Will we ever leave...?
Trip Start Sep 11, 2005
22Trip End Ongoing
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Voodooo in Benin, petrol shortages in Nigeria, Rains in Cameroon, mud in Congo, heart of darkness in DRC: all our experiences since the last update? Not a chance! We're still hanging out on beautiful beaches in Ghana despite all we said about speeding up! So, to make up for our lack of traveling, here's a summary of experiences, good and bad over the last couple of months.
· Our new toy. We are now the proud owners of a Kawasaki KLR 250for getting around without the fuss of Bronwen. We bought it in Accra from "Jimmy Jazz enterprises" (if you're a Clash fan, you'll be pleased to know that although the police came looking for him, they obviously haven't found him yet...). It's the (not well enforced) law here to wear a crash helmet, so we went on search of some in Takoradi, ending up with little choice but to purchase some second hand ones for the princely sum of 35,000 cedis
· Money. The currency in Ghana is the cedi, with 10,000 cedis being less than1 euro. With the maximum note being 20,000, you find yourself carrying huge wads of notes that equate to very little. Withdrawal from the banks is done in millions with the cash handed over in carrier bags. Jamie was desperate to take a photo the first time I wrote a cheque out for over a million!
· Jamie's expertise with a machete. Everything is done with machetes and a man is not a man or a boy is not a boy without a machete (or cutlass) in his hand. Jamie has limited his uses so far to cutting ways through the bush, opening coconuts and carrying it around Agona, our local town, to get it sharpened. The opening of coconuts is a very popular skill as far as I'm concerned!!
· Ghanaian funerals: celebratory affairs, more in line with Irish wakes. The funeral consists of about 24 hours of loud music, dancing and a lot of drinking in the streets. You wear black and/or red and there's something about not ever washing your funeral clothes, which I haven't quite got to the bottom of - very possibly rubbish as I was told by a very drunk person who was obviously very emotional about the person whose funeral it was
· Carrying things on your head. This isn't limited to Ghana, but the variety of things a people carry never ceases to amaze me: huge trees trunks, "banana hats" large bunches of bananas which would probably be accepted as entry to the royal enclosure at Ascot. One of the best was a woman we saw in Accra selling umbrellas during a rainstorm - she was carrying about 10 umbrellas, rolled up on her head with rain soaking her. Jamie's comment "hasn't she missed the concept of umbrellas" still tickles me. A friend, Phil, who has lived here for a few years, pointed out that the guys carrying machetes will often carry their sharpening stone on their heads. Phil was convinced for a time that there was some kind of anti-gravitational pull at work and these guys would float off into the atmosphere if you didn't weigh themselves down!
· Castle Milk Stout. This is Jamie's entry and the closest thing to English bitter he's had since leaving home. It's one of the reasons Jamie's ongoing weight loss has ground to a halt (thankfully!).
· On March 29th, we were lucky enough to experience a solar eclipse. It was quite amazing and really so much more than I expected. And we took lots of photos!!!
Now to the issue of why we haven't been travelling for nearly 3 months. Well, we've fallen for Ghana and made the decision very early on to stay for a while and try and purchase some land. So, nearly 2 months have been spent being introduced to the fun of land acquisition. The procedure is fairly straight forward, but time consuming and definitely not like walking into an estate agents looking at pictures. We've met local chiefs, worked with surveyors, learnt how to measure the size of an acre (sorry dad, I should have known that already!) Hopefully next time we contact you we'll be the proud owners of some beach front land. If not, your guess is as good as ours!! We now cannot carry on towards South Africa immediately as we'll hit the rainy season at its worst in Cameroon and the Congos. Chances are we'll still be on some beach or other on the Gulf of Guinea, but will it be ours?