Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ghana Trip, Day 1

So, yesterday afternoon we finished our packing and were trying to get to bed early so we could wake up at 0-dark-thirty to get to the airport. As we went outside to feed and water the chickens, we noticed that our Buff Orpington, Edna (the sweet chicken), was dead on the ladder exiting the coop.

Horrified, I called Urban Farm Store, and I was told that unless I could see injuries (nope) or a stuck egg (nope) that she’d probably just had a heart attack. Those can happen with that specific breed. Um. Okay. I rechecked the chicken corpse (seriously, this city girl was never planning on doing any such nonsense) and found nothing, so we moved her out of the coop into a box, cleaned the coop out, and I went to pick up my daughter while Pablo dug a grave.

Rory had lost a tooth at school, and she was devastated by the chicken’s untimely demise…until she found out she’d be getting a new chicken, and would get to have her very own little pet cemetery. At the chicken store, she helpfully explained the situation to the guy helping us, and we boxed up two black Autralorp pullets to take home (because apparently, you can’t introduce just one new chicken to a coop). We drove home just as the sun was setting, and had a somber little chicken funeral.

Once home, the kids helped unpack the box of chickens, and snuggled their new egg-laying pets

Then we tossed the young’uns in bed, and I prepped my homework for the trip, packing which books I could and massive amounts of pen and paper. Steve took our room, Pablo grabbed a recliner, and I hopped into bed with Jules (who sang/talked and signed in his sleep about Joanna, trains, Katie and the boys). Not a restful night’s sleep, but very sweet.

We were up and out the door at 4 this morning, with Melissa and Julian, and arrived at the airport by 5. We went to check in, only to be told by a blustering, self-important greeter that we couldn’t board the plane until he was holding the card that had purchased our tickets in his hands. Problem? That card was in Utah, where the two non-profits coordinating our trip were stationed, because it was Rachel’s card. Resolving the issue (frantically calling Rachel and Aaron, having her talk to Delta, explaining that she’d asked about all of this about 4 hours ago when she’d been at the SLC airport) took about an hour, and we were JUST able to kiss Jules, get through security and get a cup of coffee before we were boarded to JFK.

After an uneventful but turbulent flight, we rounded on New York. I tried to pick out any landmarks I’d recognize from movies, and was able to see a few bridges, including Brooklyn, and the Chrysler building.

JFK has no internet in much of the airport, so while some homework got done, none got turned in. Pablo and I happily ate and slept however, waiting for the Colemans, Curry and Jen to arrive. Pablo and I took the opportunity to voice-off for the time spent waiting, except when ordering food, and were pleased that we could keep a pretty decent conversation going. We were, however, avoided like we had something catching by those who saw us signing. When the Utah folks arrived, I had the wonderful chance to actually talk with Leah about her trip last time, my class and the interp program. The last time we met it was a rather hurried dinner, and she was buried in a book, so it was nice to get to talk to her.

The group then wandered around JFK until Ronai and Ellie arrived. Our party complete, we checked in for our flight on Nigeria Air, to Accra, Ghana. Rachel, Aaron, Leah, Jen and Curry were bumped to “Business Class,” and so boarded early, while Ronai, Ellie, Pabs and I remained in coach.

While waiting to board, I was chatted up by a very friendly Ghanaian from Accra, who asked where we were going, and why. He was less friendly once he discovered that I was married, but nonetheless cautioned me against going to Mampong.

“Why?” I asked.

“It’s so very cold there,” he said about a place that is 85 in the winter, as we sit in 30 at JFK.

“Well, that’s where the Deaf school is, so that’s where we’re headed,” I chirped, trying to move on to the next topic of conversation.

“Why would you go there?”

“Well, I’m studying to be an ASL interpreter…”

“A sign language interpreter?” he interrupted. “Why? We don’t have any of those in Ghana.”

“Well,” I said, more coolly than I had before, “here in the US there are Deaf doctors, lawyers and teachers who need interpreters to help their patients, clients and students understand them. In the same way, there are Deaf students, parents and employees who need interpreters to communicate with the hearing world.”

“Deaf doctors?!? There are no Deaf doctors! How could that be?”

“Years of college, medical school, residency, and a super-human ability to deal with the ignorant?”

He laughed, dismissed me as a crazy person, and went back to his phone call while I signed angrily at Pablo about all the things that were wrong in that conversation.

Eventually, we all boarded the plane, and found ourselves sitting right behind Ellie and Ronai.

Sitting with the two of them was nice because it meant that we were able to chat even over the safety announcements, and while other people snuggled down to sleep. Despite the bad TV, the loud and full plane, and the desire to be respectful of our neighboring passengers, we could just gab away. It really is a phenomenal language.

Now, just a few hours before we touch down in Ghana.

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