate bars which we distributed to them. About a half hour after leaving the school, we arrived at the front desk of the waterfalls. Tickets were bought and we headed down the path to the waterfall. The children ran ahead, reaching the waterfall way before some of us volunteers and teachers did but waited patiently until we all arrived to go in to the water. Two of the male volunteers quickly stripped down to their bathing shorts and got in the water. The children started taking off their uniforms and gradually entered the water. I went in the water and played around for a little bit with the children. We didn’t stay in the water too long as it was a bit chilly and the children were tired from the run. We didn’t leave the waterfall before taking a cute group picture (of course, at my request).

The walk back from the waterfall was a bit slower than the one to the waterfall although a number of the children ran the whole way. I walked back with a few children holding on to each of my hands. We piled into the tro tros again and left the waterfall. We stopped to pick up a snack – bananas on the way. The ride back was quieter and one of the children even slept the whole way back with his head on my lap.

The weekend came and went. I stayed in Hohoe, taking it easy and sleeping in til 11 each day. On Monday, I departed Hohoe for Ho in a private taxi to go to the Immigration Office. We left Hohoe at 7am in order to arrive at the office just as they opened at 8:30am. The reason I had to go to the Immigration Office was because even though I had a 2 year visa for Ghana, they only approved two months of it when I arrived at the airport and the two month date was approaching.
I had talked to one of the Immigration Officers on the phone a few weeks before the trip to the office and had been told that all I needed to bring was my passport and a copy of my ticket home. I explained to the lady that I did not have a physical ticket back home but had a copy of my itinerary. She insisted that I must bring a copy of a physical ticket or I would not be able to extend my visa. I informed her that I would be going to Kenya after my stay in Ghana and she said that a copy of that ticket, showing that I would be leaving Ghana would be fine. It was a good thing that the airline that I am taking from Ghana to Kenya issued me a physical ticket because I do not know what I would have done otherwise. On the way to the office, we stopped to make a copy of the ticket.

We arrived at the Immigration Office before they opened. John, one of the members of my adopted family who lives in Ho came down to the office to see me and help if needed. We were informed that it would take three hours to process the extension as the Head Officer was not yet there and could not sign it. They told me that the reason it would take so long is because we arrived so early. Godwin, my driver informed the officers that he needed to get back to Hohoe quickly in order to take two of the volunteers to Accra as they were departing that evening. They accepted this and told us that we should give them half an hour to process the extension.

The officer asked for my copy of my ticket and two passport photos. I told him that I was unaware that I needed two photos and that we would go do that right away. John was of great assistance as he knew exactly where to go and directed us there. By the time we returned from taking the photos and stopping at the market to buy peanut butter and ice cream for all, they had my passport ready for me.

Of course, I had to get my visa extended for two months as I would be staying for an additional month and three days. I also had to pay a fee for them to process my request in Ho instead of sending it to Accra and having me come back in a week or two to retrieve it. There was no way I was going to leave my passport with them especially since I would need it in less than two weeks when traveling to Accra to pick up my sister from the airport.

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