Ghana – seeing the sights of Accra

Finally solo!  I said goodbye to the truck and hit up the sights of Accra

I hitched a ride with the truck to the outskirts of Cape Coast to make my way solo to Accra. I was sad to leave the group and the truck. While I am definitely not cut out for group travel, it was an amazing experience and I saw places I never would have seen solo (particularly in the back country in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia). I also met an eclectic group of people, each with their own unique charms (and foibles). I really enjoyed Zoe and Jason (the leader and driver) who were in unfailingly high spirits, full of energy, and just got shit done in spite of the numpties on the truck (myself included) who forgot instructions, showed up late, didn’t do their jobs, broke the fridge etc….. it must be like leading a school trip but from a juvenile detention centre or herding a bunch of unusually feral cats. I did confess that if I had been the tour leader, most of the passengers would have been murdered in their sleep in Sierra Leone :-), especially the snorers and the late ones. 

The public loo at the mini bus station, no door (a curved wall), no roof and no water, and of course no paper….. but at least it didn’t smell
So, onwards to Accra – The mini bus system was extraordinarily efficient. Within ten minutes we were full up with 11 groovy Ghanaians with high tech phones, the aircon was blasting and I was wedged in between some bags. Several people offered me food and checked that I was comfortable. We also had a long conversation about African ladies backsides (prompted by how little room mine was taking up on the seat in comparison). I expressed admiration for the local derrières and was applauded by the men, but the women made a fair point that a big butt wasn’t particularly useful ‘what is it good for???’.   
The minibus was a bargain for £5 as the other mini buses squish in 30 plus and still cost £2. However, as is always the way in Africa, our minibus dropped us on the outskirts of Accra in the middle of a nest of vipers a.k.a taxi drivers. A friend from the mini bus (a preacher in training) and I shared a cab to the ‘circle’ after some tough negotiations, and then I walked and sweated the last 1km to the hotel (thankful for gps on the phone as the taxi driver didn’t know the location and didn’t want to navigate the one ways).  
Asylum down – the suburb where I stayed… apt!

I spent a full day exploring town – the lonely planet was correct in saying there are no show stoppers in Accra. First stop – the National museum which l closed for six months in 2015 – and has still not reopened

Jamestown Lighthouse

Next onto Jamestown, a vibrant poor neighbourhood with amazing open air boxing gyms. I accidentally ended up in the middle of an NDC rally/boisterous party (lot of beers were being consumed and it was only 9am). It was fun but I hightailed it out of there, as I was beginning to feel like a leprechaun with all the people stroking my arms …. normally just the kids do that to see if your white skin feels different but in this case I had fully grown adults stroking me….. weird! I had thought this was a celebration party given the mood, but when I checked google back at the hotel it turns out the NDC party lost the election – perhaps that explains the alcohol consumption. 
Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum
From there, the Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum (founding father of Ghana) – where had to wait 20 minutes for the ladies to arrive to sell the tickets – they were open, just not ready. The mausoleum is quite interesting, the museum is just a random assortment of photos of Kwame with the great and good, from Fidel Castro to queen Elizabeth. 
Next to the heaving sweaty mass of humanity which was Makola market. Crazy! Loud! Like usual I would have loved to have taken some photos but it wouldn’t have been a great idea.   
Dark star square
I strolled along to Dark star and independence squares where a mass church service was being held. Evangelical events are wildly popular here and they are advertised like west end shows. It was too hot for me so I continued walking to Osu – posh Accra – and fell into the air conditioned smoothy bar on Oxford st after walking 14k in 80% humidity at 30 degrees. Then I must confess I stopped by the KFC as was craving something familiar – bad tourist! And then I succumbed to the delights of the air conditioned shoprite and loaded up on chocolate cake… aaaaahhhhh. After that I felt sufficiently fortified to stroll the 4K back to the hotel.    
Divine ‘dirty bird’ – and the standard fry here is way more spicey than usual

Surprisingly apart from a few odd looks, a couple of persistent children and some opportunistic local charmers asking how I was, I had surprisingly little hassle in spite of the warnings from the guide book and the hotel (apart from the stroking at the rally). I have decided that if you walk everywhere then people assume you are too poor for a taxi or bus and feel sorry for you, or maybe it is just being one person versus a big group means you attract less attention.
Mass religion in independence square

Am heading off to Togo this morning. I investigated the public transport options yesterday and worked out a good route but was warned by the locals that the bus to the border might take up to 3-4 hours to fill up and leave Accra given it is Sunday. So, am cheating and paying four times the price for a taxi to take me to the border directly from the hotel. At £32 it is good value for 3 hours and 200k and am sure they are not overcharging me as I cross checked the uber fare (yes they have uber here). While I am all good to economise on hotels and I rarely spend more then $40 per night, typically $20, saving time and hassle on public transport is worth paying for.
Compelling local advertising
Accra, December 16-18, 2016

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