Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ghana 2017 - Day 1. Addis Ababa to Accra

I landed in Accra around noon, after five and a half flight from Addis, with Ethiopian Airlines. The flight was full, which for some reason I found surprising. Going through immigration was slow but uneventful, and in waiting for the luggage I was shocked at the large size and number of bundles my fallow passengers brought with them. Clearly some things must be a lot cheaper in Ethiopia than here in Ghana.

As soon as I stepped into the arrival hall I saw a smiling young man, Theo, holding the sign “USAC”. Together with him was Claudia, who is our Administrative Assistant at the university. She had come in her own car to welcome me, and a few minutes later we were driving through midday traffic toward the Legon Campus of the University of Ghana. Claudia speaks excellent English, with that same endearing accent that is prevalent throughout Africa.

I like what I saw of the city, but was really amazed at the size and beauty of the Legon Campus. The university has about 47,000 students while in session, and the campus is scaled accordingly. Yet, the white academic buildings with red tile roofs give it the sense of being a classic university. Our first stop was at the in-campus bank (I now have a bundle of Ghanaian Cedis @ US$ 1 = GH¢ 4), the supermarket, and the surrounding market stalls. Claudia suggested I might want to buy water, which I did, but I drew a blank on any other necessary items. Our next stop was Volta Hall, where my small apartment is located. I have died and gone to heaven! The Hall is beautifully landscaped, and the apartment is comfortable, private, and air-conditioned. I am going to be very comfortable here.

No sooner had my friends departed that I went out to familiarize myself with the campus. As I said it is a big place, so I need to establish my geography in the best possible way. Flying by instruments I went back to the marketplace, for indeed I had a few purchases to make. The room has an electric kettle so I can fix my morning coffee, but I needed to buy a mug, a spoon, and a pair of glasses. I also needed a bar of soap and … oh look, one of the market stalls has cell phones … so now I am equipped with a new cell phone. My new number is (233) 274-255-723, where (233) is Ghana’s country code.

On a second outing I acquired an umbrella (Claudia tells me it was raining all last week), and stopped by the bookstore to pick up a phrase book, a map of the country, a rim of paper, a hole puncher, and a binder for the notes I will be preparing in class. I am now all set for my classes, although they won’t start for another three days. Today is Friday, tomorrow Saturday is arrival day, Sunday is orientation day, and Monday . . . well, I am not clear if we will have class on Monday, because the schedule I have says there will be a campus tour 8:30 to 9:30, academic issues 9:30 to 10:30, and then trotro trip to Madina at 11:00. I will have to play it by ear. 

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