Country number 53! Ghana - "Nice one"

November 18, 2012  •  3 Comments

On Friday 2nd November I will be heading off to Ghana on a photographic trip. I hope (depending on Internet coverage) to post a few photos and some ramblings from West Africa. Watch this space!

For a full gallery view see here: http://www.guppyimages.co.uk/ghana_small

The hi-resolution edited photos can be found here (still a work in progress 1st Dec 12): http://www.guppyimages.co.uk/ghana

If you find this blog useful or interesting, please like it on Facebook, or Tweet! Thanks!

You can see my conclusions from the trip at the end of this blog. I shall be processing the photos and putting the original files on my website over the coming days.

Saturday 3rd November 2012

Arriving in Accra, confronted by the 30deg C+ heat was a welcome shock after all the bad weather in the UK this year! Listening to a sermon on the radio in the taxi to my hotel, was less welcome and rather random! The area I am staying in seems to be a strong Methodist / Presbyterian area, with at least 3 of the 12 TV channels also with their preachings.

Before I came away I purchased a lonely planet guide to West Africa, which I have discovered is quite out of date! Many of the restaurants / bars are no longer there, but there are plenty of new options. Luckily I read a blog on the Virgin site (http://blog.vtravelled.com/a-beginners-guide-to-accra-ghana-by-nathan-midgley/ ) which was a good starting point. I headed down to Cantonments Roadwhat the locals call Oxford Street – I thought this could be a good starting point to acclimatise! Let’s face it – it’s nothing like Oxford street! ..but still a good place to start – plenty of food places and bars etc. and shops.

From here I headed down towards Independence square, snapping a few things on the way.

Boys playingBoys playing Children playing

Independence Square itself was very grand and a nice sea breeze as it is right on the coast. It doesn’t look like any other main square that I have seen though! It resembles more of a sports arena with seating all the way round the outside! I found the flags a bit disappointingly small – after seeing some massive flags in other countries to show off the national pride…

Independance SquareIndependence Square, Accra As with other African countries people have a tendency to carry items (no matter how big!) on their heads. I think this actually gives people a good poise when walking and found myself thinking if after all these years of doing this that their necks are now genetically very strong…

Traffic light traderBag carrier Next on my list was Nkrumah Memorial Park, holding the mausoleum of the famous first president. A nice peaceful respite from the bustle of the city (on only about 4 hrs sleep!). The museum has lots of photos of Kwame Nkrumah with former & current leaders of the world – JFK, Fidel Castro, Chairman Mao, and the Queen (Elizabeth II)! Apparently, as a guide was telling a large group of school kids, he was the first black person to dance with the Queen!

Nkrumah Memorial ParkKwame Nkrumah Memorial and fountains

There were people there in beautiful traditional dress getting married, one thing led to another and I became their unofficial photographer!

The happy coupleHappy couple The wedding party!Happy couple with their family Then all the children around started cottoning on to this, and I got a lot of shots of them, which was great!

School kidsSchool kids I particularly like the pretty girl in the middle looking straight at me, and the grumpy kid on the far right with his arms crossed!

Street kidsTwo boys in football shirts Street kids

The possy The possyWaving children I asked them to wave their hands "like this", they were more than happy to comply!!!

After this I walked up to the National Museum – very interesting – sections on masks and their significance, puberty rights, textiles (some are made from stretching out tree bark – but were still pretty soft), different types of stools, a fascinating collection of brass weights used to weigh gold dust – they came in all shapes and forms – figures doing things, animals etc. Then they had a very interesting section on the slave trade.

After this I went back to the Oxford Street (Osu) area and had a well deserved Star beer in The Republic and caught up with the world on the free wifi. Then on to Buka, which has a first floor dining room in the open air with a nice breeze. Here I had a local dish – bean stew with fish and a side order of plantain. Nice!

Bean supper

 

Sunday 4th November 2012

On Sunday I headed down to the Makola Market in the centre of town. This is a locals market selling food, textiles, second hand clothes, kitchen ware etc.. I passed by it the day before on the way to the museum, but what the Lonely Planet doesn’t tell you (of for that matter the hotel staff or the taxi driver) is that it is closed on Sunday! People are still outside the market, selling their wares, washing babies etc. but the gates were definitely locked! Whilst this was pretty disappointing it actually created much better photo opportunities for me, as there were very few people around and people were happy to talk and pass some time.

