Out of Africa and into Texas
Trip Start Apr 02, 2014
33Trip End May 07, 2014
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Also illegal collection of sand off various beaches to be using in mixing building concrete is changing tide patters and leading to terrible erosion. The ocean has advanced about a hundred yards in front of the Elmina Bay threatening the restaurant with toppling into the water! This has required the additional expense of hauling large boulders to deposit on the beach and pouring concrete in between then to anchor them. He’s also build a concrete sea-wall along much of the resort property, none of which would have been necessary if there were not so much corruption.
He told me that he has discussed enforcement issues with local police and military authorities, and they’re all willing to help, if he pays them (as in, pays them to do the job for which they’re already receiving a salary from the State). He told me, trying to run a business in the developing world leads one to confront all sorts of things one simply doesn’t have to consider in the west. I’m sure it must be extremely frustrating. He’s bringing in lots of capital and jobs to the area and in return the authorities won’t do their jobs and extort bribes to allow him to keep his business going. So goes the world.
The same driver how drove us (ever so slowly) to Elmina, arrived to drive us back to Accra. It was about 12:30 when we left, so we stopped almost immediately at the Elmina Beach resort for lunch. This was one of the first places my family and I stayed in Ghana back in 2000 when we spent a large part of the summer here, helping many of the men with whom we’re still working now move toward entering our association. It hasn’t changed much and many family memories came back to me, such as my daughters trying fufu (for the first and last time) on the terrace!
We had fish and chips for lunch and then loaded back into the vehicle for the drive to Accra. It was interesting for the Walkers to actually see the scenery as we drove. Some of the shop names along the way, many with religious overtones, made us chuckle.
Here are a few that we saw:
- His Name Spare Parts
- Peculiar International School
- Trust in God Food Joint
- Seek Jesus Key Cutting Service
- High Class International School
- Godly Favored Eye Care Center
- "Thick Mama Kitchen"!
Mrs. Walker had red-red, while the three men had “chicken pillows” (chicken rolled with garlic and cheese, breaded and lightly fried. It was quite good.
About 7:30 we took the airport shuttle to the airport where we went to different lines: me to Delta, the Walkers and Tom to British Airways. We all were able to use the express check-in lanes, then said goodbye and safe travels, and headed our separate ways. My flight left an hour before theirs and Delta uses a different frequent flyer lounge than BA.
About 9:10 pm I boarded my flight which took off on time at 10:20 pm. The flight was very full, but passed without incident. I was tired enough that I was able to sleep for a good part of the 11 hour flight. I woke with about 3 hours to go, finished reading Boyd with a bittersweet ending; more bitter than the end of many human lives. Good biographies are enriching in many ways, not the least of which causing reflections on the brevity and nature of human life. The great, the near great and the unremarkable all end up in the same place. At the same time the Bible shows how the seemingly unremarkable can accomplish truly remarkable things that will only be revealed in the judgment.
We landed in predawn rain at Kennedy Airport in New York. To get a less expensive fare, I had accepted to get myself from JFK to LaGuardia for the final flight to Dallas. I zipped through immigration and customs with my new Global Entry status, which I already like very much. This is a sort of pre-clearance for frequent flyers which requires a background check and an interview (and a fee, of course). I breezed through, picked up my suitcase and went to find ground transport.
I asked at the taxi desk about how much a taxi fare would be to LaGuardia. The surly agent replied “it’s a metered fare.” I said I understood that, but asked again about how much that would be. He repeated “it’s a metered fare.” I said my English was quite good, thank you, but didn’t he have a ballpark idea of how much it would be? He repeated himself a third time but a female agent behind him said helpfully “about $40.” It thanked her, smiled at him, and went my way to look at other options. There was a shuttle bus that would leave in an hour for $13 per person, so I bought a ticket and waited. The sun rose on a rainy New York morning while I stood in line. As I watched the variety of people walking around and heard all the accents, I couldn't help wondering if New York wasn't itself a foreign country....
When the time came I walked quickly through the rain and loaded my bags in the shuttle. The drive only took a little over half an hour, and nothing unusual happened. At LaGuardia, I checked my suitcase, cleared security again and headed to the Delta lounge for a cup of cappuccino.
At 8:45 we began boarding the larger-sized Embraer, and I was happy to have a free upgrade to business class for the 3 ½ hour flight to Dallas. We left half an hour late due to air traffic; by the time we backed away and took our place in line, there were more than 20 aircraft in front of us waiting to take off. After we rose through the clouds we had some clear air, long enough to have a quick breakfast, but then we hit turbulence and stayed in rough air almost the whole way. We arrived 45 minutes late; my lovely and long-suffering Marjolaine was patiently waiting in the cellphone lot. We will enjoy the next few days getting reacquainted!
It’s wonderful to be home after a very full 5-week trip. My thanks to those of you who have followed this travel blog, and especially to those of you who have supported us by your prayers. Your comments, encouragement and your spiritual support are very much appreciated.
If all goes as planned my next trip should start in mid-June and will take Marjolaine and me to French-speaking Europe, francophone Africa and some of Southern Africa as well. I’ll send a reminder to those of you who have signed up for the mailing list. Warm regards!