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Ghana Day #61–63:
Seat Number 31

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Me: “Do I need to buy a bus ticket ahead of time?” (Also known as Mission Impossible. See Day#59 )

 

STC Ticketline Lady: “No, you just come.”

 

Me: “Richard, do I not need to buy a bus ticket ahead of time because it is the Republic Day long weekend?”

 

Richard: “No, we just go.”

 

So we just come/go.

 

Bus is full.

 

@#$%&

 

Me: “And now?”

 

Ticket Booth Lady: “You wait to see if everyone comes.”

 

So Richard and I wait to see if everyone comes.

 

(Richard came with me because I was a bit nervous when I heard the words Kaneshie ( See Day#54 ) and bus in the same sentence. If the station was anything like the market, I was going to end up in Togo. Only to arrive at a completely unintimidating STC Station!)

 

And we wait. And we wait.

 

And the longer we wait the more people show up, all asking for a seat on the same, already-full, Cape Coast Bus!

 

Me: “Richard, what do we do now?”

 

Richard: “We pray.” (Bless Richard! I suspect he was fearing another A&C Mall episode! See Day#12 )

 

With the arrival of every new Standby-Hopeful at the Ticket Sales Booth, I walk over to the Ticket Sales Booth to remind the Ticket Sales Booth I am also still waiting. While, in the meantime, Richard builds relations with the STC Bus Hostess. (Jip, STC busses have hostesses. What on earth was I worried for?!!)

 

At 8:29 (the bus is due to leave at 8:30) the Ticket Sales Lady steps out of her Ticket Sales Booth and walks over to the Cape Coast Bus.

 

And like the Pied Piper Of Cape Coast, all the Standby-Hopefuls follow her.

 

STC Ticket Lady speaks to the STC Bus Hostess. Lots of head-shaking.

 

From what I can make out there is 1 x No-Show. And 29 x Standby-Hopefuls.

 

STC Ticket Sales Lady goes back to her STC Ticket Sales Booth. Standby-Hopefuls follow and swarm around the Ticket Sales Booth window. With me right at the back.

 

Lots of animated conversations, and GHS20 notes being offered to STC Ticket Sales Lady (July, we are now on first-name basis).

 

I turned to look for Richard to tell him we should make another plan when I hear July say:

 

“No, it is for The White Lady.”

 

I blush Pantone Magenta.

 

Please, can somebody explain to the other Standby-Hopefuls that the ticket is for The White Lady because The White Lady has been waiting by the Ticket Sales Window since the crack of dawn, not because she is The White Lady?!! I don’t want The White Lady Ticket!

 

I am still having my inner-debate, when the money is taken out of my hand, pushed through the window and my ticket is passed back to me.

 

Richard’s prayers have been answered.

 

The White Lady is in Seat Number 31, on her way to Cape Coast.

 

 

_______________________________

 

Cape Coast

 

Somewhere between the STC Station in Kaneshie and Cape Coast, it starts to rain.

 

And it does not stop.

 

Chale man oh, now I am wondering whether this was such a good idea?!

 

When the bus stops, four hours later, at a canopy next to the road, my neighbour tells me this is the Cape Coast stop.

 

I get off. It rains harder.

 

All the travel guides tell you that the most cost-effective way to get around in Cape Coast is by Tro Tro.

 

So, when a taxi driver approaches I am ready.

 

“No thank you, I am taking a Tro Tro.”

 

“This is not Accra. There are no Tro Tro here, Madaaaam.”

 

I look around. Taxi Driver seems to be correct. Not a Tro Tro in sight.

 

Taxi Driver’s name is Alfred.

 

Alfred: “It is better if you use one car for all your trips. I will wait for you.”

 

I am not convinced.

 

But when Alfred drops me at Cape Coast Castle and drives off without asking for his money, trusting that I would call him when I was done… he is growning on me.

 

_________________________________________

 

Cape Coast Castle & Elmina Castle

 

Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle are hauntingly beautiful.

 

 

I am busy reading Home Going (the most wonderful gift from my three Surf Sisters: Meg, Helen & Cara).

 

The monotone Portuguese architecture, wooden shutters and swallows of especially Elmina Castle make it difficult to think that such atrocities could have happened here.

 

 

But they did. Between 1637-1814, it is estimated that 210 million Africans were taken from Africa. And most from the Gold Coast (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo etc). Of the taken ones 30% died in the horrific conditions in the dungeons of the Slave Castles. 30% died in the horrific conditions on the slave boats taking them to the new world. And the remaining 30% survived, to live out the remainder of their lives as slaves in the cotton fields and plantations of the new world.

 

Three of the horrifying facts that clenched my heart:

 

The first: The floor of the slave dungeon is not stone, like everywhere else, but smooth and even. What I was walking on was not plaster or concrete or earth. It was fortified human waste. The inches and inches of human waste that cover the floors of the slave dungeons have become part of the castle. My feet (and my heart) was touched by the DNA of the men and women and children who suffered here.

