From Kumasi To Elmina

Trip Start Mar 11, 2005
Trip End Mar 27, 2005

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

We're heading out of Kumasi now for Elmina. We've hired the Silicon Hotel bus and driver. It seems too early in the morning, but they're at the door wanting to take our luggage and load the bus. It is 6:30 AM and we've slept in. Kailey has said her good byes to the staff, leaving poor Pearl (the receptionist)in tears. We load the bus and discuss with the driver the possibility of going via Obuasi so we can visit the gold mine. Obuasi is about 85 km south of Kumasi and is the site of the Ashanti Goldfield Company, the most important gold mine center in Ghana. The guidebook says the tours are free, however it cost us $15 US each, or 675,000 for the tour. We are outfitted in a lovely blue smock and very fetching black rubber boots. Next comes a heavy belt - why we're not sure yet. Everyone gets back on the bus, including our guide, and we drive down to the opening of the mine. We wait while the guide busies himself with different tasks. There is a guard there that Kailey immediately makes friends with. He wants his picture taken with her and afterwards gives her his email address. We find out what the belt is for. We are given hard hats with a battery pack for the head lamp, which must be threaded through the belt. Also included is an emergency air supply. These are very, very heavy to have strapped to your waist. We drive to the entrance to the mine, and begin our walk down, down, down. It is very windy and the wind pushes us along. We visit several training rooms, learn about the charges and how they are planted etc. We are told one mine worker was just caught outside of the mine with a blasting cap, which is illegal to posses, and has been charged with 4 years in prison. We are allowed to hold a piece of rock with many gold veins running through it. This rock is used for demonstration and the guide tells us it is weighed each Monday morning to be sure no one, workers included, have chipped a piece off. The mine is very hot with lots of sand and dust swirling around. Once we're done, it is time to head back out of the mine. This is all uphill, we've gone down 800 feet, and the wind is now pushing against us as we try to walk back up. This is too much like work for a holiday! Finally we emerge into the daylight and the guard is there, waiting to check us for any gold we may have stolen, including taking off our boots and checking us with a security wand. OK, where is the store? I want to buy some gold! We take our bus back to the visitor center and I am disappointed to see that they do not have anything to buy. The guide brings us a rock to see the gold in it. Kelan wants the rock but the guard is not letting it out of his sight. After we drop off our lovely outfits, we take the bus out to where the ore is processed. There are men with big guns protecting the area, especially the piles of ore that have not yet been processed. We get back on the road to Kumasi and travel to our destination, the Coconut Grove Hotel. This is not before we go through the usual police stops we've become accustomed to. However, there is one stop that is different from the others. The police actually have a radar gun this time and step out into the road to wave us over. The poor driver! He gets up and looks at us rather sheepishly. Shawn looks at me and says "Do we have to pay the fine?" No way, we didn't tell the driver to speed, he's on his own. Daniel had already told us usually these things are handled in a different way than we do things in Canada. He says the police are all corrupt. When a policeman asks to see the license, money is folded and handed to the police inside the license and miraculously no charges are laid. We're not 100% sure if that is what just happened here, but it is not long before we are on our way. We are back along the coast now and it feels more humid, if that is possible, than it did in Kumasi. At the hotel, they do not have our reservation. Finally they say that it was cancelled. Why would I cancel it? That was an omen I think, we should have moved on. Anyway, I had an email from the hotel so they had to do something with us. There were these cute little cottages along the beach that I was hoping we were going to get, since they were charging me $150 US/night for the room. Unfortunately we are at the back of the resort, right next to the "servants quarters" as Shawn called them. It seems to be where the workers stay and where they keep supplies, mainly cases and cases of bottles of pop that are always clanging and making noise. There are lots of trucks that are idling outside our door too. Our room is terrible. It is so old. There are two bedrooms with a bathroom in the middle. There is no water when I turn on the taps. There are only two beds, well really 3 as the boys push theirs apart but there is no bed for Kailey and we only have a double. I go back to the desk and ask for a cot, and they tell me it is an extra $20 US/night for a cot. I don't think so! I tell them we don't even have any water. They do deliver a mattress and put it on the floor. I figure I'll deal with what appears on the bill later. We all go to the restaurant to order some lunch. I'm really disappointed in this place, especially at the price. There is nothing really wrong with it, other than no water in the room, but there is nothing right with it either. Maybe it is because it's not sunny - it is overcast again - or maybe we're just all tired. Kailey manages to make some friends and goes swimming so that is nice for her. The boys head to the room, we have a few TV channels so they are laying on the beds playing Gameboys and watching TV. A lady from the States comes to ask what we are doing in Ghana. Her son is in the UN and they have come to visit him. She looks funny knitting (in her bathing suit) a heavy sweater - in this heat. I asked if she was able to take the knitting needles on the plane and she said she had no problem coming from Amsterdam to Accra but not from the States to Amsterdam. It's not long before the boys are hungry again. We manage to get a couple of showers in before the water quits again. Great. I don't feel like a meal so I order dessert only, which is fruit in a crepe. It is quite nice but just has some different taste I can't describe.
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