What I found is that whilst people are quite shy initially, they actually love having their photos taken and seeing them on the camera screen! Some asked for money, one angry looking chap $300USD! but then he settled for me emailing them to him. Here are a few photos from the market.

21 year old girl

Give me $300USD for my photo

Angry man

Grandma with gold teeth

Grandma with gold teeth

The biggest snails I have ever seen! Keep them away from the UK!

Giant snails! Girl in black and white dress

Overheated lady in black and gold dress

Beautiful girl in turquoise dress with her little sister looking on

Beautiful girl in turquoise dress Two sisters and a boy

Happy family

Happy family Shoe seller – this guy looked really mean, but he was a lovely friendly man!

Shoe seller A couple of girls that called me over to take a photo of them

What a lovely kind face this man has

Man with kind smiley face Laundry guy

Laundry guy Tailor

Tailor Family wedding

Mother and baby

Mother and baby

Political party

Rasta shoe repairer

As I headed to the lighthouse at Jamestown, I was approach by “Nice One”, saying that he was a local guide and if I wanted to take photos I had to go with him. Needless to say I didn’t like this very much, but after a lot of discussion and debate I decided to pay the fee and go with him. He took me down to the beach area to the left of the lighthouse looking out to sea (apparently the right side is a no go zone even for him). This was a shanty town on the beach. Wandering around to chants of “nice one!” I was a bit perturbed whether I was going to be the next victim (I was the only tourist around)!! All was fine however, but I only took my camera out on a few occasions as I was feeling very self-conscious.

Wood and ovens on the beach where they dry the fish

Old boats on the beach

Fishing boats on the water with the Independence Square monument in the background

Fishing boats on the beach and in the water

Next we scaled the lighthouse after some cedis had changed hands. It was built by the British and was still functional, although at the top the metal stairway had completely rusted away and had been replaced by a wooden ladder. From the top the views were fantastic.

Beach shanty town and boats

A new boat and washing laid out to dry on the beach

Shanty town on the beach with boats being built

Jamestown lighthouse

Jamestown lighthouse

After this “Nice one” took me to see his house. His family owned a single storey block of property with various rooms around communal courtyards, which had been passed down to him. He was effectively the landlord. He showed me his “house” which appeared to be a single room about 2m x 3m. After this I retired to the safe arms of Osu / Oxford Street.

“Nice One”!

Monday 5th November

Travelling on to Tamale – access point to Mole National Park. I took a Fly 540 flight (1 hour from Accra) that I had booked back in the UK for $50USD (£30) so I was a bit nervous as to what to expect! In fact I already knew that former EasyJet’s Stelios had a share in it, so I thought it should be OK. In fact the flight was fine - the aircraft was quite new and the gaudy bright orange uniforms are much better suited to people without pale complexions!

Abu Prince Ziblim, the owner of African Dreams picked me up from the airport, and once I had dropped my bags, took me to try and get a ticket for the bus to Mole the next day. Unfortunately that was shut by the time we got there – he said if he had known he could have collected it earlier in the day. So I will hope that I can get a ticket tomorrow morning – office opens at 5am and the bus leaves at 1pm….

As we were driving around there were so many photo opportunities of people in wonderful colourful dress and children in smart school uniforms, I had to bite my lip not to ask him to keep stopping. Ziblim also showed me some old concrete and brick houses built when the British were here. Very simple, but solid.

Tuesday 6th November

I had an early start today (4:30!) to go to the bus station again to try and get a ticket to Mole, which after being told to turn up at 5am, they didn't turn up until 5:30am.. but I have my ticket.

After breakfast I wandered over to the local village. The people were lovely and friendly and I took a ton of photos - building a good collection of people…some of these are below, for a full gallery view see here: http://www.guppyimages.co.uk/ghana_small

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Man & bike

School time

Pretty girl selling

Village Elder African baby

The bus ticket said it left at 1:30, but it actually arrived at 13:30 and didn’t leave until 14:30. I had got to the station at around midday, as you are always told to get there at least an hour before the bus leaves – I haven’t figured this out yet, as everything always runs late here! There is only one bus a day, so not worth taking the risk. If you are male and need to go to the toilet don’t go to the ones at the back of the bus station – words cannot describe how disgusting it was! The womens were maintained by women, rather than men, and although basic seemed to be a somewhat more pleasant experience!