 

 

The second: There are cannon balls set in stone in the courtyard, under the Governor’s balcony. Female slaves were taken out of the dungeon, washed, brushed, and sent up the wooden staircase to satisfy the Governor’s needs. Imagine what this must have felt like: being taken from your beloved/family/children, kept under horrific conditions, hungry, dirty, scared. And then sent upstairs as entertainment to the person responsible for your misery. These cannonballs were used to tie up and starve the (courageous) women who refused.

 

The third: ‘The Door Of No Return’ that leads from the Slave Castle to the beach. From here Africa’s men, women and children exited. And never came back.

 

__________________________

 

Stumble In

 

From Elmina Castle, Alfred took me to Stumble In, where I was staying for the night.

 

Felt a bit like I arrived at the Dharma Project – everything looked completely deserted.

 

At the bar, I found a Charlie Club (not to be confused with Charlie Without The Club, See Day#15 ) and someone to check me in.

 

 

My thatched hut was on the sea sand between palm trees, with a sprinkling of chicken to complete the picture.

 

(Note: Don’t be fooled by the happy-looking, yellow ensuite longdrop. It is not happy at all. Desperately in need of some lime/sawdust.)

 

 

Watched the Uruguay Portugal game with the locals – and even with all the cheering and dancing going on, I could barely keep my eyes open.

 

I had the best meal I have had since arriving in Ghana: ’Cabbage Stew’. Delicious!!

 

(I could almost forgive Stumble In their lack of lime/sawdust. Almost.)

 

Took myself off to my mosquito net, and fell asleep with the sound of the sea in my ears.

 

__________________________

 

Kakum National Park

 

Alfred picked me up at the crack of dawn to take me to Kakum National Park.

 

(Note: Next time I will stay over in Cape Coast – it is closer and no unhappy long-drop. I will send a Tro Tro for the Cabbage Stew.)

 

  

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ox778zmr7faa4y0/Day%2361-63_1Stumble_In.MOV?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/71loncmr17zxdls/Day%2361-63_2Elmina.MOV?dl=0

 

The guidebooks say you can take a shared taxi to Kakum for next-to-nothing.

 

What they don’t tell you is that if no one else shows up at the crack of dawn to share your taxi you will be going with Alfred. Who definitely does not fall in the next-to-nothing range!

 

The guidebooks also say to arrive early, to do the Kakum Canopy Walkway, before the tour groups.

 

What they don’t tell you is that single travellers will be asked to wait for the tour group.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/oy3ud2dffhlo72x/Day%2361-63_3Kakum1.MOV?dl=0

 

I waited for about half an hour until the rain stopped. (Have I mentioned that it is still raining?)

 

Went to find out where the tour group was. Only to find Mr Kakum Canopy Tour fast asleep in his chair. (Gullible Oburoni, me.)

 

Ha.

 

So it came to pass that Mr Kakum Canopy Tour, Matthew, takes the single traveller on a solo Canopy Tour. In his church shoes.

 

The Canopy is amazing. And having it all to myself made it even more special. (Matthew stayed behind at the first station.)

 

A delicate-looking, cobweb of ropes and planks, suspending you 13 storeys-high above the forest floor.

 

  

https://www.dropbox.com/s/xnxq9vwkeo2fgze/Day%2361-63_3Kakum2.MOV?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ezqef027dou5n25/Day%2361-63_3Kakum3.MOV?dl=0

 

While I was walking, high in the air, all I could hear were the birds, the creak of the ropes and the whisper of the wind in the trees.

 

(Good thing I only read afterwards that the cobweb has collapsed recently!! Twice!!)

 

 

After asking me to marry him, Matthew gave me directions to Busua.

 

After asking me to marry him, Alfred drives me to Pedu station.

 

Alfred wanted to drive me to Busua, but now that I have paid for his children’s education, Primary and Secondary and Tertiary, it was time for us to go our seperated ways.

 

When we arrive at Pedu station, it is zooming with… Tro Tro’s!

 

(Little Lying So-And-So, told me this was not Accra, I would not find a Tro Tro! When meanwhile, he makes sure he catches unsuspecting travellers fresh off the bus and ensures they do not see the bustling Tro Tro station around the corner. When I called Alfred out on this he just grinned. Gullible Oboruni, me.)

 

 

__________________________

 

 

Tro Tro’ing

 

I took a Tro Tro to Busua.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t18qf7qrclnl9u6/Day%2361-63_4Busua_TroTro.MOV?dl=0

 

Don’t be fooled by how simple that sounds. What it actually means is:

 

From Cape Coast, I took a Tro Tro to Takoradi. From where the Tro Tro driver told one of my fellow passengers to walk with me to the station for Tro Tro’s bound for Agona. And from Agona a shared taxi to Busua.

 

While waiting for the Tro Tro in Takoradi to fill, a young man sitting in the front of the Tro Tro turned around and asked “May I disturb you, please? Are you going to Busua?” Having had enough marriage proposals for one day, I gave him my best “I don’t speak to strangers” look. Then he asked, “Are you going to surf?”

 

His name is Michael. And he is a surf instructor. And a dance instructor. And he knows Mr Bright from Kokrobite ( See Day#13 )

 

Michael and I travel together to Agona, where we get off.

