My flight left Fort Smith later in the afternoon, a bit after 4 pm. That left me plenty of time to pack and make sure I have everything packed and don’t have any details I’ve forgotten. One of the worst feelings is to be headed out to a developing country and at the last moment realize you’ve forgotten something important!
The flight was smooth to Atlanta, and we arrived a little ahead of schedule. I had nearly 3 hours to wait in the lounge before boarding the longer flight (8 hrs and 20 minutes) to Amsterdam. We arrived at 12:30 PM local time. I was able to get a little sleep, which will help.
The Delta lounge is almost next door to my gate, so I’m able to go in for a little over an hour and a half, get some coffee and something for breakfast if I want.
We boarded the KLM flight to Accra on time, and the plane wasn’t completely full. It was nice that I had an empty seat beside me. While we boarded on time, the pilot came on to say that they had a lot of air traffic coming into and out of the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, and while we are loaded and ready to go, we would not be given clearance to push back from the gate for at least 25 minutes. It turned out to be 45 minutes, but the pilot was able to make some of that up in the air.
This is the first time I’ve lost track of the expiration date of one of my entrance visas, but my Ghanaian visa expired earlier this month. With no time to send my passport off to get another, I had to use the visa on arrival option. I can only purchase a single entry visa, but at least I can get in and go on with this trip. As soon as I get back to the States I need to send my passport off to get new visas for both Ghana and Nigeria.
Another first for me is the hotel I typically use very near the airport in Accra apparently lost my reservation. I have the emails where I requested a room, and they replied saying they would make the reservation as always. However, once I cleared customs and immigration, the hotel shuttle was not there. When I called the hotel they were confused, because they didn’t have a reservation for me, and the driver was apparently off for the night. But if I could get a taxi to the hotel they have a room for me. At the airport that is no problem!
A taxi driver approached me asking where I was going, and offered to take me for $10 US – kind of steep for this trip, but I’m tired, sweaty and just want to get to my room. As soon as I said I’d let him take me he asked for $15! I told him he can’t change the price once he offered, so I would pay him the $10, but I’ll pay in cedis. When an exchange rate of 5 cedis to the dollar, I gave him a 50 cedi note when we got there. He acted like he wanted to argue, but I picked up my bags and walked in. He left, and he did not get hurt in the transaction! His biggest concern, I’m quite sure, is that he didn’t want to leave any money on the table. He didn’t.