Front Exit door, with my bag at the very top!

Exit door

One thing about taking the local STC metro buses in Ghana is there is a fine balance between managing no toilet stops for 6 hours and not getting dehydrated! Sip that water, not gulp! Inside the bus:

On the bus

On the road to Mole we made multiple stops for people to buy water, vegetables, and dried / smoked fish. Much of the journey was on a dirt (red soil – very sandy) road. Finally we arrived, in the dark, at Mole at around 7pm. We had to register at the gate (10 GHC / 5 GHC student).

Even though I booked the nicest room they had, running water was sporadic (didn’t follow the hours it said it would in the room – no surprise there!) so washing was provided by a couple of plastic buckets. Food in the restaurant was simple, but fine and prices in line with everywhere else.

Wednesday 7th November

Mole do walking safaris (6 GHC), the highlight is supposed to be the elephants. There are also jeep tours, but other travellers told me that the jeeps scared the animals away, so better to stick to the walking tours. There is one in the morning at 7am and one in the afternoon at 15:30. I did both, and went different routes and saw different things both times – well worth it! We saw mainly Antelope (three types), monkeys, baboons, and warthogs (near the hotel). I saw the tail of a crocodile slipping into the water too, but no elephants. They have just come out of the rainy season here, and so the elephants have plenty of watering holes around the park, although there was a large fresh footprint in the mud!

Antelope

Antelope Baboons

Baboons

Walking in the footsteps of giants... My rather large size 11 boot in a fresh elephant footprint!Walking in the footsteps of giants...

The hotel has a pool for a dip between the safaris, and shaded areas to relax.

As daylight was drawing in there were a few shouts that an Elephant was in the worker’s village, so I and a couple of other guys that were on the walking tour in the afternoon, speed off through the undergrowth to see. There was a massive old bull elephant that was trying to get water out of the wrong watering hole – i.e. a raised water tower! We were well chuffed to have seen an elephant…. and retired safe and sound for some supper and a few beers. I was somewhat disappointed to learn when I reached Kumasi, that he is a bit of a fixture at Mole and they have a nickname for him “Brother of Man” as he often near the village!

"Brother of Man" - it was actually dusk when I took this - there was so little light that the autofocus didn't work

"Brother of Man"

Thursday 8th November

Heading North to Wa. Had an early start for the bus, which I was told left at 04:30, but actually in the end was supposed to leave at 04:00. I turned up at 04:20 and the bus was still there anyway! The guide said that you could pick up a bus from the nearby village of Larabanga, but the receptionist told me that it sets off from Damongo, and sometimes when it gets to Larabanga it is actually full. So I headed back in the direction for Tamale, arriving at Damongo at around 05:45. When I asked what time the bus came for Wa they said sometime between 06:00 and 07:00, in the end it turned up around 06:30, and didn’t leave until around 07:30. The road to Wa was mainly unmade and rather bumpy and dusty. After many, many stops we finally arrived at Wa. My bag, which is an olive green colour, was unrecognisable as it was covered with red dust!

Dusty bagDusty bag I planned to stay in Wa for just one night, and so I proceeded to get a ticket for a nice air conditioned coach for the next day, much to my horror, they said that if I want to leave in the morning it would be another STC Metro bus (STC Express now only run from Wa to Kumasi on Thursday and Sunday leaving at 16:00). So I decided to cancel my night in Wa, see what I wanted: Wa Na’s palace & the mud and stick mosque at Nakori (this is the mosque on front of the Lonely Planet for West Africa).

Wa Na’s palace was actually just behind the STC bus station (past Vodafone) and actually right in front is another bus terminus! As I took my first photo I was confronted by the police and then the army, saying that I couldn’t take a photo. After a long debate they didn’t come up with any reason at all, but that was a bit disappointing, as all I managed was a couple of snaps.

Wa Na I wandered around the backstreets and got a couple of nice shots of people though…

The lady on the left was blind, but they were both very friendly...

