This is my first flight since the “pre-COVID” world. A trip to Ghana requires a negative PCR test for COVID (that’s the longer test, not what is called the rapid test). But it has to be done within 72 hours of departure, which can make the turn around for the test difficult. Flying out Monday afternoon required a test be done on Friday afternoon, which I did.
Unfortunately, the testers apparently take the weekend off, because as of this morning the website still said that my test has not yet been received at the lab! Unless we could find someplace else to do it, this trip wasn’t going to happen.
My lovely bride spent a lot of time calling and looking for another alternative – and finally found one at 8 this morning! If I could be there within 45 minutes they would do the test, process it right in their office and give me the results in 15 minutes! You can bet I made sure I was there before 8:45, got the test, and 20 minutes or so later I walked out with my negative test results! If I had known about these people earlier it would have saved me some worry. She did comment that my blood pressure was a little high – ya think??! But with just enough time to finish packing and make the hours drive to the airport, things are looking better!
The Northwest Arkansas National Airport is very nice. I’ve flown out of here before. I prefer flying out of Fort Smith because it is so much closer, but it seems that is one of the runs Delta has dropped because of all the COVID panic and shutdowns. But that’s OK, this is a nice airport with very friendly folks too, so just a bit more drive is OK. At least we don’t have to battle the traffic one would have to brave in major cities. I’ll happily drive quite a few more miles to avoid the crush of jammed up traffic!
My travel this time took me through the Atlanta Hartsfield airport, and then up to New York’s JFK airport. Ghanaian regulations at this point disallow transit through any European airport, so I booked the direct flight from JFK to Accra. They don’t fly that route every day.
With some detouring around some severe weather out over the Atlantic, our flight was scheduled to be 9 hours and 58 minutes. But somewhere out over the ocean the pilot must have pushed the speed limit a bit, and we actually landed 45 minutes ahead of schedule! There were a few bumps, but nothing significant, and I was able to sleep quite a bit more than I often am able to do on those long flights.
Upon arrival in Accra, the normal procedures were completely disrupted. First we all formed a line where two gate agents asked our passport numbers. Thereupon virtually all of us were informed that we had to go back and fill out the immigration information on one of 6 tablets along the wall. No one had told anyone about this, so there was another queue for those, and then back into the original queue to have them confirm that we did indeed do that.
On to another line where we were one at a time allowed to see an official who confirmed that we had the needed paperwork. Then on to another line to see an official who took the physical immigration card (we had those now in addition to the online version). Then on to another line to be given a rapid COVID test. Then on to another line to the normal immigration station where the passport is stamped, and on out to baggage claim (where someone else checked your passport too). After finding my bag I had to go to yet another line, only to be told along with everyone else that our test results weren’t ready. So stand around for another 15 minutes until they called out my name.
Once I had that paper it was on to another line for someone to look at the paper they had just seen the lady behind the counter hand me. Then on to another line for someone to check that papers and the passport again, and finally out of the airport.
The driver I’d hired is one I’ve been using for about 10 years. He has always been very reliable and has never missed a pickup yet. But this time he wasn’t there. Finally I called him, and found out he had broken down well over an hour away, and it would be another 3 – 4 hours before he could have his car fixed and on the road. Some quick figuring revealed that if I just waited around we’d be approaching midnight before we could get to the hotel in Elmina where I have reservations.
I don’t like to be out on the highways between towns after dark if I can help it, just not safe for multiple reasons. So I called my standby hotel in Accra, the Airport West, secured a room and took a taxi over. My driver will come in the morning to take me down to Elmina.So I’m now in a comfortable room, and I have a good meal in my stomach. Time for what I hope to be a good night’s sleep!