Arriving in Ghana was pretty straightforward. Departing wasn’t. The airport was wall to wall people. It looked like several long lines were snaking around from kiosks in the middle of the huge open room, all the way to the door through which I’d just entered. I couldn’t figure out which line I was supposed to stand in, or even where the Delta ticket desk was. I had to get boarding passes – Ekow doesn’t have a printer and we didn’t have time to go to an internet cafe before I left – so I wasn’t able to print them out ahead of time. Actually it wouldn’t have made any difference, as there seemed to be several layers of security for international flights, two of them before reaching the Delta desk. A nice man approached me and asked if he could show me where I needed to go for security screen #1. I thought that was really nice of him and allowed him to pull my duffel bag across the airport to another long line. Along the way I thought to myself, “why are you letting this stranger pull your bag – what if he takes off with it??” Continue reading
A few more little trinkets purchased from the vendors out by the beach, and now it really was time to sort out these piles of clothes and various other odds and ends and pack my suitcase. Ekow carefully disassembled the dysfunctional Nokia 3-band cell phone and put it back in its box, wisely advising me to carry it home in my carry-on backpack – apparently the baggage handlers at the airport in Accra are known to remove “suspicious” electronic items during “security checks” – and resell them out on the street. I hoped Amazon would let me return the cell phone. That process proved to be yet another in our never-ending series of communication breakdowns, but I’ll leave that for the next post…. Continue reading
Now that the journey, and this blog, are drawing to a close I find I’m having a harder and harder time writing about it. I remember there were so many questions left unanswered, mostly about our long-distance relationship that was worthy of the Guiness Book of World Records – 6914.7 miles, to be exact. Well, okay – the longest long distance relationship would be more like 12,000 miles – half the circumference of the Earth. That prize would go to a couple residing one in Botswana, and the other in Hawaii – and it would take one of them over 24 hours to reach the other by airplane. It would only take us 12 hours between Accra and Albuquerque on a direct flight. These facts were not making me feel any better, however. Continue reading
This day was the day before I was scheduled to fly back home. One more day, and we had nothing planned. We got up rather later than usual, and put together a little breakfast from various bits and pieces of things we’d bought along the way – part of a loaf of Ghana bread, and a few different kinds of fruit. The Big Milly cafe loaned us some plates and cutlery, and gave us hot water for tea. We ate our breakfast out on our little front porch where we could also watch the activity around the compound.
Our neighbors Shahnaz and Coen waved good morning, and Coen and Ekow engaged in yet more car talk. When traveling in Africa it really is imperative that one’s vehicle be in excellent working order. It’s fortunate that Ekow’s cousin is a mechanic, because he tunes Ekow’s car and aligns the wheels after every trip. Following Shahnaz’s blog after I got home, I saw how the roads in some African countries were immensely worse than in Ghana. If one could even call them roads – some of the countries farther east had mostly what looked like enormous muddy ruts, deeper than their car was high! I thought their idea of doing this trans-Africa excursion was really brave. It sounded to me like one challenge after another. Actually, it didn’t sound too fun, and seemed a little scary. Continue reading
So now we needed to find ourselves a place to hang out for a few more days. The journey was drawing to a close. I’d seen and experienced so much. I was already wishing I had an extra week in Ghana – or even just a few extra days – I didn’t feel ready to go home. You’d think that I might be anxious to get back to my ‘normal’ life after almost two weeks in traffic, breathing pollution, dodging crowds, avoiding stepping in human feces… oddly enough I was kind of getting used to it! It’s funny how ‘normal’ can shift so quickly. Continue reading
The next morning we chatted with the owner of the Moree Beach guesthouse, a Danish woman married to a Ghanaian man. She apologized profusely for the trouble with the rooms, and explained that her husband was the caretaker of the resort and had been away over the weekend. I’d wondered before going to Ghana how bi-racial couples were accepted and by now it seemed not that unusual. European women who co-own resort-type businesses with their African partners also seem to be fairly common. She mentioned they’d been quite busy during the Festival, and that generally they stay booked. “We’ve been here quite a few years now,” she remarked with a lilting Danish accent. “The face of our guests is changing though – it used to be men with their mistresses – now they’re bringing their families.” She seemed to enjoy life in Ghana, running her business and living beside the sea. She did remark though that the town of Moree was worth missing – “It’s so dirty and the people don’t care. They poop on the street!”
I was quite interested in what the owner said about how the little resort has become a small scale wildlife sanctuary. Birders come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of one of the flashy tropical bird species, the photos of which line the walls of the outdoor cafe. “We even have mini-alligators, and lots of different kinds of snakes!” (How did I know there must be snakes….?) Ekow surmised that a “mini-alligator” was, in fact, a monitor lizard. “You have to get up before dawn to see them – that’s when the snakes are really out – they come out of the brush onto the lawn.” (and into the rooms….?) Oh, if only I’d known, I’d have been up at 4 am, no problem! Continue reading
We left Kakum and drove on to the final destination of our journey through Ghana. Ekow had previously told me, with some seriousness, that he wanted me to see where my drumming teacher, Lion, is from. I was very curious about this, but he wouldn’t say anymore than that. He’d been planning this for some time and I wondered what was so important about another small town in Ghana.
A momentary flashback to when Ekow and I first met…. As we sat chatting away, I mentioned I was taking African dance and drumming lessons with a guy from Ghana. I saw a spark of interest, and Ekow asked me his name. When I told him, he asked, “is he taller than me, and thinner?” Indeed, this is so. “When you see him next, tell him I said he’s from Kokrobite.” By the end of the evening, I had to have him write it out – I knew I’d never remember that name! When I mentioned this odd exchange to Lion a few days later, he just smiled mysteriously and wouldn’t comment much further. Of course, this piqued my curiosity quite a bit. Africans seem to have a knack for cryptic comments and when asked for an explanation, will look at you strangely as if you should have understood. The rules of communication – another cultural difference. Our American communication self-help books and courses stress asking for clarification as in “I think I hear you saying that…” – believe me, this is highly amusing to the Africans I know and will get you no closer to understanding what they just said, because, for goodness sake, that’s what they just said. Continue reading