Trip Start Mar 27, 2006
Trip End Jul 23, 2006

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Flag of Ghana  ,
Monday, March 27, 2006

OK everybody, before you start reading this one I just want to prepare you-it's pretty long! You might want to get yourself a cup of tea, some snacks-you're going to be here for a while! Going back to Ghana was weird, I was pretty nervous about it, but I actually had a really good time. I spent most of the fortnight travelling with Charlotte and Kathryn(aka Little Chick)who were very nice to me in my first couple of days of panic! We started off our travels on the 29th Marth, but first we had to watch the eclipse, which was amazing. One minute it was still light, and then you could gradually see the moon sneaking across the sun until it turned totally dark-you could even see the stars. All the Ghanaians were screaming in the streets-I think they thought it was teh apocalypse or something! After the sun had returned to its usual scorching brightness of about 1000 degrees (no exagerration!) we headed down to Cape Coast on a bus, for which we were seranaded the ENTIRE four hours by a sadly incredibly tone deaf Ghanaian lady. We had a look round Elmina castle when we first arrived-it's the castle where the Dutch held their slaves and the conditions were disgusting, just tiny stone, windowless rooms which held about 200 people at at time. That night we stayed at Hans Cottage Botel, yes a Botel, no idea what one is either! There are pools of crocodiles outside the rooms which is pretty cool. The following day we did a canopy walk, which is basically seven rope bridges suspended 40m above the ground. I really enjoyed it, but Little Chick looked a little bit scared, she had a fixed grin of terror on her face most of the way round! While we were up in the trees, we met a BBC cemera crew who were filming an episode of the Holiday Programme to coincide with the eclipse. A fellow white traveller in our group asked the presenter if he was going to apologise for what the British did to the slaves. He was black. Hmm... The programme will be on in the Autumn, you never know you may catch a glimpse of us staggering across the bridges! That night we stayed at The Oasis Beach Resort in a genuine beach hut. We were sat at the bar looking out at the sea listening to Bob Marley on constant repeat-paradise! We also have a look around Cape Coast Castle, which is the British slave castle and just as awful as Elmina. You do feel a bit ashamed being told by a Ghanaian how the Brits tortured loads of their ancestors! That afternoon go for a 'paddle' in the sea and get knocked over by a huge wave head first, a definite You've Been Framed moment! Then two Ghanaian kids came over and wanted to hep with my crossword, which meant I had to tell them the answers and they could write them down. Fairly embarrasing for me as I didn't actually know any of the answers! The next day we were headed for Kumasi. After much hassle at the bus station and temptation to murder the ticket seller, who told us that the bus was sold out, had left and was simply late alternately, the bus arrives and we are forced to pay the driver to let us put our bags in the hold. A perfect example of White Man Tax! We met a British couple on the bus who ended up travelling the same way as us for the rest of the week. When we got to Kumasi about 6 hours later we met Anna, Jess, Rosanna, Jenny and Rachel for dinner at a restaurant that was very nice except the fact they were having as powercut and so-no aircon! Also, all their ice cream had melted. Rosanna asked if she could still have a hot chocolate sundae. Hmm... We spent the next day basically killing time in Kumasi until we could get our bus up to Tamale. It was absolutely boiling-probably the hottest day I had in Ghana, so we spent a few hours hiding out at the restaurant from the night before-air conditioning thankfully now working again! Then for some reason (probably sunstroke) we decided to walk to a statue of a bull which was in the middle of a roundabout. Classic. Finally we could get on the bus after being spat at for an hour by two darling little Ghanaians, meeting up with Anna and James, the Brit couple, again. It sounds awful but when you see other white people in Ghana, especially when you're travelling, it makes you feel a bit safer and it definitely helped us out in Tamale when we wre searching for a hostel at 1am after a 9 hour bus journey! I had rung up a hotel earlier in the day to try and book us a room because we were arriving so late but the guy refused to give us a price until we were arrived, obviously wanting to wait and see how badly he could exploit the exhausted white people! So we decided on Las Hostel, and finally arrived after much negotiation/argument with a taxi driver-he wanted to charge 100,000 cedis-it should have cost about 10,000-and let's just say the name is quite appropriate! Holes in the ceiling, mould on the walls, a bathroom where you have to walk through the shower to get to the toilet. A classy establishment! Thankfully, we only had to stay for one night and the next day we braved the political demonstration taking place in Tamale and went to catch the bus up to Mole National Park. After much waiting around in the midday sun (this is Ghana time people!) and after Charlotte had thrpwn two water sachets all over herself (in Ghana you buy fresh water in sachets, it's weird, like drinking out of a bag)we had the worst bus journey we had been on so far, crammed in between babies, yams and inexplicable metal tubing. It was all worth it though-Mole was fantastic! We had a nice room and en-suite bathroom and decent food-we had been living on bread and biscuits for nearly a week! We met up with the others again, and Rachel, Jenny and Anna decided to stay an extra night with us. The next morning we went for a 7am walk-they really don't understand I'm not a morning person! It was definitely worth it though, we saw loads of elephants really close up-the only thing between us and their pretty huge tusks was the guide's rifle! We spent the rest of the day sat on hte viewing platform watching the elephants and occasionally being attacked by baboons-paradise, Also went for a dip in the pool, you couldn't actually see your feet but I didn't mind-I was getting used to being covered in grime! We spent our final day travelling back to Accra and after 16 hours of no air conditioning and some serious road rage on behalf of our driver we finally staggered back to the compound with an omelette snadwich (a lot nicer than it sounds!) and lots of thunder and lightning but no rain! I spent my last few days in Ghana basically chilling out-went for a few meals, had a trip to the orphanage, did my washing (by hand, I'm going to make such a good wife!) as everybody started leaving-and soon it was my turn! I'm really glad I went back to Ghana and even though it was hard at times it was really good to see everybody again and I actually managed to get quite a good suntan. Me-lobster girl-result!!