 

I follow him through a maze of vendor stands and down a dirt road to an empty taxi standing in the middle of nowhere with its doors open. Michael gets in. I follow.

 

(Thank God for Michael, because I don’t think I would have found the taxi stand on my own!)

 

So here we sit, Michael and I, in the back-seat of a driver-less taxi in the middle of an open piece of land.

 

 

Me: “Where is the driver?”

 

Michael: “He will come.”

 

Me: “When?”

 

Michael: “When the taxi is full.”

 

Me: “But the taxi is? There are two of us?”

 

Michael points to the remaining two seats. With ‘full’ they mean ‘full’.

 

So we wait.

 

And we wait. And we wait.

 

Michael uses the time to run me through the four reasons he would make a good husband for me, which included him being a good dancer, drummer, people-person and good at ‘fun*’. (*Don’t think he meant soccer.)

 

________________________________

 

Busua

 

Busua blew me away.

 

I walked along the beach to Ahanta Surf Shop (I was staying at their accommodation, Ahanta Eco Lodge).

 

At the surf shop they gave me directions to carry on walking along the beach, across the black bridge beyond the fishing boats and the left.

 

What I expected was going to be a surf shack, ended up being the biggest surprise..

 

When Frida opened the barn doors they revealed a large, rustic-chic room with romantic ceiling fan, floor-to-ceiling louve windows, muslin curtains, floating shelves and mosquito net above the bed, and an ensuite bathroom with exposed plumbing and bare earth walls.

 

I was sure she had made a mistake and put me in the wrong room!!

 

Ahanta recommended Okorye Tree Restaurant on the beach for dinner.

 

I had my second most delicious meal since arriving in Ghana: RedRed and Fried Plantain with a fresh pineapple juice – which became dinner-for-two after 1 x Little Dining Companion decided to join me.

 

 

____________________________

 

Just when I thought my stay could not get any better…

 

Breakfast consisted of A (Very) Nice Cup Of Tea ( See Day#4 ), fresh fruit salad with mango, pineapple and banana and a glass of coconut water.

 

Which would have been enough! But then a plate arrived stacked high with pancakes, served with honey and/or Top Choco (Nutella’s Ghanaian brother. With no palm oil, Karl. See Day#52 ).

 

I love to travel and have stayed in some amazing places – especially when I worked in magazines – but Ahanta and Busua are on my top ten list of most beautiful stays!

 

(Which says a lot, as I have stayed in incredibly beautiful places like the Matemo and Pembo islands in Mozambique and luxurious hotels, like the 6-star Beau Rivage in Mauritius.)

 

Not to mention, the most amazing value for money: My beautiful room, including my beautiful breakfast cost GHS100 (R270)!!)

 

After a quick* surf, Peter, the owner of Ahanta, drove me and two other guests to Takoradi. (*Literally. Darn these fast Ghanaian waves. See Day#13 )

 

(Peter – the wonderful, kind man – gave me GHS10 of the GHS100 I gave him back because I was short on my taxi fare – there is no bank/ATM in Busua. He waved my protestations aside – saying I could pay him back when I see him again. Which I will!)

 

(When I was still 70 pesewas short, the wonderful, kind lady sitting behind me gave it to me.) (Truly The Kindest Warrior Kings, See Day#2 )

 

From Takoradi, I took a 6-hour Tro Tro ride back to Accra. (Without one stop. These people have bladders like camels!!)

 

As soon as the feeling comes back to my ass, I am going to start planning my return trip!

 

And start writing my book. I am going to call it ‘Last Seen In Busua’.

 

 

 

 

PS I took July, The STC Ticket Booth Lady a chocolate, to say thank you for the seat that made my amazing adventure possible.

 

PPS Book! You won’t regret it. Here is the Ahanta website.  It does not do them justice though!

 

PPPS When you go, please ask Peter about the amazing, clove liquid soap they use. Such an unusual, beautiful fragrance!


Ghana Day #60:
Apple-A-Day

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This is not just any apple.

 

Before I arrived in Ghana, my wonderful new EchoHouse colleagues asked me what my favourite snacks were.

 

I thought asking for a cupboard full of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups may place me in the “difficult” category.

 

But once I started thinking of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, I could think of nothing else. ( See Day#52 )

 

Realising that my Awesome-New-Boss’ Awesome-Administrator was waiting for my response I said the second thing that popped into my mind: “Fruit, please!”

 

When Awesome Administrator Pamela asked me what kind of fruit, I said “Oh, anything. Apples, pears..”

 

When I moved into my apartment, a few days later, my fridge was stacked to the freezer compartment with apples, pears, oranges and grapes.

 

I ate (delicious) fruit salad for my entire first week in my new home.

 

When my apples and pears finished, I walked up to my friend David’s fruit stall, at the top of the road, to buy more. ( See Day#7 )

 

I bought a watermelon. Which became my weekly watermelon.

 

Which then became my weekly watermelon and my weekly bunch of bananas.

 

Which then became my weekly watermelon, my weekly bunch of bananas and my weekly pineapple.

 

Which now is my weekly watermelon, my weekly bunch of bananas, my weekly pineapple and my weekly coconut.

