The Ghana Tree

My journey to Ghana. An account of what I see, learn, feel, and experience. My Story and the Stories I come across.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Observers Be Worried

I am in Ghana. The flights went ok, always an empty seat next to me. The baggage issue was not great but it could have been worse.  The first guy I talked to was a crabby old man who was not going to give me help.  I then went to repack and then ended up being helped by a very nice lady who let all of my bags be a few pounds overweight without charging me; however, I did still had to pay $350 extra.

I am at an internet café (just internet no café part) in central Accra. I am helping Nii set up a net book that my Professor sent over. I will try and give you a rundown of what I have been doing since I arrived.

After a 9hr and 50min flight I landed in Accra at 7:30am local time. Flying into Accra this time of year, at the end of the rainy season you are met by an overly green tropical landscape running along the beach. The flight over Accra also gives you your first impressions of the city, a city with its own strange kind of movement. To many people and to many taxies and TroTros give it a busy feeling but it is the buildings that give it its interesting feel; it seems a majority of buildings are either slowly falling down are slowly being built—construction takes so long that nothing ever seems new. It is a very precarious feeling.

I made it through immigration and customs without any problem and was then meet by Nii, who was the tour guide on my last trip in April, and he is serving as my guide/fixer helping me move around Accra and then taking me by bus up to Tamale. He brought along a friend with a car so we did not have to bottom out a taxi with all my stuff. After dropping my stuff off at Nii’s house we drove back into the city to change some money and to purchase a cell phone. Cell phones are huge over here, if you don’t have one, or two, you are a nobody.  After that we returned home by TroTro.

TroTros are old vans that have been turned into large taxis that take riders to the different districts of the city. They are often old, badly damaged, polluting, and decorated with nonsensical bible verses or references. My first TroTro ride was in an old Toyota van with major front end damage and the saying “Observers Be Worried” lettered on the back window. There are usually 10-15 people in a TroTro and they all sit ramrod straight and do not talk. The combination of hard benches, silence, and near death experiences gives the inside of TroTros a very sobering feel, almost like attending a church right before your own funeral.

The house that I am staying in while in Accra is also a Spot, the local term for a bar, called Prince Corner Spot. I spent the afternoon sitting outside it and listening to two old women gossiping over a beer. The house is also located close to a school so I was witness to a parade of school children in checkered blue and white uniforms after school was let out. I was just as much as an attraction to them as they rounded the corner.

This morning I also experienced something I was not expecting to while here; being cold. This morning I took a very chilly shower. Outside under an overcast sky threatening rain in a stiff ocean breeze I dumped a bucket of cold water over me. Certainly a rough wake up for my body when it thought it was 4am.

Today, my second in Accra, I ran some errands with Nii that took us into the central market, this is a labyrinth of over crowded streets where you can see a store dedicated to the sale of doorknobs, a group of Rastafarians buying a truckload of plumbing supplies, and a young pregnant girl carrying 15 gallons of paint on her head. Nii was trying to collect money that was owed him, and like any errand to collect money that is not yours this one seemed overly complicated and slightly shady, so I spent my time watching the paint store. People would come in and by paint and then several girls would load the paint up on their heads, either in 5 gallon buckets or shrink-wrapped packs of 5, 1 gallon pails and disappear into the market. This girls are mostly from the north and live a very hard life in the city as the work to send money back home.

After Nii failed to get his money we went and ate lunch at a friend’s sewing shop. This was also connected to a small bar where boxing fans were watching De La Hoya win a world championship match. A young boy, who looked like a future world champion was sent out to get lunch. He left upset and practicing his punches, probably punching an invisible white guy who made him miss the match.  He returned with 3 parcels wrapped first in a plastic bag, then in newspaper, and finally in banana leaves. Inside were a lump of spicy rice, and a large chunk of fish; bones, skin and all. I hate fish but since arriving I have ate exclusively fish and rice. The fish is smoked whole and ate off the bone, and is actually not that bad.

I will try to update you again before I head north. We will be taking the bus next Monday and this week I might take a trip to the hilly eastern region of the country, Nii also has a friend who is getting married this weekend and I have been invited to join.

Sorry I haven’t taken any pictures yet.

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