If you have trekked this far with me, and are still sticking around for more, I say “ompusee“–thank you in Mampruli. At times, knowing that though few are with us in physical presence, many are with us in spirit, has been an incredible encouragement. I wish I felt safe enough to open my laptop sooner in the Tamale airport earlier…the messages would have been wind beneath my sails, or should I say currents beneath my airplane wings?
We were awoken two nights ago to a message that our airline was landed by the government of Ghana. We would not have a flight out of the remote town. With the help of the Accra Guesthouse, our flights were switched, but it would cause considerable delay. We initially expected to leave by four in the morning. Now we could leave at 8. Sounds like it would be helpful with four kids, and me in day four of malaria.
We were packed and ready to go, left soccer balls for the neighbourhood kids, responded to neighbourhood petitions for money, and said our goodbyes. We drove the rough road for nearly three hours in a white land rover, Jim volunteering to sit in the hatch of the vehicle with the three youngest, quizzing them in mental math and otherwise entertaining them, while I convalesced with Hannah, and the driver sat with a TB clinic employee who was delivering TB samples in his Coleman cooler.
We assumed we would go in to Tamale for lunch. Rather, we were left outside the Tamale Airport with six backpacks, six luggage, to wait for another three hours. There’d be a snack bar inside if we needed lunch. By snack bar, he was referring to pop and digestive cookies. Great, another gluten-free, low-glycemic “meal”.
While Jim chatted at the ticket counter, I rummaged in my bag for a Cliff Bar (absolute must-have on international flights). When he got back, he told me that he had news: the flight will be an hour later! So four hours trapped in a ten by ten space with fifty people and an air conditioner. Nowhere to sit, nowhere to stand, nowhere to store luggage. Just stand and wait. For four hours.
While I attempted to braid the girls’ hair again, a lady from behind tapped me on the shoulder and suggested she do it instead…twenty minutes of free time!
Jim and I have had a lot of practice travelling with kids, so we know that when these moments arrive, it doesn’t matter that we’re totally spent from a three week sojourn into discomfort and personal stretching, we’re going to have to buck up ANYWAY, and entertain the quadrangle for a solid four hours, whether hypoglycemic, malaria-ridden, willing or unwilling.
Do I need to tell you that the plane wasn’t on time? Naturally… Half an hour late, but to my amazement, they turned that plane around like it was moving through London’s Trafalgar Square…no time to waste (and likely no time to fuel or to clean–Hannah didn’t use the toilet for six hours, avoiding airports and planes–wow, you go girl).
It was then just an hour flight to the capital of Accra. We were fed with another bag of Digestives (aka bland Arrowroots) and watered down orange juice boxes.
With all the hubbub of flight changes it didn’t dawn on us that our airport driver to Guesthouse wasn’t contacted. The only other Caucasian woman on the flight smiled at me across the walkway and said, “Are you Teresa? Have you just come from Nalerigu?” Surprised that this German stranger could identify me, I was taken aback. She told me she was to look for a Canadian family of six who would be on the same flight to Accra: “The driver will meet us all at the airport when we arrive!”
And after she called him, he eventually did arrive, took us on a ten minute drive past palatial Embassy estates, cutting through traffic as only African drivers passive aggressively do, no one buckled, naturally, with five people sitting in a three person backseat, naturally.
And we arrived early enough for Jim to attempt finding a taxi to an unknown location, “a local supermarket please”, where he spent a hundred dollars in cash purchasing food for the weekend, as no one will be preparing meals because of the local cholera outbreak–the Government has mandated a “clean up” day.
So we will nestle in for the weekend, recharge our SteriPen (an absolute must-have for third world travelling) and neutralize cholera bugs. Don’t you wish you were here?