 

But no apples.

 

I asked Richard (Knower-Of-All-Things) why I could not find apples anywhere.

 

Turns out that Apples do not grow in Ghana. It is too hot! (I know what they mean. See Day#53 )

 

My apples came all the way from South Africa.

 

So, when I said “Fruit please!”, I was asking for imported fruit!!

 

Pamela had to go to Shoprite (Ghana’s Giovanni’s. See Day#35 ) to get them for me.

 

Jip. Straight into the “difficult” category!

 

I wonder if it is too late to ask for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups…

 


Ghana Day #59:
Cash Economy Part #2

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When I made my list of “We’ve Come A Long Way Baby” after being here for a month I told you about my Vodafone Cash. ( See Day#31 )

 

Well, I finally found a use for my Vodafone Cash.

 

This coming weekend is a long weekend in Ghana. (I know! Another one!! It is my third long weekend in 8 weeks!! I am never leaving Ghana.)

 

We are celebrating Republic Day on Monday. And I am taking myself up The Republic to Cape Coast and then to Busua.

 

At first, I thought my only option would be to go with a driver.

 

But, from my Kokrobite track record with King Appiah and Godfred ( See Day#33 ), I have realised that may end up with the driver sleeping in the B&B and me sleeping in the car.

 

After some research, I have put together an excursion with logistics that would make DHL proud!

 

I am taking the bus.

 

Bus route. Check.

 

Bus schedule. Check.

 

Bus ticket.. on it!

 

Can not find the purchase button.

 

“Welcome to our site, if you need help simply reply to this message, we are online and ready to help.”

 

I simply reply.

 

(Silence)

 

Ok, let’s try email.

 

(Silence)

 

Ok, let’s try the phone number.

 

Tring, tring.

 

Me: “Hi there, I would like to buy a bus ticket to Cape Coast on Saturday please.”

 

Intercity Lady: “You can try 8:30.”

 

Me: “Ok, thank you. I will phone back at 8:30. Goodbye.”

 

(30 seconds)

 

Wait ..I am sure the bus schedule said the bus for Cape Coast leaves at 8:30. Did she mean to try the phone at 8:30, or try the bus at 8:30?

 

Tring, tring.

 

Me: “Hi there, did you mean I should phone back at 8:30, or the bus is leaving at 8:30?”

 

Intercity Lady: “The bus is leaving at 8:30”

 

Me: “May I book a ticket please.”

 

Intercity Lady: “Yes.”

 

Me: “Great, can I pay over the phone?”

 

Intercity Lady: “Yes.”

 

Me: “Fantastic! Can I book please?”

 

Intercity Lady: “You have Mobile Money?”

 

Me: “I do!” (With more than a touch of pride in my voice. Ghanaian local, me.)

 

Me: “Can I just transfer money from my bank to my phone and phone back to pay?”

 

Intercity Lady: “No.”

 

Intercity Lady: “You need to go to the vendor.”

 

Me: “I need to wait for the morning to make my way across town to a vendor in order to enjoy the convenience of paying online?”

 

The Intercity Lady is not interested in my thoughts on irony.

 

Me: “Is this the only way?!!”

 

This is the only way.

 

____________________________

 

Next evening, take Uber to Accra Mall. (Uber shows up! ( See Day#58 )

 

 

Go to Vodafone.

 

 

Me: “Can I please put Mobile Money on my phone?”

 

 

Vodafone Lady: “Yes”

 

 

Me: “Great, can I pay with my credit card?”

 

 

Vodafone Lady: “No.”

 

 

Me: “No?”

 

 

Vodafone Lady: “You need to draw cash.”

 

 

Me: “I need to walk to the other side of the mall to draw cash to bring back to you to put on my phone in order to enjoy the convenience of paying online?”

 

 

The Vodafone Lady is not interested in my thoughts on irony either.

 

 

“You go get cash.”

 

 

I go get cash.

 

 

____________________________

 

 

Home.

 

 

Tring, tring.

 

 

Me: “Hi there, I’m back. Can I please book that bus ticket to Cape Coast on Saturday please.”

 

 

Intercity Lady: “You have Mobile Money?”

 

 

Me: “I do!” (I do! I do! I do!)

 

 

Intercity Lady: “MTN Mobile Money?”

 

 

Me: “No. Vodafone Mobile Money.”

 

 

Intercity Lady: “We only take MTN Mobile Money.”

 

 

Me: “What?!”

 

 

Me: “Why didn’t tell me yesterday?!!”

 

 

Intercity Lady: “We only take MTN Mobile Money.”

 

 

Me: “But I have a Vodafone phone?!”

 

 

Intercity Lady: “You go get MTN Mobile Money, they put it on for you.”

 

 

_____________________________

 

 

After today’s workshop at the Relle Suite Hotel (where I spent my first night in Ghana! See Day#2 ), I make a beeline for the hotel reception desk.

 

 

Me: “Can you please tell me where I can buy MTN Mobile Money?”

 

 

Reception Lady: “Yes, from the man under the yellow umbrella across the road.”

 

 

Me: “Fantastic!”

