Chapter Two

Just over 10 hours later, Noelle arrived in Accra. The weather was hot and the humidity was thick as she walked through the jet bridge and inside Kotoka International Airport. Global Entry was only available in the United States so she inched along in the Customs line before making her way to retrieve her luggage in baggage claim.

“Akwaaba, my sister!” the skycap exclaimed. “It means welcome in our native tongue, Twi,” he said, noticing Noelle’s confusion. “Oh, thank you!” she replied. “How do I say ‘thank you’ in…your native tongue?” she asked, not quite sure how to use her tongue to correctly pronounce the word Twi. “Medaase,’ he said. “Medaase,” she repeated.

Noelle was tired and struggled to be fully present to soak in all the sights and sounds. If her flight was Soul Plane, then baggage claim was Mecca, swirling with Black people – old, young and in between – descending from all parts of the world, all with the purpose of returning home. Outside the airport was a band of drummers and dancers to welcome those arriving. Beyond them were a sea of signs with passenger or hotel names. She quickly found the driver assigned to her tour group and followed him to the van.

The 15-minute ride through the streets of Osu reflected the Christmas holiday with red and green ribbon intricately wrapped around gates and poles. The streets were at capacity with traffic, curbside vendors and carside hustlers selling everything from tissue to shoe polish. At 10 am, Accra was bustling. The driver pulled up to Roots Hotel and escorted Noelle to the front desk with her bags. “Medaase,” she said proudly before realizing she didn’t have any local currency for a tip. “Do you have anything for me? It’s Christmas,” the driver said. Embarrassed, Noelle searched her bag. The only small change she had on her was $10 USD. “Medaase, Alvin.” said a stern, yet familiar voice approaching from a distance. Noelle turned to see Mimi, the trip curator, approaching the front desk. “I’ll take it from here,” Mimi said, giving Alvin a side eye as he bashfully took his cue to leave. “That man knows we pay him too well to be asking for tips!” Mimi smiled. “Akwaaba, Noelle! Let’s get you checked into your room. I know you must be tired.”

Mimi was a beautiful, dark-complected woman with round cheeks and kind eyes that squinted when she smiled. She had a familiar energy that made Noelle feel relaxed. “This is going to be a good trip,” she thought, as she settled into her room. She drifted to sleep with ease before being awaken by her buzzing cell phone. “Chipmunk” flashed across her phone, which could only mean one thing. Her sister had arrived!

Song: Bra Fie, Fuse ODG ft. Damian Marley

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