Monday, July 14, 2008

Ghana Trip- Day 1

We arrived in Accra, Ghana at 8:30 a.m. I was a little nervous about the whole being in a new culture thing. I was very conscientious about how I was talking, who I was looking at, and for how long. We first stood in a rather long immigration line. I'm not sure what they do there besides check your passports and yellow fever vaccine cards, because they wouldn't let the rest of us beyond the red line. After that, we detoured to exchange some money, that went smoothly. Then we went into the bathroom. Joby found an empty stall and went right in. I went to the last stall. I looked in, and there was a hole in the ground with porcelain foot treads on either side. I thought, ok, Joby obviously did it with no hesitation, so can I. So I squatted with all the dexterity that a white woman carrying 2 carry ons could muster. When I was done, I went out and started explaining to Lu Lu how to do it. She looked at me funny, and said she wasn't gonna go in that one, she was waiting for Joby's. What? Turns out all the rest were normal. Oh well, when in Rome.Then we went to get our luggage. I was surprised how fast we got it all. We then went to customs. All the guy did was ask why we were there. I had a sudden moment of panic. Where we supposed to say travel? Holiday? Vacation? Adopting? To admire your Ghanaian culture? When Steve blurted out that we were adopting 4 children here.... the guy smiled and said "You are welcome!" Thank goodness. We then walked the world's most unruly luggage cart down a long ramp and immediately our driver, Edward, came up and introduced himself. Hello? Was it that obvious who we were? I guess there weren't many white couples with 3 children traveling to Ghana that day. We then followed him outside, IN GHANA, ohmagosh, we are there. Our AAI contact, Percy, was outside waiting. We all piled into Eban Houses's van, and we were off!

I will take a moment here, to tell you, try to tell you, about driving in Ghana. First off, there are no speed limits. No seat belts. No center lines. No stop signs. No stop light. When you want to merge in, you just go, cuz the guy behind you surely has brakes. Don't worry, you honk a couple times to let them know you are coming. It's not a mean honk, just a beep beep to say "hey, friend! I'm about to barrel into you, like it or not, you better slow down for me... thank you, friend. Also, the roads are pot hole heaven. You bounce around like popcorn kernels in a hot pan. Then you swerve to miss the big ones, you then stay in the other 'lane' until the very last possible moment, before swerving back to your original spot. All this with goats, bicycles, and women carrying large items for sale on their heads, literally inches away from your car.

We made it to Maa Oye Guesthouse, our home away from home. We had requested 2 adjoining rooms, but they weren't available. So Steve and Tater share one room with a bathroom. The girls and I shared another with a bathroom. No hot water, no air conditioning, but they were clean and fine. Auntie Janet from Eban House come to walk us down to Eban House, to meet our children for the first time. We walked down the dirt road (loose term there), goats, dogs, chickens, potholes, puddles, children everywhere. We got to the gate. I was thinking, wow we are here, finally here. The gate starts to open and... we were literally mobbed by 35 smiling, laughing children. They were all over us, hugging jumping, talking. But where were ours? I scanned the faces. Little ishmael was walking around, oblivious that his parents were standing right there. I picked up that little warm body and he snuggled up.... aah. Like a shot, Stella burst through the doors and came straight for me, well straight for (wish I could say me) Tater, Lu and Joby. That was sweet. Steve had Beatrice and Elias.We all took turns hugging on all of them. It was very, very fun. We spent the rest of the morning just hanging out at Eban house with them, trying to start some attachments, while simultaneously loving on 31 others. It was alot to take in. It was surreal. It was cool. That night, when the kids had dinner, we left to go back to Maa Oye, exhausted. After a dinner of fried rice and chicken (good), we took cold showers and fell down into bed. All three of us girls. The room was nice and comfortable, not too hot. It just took some getting used to all of the noise RIGHT outside of our window. Apparently the church across the street has services every day, all day. And the house outside the window is abuzz with activity, and yelling from sunup until late into the night. I fell asleep thinking about the events of the day, smiling to myself, because our children that we prayed for all this time, were right down the street. We were here. In GHANA!!!!!!!


A. Gillispie said...

LOL! Okay, I TOTALLY did the same thing in the Accra airport--TOTALLY! Except that I did it on the way out of the country (the bathroom just outside of the gate waiting area). I had to "go" and walked into the stall to be so disappointed by the squat toilet. You should have seen ths fat white woman who WAS NOT in a skirt trying to manage in this tiny little stall! The next trip to Ghana I discovered that only of the two stalls was a squat toilet! UGH!

Amalama said...

So great to hear from you Heather! I have been hoping you would feel recovered enough to post! :) It sounds like a wonderful meeting. :)

Can't wait to hear more- 20 days until I meet my children for myself!


Jen said...

Heather... what a great post. I loved your driving description- you did great on it!! I would move my leg each time we passed someone thinking maybe it would make a difference and we would not hit them! I also always prayed that the big tub of whatever on their heads would not fall to the side at the exact moment we passed!! What memories....


Kristin Jag said...

You are a great storyteller- I loved feeling like I was there experiencing some of your trip with you!

Brandi said...

I thought the same thing in the same bathroom!! (we flew through Ghana and stayed a day on each end of our trip to Liberia). I thought, what the heck am I going to do! I had pants on too. . thankfully, I figured it out and got to pee on a real potty!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reading your first day! Thanks for sharing!


Amy J said...

I can't count how many times I've already told your bathroom story. I took a picture of that stall when I was leaving. I'll post my pics on Thursday! I'm planning on giving you a call soon.

Lauren said...

I was so exicted to finally read your Ghana diary! You did such a wonderful job capturing your first day. I felt like I was there! Loved the video of your sweet babies, too...they are way too precious for words!


Laurel said...

Loved to read your stories.

While we did not adopt through AAI, we did get to know Edward quite well, and also met Percy. Great guys!

Fun memories ... we spent 6 weeks there in February and March, waiting for our I600 approval. Then, we brought 3 siblings home.

mama of 13