My top 3 Ghana stories: (ha ha, you thought I'd finished didn't you!)

1. On my last day we decided to get a taxi to a nearby hotel to use their pool. Our taxi driver, who was wearing a woolly hat un 30 degree heat, announced that his wife had left him and his three children and that he is now on the lookout for a new wife. I politely declined his offer. He said that I had "broken his teeth". After sulking for a few minutes, he demanded that I drive the taxi, obviously wanting to testme out for school runs. Again, I politely declined his offer. Another few sulky minutes later he decided he wanted to teach us some Ghanaian, obviously so he wouldn't have to worry about speaking English for our whole married life. I politely declined his offer of an hour's private tuition. However, still not discouraged, he gave me his card. I think he may be waiting a while for me to call him back!

2. This isn't actually my story, but I though it was funny so I'm going to tell it you anyway. First, I need to explain a little bit about tro tros. They are basically vans/mini buses which drive around with someone yelling out of the window where they are going, a bit like the Ghanaian version of public buses! They should really seat about 12 people but will squeeze in about 30. They are abviously not the safest way to get around but they are really cheap and so a lot of people decided to use them while travelling instead of the 'luxury' coaches which we went on. Anna and some of her travel group were headed somewhere on a tro tro when it broke down and obviously, being Ghana, instead of calmly swapping over to a different one, mass chaos broke out and people just started shoving each other out of the way-old, young, there is no mercy! Obviously, Anna and co weren't so keen on throwing themselves into the riot so a Ghanaian man decided he was going to help thhem out. He avoided the crowd by heading round the back of the tro tro. Unfortunately the driver chose this moment to reverse and knocked him over. Don't worry though, he just picked himself back up again and dived through the back window and lay across the back seat refusing to let anyone else sit there, while the others pushed their way through to him. When they had sat themselves down, he simply jumped back out through the back window. And they say chivalry is dead!
3. I might not have time to finish this now, I only have 4 mins left. This is the single most frustrating experience I had while in Ghana. When I first arrived back in Accra, I was waiting in in the line for immigration when I heard my name being called. I found someone to ask them why. Oh, you're bag's probably been left in London"."I went to the lost and found desk. It had. Now in these situations you can either laugh or cry and I chose to laugh, provided they brought it on the flight tomorrow so I had clothes to go travelling in. So, the following night Little Chick and I headed to the airport to collect it. Obviously, we should of guessed it wasn't going to be that easy! On my fairly official looking British Airways form we were told to go to baggage reclaim, where they told us that they were closing soon, so we should go to the staff entrance to arrivals instead. Slightly dodgy, we thought, but we'll give it a go. So, we walked all the way to the other end of the airport to be told that the people in baggage reclaim were lazy and that we needed to go back there. OK... Back we trotted. This time we were sent to the BA office, where nobody appeared for about 1/2 an hour until a British Airways woman came along and told us she didn't deal with the bags. Right...Back to baggage reclaim. I was getting (understandably I would say) quite irritated by this point and shouted at the people in baggage reclaim until one of them agreed to come to the arrivals hall with us. He went in never to be seen again. Argh!!! We went back to baggage reclaim AGAIN and met another British couple who were looking for their bag-they had been sent tot he passenger exit of arrivals, where the staff had said that if they gave them some money they would let them blend in with the other passengers. They said no. I went and yelled at the baggage reclaim guys again, another one agreed to come to arrivals with us where the guy said he hadn't let us in because we had been rude to him. And there I was thinking they were actually following some sort of safety protocol for once! After some serious apologising from me and some serious rage from Little Chick we FINALLY got to go in and collect our bags-2 hours after we'd arrived. Welcome to Ghana!
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