Old women chatting Then I hopped in a taxi to the small village of Nakori to see the mud and stick mosque. It’s tiny, but interesting – you can go inside through a tiny door and there are a number of rooms. You can also scale a narrow staircase through an even tinier door to the roof!

The shiny STC Express bus awaited, but as always left late! It was a much more comfortable journey down to Kumasi, in the end I arrived at my guest house at around midnight, and after some confusion with the night guard, the friendly owner, Chris showed me to my spacious, comfortable room (www.fourvillages.com). The end of a very long day!

Friday 9th November

I decided to have a fairly chilled out day, after a nice breakfast I rang to book my onward hotels. Then headed to town, and after a few ATM issues went for a late lunch at Vic Baboo’s. It was full of travellers / expats, and I struck up a conversation with a nice guy, Malcolm, from the UK who has been living in Ghana for the last 12 years.

Then I went onto the Cultural Centre and Museum complex. The Museum was very small, but interesting. The Cultural Centre had lots of different handicrafts being made and sold.

On the way back I walked round the corner to the zoo, not to see the zoo itself, but the bats nesting in the trees outside! I read somewhere they barbequed them, but not on this occasion! Then I headed back to Vic Baboo’s and saw Malcolm for a few beers and some prawn rice, and put the world to rights!

Saturday 10th November

I had arranged with my friendly host, Chris the day before for someone to show me round the market and take me to Lake Bosumtwi. I headed off with Comfort after breakfast to the market, which is the largest in West Africa, 11,000 shops! Taylors, butchers, haberdashery, fishmongers (mainly dried), fabric, vegetables, electricals, soap; you name it, it was there. One of the main reasons I wanted to go was to see the fetish section (not whips and latex! Voodoo!).

They had dried chameleons, monkey heads, snake heads, elephant & animal skins, bats, all laid out so you could buy whatever the witch doctor had said you needed. Very interesting.

Crocodiles, dogs, bats, chicken feet, monkey's head etc!!

Voodoo From the market we took tro-tros (shared minibuses) and shared taxis to get to Lake Bosumtwi. This was actually formed by a meteor impact that pushed up mountains around the crater that then filled with rainwater (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Bosumtwi ). It is a beautiful, tranquil place, well it should have been, but there were many sound systems blasting out competing with each other – which sort of ruined the atmosphere! I am not sure if it is always like that, or maybe just at the weekend…

I love the reflections of the sticks in the water on this one - especially close to the camera

Traditional fisherman

Lake Bosumtwi

While we were there, there was a big storm, and it was interesting as the surface of the lake changed in colour from blue to green – Maybe the wind whipping up algae?

Sunday 11th November

I was lucky enough to be in town for the Adae festival, which happens every 42 days. This is a chance to see the Ashanti King (apparently he was an accountant in the UK for some years!) in all his gold regalia, and the tribal leaders. It was supposed to start at 10am, at the Palace, so I turned up a bit after this and nothing was happening. There is an interesting museum that was a good introduction to the Ashanti customs, so I went to this, and returned around 11:30 and the seats were starting to fill up. I hadn’t seen so many tourists in the whole of Ghana! I think they were all here for this day! The tribal leaders filtered in slowly and finally the king arrived a little bit after 1pm! People went up to greet him, offering gifts – goats, and lots of bottles of schnapps (a tradition that goes back to the Dutch times). After a while a lot of the big tourist groups got bored and disappeared, but then was the best part – the king went walkabout, talking and greeting the people and dancing to the drums. Rifles were raised, swords and gold sceptres waved! A good time was had by all!

Energetic drummer

Energetic drummer Tribal gathering

Tribal gathering

Ashanti King

Ashanti King Gold snakes, swords and guns!

Gold snakes, swords and guns!

Monday 12th November

Another 04:00 bus from Kumasi to Takoradi, and then onto Axim on the coast for two nights. So today is a chill day, before my trip to the village on stilts at Nzulezu

From Kumasi to Takoradi it is supposed to be approx 4 hrs, but the bus didn’t get in until around 10:30! So 6.5 hrs! I was then going to get tro-tros to the village of Axim, but in the end I got accosted by taxi drivers and beat them down enough on the price to just take a private taxi (40 GHC), probably saving a lot of time. I arrived at Lou Moon (fantastic hotel & great food: www.loumoon-lodge.com) at around midday.

