Out of Africa and into Texas

Trip Start Apr 02, 2014
Trip End May 07, 2014

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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , Texas
Thursday, May 8, 2014

Yesterday after breakfast we worked in our rooms until check-out time at noon. Tom made the necessary arrangements to settle our bill, and we said goodbye to Ben, the owner-manager of the hotel. He's had unexpected complications with his hotel on the beach. The civil authorities don’t worry much about supplying a regular uninterrupted supply of electricity, so when the power goes off as it does every day. Business owners must pay for fuel to run their generators. This is a significant expense.

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   
And my personal favorite:
  • "Thick Mama Kitchen"!  
We moved slowly through the traffic on the outskirts of Accra to the fairly-new ring road which took us on the loop north to the Airport West Hotel, where we unloaded, put our luggage in storage and had dinner.

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 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!
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Ron Kelley on

Thanks Joel - and welcome home! We really enjoyed traveling with you (in this way)! Appreciate all your hard work and sacrifice to serve our church family in these areas.

Kathy Treybig on

I don't comment much but am truly enriched as I read your blogs and get to know our brethren throughout your travels. Thanks so much for sharing with all of us!

danielandcindy on

Very happy to see you made it home safely after such a long trip! Thank you for taking the time to share this voyage with us!

mary on

Thanks, Joel, for the comments and taking the time to help us picture the work in French-speaking Africa. We always appreciate being able to travel along through your words and pictures. We've come to be familiar with some of our brethren that we'll meet in the future.

Lonnie G. on

Thank for all your updates on the state of our African family. Lots of trials and tests of patience. Also thank you for the photos that show the beauty and sometimes the not so beautiful. I'm looking forward to more update on the next trip.

Barbara Anderson on

Thank for going to serve and taking the time during your busy trips to write the blogs.
It is wonderful to hear of our brethren in other lands and helps us appreciate having a local church and ministry.

Sara Hawk on

Welcome home!

Ted Franek on

Thanks for taking us along by your blog. Really enjoyed the trip and learned a lot too. Mostly I've learned to appreciate life here in the states so much more after seeing how the brethren there struggle just to put food on the table.
Will be looking forward to your next trip.

Lenna Slaughter on

I'm so thankful you are safely back home with your family Mr. Meeker. I have enjoyed seeing the brethren and country through your blogs and pictures. I got a chuckle out of the names of the shops you included in today's blog!

Tess Washington on

Thank you Mr. Meeker! We do appreciate very much all your blogs and all the photos you posted along with it! We are glad you're back in the country! We're also glad to hear about your future trip together with Mrs. Meeker! We look forward to share your future trips and see our brethrens in other countries! Your trips made us more aware of God's work going on in the countries you've visited, share your experiences and the brethrens!

Mavis on

Thank you very much for writing this blog. I enjoyed hearing of your travels and getting to meet our brethren.

Rosalynn V. on

I've really enjoyed reading your blogs. Thank you for sharing such detailed experiences and helping relay the work that is being done throughout the world. God bless!

scarmack513 on

So glad to finally have you home, Joel! It was great to be able to "travel" w/you to Africa and I look forward to your next trip. Send my love to Marj. She has been so patient and kind to wait weeks for you, she deserves the fun of this next trip w/you and I hope she enjoys it! G~d Bless both of you.

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