16 August 2009

Ghana: Getting There

One of the best parts about the trip to Ghana this past May was just getting there. I was flying on points, and was required to have a nearly 24 hour layover in Johannesburg. For those of you looking at a map, you’ve realized this makes no sense. It’s like flying from Dallas to Miami to get to Seattle. But that’s how the African infrastructure works – there aren’t any direct flights between Angola and Ghana, and it makes more sense to connect in Johannesburg than, say, London, which would have been the other option (and with only two flights a week to most European capitals, not a very convenient one).

It turns out the adventure started as soon as I got to the Luanda airport, when I had one of three possible departing times to consider for my flight. My printed reservation had one time, the public information system at the airport had another, and my printed boarding pass had a third, representing a possible departing time spread of 3 hours. On a previous trip to Johannesburg the original reservation document was correct and the other two were wrong (including the boarding pass). This time it turned out the boarding pass was correct. I try to get to the airport ridiculously early (I recommend 5 hours ahead of time, because of this and other unpredictable nonsense), so I was never really worried, but anyone uncomfortable with uncertainty would probably have had a heart attack. After I sweated my way through the immigration line (they really need to think about getting some AC in that hall) and passing through the Kwanza shakedown (you have to open your wallet and show the police you’re not taking any Angolan currency out of the country, which is illegal), I was on my way at last.

I landed in Johannesburg after the 3+ hour flight on a Friday evening in time to have dinner at a Thai restaurant with some friends in the Melville neighborhood, enjoyed a night out, slept in, did some shopping, and got back on the plane the next evening for the flight to Accra. Once there, I was pleasantly surprised to discover my hotel had fast wireless internet and I promptly set about downloading podcasts and episodes of Saturday Night Live to watch back in Angola when the power goes out. I was loving Ghana already.

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