Tuesday 13th November

I had ordered a taxi the previous day to take me to Nzulezu, the village on stilts on a freshwater lake. Leaving the hotel at 7:30, I arrived at the departure point at around 9am. On the way we passed a couple of refugee camps – one for the Ivory Coast, that we were very near to and another for Liberia, which I was surprised about as I thought Liberia had been peaceful for some time. The young taxi driver, Emanuel, said that it had been there for some time. There was also a mass of construction traffic around and vast areas of the jungle had been cleared for gas pipelines and an electricity plant to run of the off-shore gas that was discovered relatively recently (along with the oil).

As all over Ghana there were wrecked cars by the side of the road. Most of them are from accidents at night, caused by people overtaking and having head-on collisions. The first one we saw happened the previous night at 10pm between a taxi and a tro-tro. Both drivers were killed and a couple of passengers…. Try to avoid travelling at night if you can.

At Bayin you go to the visitor’s centre and pay 20 GHC to visit (includes a boat trip approx 45mins each way) and 2 GHC for still camera. [Note: Some of the guides say closed on Thursday and Sunday, but the local guide said this is wrong, they welcome visitors every day & the price is a lot higher than in the Lonely Planet]. You also register at the village and make a donation to the school. Where you take the boats there is (randomly) a Spanish Tapas bar, owned by a Spanish guy, who has also made his home on the lake.

The journey to Nzulezu is almost as good as seeing the village itself. Two large lakes are connected by a series of canals. I had a boat all to myself, my guide punted it most of the way until it became too deep and he had to use a paddle. I was hoping to see a lot of birds, but the guide told me that you have to leave very early to see them. The water is coloured by the dark peaty soil, so is a very dark brown, almost black. One of the benefits of this phenomenon is that it creates a perfect mirror image, especially in the more shady areas. At some points it was hard to work out where the horizon was!

Optical illusion!

Optical illusion! You could see fishing traps made traditionally from leaves / tree fibres hanging from trees on the river banks or from poles in the water.

The village has somewhere around 500 residents, so quite large, my guide took me to the “high street” where all of the houses branch off from. A surprising sight to me was lots of multi-coloured wheelie bins! Not great for my photos, but it’s good that they are making sure that waste is properly controlled. People were generally lying around in the shade, most of the children were away when I visited, at a sports camp. The majority of the adults were away working the fields. This was surprising to me, that they weren’t a community of fishermen! Apparently they were refugees many hundreds of years ago, and they lived this way to protect themselves.

High Street, with wheelie bins!

High Street Guest Lodge

They had a large school and one of the rooms still had the lesson on personal hygiene written on the blackboard. Even though I was the only visitor there, the people seemed a bit wary, maybe there are lots of large tour groups that go and they feel that they are a bit of a spectacle.

The school

School building Classroom with personal hygiene notes

Classroom with personal hygiene notes Boy posing in empty classroom

Boy posing in empty classroom Village children

Village children Bored seamstress, wrapped in a towel

Bored seamstress The journey back was just as enjoyable, spotting a few local birds that looked similar to kingfishers, although the sun was scorching hot by this time (around 11am). There were also some people making their way back to the village with provisions.

 

On returning to the hotel I had a swim in the warm Atlantic waters and then went to the nearby fishing village for a wander.

Fishing boat on a sandy beach

Fishing boat on a sandy beach Fishing boat and simple mud building

Fishing boat and simple mud building Fishing kids

Fishing kids Boat and oar

Boat and oar Village children next to mud wall

Village children next to mud wall I had arranged to go for a jungle trek to another village with some (actually all!) of the other guests, so we headed off at 4pm with Joseph, one of the staff. It ended up being almost more of a march / run! We passed some lovely deserted bays, and finally arrived at the village, greeted by a massive whale vertebrae, just lying next to the path!

Deserted beach

Deserted beach Fishing boats on the beach in the evening sun

Fishing boats on the beach Massive whale vertebrae!

Massive whale vertebrae There was a freshwater lake cut off from the sea by the sandy beach, the local children were diving and swimming in it, but apparently there are crocodiles there in the morning! We headed back, and the light started to fail – at some points on the jungle path it was very dark, but we all arrived safe and sound back at the hotel, ready to enjoy a well deserved cold beer!

