Boarded and seated on our flight to London from Chicago, we began to imagine what adventures this summer would have for us. Unfortunately, these reveries were cut short by a flight attendant’s announcement that the aircraft had maintenance issues and we’d be rescheduled to a different flight. *sigh* another two hours not on our way to London, more importantly, we’d miss our connection to Accra, Ghana, but most importantly meal vouchers. A quick stop in the McDonald’s line filled our sadness with a double cheese burger that was destined to be dipped in a McFleury after a round of rock, paper, scissors.
While in line, we met Frederico who was headed back to Rome. Frederico was funny and responsible for the cheeseburger Mark dipped in the McFleury, but most importantly, introduced us to the ostrich pillow.
We eventually make it to London and find out that instead of our bonus night in London with a flight the next day (as promised), we get to wait 4 hours for a flight to Casablanca and a connection to Accra 3 hours after that (but also more free meal vouchers). Dreadful yes, but less dreadful since it was World Whiskey Day and all of the duty-free stores were passing out free samples. It is owing to the quest for as many free samples as possible and a ridiculously late gate closing warning that we found ourselves sprinting the entire length of Terminal 4 to catch our connection. We made it, Tom won the race, but Mark made it shortly after and we were both off on the next leg of our journey, Casablanca.
The altogether lack of Humphrey Bogarts made our stay in the Casablanca Airport uneventful. We continued our tour of duty-free stores but were disappointed to find that the Moroccans weren’t as on board with the whole free whiskey thing. We passed the time watching old Saturday Night Live videos and Chris Farley’s success on the Japanese game show without knowing Japanese, gave us some hope for our lot as our English failed to substitute for French or Arabic. As the boarding time for our last flight drew nearer, we were filled with fear as our emails to our host were going unanswered. As the line started moving forward, we checked our inbox one last time without avail, turned off wi-fi, and boarded the plane. There would be wi-fi in Accra, right?
Not right. We were screwed. The last we’d heard from our host was that our driver was picking us up at 7:30 pm on Saturday, the original time, and it was now 4 am Sunday morning. Tired and out of options, we exchanged what cash we brought for Ghanaian cedis and tried to find a cab to Ashesi. Did he know where Ashesi was? Of course he did! Perfect, we thought as we hopped into the cab. Turns out he most certainly didn’t know where it was. He took us first to Lancaster University trying to convince us they were the same. Nope. However, without our precious wi-fi, we couldn’t verify a new address. At this point, we’re exhausted. Trying to figure out how to get to a place you’ve never been, in a country you’ve never been in, without any of your usual tools is a lot for 24+ hours of no sleep.
Giving up on the night, we decided to book a hotel to get access to wi-fi at 5 am and maybe grab a couple hours rest before we headed out to Ashesi in the morning/afternoon/evening/next week depending on how long we slept. We check in, check our emails, and sure enough, our inboxes had been blowing up in the 4 hours we’d been offline. We (sort of) get everything cleared up. Peter (Ashesi’s driver) was going to pick us up at the hotel and we’d all head up to Ashesi, happily ever after. Finally, with the confidence that we’d be at our destination in the morning, we set and alarm and laid down to rest. Knock knock. Turns out Peter was going to pick us up right then and there. Forlorn to be missing out on the sleep we were anticipating, but happy to be in the rights hands, we packed up our things and left the hotel. One night of hotel paid for, one hour of hotel used.
We left the hotel with Peter on our journey north to Ashesi. While we were still exhausted, we both looked out the window attentively at our first views of Accra. We passed by many markets and slums on our way, but we noted the happiness and laid back attitude of many Ghanaians on our way. Finally, after a lot of bumps in the road (literally and metaphorically), we climbed the final hill to Ashesi at 7 am. We had made it, safe(ish) and sound(ish) to our home for the next 10 weeks.