 

 

_____________________________

 

 

Me: “Hi there, I would like to put some MTN Mobile Money on my phone please.”

 

Man Under The Yellow Umbrella: “How much?”

 

 

Me: “Enough for my bus ticket.”

 

 

Man Under The Yellow Umbrella: “What is your phone number?”

 

 

Me: “+233 20 080 XXXX”

 

 

Man Under The Yellow Umbrella: “That is a Vodafone number.”

 

 

Me: “Yes, I know. I have Vodafone Mobile Money on there, but I need to add MTN Mobile Money please.”

 

 

Man Under The Yellow Umbrella: “You can’t”

 

 

Me: “But they Intercity Lady said..” “Never mind.”

 

 

Me: “How do I get MTN Mobile Money?”

 

 

Man Under The Yellow Umbrella: “You need an MTN Sim.”

 

 

Me: “May I have an MTN Sim please.”

 

 

Man Under The Yellow Umbrella: “Do you have a Ghanaian ID?”

 

 

RICHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD!!!!!!!!


Ghana Day #58:
Cash Economy Part #1

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For the first five weeks in Ghana, I could not get an Uber. ( See Day#31 )

 

Well, I could get one, but it would be Uber Number Seven.

 

Instead of counting down, Uber Number One would count up!

 

Your driver is 7 minutes away… Your driver is 8 minutes away… Your driver is 9 minutes away…

 

Uber Number Two would park a block away and not move. No matter how many “Chale man oh” messages I sent.

 

Uber Number Three’s little mini car icon would keep making little mini u-turns on my phone screen.

 

Uber Number Four would inch it’s way to the top of my road. And cancel!!

 

Uber Number Five would drive past my front door and keep just going…

 

Uber Number Six would change his name and move to Tema.

 

I kept thinking it had something to do with the fact that I am address-less. ( See Day#24 )

 

Until King Appiah ( See Day#21 ) explained that this was because the Uber Drivers “they see your surname.”

 

“My surname?!” “They don’t like my surname?” “Is it ‘cause I’m Oburoni?”

 

 

“No.” “It’s because they don’t like your credit card.”

 

 

“I could use another one?”

 

 

“They won’t like that one either.”

 

 

You see, Uber Driver cannot accept my GHS20 credit card payment because Uber Driver does not have a bank account for Uber to put my GHS20 into.

 

 

And without my GHS20 Uber Driver can not put petrol into his car. (Literally. This morning he ran out of petrol in Tema, because his Uboroni Uber Rider paid him by card.)

 

 

_____________________________

 

 

Changed the Little Visa Icon next to my Uber request to the Little Bank Note Icon. Voila! Uber Driver arrived.

 

Problem solved.

 

 

The next Uber Driver came straight to my front door.. and drove off! Again!!

 

 

Problem not solved.

 

 

_____________________________

 

 

Until this evening. Thanks to Uber Driver Roger, I finally cracked the code to the erratic pattern:

 

 

Uber Driver A uses Android phone and can see which payment method I selected.

 

 

Uber Driver B uses iPhone and cannot see which payment method I selected.

 

 

Uber Driver A accepts my ride and then makes little loops with his little car icon while he waits for something better to come along.

 

 

Uber Driver B accepts my ride and…

 

 

To quote Uber Driver Roger: “I just pray it is cash.”

 

 

From now on I will answer Uber Driver B’s prayers.

 


Ghana Day #56:
#MyMixedStreet

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One of the things I love most about Mempeasem is how varied my neighbourhood is.

 

This is the left-hand side of my street:

 

And this is the right-hand side of my street:

 

There are huge mansions in my street.

 

And there are little shacks in my street.

 

The house behind me has a 50 x 50-meter privacy screen with a big swimming pool behind it – which no one uses.

 

(Which I stare at longingly every morning at 6:15 when the sun hits my kitchen window just as I am I make A Nice Cup Of Tea ( See Day#4 ). One of these nights I am going to scale that privacy screen. Watch this space..)

 

And on the corner to the left of my apartment block, there is a water pump, for those without running water.

 

In the mornings I sit at my window, and I watch my beautiful neighbours walking down the road to collect water.

 

And, at the same time, I watch the mom, at the compound to the right, get into her luxury SUV to take her kids to school.

 

There are fancy cars and enormous satellite dishes in my street.

 

And there are chickens and goats and more chickens in my street. ( See Day#18 )

 

This is one of the (many) things ( See Day#43 ) I wish I could take home to South Africa.

 

Not the chickens. The mixed living.

 

Our apartheid history has robbed us of so much beauty.

 

Here there is no “us” and “them”. Only neighbours.

 

To quote Archangel Richard ( See Day#12 ):

 

“We eat each other’s bread.”


Ghana Day #55:
Operation Calm Life

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This afternoon, on the way back from Kokrobite, we passed a roadblock.

 

Lena, who surfs with me and was driving us back to Accra, mentioned that she had been pulled over many times before.

 

Which reminded me that on one of our previous trips, King Appiah had pointed out a vehicle ahead of us in the traffic.

 

“That is the patrol,” he said.