We had a lovely meal all together and played some games.

Wednesday 14th November

Today I was heading off to Elmina. On the way we passed by an area that seemed to be deforested, but it was actually a rubber plantation. They cut the older trees down after 50 to 60 years as they no longer produce as much rubber. You could see other areas with saplings at various ages of maturity.

Passing through Takoradi the new oil platform could be easily seen as it is very close to the coast. We also passed by the train station, from what I understand the trains don’t really run anymore, and the plethora of rusting carriages would pay testament to that!

I arrived at Elmina around midday.

Elmina has a natural harbour and is a town made for people watching. I stayed at Bridge house, which has a perfect vantage point for this from their shaded terrace overlooking St. George’s Castle. Chill out with a ice cold beer (or whatever is your poison!) and enjoy the spectacle of the boats leaving at sunset, with the fishermen buying last minute provisions for their night at sea. Apparently boats don’t fish on a Tuesday, due to local superstition, the last time someone did was 12 years ago and the boat (reportedly) capsized….

St. George’s Castle The wooden fishing boats (pirogues) are painted in a riot of colours with bamboo flag poles touting countries from all over the world and from all the famous football teams! These flag poles are lowered in order to get under the bridge, and also double up as punts to shift the direction of the boat. Once their course is true, the flags are proudly raised again and off the head to sea in the dusky light.

Colourful wooden fishing boats (pirogues)

Colourful wooden fishing boats (pirogues) "God is my strength"

"God is my strength" Selling provisions to the fishermen

Selling provisions to the fishermen

The boats return at dawn, bringing in their catch (I watched from around 7am, but a fair few boats were in already). People stand on the bridge, clapping in appreciation of a boat with a good catch! Fish are offloaded at the jetty into large aluminium bowls, painted in the colours and flags of the boat, and women sell the fish on to the local people and traders.

Boats returning at dawn

Boats returning at dawn Selling the catchSelling the catch Spectators on the bridge, clap in appreciation of a boat with a good catch!

Spectators on the bridge, clapping in appreciation of a boat with a good catch! Watching this spectacle, with St. George’s Castle in the background was one of the highlights of my trip, you can imagine this hasn’t changed for decades, or even hundreds of years and there is a massive fleet of boats.

I visited St. George’s Castle in the afternoon, and bumped into the same German / Swiss / Austrian tour group that I had done a walking safari with in Mole and also bumped into in Kumasi!

The entrance fee (11 GHC) also includes a very informative guided tour, although there is a rather steep charge for still cameras (20 GHC). It has a lovely setting, which makes it even more unsettling for the atrocities that were committed here during the slave trade. There were a number of school tours also going round and I ended up being a prop for many of their photos!

Fort St Jago overlooks St. George’s Castle, built to protect it. It was deserted; I had the whole place to myself to enjoy the stunning views.

Around Elmina there are many brightly painted colonial style buildings, which give it a character that few of the other towns in Ghana have.

Thursday 15th November

After a rather fitful sleep, I took a shared taxi (1.1 GHC) from outside my hotel to Cape Coast – the highlight of this town is Cape Coast Castle. Similar to St. George’s Castle, it was originally built to trade goods between Europe and West Africa, but soon became a holding prison for slaves bound for the Americas.

The setting of the castle is stunning. The Atlantic waves pounding the rocks that form the foundations of the castle, with the warm salty air gusting in your face. I had another interesting tour (11 GHC) and managed to haggle the steep camera charge down from 20 to 10 GHC! Here you could actually go out of the door of no return (wide wooden gate) and they had symbolically named it the door of return to come back in.

Cape Coast Castle

Cape Coast Castle Cape Coast Castle - courtyard

Cape Coast Castle - courtyard Cape Coast Castle - canons

Cape Coast Castle - canons President Obama and his wife visited in 2009, and there was a plaque to commemorate this.

Wandering around Cape Coast it was much quieter than Elmina. I had a simple lunch at The Castle café (just next to the Castle… no surprise!). It has a lovely panorama of the beach and the castle with a warm breeze flowing through.

