1 August, 11:00pm GMT - New Achimota, Accra
We've arrived at the Telecentre Bed & Breakfast in Accra. We have A/C, hot water, an electric kettle, and wifi, which is relatively upscale, all for $23/night. This is the first hotel all volunteers come to and the home base of North Western Eye Clinic and Crystal Eye Clinic volunteers. There are three other clinics working with Unite for Sight which are located outside Accra, so their volunteers stay elsewhere. My group (Roxane, Brian, Shreya, Lianna, and myself) will be spending the night here, then going on an overnight outreach to the Eastern Region with North Western Eye Clinic.
Arriving at the Accra airport would have been frightening had I not had four other volunteers on my flight to travel through passport control, customs, and baggage claim with. Before our flight, Lianna, Ricarda, and I met up for Dutch pancakes and smoothies which we got to eat in a booth shaped like a teacup. We met with Roxane and Shreya at the gate. On the flight, the Vietamese man on my right who sounded just like Mr. Pham (my 10th grade computer science teacher) lectured me on how I should "become the doctor". The Dutch couple on my left were visiting friends they had made in Accra when the woman volunteered there for 5 months. While I couldn't get seats next to the other volunteers, everyone spent the flight watching movies and sleeping anyway, so I'll get the next three weeks to get to know them better.
Passport control at Accra airport was surprisingly strict, including fingerprinting and separate officers checking for yellow cards (a form that proves you've been vaccinated against yellow fever, which is required for entry into and exit from Ghana). Baggage claim and customs were a free-for-all with mobs rather than lines; the culture here is that you either assert yourself or get left behind. We pushed our way through crowds trying to carry our bags for us to find Ernest and Jerome, two Crystal Eye Clinic nurses who shuttle all new volunteers to and from the airport. We've arrived!