From border to Accra

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The Ghanian border had a lot more infrastructure than Togo, the first sign of a higher standard of development.  However, this did not stretch to any more organization, and we again had to rely on loiterers to point us in the right direction. Speaking English again instead of our 20 word vocabulary of French certainly helped, especially when the boom guard insisted we pay the equivalent of R500 instead of the usual R100 to exit, claiming that we were “carrying goods” on our roofrack.

Stewart refused to pay the thinly veiled “bribe’, invited him to investigate what was under the covers. After a 2nd official intervened, only the R100 was paid, the border official actually made a joke of his attempt to charge more (an African border official with a sense of humour, what a change!), and  we were into Ghana. We stopped to buy a local cell phone number – MTN has a large presence here, as well as most of West Africa, and then drove westwards

One thing never seems to change in Africa, and that is the weird fact that often the roads are at their worst closest to the borders. Ghana proved no exception, and we made slow time for the first hour or so, dodging potholes, kamikaze taxi drivers and locals. Another thing immediately noticeable is the never ending stream of faith slogans EVERYWHERE, this unfortunately was a reminder of the “Christian/Holy” Nigeria we left behind, so admittedly there was a bit of unease.

 Roadside coffins!!Larry the roadside philosopher

Once the road had improved, we made good time to Accra, and marveled at the array of goods for sale on the side of the road. The most noticeable were the ornate coffins that were for sale everywhere. It seems the Ghanaians take their dead seriously and ensure that they are encased in everything ornate from dried flower inlays to pillars and gold. We had phone Edward Adeli, our contact at the Volunteer Corps, to advise him of when to expect us, but still managed to arrive an hour earlier than expected at the designated meeting point, just outside Accra. We were sure that he sighed a huge sigh of relief due to us finally arriving after all the drama.

 

From what we could see, Accra was relatively developed, the drive in to Accra reminding us of the area between Johannesburg and Pretoria. They even have a double lane motorway as you approach the city, and we spotted a shopping centre sporting familiar names such as Shoprite, Game, and even Woolworths! Annaliese nearly fainted and to her dismay we still have not been there.

 

Whilst waiting on the side of the road for Edward to arrive,   one of the locals introduced himself to us, and we proceed to have a wide ranging discussion about politics, marriage, economics and the meaning of life! Quite a step up in the education levels, Larry was a trained nurse, having studied for 5 years to qualify. Knowledgeable, articulate and humorous, it was refreshing to chat to him. He was adamant that marriage is like a journey and you have to be very well prepared before you start, so it takes a long time to finally get there. When Stewart suggested it is maybe time to start the journey as he might be tired of all the preparations, he threw his hands up in the air and commented to Annaliese “he is very funny, isn’t he!” We immediately decided that we just love their amazing sense of humour as well as their inquisitive nature. Every few minutes someone will walk up to you to find out who you actually are, what you are doing there and there will always be a joke at the end or at least a chuckle.

 

Edward and a friend eventually arrived, and we were immediately surprised at how young he looked. Only 27, Edward later told us how he and a group of friends had formed the Volunteer Corps to assist less privileged countrymen in Ghana. For guys still in their 20s, we found this to be incredible, as their attitude is that they are so fortunate to live in a city, to have jobs and to have amenities, that it is their duty and pleasure to give to the less fortunate. We were so happy to realize that they were exactly as we hoped they would be and nothing like the huge NGO’s /International volunteer org that have become such a joke in Africa. Here are a group of young guys that took the initiative, got organized and started working. They need all the support they can get and we will make sure that all the details are on our website for all to see and support.

 

 Brown and his sister preparing Fu Fu

Edward took us to meet “Brown”, a fellow director of the Volunteer Corps, and our host for the few days we would be in Accra before we left for the village where we would be doing volunteer work for the next 3 weeks. Brown put us up in his house just outside Accra, making us feel at home. That night we went out with Edward and his friends, who have given themselves the nickname “The Star Boys”, we assume named after the local beer, “Star”. We had an enjoyable night   debating many topics, including the merits of various international Football stars, world politics, the aims and achievements of the Volunteer Corps, and the merits and demerits of chicken versus guinea fowl as a meal!! We were informed that they even have white guinea fowl and rejected Annaliese’s comment that they might be albino! We were treated to all types of meat whilst the beer flowed one more peppery and spiced with chilli than the next……..A will have a difficult 3 weeks food wise, that is for sure.

 

Edward advised us we would only be leaving Accra on Monday, and that he had arranged a mechanic to see to Stan only once we returned to Accra . So we decided use the time and see if we could get our Burkina Faso visas, which we managed with surprising ease, and then to head to the beach for the weekend. Acting on the advices of many travelers, we headed for a beach resort called Krokobite (pronounced “Croco beeter)  just 30km west of Accra.