“Akwaaba Annalisa”

Day one

The welcome sign Flavia prepared for me!

The welcome sign Flavia prepared for me!

My plane from Amsterdam landed in Accra at 7:54pm, few minutes earlier than the scheduled time. As I put my feet on the African continent, I just feel so happy and excited as I haven’t been in the last months! It’s very warm, and humid. I start smelling something, it’s probably the spray they used in the cabin before landing, I assume. The airport has nothing to do with the airport in any European capital or any first world city. No fancy doors or  stairs, from the plane we board a bus, a few meters ride and then in the building a short walk and we go straight to the custom. There is still that smell. It must be something they used to clean the floor. I do not know what it is, but it does not bother me, it’s actually relaxing. Some official check my paper for the yellow fever immunization and let me in the line. There are a lot of Americans, I noticed them also on my plane. The line is long, and there are only about 6 desks for foreigners, plus one for Ghanaian citizens and one for diplomats. After one hour in the line I am at the desk. The lady tells me that I am only granted a permit of stay for 2 months, then I will need to renew it. It’ ok, I already knew this, I can’t wait to see how it is out there and to meet my team that came to pick me up! Baggage claim, as soon as I get to the carousel my 2 suitcases slide in front of me and I can barely pick them, good, at least I did not have to wait also for this. One last check at my passport, I do not know why and then I am entering Ghana! People start approaching me asking me if I needed help, as I expected, but my attention is on looking for my team… And there they are! Flavia showing this welcome sign she made for me: “Akwaaba Annalisa”!

That was so sweet and I was so happy to see her and Adjei! The ride to our home is shorter than I expected, about 30 minutes and we arrived at UPCO, the place where I am going to work for the next 12 month and our accommodation is on site. There is still that smell, I realize it’s not the airport, it must be something else. Not much public lighting, even in downtown Accra. It does not look there is much going on in the city, but when we get to the periphery and the slum where we live, everything gets more busy, even if it’s about 10pm. There are many people selling all type of goods in the street. We get to UPCO. My room is cute, simple, there are two beds, one for me and one for Flavia, one small refrigerator, no closet. There is no running water since there was a storm few days ago and when this happens the water is not running and we use the water from the tank. Walking to the restaurant for dinner I notice the open sewage system at the side of the street. There is still that smell. I finally ask Flavia about it, she tells me that it’s the smell of Africa. Even if I haven’t sleep at all last night and not much on the plane, I am not very tired, not even at 1am, but I assemble and hang the mosquito net and decide to go to bed. I am in Africa, I am in Ghana, there will be something I could never report and write about, like the smell of Africa. I go to bed, princess bed style and the smell of Africa makes my sleeping the sweetest ever.

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