The remainder of my flight into Accra was smooth and uneventful. Ghana has built a brand-new international airport terminal, and I flew into it for the first time at the Feast. It is very modern, with an open design, lots of glass and quite nice looking. They even put in jet bridges that allow one to get off a large jet without having to go up and down the portable stairs that they used to roll from plane to plane. Just like Nigeria, they have turned the old terminal into their domestic terminal, and the new one is only for international flights.
But a new terminal does not do away with the inherent inefficiencies of the system. After going through a checkpoint with a thermal camera (checking for fever, a step that was added when ebola was a major concern in Africa), one must go through a checkpoint for the yellow fever card. While you can get a visa upon entry, 95% already have the visa, which you cannot get without proof of the vaccination. But they check anyway.
Then one must wait in line for passport control. Photo is taken, figerprints are electronically recorded, passport stamped, etc. About 10 feet after that is another set of officials who are checking to make sure you have a passport and visa – as if somehow we might have lost all are documents over the previous 25 seconds…
Then it is on to baggage claim. Once your bags are recovered (and mine came through just fine), you must show your baggage claim tag to an official who gives it a cursory glance (there is no way he can read that many numbers on both bag and tag and know they are the same). And perhaps 25 feet after that is another official doing the same thing, and sometimes asking what is in your suitcase. I’ve heard of people in the past who crack jokes about what they are carrying, but that is a REALLY bad idea! Similar to the American TSA officials, most of these people have had their sense of humor surgically removed.
The hotel shuttle driver was ready and waiting when I came out. His name is Justice, and he’s picked me up before. As only a shuttle driver can do, he knew a back way through the old airport terminal road that cut off a great deal of traffic, and we got to the hotel fairly quickly.
The desk clerk recognized me and check in was fast – only a signature on the paper. They have collected my passport and other information so many times they don’t bother having me fill it all out again. I was in my room before 9 pm.
I slept fairly well last night. My driver was to be here by 10 am, but in an extremely un-Ghanaian fashion he let me know a moment ago that he is here over an hour early! That’s much better than being late, that’s for sure! So I’ll send this off, zip up my suitcase and head down to Elmina.