In February, I went to Ghana to meet my new daughters for the first time. The experience was incredible but I didn't really write about my initial thoughts and feelings when I first got into Africa. I focused more on our visit with our girls and the other children in the orphanage. So, I thought it would be good to share my actual experience in another country--on another continent. Since that was my very first trip overseas and it was literally the first time I'd ever seen the ocean.
When our plane landed, I immediately felt the humidity fill the plane. And my husband and I looked at each other and gasped, "We're in Africa."
The Accra airport doesn't have jetways so we exited directly from the plane using stairs and were taxied over to the airport. By the way, we had no idea where we were going. We just followed everyone else.
We got into the line for immigration and I was so nervous--I have no idea why! Maybe I heard too many horror stories or watched too many movies. Once we got through all the security checks and did a currency exchange, we walked to the exit of the airport to see if we could locate our ride. Thankfully, he spotted us first. There were people everywhere.
I was super focused on just trying to navigate through the airport at that point. Once we got to the car, our ride had to leave us for a few minutes while he went and paid for parking. During this time, a Ghanaian opened the passenger side door where my husband was sitting, and asked for money. It was hard to understand him at first, but that's what he wanted. My husband politely told him something to the effect of "no" and closed the door. And locked it. My heart was racing. We were sitting in a car. Two white people who stick out like a sore thumb. Alone. In a country we've never been to. Help.
So, as our driver was driving us to our hotel, which was about 30 minutes away, I'm struggling to stay awake. It's dark out so there isn't much you can see. At the time of our visit, Nigeria had just won the Africa Cup of Nations against Burkina Faso. Soccer is a big deal in Ghana. So people were out celebrating, flooding the streets, drinking, dancing, shouting. Much like we do here when sports teams win a championship.
The streets were so crowded with people, though, that we could hardly get through. We had to creep through and we had to move so slowly that people would walk alongside our car, shouting and jump in front of the car and start dancing. Since it was pretty obvious we were visitors in the country, it quite freaked me out a bit. Ha ha! I just tried not to make eye contact and kept a straight face.
Here we were, driving down a Ghanaian road with someone we'd never met before, in a country we'd never been in before. If it weren't for the prayers of my friends and the courage of God, I would have been in freak-out mode.
Once we got to our hotel, checked in, and our driver left us until morning, I collapsed on the bed and didn't care that the air conditioner in our room was broken. I was so exhausted, I slept.
But the next day...
...to be continued.