Day 11-12: Birds, Beads and Bon Voyage

Trip Start Mar 31, 2006
Trip End Apr 15, 2006

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Flag of Ghana  ,
Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Leaving Wli for Accra doesn't present much problem. Wanting to leave Wli is the real trial. However, Julia is on a pretty tight schedule with a flight beckoning in two days, so we need to start making tracks and hitch a tro-tro back to Hohoe. And there, we have one last moment to savour - quality time hanging out with vultures in the tro-tro park. 
The onward connection to Accra matches the c30,000 STC bus fare but makes for a more ventilated ride so we hop on. We make good time and decide to jump off at Atimpoku by the big suspension bridge for an overnight stop at Aylos Bay, a place recommended back at Waterfall Lodge. It's a quality pit-stop; the shady garden restaurant is very peaceful and the jollof rice, with fresh crayfish straight from the lake, is probably the best meal we've had during our Ghana travels. However, one downside of Atimpoku to plan for in advance is the lack of money-changing facilities. We had to make a trip to the next village, Akosombo, and the glorious 70's edifice that is the Lake Volta hotel, where we were rather grudgingly banked in the polar air-con foyer by an equally frosty receptionist.

With it being Julia's last, the next day starts off a chick-orientated affair; a visit to the Cedi Bead Factory, where we learn (once we finally find the damn place ten camel rides and a tiny dirt track later) they make beads from old glass bottles. I'm not big on beads by any stretch of the imagination but some of them are quite cool. Not cool enough to get me sitting through a half-hour educational lecture on the production process though. We leave 20-odd French school kids to enjoy that on their own and after a few reasonable purchases head back to Atimpoku junction to catch an Accra-bound tro-tro.
All goes smoothly and we cheekily glide into the Novotel Inter-Continental Hotel in downtown Accra where Julia transforms herself from grungy backpacker to urban sophisticate in the hotel loos while I absorb the foyer air-con, ventilate my feet and momentarily knock a couple of stars off the rating. Julia emerges fit for a garden party - I still look like a tramp. I'm sure only my obruni-ness prevents me from being escorted off the premises, but with Julia's makeover upping our collective stock we stick around, buy expensive ice-cream (twice!) and kill time with the upmarket clientele - old perma-tanned Mediterraneans and loud, annoying kids mostly - before Julia says farewell and jumps in a cab off to the airport.
It's funny how solo travelling never feels lonely, but just then, as I become a 'table for one' again, a wave of introspection crashes over me; I'm alone, in a strange city, the only other person I know is leaving, what the hell am I doing here? However, a few steps beyond the sanctity of the hotel perimeter and that perspective is lost to the heat, noise and imperative to keep moving. With unfinished business back in Kokrobite, my destination is set. I quickly divine a baria-bound tro-tro at Kaneshi; the long day is starting to ebb as I arrive in the dusty village which Big Milly's abuts. And something's not right. 
The tro-tro drop-off is situated at a junction; the centre of activity for the village. Gnarled, skinny trees with balding crowns surround the area, affording patchy shade to leviathan mothers, sprawled-as-if-shot on the hard pack-earth, suckling babes to teet. A 'nite-spot', more tent than building, leans into the scene, often propped up by three time-lost, big-game hunters, resplendent in battered safari suits like extras from some long-forgotten episode of Daktari, battling swarms of flies over the dregs of warm Star. An ever-popular hairdresser, enticing trade with Barry White and Eddie Murphy cartoon-a-likes painted on the shop front keeps punters coming, and a shiny new concrete general store, more in keeping with downtown LA than the Ghanaian bush, provides the sterilised fare sought by confidence-deficient or tender-bellied tourists. But the shutters are down, there's not a sound from the Barry Whites, the Daktaris are gone along with their flies, and of mothers, babies and children there is not a sign. All that greets my arrival is quiet.
As I make the short walk through the village the only signs of life are scratching hens and the forlorn bleating of a goat kid tethered to a tree. Approaching the waterfront I find more activity. There are people here, but only those associated with guest houses and restaurants. Entering Big Milly's yard the buzz of life returns, but clearly all is not well.
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