Along the road from Tamale to Wa.

Along the road from Tamale to Wa.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Off to Africa!

Waiting to check-in at Vancouver airport
Most travellers like to think that they have brought only the important things and have a reason for every item they place in their bag.  I, too believed that every mosquito repellent option, piece of clothing, pair of shoes or cosmetic was just the bare necessity for 7 months in an isolated part of the world.  My baggage adventures proved I was wrong!

When I started planning I was told that one bag at 23kg was the limit with my laptop and one other carry on piece so I was pleasantly surprised when the airline allowed 2 when I checked in 24 hours in advance of my flight. Two lighter bags about 20kg each seemed ideal to allow for those last minute items.

The flight over to Accra through Chicago and Washington, DC went as expected and I was even able to sleep for about 2 hours of the 2 day experience thanks to the small down pillow I had packed.  I was met at the airport by Richard, a very friendly and helpful VSO staff member and was whisked off to a comfortable hotel to wait the arrival of more volunteers from Britain who arrived later that night. It was great to meet them especially Miriyan who will be also working in Wa and sharing a house with me.  (Posting on the house to come later.)

Over the next two days Miriyan, Jackie (the experienced volunteer) and myself went to meetings at VSO, walked the main street for visitors and purchased things that needed to be bought in Ghana.  I got a solar powered cell phone, and a dongle for internet service.  To add to our purchases VSO supplied a blanket, sheets, mosquito nets and water filters in a bright "Dora the Explorer" bag.

VSO was able to secure a flight for Miriyan and I to travel to Tamale and then a ride to Wa the next day with a VSO representative the next day.  My luggage was now a big problem.  Only one bag of 20kg was allowed and I had one at 25 and one at 20 as well as 3 small rather heavy carry on bags.  Needless to say the repacking went on and I had to leave a bag in Accra to pick up in Feburary when I am to return for a meeting.  I was overweight at the airport but fortunately not charged for it and had 3 carry ons that were difficult to carry and would not fit in the overhead compartment.  My motorcycle helmet had to sit on the floor between my feet.

I guess the moral of this story is what you need and what you want are likely not the same.  I will be learning to get by with a little less, be less concerned with the comforts (althought I am so glad to have my pillow) and to value what it truly important first of all.  Tomorrow I arrive in Wa.