There is a small fishing community, just east of the castle, tiny compared to Elmina. This is due to the dangerous approach for the fishing boats, as there no natural harbour, like in Elmina. The fisherman struggled to control the boats in the surf approaching the beach.

Cape Coast fishermen

Cape Coast fishermen Red building and shuttersRed building and shutters Eric

Eric I got another shared taxi back to Elmina, but I got the taxi driver to drop me off early, so I could take some photos of the beach with the castle in the background. However, every way I turned there were children trying to get into my photos – they just love to see themselves on the camera playback!

After dinner I went for a wander around the poorly lit town. There was lots of music blasting out, but I soon realised that all of the sources were from churches with large congregations gathered to sing along! They had the usual stalls with people selling mainly dried fish. I chatted with a few locals and then returned to my hotel to see if there was someone to have a beer with. Unfortunately not!

Friday 16th November

I got up early-ish to see the fishing boats unloading, and then caught up with this blog, as I was waiting for another guest at the hotel (Bart, who was here on business, trying to see what they could do to improve waste management in Elmina) to share a taxi to Accra. The journey took around three hours, and despite the chronic condition of the brakes and being behind a lorry piling out black smoke for most of the journey, it went without incident!

In the evening I met Bart's boss Suzanne, and another English guy, Ian. We had an enjoyable night with a nice meal and a few too many beers together at the Afia Beach Hotel restaurant, Tribes!

Saturday 17th November

Flight back home to London

Some conclusions on my trip

Ghanaians are a very friendly and honest bunch. I have found them to be very trustworthy, especially when travelling on my own and stranded in a bus station in the middle of nowhere, getting people to keep an eye on my bags.

People are happy and generally seem to have enough to live off, and not to be hungry, but for the majority I think that is just about it. There is no extra disposable income. I haven’t seen a single person smoking, and very few even drinking (and beer here is cheap 4 GHC = $2 USD for a 640ml bottle, a 1.5l bottle of water is 1.5 GHC to put it into context). I have seen less than 10 people in the whole of Ghana wearing glasses, and they can’t all have 20:20 vision!

People are very religious, with slogans like “God is Good”, “In God we trust” emblazoned over the rear windscreens of cars. Shops, boats and the like, usually have references to God and Jesus also. Wandering around Elmina at night the music that was blasting out until after 11pm was coming from the Methodist churches (on a Thursday night!) with large congregations singing along. It seems this and lots of people gathered round a solitary TV set is the main entertainment for the evening!

The country as a whole is not massively geared up for tourism. In Accra, the capital you could easily see all of the main sights in a day. There is generally not a lot happening in the evening especially outside the cities; this is where Accra is different, with a lot of bars, restaurants etc. especially around Cantonments Road (Oxford Street).

Power outages are regular, as are water outages. I read in the local paper that in 2008 only 54% of the population had electricity and now 72% of people do. It seems that the large gas fuelled Electricity Station near Beyin, being built by the Chinese, will go some way to addressing this and preventing so many power outages.

Reading through the local papers there are lots of invitations to bid for infrastructure type projects – from sewerage, energy and general construction. A lot of these projects will go to overseas bidders, especially the Chinese. Local educated people (e.g. doctors) tell me that the problem is then local labour is not used, and the lengthy contracts are not read and checked thoroughly by the local authorities, leading to less than favourable conditions for Ghana.

Ghana lacks many street names, so this makes it an issue for not just navigating, but also essential things like collecting taxes, and voting. This is starting to change, but still a long way off being completed.

It seems that more educated people are now staying in Ghana, rather than migrating to the West for bigger salaries, let’s hope that this sees massive strides for the country. The elections on the 7th December (with many, many parties) I guess will be crucial for this.

Goodnight, and thank you for reading! If you want to contact me, please see the contacts (http://www.guppyimages.co.uk/contact.html) page.

 


Comments

Johann(non-registered)
Nice pictures am very interested in using one of ur pictures would you please allow me to ..its for a good course and would be very grateful..please get back to me as soon as possible.
Marc Alexander(non-registered)
Great read buddy, sounds like you are having a great time and just about managing to stay alive! can't wait to hear all about it when you return to blighty.
Sammy Alexander(non-registered)
I'm loving the blog Mr Smith, some breathtaking images too
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