“Wait, How Do I Make an International Call?”

1/12/10

“Wait, How Do I Make an International Call?”

It is 20:40 in Johannesburg, South Africa and I am sitting in its international airport. Coldplay is blasting through my iPod earbuds in an attempt to drown out my own insecurities, and the overwhelming loneliness that accompanies being the only English speaker within earshot. With every turn of my head there is a picture of smiling Africans, roaming elephants, or picturesque sunrises on the savannah. This, however, doesn’t fool me, I see beyond the smiles and vibrant colors. The fact is, in my hours of navigating the airport I have not seen one white employee. They all seem to be going to or returning from exotic lands while their fellow citizens clean up their mess. Don’t get me wrong, I have not witnessed any form of prejudice by any means, but it is clear that scars of a troubled past still remain in this country.

As for my travels, 28 hours after my departure from Indiana, PA I have endured a 17 hour plane ride with a screaming child and a broken entertainment system (who knew you could fall asleep to full volume System of a Down?). I give it to South African Airways however, they are courteous, humorous, and generous. In economy you are provided three square meals with at least two options for entrée. You also get a pillow, blanket, toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, and an eye mask. They covered everything a traveler could need. After my legs completed the burning and eventual numbing phases of the trip I was good to go.

We will see what my last leg from Joburg to Accra, Ghana bring, but I have every confidence in South African Airways. I only hope my host family and RUSO will be as accommodating. With any luck they too will move closer to the ground to prevent any turbulence. I will arrive at 05:45 GMT in a new and exotic land myself, with everything I have read about culture, etiquette, and history rushing through my head. With any luck I will make it through the first day without offending anyone.

Practical Ghanaian Travel Tip #1: When calling the United States, start with 001 and then enter the area code and phone number. Anywhere in Africa only needs 00 and then the number.

Practical Ghanaian Travel Tip #2: Guidebooks say to be friendly to the locals. This is very true. With the three simple phrases “please”, “excuse me”, and “thank you” I managed to not have to pay a fee for currency exchange, learned how to use the telephone, and got information about my flight with a smile. People love to help the dumb foreigner.

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