 

When we got closer I saw a couple of gentlemen in army fatigues on the back, with a sign on the side that read “Calm Life”.

 

That must be the best army pay-off line in the world! “Calm Life”. I love that!

 

Isn’t that what we all want?!!

 

The “Calm Life” army does spot-patrols of neighbourhoods, in order to maintain safety and security.

 

Which is why my own area can be called, Mempeasem: “I don’t want any problems”!!

 

According to King Appiah, these “Calm Life” patrols have brought about a significant decline in crime.

 

Operation Calm Life working magic – Ambrose Dery
“Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery, has lauded the introduction of Operation Calm Life indicating that it has resulted in minimising armed robberies and crime in the country. According to him, the joint military and police operation is yielding positive results, adding that the programme will be intensified.”

 

And crime has been (even more) top of mind for me over the last couple of days.

 

My sister’s house, in Johannesburg, was burgled a couple of days ago.

 

The thieves literally chopped down the security gate and back door.

 

The next day, when I received a link to the South African crime stats recently, I deleted it without opening it – I don’t want to know. ( See Day#43 )

 

Feeling as safe as I do here ( See Day#5 ) has made me aware of the constant state of stress us South Africans live in.

 

Dear President Cyril Ramapoza, pleeeeeeeease can we have a “Calm Life” for Christmas, pleeeeeaaassee?

 


Ghana Day #54:
Kaneshie

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I left Accra at the crack of dawn to join Lea and Mr Bright for a surf at The Point in Kokrobite. ( See Day#19 )

 

For the first time since I started going to Kokrobite the sea was not bathwater warm (28 degrees). Which was lovely!

 

One of the things I love about surfing back home is how awake you feel when that first (17 degrees) wave hits you.

 

The locals did not agree though, they were all complaining about the freezing water!

 

Don’t know what they would say about the (14 degrees) Instant-Ice-cream-Headache-Elands-Bay-Waves up the West Coast at home, then!

 

I reminded myself of one of those “Vaalies” (inland holiday-makers), we used to make fun of when I was growing up in Durban, for swimming in mid-winter.

 

Instead of driving to Kokrobite on Saturday and Sunday, I decided to stay over at Dizzy Lizzy’s this time.

 

Don’t know why this has not occurred to me before! This way I can surf two days for the price of one trip. And get Reggae Night thrown in too!

 

(Don’t know how I am going to break the news to King Appiah, Godfred and Innocent – our Saturday trips together have become an institution.)

 

We were enjoying a post-surf Milo at Dizzy Lizzy’s when Lea mentioned that she and a friend were planning to visit the Kaneshie market later.

 

I have been wanting to visit some of the big markets in Accra.

 

But have been a bit intimidated by some of the things I read on TripAdvisor ( See Day#25 ) which described the markets as “intense”, “sprawling chaos” and “take a guide”.

 

Enter (Lovely) Guide Lea.

 

___________________________

 

We took a Tro Tro from Kokrobite to Kaneshie.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/cxq29xdsczspgb3/Day%2354_Kaneshie.MOV?dl=0

 

A sea of umbrellas and stalls cover every inch of floorspace, pavement, stairs, bridge. And that is before you even get to the market!

 

Kaneshie market itself is a three-story building filled to the brim and spilling over onto the surrounding streets.

 

The name Kaneshie means “Under The Lamp” because it started off as a night market in the 70’s. (Love the art deco building blocks.)

 

Each floor houses a different product category:

 

The ground floor is food: Here you can buy anything from grains and freshly ground chilli to live crabs and giant snails.
(The picture is out of focus because I took it with my eyes closed. Otherwise I may have gone home with a bucket of Rescue Crab Pets.)

 

The first floor is hair: All things hair, braid and hair accessory.

 

The second floor is fabric. We headed here first.

 

Adepa and Kente fabric as far as the eye can see, with vendors, tailors and seamstresses competing for your attention.

 

The rich colours and patterns merge into an endless patchwork that is so vivid that you can almost taste it.

 

I only bought one piece of fabric, my favourite: “You Are Quoting From” ( See Day#28 ), before sensory overload took over and I became completely indecisive.

 

Lea and her friend (whose name has slipped my mind) were far more productive, choosing patterns and negotiating deals like old hands.

 

At the rate I am choosing fabrics it will take me years to build up my Not “For The Funeral” Wardrobe.

 

Long after we left the market those colours and patterns still danced behind my eyes.

 

Maybe I will be like Kaneshie. Filled with colour and pattern on the inside.


Ghana Day #53:
Winter North Of The Wall

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Back home, in Cape Town, I drive a little Mazda MX5 – with a black soft-top and no airconditioning.

 

Whenever I park her in the Cape Town City Bowl, in the summer sun, for the whole day, I always dread getting in because the interior is like a little oven.

 

I always thought this was the hottest I could get.

 

Until I arrived in Ghana.

 

On my first day, I could not wait for nightfall, for the weather to cool down. But it never did!

 

In Cape Town, the nighttime temperature is usually around half the day temperature. Not in Ghana.

 

There is very little difference between the daytime and nighttime temperature (or the sea temperature, for that matter) – they all seem to be set at minimum 28 degrees.

