Back to Accra

Trip Start Feb 13, 2011
Trip End Mar 14, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Ghana  , Greater Accra,
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

After a short night, we met for breakfast at 08:30. Then we took our laptops to the lobby once again to be able to access the Internet, and did office work all morning. I sent the translation of the latest letter from our interim administration to the French mailing list and took care of other office work in communication with Bernard Hongerloot who works with me in our small French department. By the time we had finished our "virtual office" work it was noon.

Tom Clark has worked out a new travel schedule the day before, so he and I would be parting ways. He had other congregational visits to make so as to be able to answer questions from members; I was going to go back to Accra in preparation for my onward journey. So at 12:00, as planned, Eddie, the driver Tom has often used and who had driven us to Elmina, arrived at the hotel to take me back to Accra.

Tom and I shook hands and wished each other well on the remainder of our trips, I checked out and Eddie and I loaded my bags into the trunk (here it's called the “boot” like in England). It took almost 4 hours to reach my destination, the Shangri-La hotel near the airport in Accra.

As we started this day’s trip, we negotiated a price for him to take me to the Togolese border the next day. He’s a good driver and it’s usually safer to work with drivers one knows.

On the road again...

Road travel is colorful in Africa. At every slowdown, toll booth or security checkpoint, of which there were quite a few, vendors swarmed the vehicles hawking their wares. It’s a fascinating ballet every few minutes. On the road, some cars and trucks are overloaded with goods. An occasional billboard tries to cash in on Barak Obama’s popularity (in Africa at least) in favor of a local politician. I’m not sure the American president could say “I approved this ad.”

As the trip progressed Eddie and I conversed. There were some amusing moments of the kind one has when accents cause misunderstandings. I asked the name of a large tree we passed, and he said he didn’t know the name in English. I told him I recognized the tree but only knew what it was called in Gabon (a country in central Africa.) He misunderstood and asked if I was from Japan. I said I was not, and he said he didn’t think so, I was too tall….

When I told him I was American, he said he particularly liked driving Americans. I asked why. He said that Americans are always cheerful and friendly, and they don’t cheat you and they are careful that you don’t cheat them. “That’s very good,” he finished. I asked who he didn’t like to drive and he said the Lebanese. There are many Lebanese businessmen in Africa and they are often successful and sometimes even dominate the local business economy. I asked him why they were difficult. “Their salary is very small” Edward answered “so they will cheat you if they can because they need to get more money.”

As we arrived in Accra and moved slowly through the congested streets, vendors walked in between the lines of cars selling an amazing variety of things. If it looked like they might have a sale, the vendors would run alongside the vehicle for long distances holding out their wares and collecting their money in exchange. I pulled out a slip of paper and began making a list. I’m sure I missed some, but here’s what I noted was being sold: lanterns, toilette paper, posters of girls, news magazines, beer steins, coffee cups, bed sheets, peanuts, hair brushes, cleaning brushes, phone cards, fried banana chips, maps of Ghana, maps of West Africa and maps of the African continent, loaves of bread, towels, mirrors, clocks, plastic bags full of drinking water, soft drinks, and my favorite: live puppies. I think if we had been there long enough, everything in the world would have been offered to us.

Finally around 16:00 we arrived at the Shangri-La. After paying Eddie for the day, we agreed that he would come back at noon tomorrow, earlier if Paul Tia arrives earlier and I call, to start the drive to Togo. I had Jollof Rice for dinner. The spicy red rice dish is one of my favorite Ghanaian dishes. I talked briefly with Marjolaine on the phone, no Internet access so no Skype tonight. I'm pretty tired and will make it an early night.
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David Treybig on

Hello Joel,

I just caught up with your postings. Thanks for taking the time to write. We all wish you Godspeed on your journey. And thanks for all your service.

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