Monday, September 5, 2011

Accra, Ghana, next time take the train...

September 4, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Do you ever have one of those days that you know you ought to just be thankful for the fact that your plane didn’t crash but you’re annoyed anyway?

Usually there is something very challenging about our trips.  This time the only thing I could think of (other than the remodeled Capitol Hotel that still didn’t put in hot water) was that my hair wilted every day from the humidity—i.e., it has been a pretty easy trip.  I was, however, dreading the ‘travel day’ ahead.  I wanted to go home but I guess I just didn’t want to be there when it happened.

Our day started out great. We went to church with the Patterson’s while our luggage was tucked safely away at the church office building while we attended the Branch next door.  Afterwards the Patterson’s fed us a wonderful homemade lunch of tuna fish sandwiches, salad, chips and peanut butter cookies.  It tasted SO good.  Then they drove onto the ferry so that they could drive us to the airport on the other side.  We had a pleasant trip while we visited.  They live in Las Vegas, will be finished with their mission in three months, and have invited us to stay overnight as we travel back and forth to Utah.   [We saw a little girl in church today who was wearing a ragged dress so we picked one pillowcase dress out that Sister Patterson will give to her.  Sister Patterson liked the dresses so much that she is going to send pictures of the dresses to her Ward at home.  Any leftovers will be passed out to orphanages in Liberia.]
They dropped us at the airport, the ferry having left late as usual, which got us to the airport an hour later than we wanted, but we arrived at the gate with a few minutes to spare. It is always frustrating getting out of the Sierra Leone Airport.  First we go through an almost normal carry-on baggage check.  Second we stand in a horrendous line so that they can manually go through our checked luggage.  Then we stand in another line to get the baggage checked and get boarding passes.  This process takes a long time (one hour for just this part) because they only have a couple of people who work the counter.  In that part of the airport there is no air conditioning so we also sweat a lot.  It is worse at hotter times of the year. 

After we get checked in they go through our carry-on bags again because Kenya Airways doesn’t trust Ghana to do it right.  Then we actually got to go tell them where our luggage was so that they would put it on the right plane, which was actually rather comforting. 
The good part about this day was that when we got to the check-in point we were able to get matching aisle seats for our flight to Accra, which we supposed was not possible since we were in the back of the line for our flight.  And, even better, I was alone in my three-seat row!   Aw, decent flight indeed, and they actually serve a good meal for the 2 ½ hour trip. 

Usually when we arrive in Ghana it is not too terrible getting through the customs lines.  This time it was worse getting into Accra than it was getting out of Sierra Leone.  We spent one and one half frustrating hours in this line. We were in the slowest queue.  They wouldn’t open the other lines when they emptied out.  They had one person checking people in at each post instead of two.  Jim was rather impatient this entire day (mumblings), not that I blame him, but looking at others, they seemed to hold their complaints even though I know they were as irritated and miserable as we were—all grim-faced.  We found our luggage sitting off to the side where it had been taken off the carousel ages beforehand.  Then we had to make our way out of the airport in another massive crowd through more checkpoints.  This is why when I am home I am happy to make a long trip in the car!  Anything, to stay out of an airport!
When we finally immerged we saw a man with a sign that said ‘Novotel’.  We hugged him because we were so happy he was still there.  When Jim told him very briefly about our frustrations he just happily said that ‘Jesus goes before us’…well, that put us in the proper frame of mind!  Jim said he thought he’d gotten more patient after we’d been to Kenya but he’s ‘lost it again’. We waited less than 10 minutes and the van showed up to take us to the hotel.  We quickly got checked in and found that they had put us in one of the newly renovated rooms.  Everything was new and all of it was an improvement.  We now have a place to put stuff in the bathroom.  I can actually see well enough in the bathroom mirror to put on makeup.  The blow dryer actually dries my hair.  It has a full length mirror.  And the best part—a divine mattress and pillow!  The only drawback is that it smells like glue—newness has its drawbacks.

Our final frustration was that the Internet service tonight wouldn’t let us into our online check-in on time so that we missed out on getting the better seats in our section.  By the time it was working they were all taken—we’ll live, but it was just another irritating moment—the irritations seemed to build today, one upon the other. 

The last couple of days I’ve been torturing myself filling out the papers so we can turn in a project request and Jim pulls his remaining hair out coming up with the cost breakdown.  We will finish it tomorrow and then home.

Okay, I feel better now…

Really, this is my last letter.


Mom & Dad, Jim & Karen, E/S Greding

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