 

 

I had a (heat) headache for the whole of my first week.

 

When I asked (with anticipation), at the office, when winter would be arriving, I learned that this is winter!!

 

Or more precisely, there is no winter in Ghana. Only Dry (And Hot) season and Rainy (And Hot) season.

 

We are in Rainy (And Hot) Season at the moment.

 

And even though it rains a lot – and when it does the sky literally opens – it makes little difference to the temperature.

 

The East-facing wall of my apartment still bakes during the day and radiates heat in the evenings.

 

Washing dries within minutes. Inside!

 

I have to force myself to close the fridge door immediately when I take something out.

 

Since moving in, I have not turned the geyser on once.

 

I hardly ever wear closed shoes to the office, and when I do I regret it within the first five minutes.

 

I still Walk Like An Oburoni ( See Day#22 ) most days, but always regret it half-way when I start seeing mirages.

 

In the mornings, when I get ready for work, I walk around in my underwear for as long as possible.

 

Not because I am an exhibitionist (although my neighbours may disagree), but to prevent rivulets pouring down my cleavage and the small of my back.

 

 

And then, when I get to the office, my colleagues are wearing jerseys and jackets!

 

 

As I sit writing this, it is.. wait for it.. 28 degrees outside.

 

 

While, accross the continent, it is 9 degrees back home, South Of The Wall, in Muizenberg.

 

 

How about we meet half-way?


Ghana Day #52:
My Name is Abénaa, And I Am An Addict

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I don’t have an addictive nature. Or, at least, I didn’t think I have an addictive nature.

 

Have tried (sensored*), (sensored*), (sensored*) and even (sensored*), no problem. (*In case my parents are reading this.)

 

But the sheer desperation with which I pursued a Nice Cup Of Tea, on my fourth day in Ghana ( See Day#4 ), has made me re-evaluate my perception of myself. And I have to admit it…

 

My name is Abéna Chenél Ferreira, and I am an addict. This is a list of my addictions:

 

 

_____________________

 

 

Surfing

 

The fact that this is on the list ahead of the Nice Cup Of Tea, should tell you exactly how severe this addiction is. And it is not just in my head. Literally.

 

Your body’s amazing reaction to water.”

 

“Scholander had documented one of the most extreme transformations ever discovered in the human body, a change that occurred only in water. He called it the Master Switch of Life.”

 

 

_____________________

 

Nice Cup Of Tea

 

As I mentioned on Day#4, I come from a tea-drinking people. In my parents’ house, an hour does not pass without someone saying ’Hoe lyk dit met ’n koppie tee?’.
We drink tea when we are happy, when we are sad when we are thirsty when we are hungry, when we have nothing better to do. We drink tea all day.
Not being able to have a Nice Cup Of Tea for four days taught me a lot about myself.

 

It also taught Richard and (other) Richard a lot about, while they accompany me on (unsuccessful) kettle hunts and put up with my requests for midnight gas-bottle refills for the stove.
Not to mention the Jumia operator who had to explain to me why the overnight delivery of my kettle was going to take 20 days

 

I like tea. A lot.

 

 

_____________________

 

Ideal Milk

 

One can not have a Nice Cup Of Tea without Ghana’s Favourite Milk ( See Day#8 ).

 

 

_____________________

 

Nutella

 

I used to keep 7 jars in the cupboard. One to eat. And six in-case that one ran out.

 

Until somebody (let’s call him Karel), informed me that Nutella contains Palm Oil.

 

Now I can not have Nutella because of the poor farmers, the poor orangutan and the poor Sumatran tiger.

 

Which is creating problems for me:

 

In Ghana, 95% of dishes in Ghana contain meat or fish. And the remaining 5% (including my two friends, Jollof and Ideal Milk!!) contain Palm Oil.

 

Seeing as I am eating Palm Oil already… now would be a good time to send me some Nutella.

 

_____________________

 

Helvetica

 

The most perfect font ever created. If that makes me a Lazy Designer, so be it. Haters will hate, Chale man oh.

 

Haha. This is quite funny though: “I think Kayne West secretly designed Helvetica. “ — msampersand

 

In my very first design job, at DeKat magazine, my mentor/hero Anton Sassenberg once told me: “If you can not design in Helvetica, you can not design.”

 

I’m with Guru Sassenberg.

 

Which reminds me: Repairing the ‘Crease Where I Do Not Want A Crease’ has meant no more Helvetica on my surfboard! (See Day#47 ) This is an Akzidenz Grotesk! (Please tell me someone got that.)

 

 

_____________________

 

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Ghana has not discovered the sheer glory that is ‘Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’.
To quote my friend Cristal: “They were made in heaven. By Brad* Pitt. Naked.” (*River Runs Through It Brad, not Sad Brad.)

 

But, to make up for this shortfall, Ghana has Groundnut Paste.

 

It is almost Brad Pitt. Almost.

 


Ghana Day #51:
Ghana Mixed Tape

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This morning when Richard was driving me to the office I was singing along to King Promise’ CCTV on the radio.

 

This says a lot, as the song is in Twi. Which should give you an idea of how many times I have listened to it.

