Accra, Day 1: Jet Lag and Lunch Buffets

I’m officially on the African continent!

Nothing too exciting today. We built in a day of recuperating since Accra is seven hours ahead, so today was a pretty low key day.

The flight from Washington DC to Accra was 9 hours and relatively painless. Let it be known that South African airlines has very, very firm seats that hurt your butt after a while, but strangely nice lighting in the bathrooms. I got 30 min – 1 hour snatches of sleep here and there on the plane, but mostly just stayed up reading, writing and watching Queen of Katwe, which seemed a fitting movie topic for where I was heading. The movie was good and I cried about four times, but there’s a chance that general lack of sleep contributed to that (or not. I cry a lot in movies). I also had the foresight to download a few of my Spotify playlists onto my phone, which proved especially helpful when trying to drown out the noise of crying babies.

Stepping off the airplane and my glasses fogged up from the humidity. Weirdly enough, this endeared me to the country almost immediately because it made me think of stepping off the plane into the Philippines. In fact, a lot of my limited exposure to the city so far reminds me of one of the smaller cities that we flew to in the Philippines, although decidedly much less crowded than Filipino cities tend to be.

Our airport shuttle picked us up and it was about a five-ten minute drive to our hotel. We got all checked in and I collapsed immediately into a chair in my nice, clean hotel room.

I spent a few minutes stretching and marveling at the fact that I wasn’t elbow to elbow with a bunch of strangers, then unpacked and immediately set up my computer so that I could email/text Charles, my mom and post in my friend slack channel that I had arrived.

Unfortunately, I forgot that I was seven hours ahead and that a 10am sent email/text message here was 3am delivered message to Phoenix! I gotta make sure to be conscientious of that. As far as I can remember, it’s seven hours ahead here, 9 ahead in Nairobi and 8 ahead in Johannesburg.

After settling down, I took a nice hot shower and changed into clothes that didn’t smell like a plane. Lisa and I had planned to meet at noon and I figured I’d just lie down for a bit and rest my eyes.

Cut to an hour later and my alarm is ringing and I am woozy with lack of sleep and jetlag. I hobbled downstairs and proceeded to stare dumbly at Lisa as she tried to engage me in conversation. We made our way to the restaurant and sat down and waited while they set up the lunch buffet. Mostly, I stared bleary-eyed at my surroundings, blinking so hard that I’m sure it looked like I was in pain, and making what I’m sure was mostly incomprehensible conversation with Lisa in an attempt to wake up. I think I repeated the phrase, “I’m so out of it” about thirty times.

Once the lunch buffet was set I, as always, was the first in line. There was a good assortment of international foods – french fries, pesto tilapia, seafood paella. There was also plenty of white rice, which I appreciated. Lisa tells me that rice is big here in Ghana, which only serves to further endear this nation to me. There was also a fair amount of Ghanaian food, including boiled yam, a national staple called fufu, and two types of soup, one of them called Goat Light Soup and the other Groundnut soup (I think). There were other things – and they were all labeled – but I didn’t have the presence of mind to take pictures. However, I did try to sample everything that was available.

I think I probably enjoyed the fufu and the soup the best. From as far as I can tell, you’re supposed to eat the fufu (which google tells me is mashed cassava) in the soup. It was a lunch buffet at our Best Western hotel, so I’m not sure how authentic it all was, but it was a satisfying meal. The only thing I’m a little worried about is how spicy everything is! I’m not huge on spice but I do want to eat as authentic Ghanaian food as possible, so maybe I’ll just have to learn to stomach it while I’m here.

After lunch, I stumbled back to my hotel room and tried to stay up so that I could actually sleep at a normal hour. No luck, I was out about five minutes after my head hit the pillow (admittedly since I went directly to my bed, I didn’t actually try very hard to stay up). I woke up around 5ish and headed down to the lobby to do some work with Lisa and also to plan out what we’re doing the rest of our time here. My stomach was feeling a little upset, so I just got some boring ole’ tomato soup and a pot of green tea.

And now it’s 9:19 pm here (2:19 in Phoenix) and I’m going to try and force my body to sleep. I brought about eighty different medicines but forget to bring sleeping pills, so I hope my body is just exhausted enough to sleep through the night.

For the rest of the week, Lisa and I have planned the following (so far):

Eating at:

  • The Buka Restaurant,  Ghanian food that’s been highly recommend to us by multiple people and the googs
  • Azmera, Ghanian food place that looked cool on TripAdvisor
  • Santoku, Japanese food which, I know, seems lame to visit while in Ghana but it’s shown up in a couple of “best of” lists and we both love sushi

For work:

For fun:

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