Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Being "trapped" on vacation isn't nearly as exciting as being on vacation and by yesterday Katherine and I were both at our wits' ends with Ghana and with not being able to get home. After one last trip to Dynasty Chinese restaurant, our visits needed to end - waiters were recognizing us, and waisting more time at the hotel we'd already checked out of watching yet another soccer game we arrived at the airport four hours early for our flight which was already two hours earlier than our original flight should have been.

We walked into the airport and my heart stopped. The Virgin Nigeria flight to Dakar was not on any of the flight monitors, while flights that were supposed to take off after ours were posted. Trying to contain my emotions until we spoke with someone, we approached the Virgin Nigeria desk where a man told Katherine that the flight was cancelled. It was a joke, but not a very funny one and we settled in to wait after being chided by the Virgin Nigeria people for missing our original flight. Sorry that we missed a flight when we arrived early for the time printed on our tickets and the time listed online. Our bad. The flight on Saturday actually took off before check-in would have even opened for the time publicized for the flight.

After having our luggage "searched" by "security," but not after flashing American passports, we weighed our bags on an actual scale and were given a piece of paper with how much our bags weighed to give to the final ticket agent. Surprisingly at the check-in desk there was a large group of Senegalese women who had also missed the flight on Saturday because it took off over three hours early. Who would have thought? When I was finally checked in I had to lug my bag to the conveyor belt as a male Virgin Nigeria employee watched me struggle as he did nothing. On to customs and more security...

I hate flying and therefore appreciate yet still complain about the long waits in American airports. Now that I've flown in Africa my annoyance is laughable, but I still plan on complaining about the US system when I return home. The first step is to show your passport to customs and be asked a million questions that's less than the billion questions everyone else has to answer since I'm an American citizen. Fortunately, the Accra airport offers great distractions while you wait with their absolutely amazing anti-drug signs. These are paraphrased, but you'll get the idea:

1. Don't leave your baby's bag unattended because if you do someone will slip narcotics into their stuffed animal
2. If you swallow you're narcotics to get them into the country they will burst in your stomach and you will die. (This message is accompanied by what is apparently the arm of a deceased person and someone going through a pile of intestines.)
3. Don't traffic narcotics, you will get caught, and you will do hard labor. Hard labor for ten years is not fun.
4. Dufry (read Duty Free)

Once through that leg of security we did some duty free shopping and watched Brazil take on North Korea while hypothesizing about the lives of the North Korean team. To get on the plane we have to walk through another set of metal detectors and have our bags scanned, but you can't do that until your flight is called and it's impossible to understand Ghanaian English over an airport loud speaker so Katherine and I camped out as close to security as we could to make sure and not miss anything. Once through that, another woman checks your passport again, asks you more questions and then you are finally allowed to sit down and watch the completion of the soccer game. Shockingly, our flight left late and started boarding just seconds after Brazil beat North Korea. Coincidence? I think not.

Sitting waiting for the flight to board we overheard a terrifying remark: that our flight was not only going to Dakar, but also Banjul, which is the capital of The Gambia. Katherine and I looked at each other in horror and asked a flight attendant which city was first. She assured us Dakar. This made absolutely no geographic sense, but we're used to things making no sense and desperately wanted her to be right. Obviously, she was wrong. As I was fastening my seat belt the captain came in over the speakers on the plane that we would be going to Dakar via Banjul. I almost projectile vomited all over the the person next to me because I was so upset and in disbelief. No where online, on our tickets, during check-in, on the flight monitors that didn't have our flight on it anyway did anything mention going to a completely different country than our intended destination. After almost three hours to Banjul, almost two on the ground in Banjul, and then the thirty additional minutes in the air en route to Senegal we arrived in Dakar. I never thought I would be so happy to see Dakar. We aren't the best of friends and it was such a relief to see the statue and breath in the pollution; I can't even describe it.

An absolutely epic Alyssa v. taxi showdown later we arrived at the Peace Corps regional house in Dakar to find beds! All I was hoping for all night was that I didn't have sleep outside on a mat and that dream came true. The house was empty, the water hot, and the familiar stench of the house even seemed welcoming. Katherine and I got to the airport in Accra before 5pm and were finally in bed in Senegal at about 3am. A couple of hours later we were up and headed to the garage, eager to get back to site.

My family thought I had gone AWOL even though I called them multiple times with updates, so I created quite the ruckus when I walked in exhausted and filthy. Deenba gave me a huge hug, Khady told me I needed a shower, but was happy I was back, and my mom even came downstairs before lunch to greet me and kept saying that she didn't believe her eyes. Once Ahmed returned from school he put himself in a chocolate induced coma from the gifts I brought back for everyone.

What have I missed in Senegal?
1. Apparently one of my host cousins, Ziabata, and our quasi-maid Awa got married. No one ever tells me anything. It happened on Thursday was all the description that I got. I suspected that something was going on since they were always in his room alone together and no one said anything. I will write more about this as I learn more about it because right now I have no idea what's happening.
2. My family bought a brand new 30 inch Samsung flat screen television so they can watch the World Cup. Obviously. Since the World Cup was on all day today (I can already tell I love watching matches I've already watched), I did confirm something that makes me very happy. I had been wondering if my family would attempt to sign the Coca-Cola song that I've mentioned in previous posts and fail miserably at it. Let's just say it's more than I could have ever asked for.
3. Today was my Senegalese mom's birthday, which means we have chicken for lunch. It also means we have lunch at 4pm because she wants her chicken specially prepared, but since it has to be specially prepared she has to supervise and she doesn't like to come downstairs until at least noon. It was delicious though and I think we're having chicken again for dinner. Not a bad homecoming.

PS. All of the pictures from my Ghana trip are now up! Check them out.

1 comment:

  1. I think you are delirious after that exhausting trip. I reread the second to the last sentence a dozen times and I still don't understand it and I'm so disappointed but the pics did not upload:(