Heart Beat of Ghana

Trip Start Feb 21, 2010
Trip End Apr 18, 2010

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Flag of Ghana  ,
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thank you everyone for your travel suggestions, in the end I decided on the beach and a mini excursion. Dani and I decided to venture out of the Central Region and make our way to Kumasi. Kumasi is in the Ashanti Region and is the second largest city in Ghana. There are a few travel options, the first and more prestigious is the STC bus but it was full and although I was ready to take up the drivers offer to pay full price and sit on the stairs going onto the bus for the four hour trip, Dani was not. The second option was the Metro Mass which is a huge orange bus that runs as often as it fills up from Cape Coast to Kumasi .You go to the station, pay 4 cedi and wait until it is jammed packed, there are even kids that sit on the ground in the aisles. A lot of Ghanaians try to sneak on the bus so the 'inspectors' end up checking your ticket five times before the bus departs. We waited just over an hour to leave the station and then the bus needed gas. It amuses me that taxi's and buses don't ever fill up a head of time, they fill up when they don't have a drop of petrol left, which is also why there are always people walking down the streets with jerry cans. You can wait for a half hour for a taxi and when you finally score one, they will drive 10 minutes in the opposite direction that you're going to fill up!  At the gas station it takes one Ghanaian to pump the gas, one to collect the money and five to watch. One time I ventured into the station for a drink and had to wake up the cashier who seemed super annoyed at me for interrupting her nap.

The Metro Mass claims to be an express bus but we probably stopped 10 times during our trip to pick up and drop off people, have small and big bathroom breaks and at one town a man in front of us yelled at the driver who pulled over so that he could buy a loaf of bread. For about a half hour the highway turned into a dirt road with massive rocks along it and the bus driver had to maneuver around big chunks of concrete and tree trunks. The other travel options are tro tro's which would have been crazy, or a taxi that would have cost 20 times what we paid.The journey wasn't so bad, I slept most of the way and aside from the young girl beside me that snapped her gum the whole time, it was pretty peaceful. When we arrived we were dropped off at a station in the middle of town and had no clue where we were and which direction to go. I had made a reservation at a Canadian/Ghanaian couple's bed & breakfast called Four Villages Inn so we called up the owner and he helped us find our way. The accommodation was wonderful, Dani and I were pumped about the A/C but what really got me was a full length mirror! The only mirror I have in Cape Coast is a tiny bathroom mirror that I have to stand on my toes to see my face in. It was kind of shocking to see myself for the first time in two months. I couldn't believe how light my hair had turned and how tanned I was. I was able to properly pluck my eyebrows and clean up a bit. Our room had a tv, dvd player, wireless Internet and complimentary tea and instant coffee, we felt like queens. Although we were excited about the amenities, after dinner and lots of wine we both passed out and didn't end up using any of them!

We woke in the morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and eggs and enjoyed the best breakfast ever. We had a variety of Ghanaian fruit, toast, jam, scrambled eggs and 100% beef sausages that were to die for. After breakfast we packed up and got ready for our tour of the famous Kumasi Market. The Kumasi market is the second largest market in Africa and is the most chaotic place I have ever been to in my life. Thank goodness we hired a guide to take us though it. The tour took four hours and I still don't think we saw it all. There are a wide range of goods from fabrics, beads, food and crafts to second hand clothing, voodoo dolls, dried up bats and rats.

Another draw of the Ashanti Region is Kente Cloth. Kente is an Asante ceremonial cloth that is hand-woven. Strips measuring about 4 inches wide are sewn together into larger pieces of cloth. The cloth comes in various colors, sizes and designs and are worn during very important social and religious occasions. In a cultural context, kente is a visual representation of history, philosophy, ethics, oral literature, moral values, social code of conduct, religious beliefs, political thought and aesthetic principles. I bought a beautiful kente table cloth, now all I need is a table!

The tour of the market was one of the highlights of my trip and I'm so glad we decided to go. I still have to laugh when I think back to the Saturday before I left when my sisters took me to the Whyte Ave Farmers Market and I complained how busy it was, I had no clue what a proper market was like and will probably complain about how quiet everything is at home when I get back.
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