 

At any given time at least one of my neighbours will play it during the course of the evening. Twice.

 

Not to mention the number of times I listen to it with King Appiah and Godfred/Innocent on Saturdays on our way to Kokrobite.

 

Ye wo Nyame bia (Look! Gye Nyame! See Day#48 )
Ontonko na Onda oo
)nie ne me CCTV da biara ne ani wo mesu
Even if i walk through the valley of death
I no dey fear
Everyday be jah guide oo

 

On that note… Hie hie

 

I don’t know what I look forward to more over weekends. Surfing in Kokrobite. Or the drive to Kokrobite.

 

This was the playlist last Saturday, which inspired the Ghana Mixed Tape I have made for you.

 

Take a listen:

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/29q4lyhv6wigxk2/Day%2350_Kokrobite_Mixed_Tape.mov?dl=0

 

 

________________________

 

Shatta Wale

 

“..is a Ghanaian-born producer and reggae-dancehall musician. He is known by his stage name Shatta Wale (formerly Bandana), his best-known song is “Dancehall King”, which led to winning the Artiste of the Year at the 2014 edition of the Ghana Music Awards.

 

“What some people say “The Dancehall Messiah” started in Nima a small community in Accra, Ghana a place that harbours a lot of energetic Muslim youth and ghettos. It was there he amassed a legion of fanatic fans by giving them lessons and empowering them through his dancehall songs. “Everyday I and I still recording beca I know my music is solving problems way keep evolving inna family and relationships solely”

 

________________________

 

Shatta Wale – Freedom

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI04FXFEu0o

 

“..He is continuously being reviled and tagged as arrogant, cocky, the Tupac of Africa, 50cent, Vybz Kartel and the Floyd Mayweather Jr. of Africa.”

 

Who else would launch a song of which the lyrics contain only two words? Of which one is your name?

 

Shatta, Shatta
Shatta, Shatta
Shatta, Shatta
Shatta, Shatta
[Chorus]
Freedom…
Freedom…
Freedom…
Freedom…

 

The (Oburoni) ladies love The Shatta.

White lady goes ‘mad’ for Shatta Wale’s ‘Freedom’
White lady boogies to Shatta Wale‘s ‘Freedom’

 

________________________

 

 

Shatta Wale – Gringo

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BnoV5WGQ1M

 

Shatta Wale’s Gringo hits over 1 million views on YouTube, still number 1 on trending!

 

 

“Some people find his actions to be provocative. But on the other hand, many people have defended and praised Shatta Wale for his boldness in addressing issues and saying it as it is without fear.”

 

 

He shows no fear when it comes to lyrics:

 

 

If ah gyal seh push
Make sure you push it inna womb
Make sure she ah bark like wuu!
If you got a long cock, make sure you put it inna use
Cuh di woman dem want it used

 

________________________

 

King Promise – CCTV (featuring Sarkodie & Mugeez)

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEFvjxeQxqk

 

“..known by his stage name King Promise is an award-winning, born 16th of August. Ghanaian recording artist who had several songs on the charts at the same time in 2017.
“King Promise hit song ‘CCTV‘ reaches 1 million views”

 

________________________

 

DJ Vyrusky (I met him last week!)

 

“.. popularly known as DJ Vyrusky is an award winning Ghanaian disc jockey, he was the Commercial Media Manager at EchoHouse, before he becoming a full time DJ on Starr Drive in 2014.[1] He is currently the 2017 Ghana DJ Awards Best DJ of the Year and Best DJ from the Ghana Music Honors.”

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ltJrEMc1Ko

 

________________________

 

KiDi – Adiepena

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH8DAiSjmfA

“..known by performing name KiDi, is an award-winning Ghanaian highlife and afrobeat singer-songwriter. He is signed to the award-winning record label Lynx Entertainment and is best known for his hit single Odo which was one of the biggest songs in Ghana in 2017.

 

________________________

 

MzVee ft Yemi Alade – Come and See My Moda

 

 

“Vera Hamenoo-Kpeda, better known by her stage name MzVee, is a Ghanaian singer, Afropop, dancehall and R&B artiste. Her debut solo album features several hit singles including ‘Borkor Borkor’, ‘Natural Girl’ and ‘Dancehall Queen’. MzVee is signed to the record label Lynx Entertainment and was the winner of the New Artist of the Year award at the 2015 Ghana Music Awards.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OInajwCmEnA

If you want my body, then come see my Mummy
I no like your money but I know you want my body
My body, my body Ha le le le body
Come see my mummy
Make it official, if you really mean am
Come and follow me, all the way to Ghana o

 

________________________

 

Enrique Iglesias – Hero (Blame King Appiah and Godfred/Innocent for this one!)

 

Enrique Miguel Iglesias Preysler is a Spanish singer, songwriter, actor and record producer. He is widely regarded as the King of Latin Pop. Iglesias started his career in the mid-1990s on an American Spanish-language record label Fonovisa Records under the name Enrique Martinez, before switching to the stage name Enrique Iglesias and becoming one of the biggest stars in Latin America and the Hispanic market in the United States.

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koJlIGDImiU