Monday, September 11, 2006

Why I love Ghana, part 1

Last thursday, we attempted to get to the Indian restaurant in Osu (nice part of town, near the US embassy, tons of overly expensive restaurants) however, while we were searching, it began to pour. We run into the closest restaurant, Tsing Tao Chinese, to look at the menu. Meals were like 100,000cedis (a little more than $10) - too much. So we get up to leave but its still pouring so we stand outside waiting. The co-manager of the restaurant, Steve, comes up to us and asks us why we are leaving. We explain to him that we are students and 100,000 is too much for us to pay for a meal. He says, don't worry about it, sit down, enjoy the food and drinks and its on the house. Sweet! So we got food for free and it was amazing.
Friday we leave for Hohoe. We take a tro-tro from Legon to Tudu station and find a tro-tro that is almost full (so we only sit for an hour waiting to leave). The tro-tro ride to Hohoe was an interesting experience. Right before we got to the bridge that crosses the Volta river, the tro-tro pulls over, about half the dudes get off, and then we are attacked by women and children selling various items. 2o women were shoving bread in our faces, one girl was shouting "puuure water" and a couple of boys were selling what looked like small squids on sticks. Then the driver got back on, and we left. It was crazy. We arrived in the dark town of Hohoe after a 3.5 hour ride. Thinking we were going to avoid the power outage by departing from Accra, we were disappointed that Hohoe also didn't have power from 6pm to 6am. A guy on our tro-tro directed us to the Grand Hotel, which didn't have any rooms, so we start walking towards the Pacific Guesthouse. We ask someone for directions and instead of giving them to us, he hails a friend with a car and asks him to drive us to the hotel for free. We get to the hotel, its 100,000/room/night, which would have been okay if there was power, but since there wasn't it was kind of obsolete to have to pay for a fan. There was a bathroom in the room, however, and that was nice. There was nowhere to eat except this Lips bar place who totally ripped us off (40,000 for chicken and rice). Saturday morning: We found a nice woman selling egg sandwiches on the street (3,000 cedis) We bought a loaf of bread from her (5,000 cedis) and bought some chocolate (9,000 cedis) for our journey up the mountain. We checked into the Grand Hotel (61,000/night/room) and then found a tro tro to Mount Afadjato and Liati Wote (the city at its base). We get on the tro-tro at 12:00pm. We sit. We play cards. We sit. We eat chocolate. We sit. Its 2:00pm and we haven't left yet. We are worried, because we don't want to hike in the dark. The tro-tro is waiting to fill up. The driver asks us to pay for the other four people so we can leave (8,500/person). We didnt want to pay for it all, so we paid for three and the other Ghanaians already on the tro-tro paid for the fourth. Then all hell broke loose. Five people got on the tro-tro, which would indicate that we paid for someone to ride the tro-tro for free, and the Ghanaians flipped out ("these girls paid for three, we paid for one, you are scamming us!") There was multi language yelling and we were just sitting there, totally in awe. The ride to the mountain was really bumpy and we stupidly sat in the back and kept wacking our heads on the ceiling. We get to the mountain, finally, and start hiking at 4. Its a short mountain (800 m), but it was sooo steep. I almost died. I think I was dehydrated, but it was horrible. It only took us an hour to hike to the top, even though we made stops every five minutes. It was a beautiful view. The Volta Region is so green and lush and beautiful in comparison to dirty, dusty, dry Accra. We hike down, but at this point we are a little nervous. Apparently, there aren't any tro-tros that run from the mountain back to Hohoe. All our stuff, and the hotel room we paid for, was in Hohoe. We were slightly concerned we would have to stay in Liati Wote with nothing. Luckily for us, there was a church group bus headed to Accra and we came down the mountain in time to bum a ride from them to another town where we could catch a tro-tro. We were extremely lucky, because we would have been stranded had it not been for the church group. We ate street food (rice, beans, boiled yams) for 6,000 cedis and hung out at the hotel with a Swede who bikes the world and a Canadian from Burkina Faso.
Sunday: Woke up at 6 because the hotel played LOUD gospel music. Headed to the same breakfast lady, bought some more bread from her, and ran into some british girls we had met at Kokrobitey beach. Found a tro-tro going to Wli falls (6,000) and weren't ripped off this time. Got to the falls, was asked if I would marry this guy and was told that I wasn't going to leave Ghana because this is my home ("one of our lost sisters returned") by the staff at the park entrance. Hiked for forty-five minutes to the falls, ate some cocoa straight from the tree (tastes really sugary), met some Californians studying at UofG as well. The falls were massive and gorgeous (pictures soon). There were a ton of fruit bats flying around, as well as soldier ants (gigantic black ants) all over the ground.
We caught a shared cab back to Hohoe (shared meaning, five people in the back seat and two in the front for 7,000 each) ate more street food (rice, beans, spaghetti and salad for 6,000) then found a tro-tro back to Accra (40,000). We got back to accra around 7 after a three hour, slightly uncomfortable and a bit cramped ride, and arrived back on campus a little after 8.
We were really surprised by our luck...always finding rides, always arriving on time, and not spending too much money (except for that one meal). That's why I love Ghana. because everything works out. and people are always friendly and welcoming (except for scammy tro-tro drivers and sketchy taxis).


Anna Davis said...

Wow! What an adventure! I was with you, right there next to you, experiencing the sometimes heart-pounding journey! Definitely a rush! You've become an amateur journalist. Thanks!

kwbena said...

oh man reading this makes me so homesick! Aren't the Ghanaians simply to coolest people in the world???

Mom said...
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Mom said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi Sweetie. It is apparent from your stories that you are having a fabulous experience which is what your study abroad should be. I am anxious to experience some of the culture and "tastes" when your nana, Maisha, Ama, Aaron (?) and I make our trek to the Cape Verde Islands. It will be awesome. Have you received the package yet?

Know that I love you!


Karen said...

More reasons to love Ghana:

- Baba, the vegetable kebab guy
- Pharmasies that sell chocolate spread
- Fries and omelettes at Tacobell (And the fact that they'll run and buy you an egg across the street when they actually stopped making omelettes)

Ok, I know I only think about food.. See you for dinner! :)