- Day 1 – March 25, 2019 – I was watching the new “Whitney” documentary when I arrived in Ghana 2 hours later than I told my coordinator. I remember feeling bad because I told him we were delayed leaving NYC but even still we were hours behind. I tried my phone’s new AT & T “Passport Plan” that was supposed to give me unlimited texts & photo sharing with 1 G of data for $60 a month. I was able to connect to WhatsApp as everyone got off the plane & in my rush left my Ivypark baseball cap – already I was losing stuff – lol. Leaving the plane I asked to grab a few extra, still in the plastic pillows & covers and stuffed them in my empty carry on suitcase. Mind you I have barely made it out of Virginia because my two free checked bags were literally 50 lbs each (aka the limit – whew!) As soon as we entered the tarmac, the Ghana sun beat down on us. It was amazing compared to Virginia’s rainy weather back home. I quickly scribbled down my information on our immigration paperwork * headed to get in “Other countries line”. Meanwhile, my coordinator told me to meet out front on the left so I fished my bags out of what literally seemed like 500 bags & raced to meet him. All the while, I was stopped every two seconds by security to check my baggage tags & luggage contents. When I left the airport I saw a sign for CFHI & jetted to escape all the taxi drivers that surrounded me asking “do you need a ride, I have a taxi, etc”. He helped me with my bags & we walked two blocks away from the airport entrance to get a better rate on a taxi. The taxi was tiny so my bags barely fit with one sitting in the back seat with me but we were off! I immediately texted my family & friends who were probably back home like “why hasn’t this crazy woman texted us yet if she landed three hours ago?” Once we arrived to my new home away from home for the next 4 weeks, we paid the driver & started unlocking the 4 locks you need to enter the home. Even though this seemed extra, it made me feel safer! I got a tour of the grounds & my suitcases were rolled into my room: two twin beds, a bunk bed, two overhead fans, an overhead light, one window, and two large clothing wardrobes. I was tired from all the travel but when he asked if I needed a nap I quickly answered no & proceeded to listen to his introduction & guidelines. Then he asked if I was hungry & we headed about a mile away to a local eatery with fried chicken, fried fish, beef stew and different types of steamed rice & vegetables. As we headed back it got dark and walking the dirt road became a tad dangerous as there were few sidewalks and many taxis and buses passing us by & honking. Finally we got back, he handed me a water in a bag & I silently ate dinner watching an old episode of Dexter. Around 11 pm Ghana time (6pm EST), I ripped open a water baggy, took my anti-malaria medication & I was out like a light for the next day. My alarm was set for 7:30 am with a plan to wake up and get everything going by 9am.
- Day 2: So I feel like the most important part of feeling comfortable in a new place is feel like you can rest and be safe. I definitely felt both on day 2 because I slept like a baby and woke up feeling like I could honestly use a few more hours. I collected my Delta airlines issued blankets and pillows and made the bed while listening to a few downloaded songs on Apple music. I knew another student was in the house but I had not meet her yet. Long-behold, I ran into her while trying to take my first shower – awkward. I listened for her to shut off the water then grabbed my big ziplock full of you know, your average health and beauty essentials: a tooth brush, tooth paste, one of those strange flossers, a wash cloth, a drying towel, shower shoes (whew!), and a shower cap (these braids were not cheap!). I rolled up in the shower, hung my stuff up and got excited to feel the water and lather up. But I can only laugh at myself as the shower progressed and the water did not get hot but rather a mild, lukewarm. I amused myself and laughed & wrapped it out as I scrubbed my face to attempt and keep up a little “skin routine”. So naive – but I love stuff like that. I enjoy experiences that make you reflect on the little parts of life that you are grateful for like hot shower water and basic $4 apricot exfoliating scrub. I then got dressed in my room trying to decide if I should wear scrubs or a button down dress. I went with button down but whewwwww – it was so hot. More than 90 degrees and dry heat. We walked about 3 miles that day as a tour of the area. Overall, I have been having a great time. Stay tuned for more & Youtube videos!
My diary from my 4th year international Ghana Pediatrics rotation through CFHI.