Arriving in Africa

Arriving in Africa

  
This time last year I wasn’t sure if I would ever make it to the motherland.  Two weeks ago I was bouncing off the walls, trying to anticipate every moment.  By last week I was so tired of staring at my suitcase that I just wanted to be on the plane already and go to sleep.  Friends and family had asked me what sort of emotions I’d been having: was I nervous, anxious, scared.  Scared, I thought to myself, why would I be scared?  I’m not afraid of anything.  But when the big day finally arrived, I was running around the house like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to squeeze everything I possibly could into my suitcase and making trips around the house looking for my missing hat, laptop charger, or anything else I couldn’t find.  

Once the final bits and pieces were packed, I had to figure out how I was going to tell my mom, dad, and sister goodbye.  We had been making fun of my mom all week, knowing she was going to cry.  But as we held hands at the airport six days ago and bowed our heads, hearing my mother’s sniffles muffled behind my father’s prayer made tears stream down my face as well (I couldn’t believe my behavior!).  It wasn’t easy to leave them standing there, but by the time I’d made it through security at CAE (the nicest TSA agents I’ve ever met) it was a lot easier.  My dream was finally coming true; I was getting on a plane to go to Africa!  

A grueling 14 hour journey from Columbia, SC to Washington, DC and across the pond finally brought me to Frankfurt.  Although I’d been to Germany several times before, hearing the German language and seeing the tall, pale people is still surprising to me.  After getting off the plane and taking a bus to the inside of the building, I made my way to the gate that would take me to Katoka airport in Accra, Ghana.  After confirming that I was indeed at the correct gate, I found a bite to eat and waited to be called for boarding.  As I sat, I couldn’t help but notice all of the Ghanaians pouring into the waiting area.  As we all boarded the plane and spoke with one another, I had the most amazing feeling.  I had never seen so many professional Black people entering onto a plane at once…it was quite refreshing!    

Lots of Africans boarding the flight-how refreshing!  August 6, 2014

The plane ride from Frankfurt to Ghana seemed longer than the ride across the pond, even though it was two hours shorter (six instead of eight).  The plane was scheduled to land at 7:13pm, but by 5:00pm, I was experiencing serious jet lag and wondering if I’d ever arrive.  But as I peered out the window and watched a blanket of clouds envelope the melting sun stretched over the horizon, I realized that I was flying over Africa and would be stepping onto motherland soil very soon.

Getting close to my destination!  August 8, 2014

How would you feel to know you were flying over Africa?!  August 8, 2014

Wasn’t sure what the heck this said but figured it out!  August 8, 2014
By this time I was bouncing off the walls!  August 8, 2014
Happy camper on the plane-unbelievable how many people asked me about my college t-shirt, August 8, 2014

After finally arriving, I couldn’t get off the plane fast enough!  Looking back now, it was all a bit of a blur, but very exciting.  I remember from past experiences how quickly the lines in customs can fill up, so I quickly filled out my customs form and darted into line.  There were lots of officials checking papers so it didn’t take long at all.  Soon, it was off to find my luggage.

The big city of Accra-finally!  August 8, 2014
I thanked God when I saw my zebra-striped suitcases.  I was so afraid they’d gotten lost!  What a comfort it was to pull them off of the conveyor belt.  The men looked surprised that I didn’t ask them for their help.  I smiled to myself.  By the time I made it off the plane, cleared customs, and had my luggage it was getting past 8:00pm.  I didn’t have a way of contacting my host family since we had only been using email before I left.  After passing several faces I finally came across a man in a Rotary shirt holding a sign that said “Sierra Butler.”  “Mr. Ako,” I shouted.  Although we’d never met, I had never been so happy to see someone familiar in my entire life!  He greeted me very warmly as we went to the parking lot to his car.  It was pitch black outside.  

Dinner with Rotary PAG Mr. Ako, Ms. Joanne, and Abraham, August 8, 2014
As Mr. Ako drove through turnabouts and explained different parts of the city, I felt like I was in a dream.  Not sure if it was the jet fatigue taking over or the excitement of being in a new country.  When we arrived at my host family’s home, I was greeted by Mr. Ako’s wife, Ms. Joanne, and their nephew, Abraham.  They too, were extremely warm and kind.  After showing me how to use the appliances, hot water, and my living quarters, we had a nice American dish of Spaghetti.  I suppose Ms. Joanne, being an American herself, knew I didn’t need a lot of pepper or a foreign dish after so many miles of traveling!  
As I laid down that night to rest, fatigue was coming in for the kill, but adrenaline was still running through my veins.  I was finally in Africa, my long hoped for, prayed for dream.  That night as I drifted off to a sound sleep, I wondered what my second day in Africa would bring.

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