Ghana – Ankasa to Akwidaa to Brennu

We had a quiet night’s sojourn in Akwidaa after a five hour drive from Ankasa. It was lovely and it was great to run along the beach this morning. The hotel was run down, but in a stunning location….  and am not sure anyone had stayed there for the past six months.

Akwidaa beach
We got to check out Ghanaian village life en route. This is a country with a deep love of god. The business names are wonderful – ‘obey gods will and live ventures’, ‘Christ the king photos’ and ‘jehovahs blessings’. My favourites were ‘god rules internet’ and ‘clap for Jesus fashions’.

Obey gods word and live

All powers belong to Jesus

The lord is my shepherd

Abundant grace
The obsessive fascination with celebrating the deceased is impressive – the coffins are richly decorated, special funeral fashions are required, and you show love to your family members by making huge photoshopped posters of them in commemoration.


Coffin making at the village edge

After Akwidaa we headed off to Brenu. We spent two hours faffing about en route in Takoradi – a side effect of group travel. A half hour pee stop as we all queued for the one loo at the petrol station, then a 20 minute ATM stop, then a 45 minute grocery stop, and finally a 35 minute fresh fruit and veg shop. More credits for my PhD in waiting. Amusingly (or not) it is always the same offenders who are late or last back to the truck, so there are always a few muttered insults when these guys eventually get back.

The pee queue in the shade
There wasn’t much to see in Takoradi but the ladies in the market were friendly and we had a bit of a dance with them to the thumping beats – I think they were celebrating the election results.
We arrived at Brenu beach around 3 and were delighted to find rooms with aircon, fridges and hot water – a trifecta of luxuries unheard of so far – and for only $25 a night each. Bliss!!! Looking forward to three nights in the same place and chilling out in a hammock. (Postscript: for the first time ever we had our room cleaned during a stay – bonus miracle :-))

Excellent mashup of Michelle and Barack
I had my last cook group this evening, chickpea burgers as we hadn’t found any decent meat. They were surprisingly delicious…. though most of the truck did ask where the meat ones were…. and as a treat, we had the old school favourite of bananas and custard. Thrilled to not have to wash pots again after this!

Wherever you are in the world there is football
it is quite a lovely location here, will be hard to summon up some energy to go check out the sites.

Brennu beach, December 13, 2016

Côte d’Ivoire – not so Grand Bassam

We arrived in Grand Bassam without a place to stay as none of the hoteliers had been responding to Zoe’s emails (west African customer service).  My heart sank slightly as we rolled down the lovely quiet shady street past some very nice guest houses, and continued to the less salubrious end of town. 

Jason snoozing while Zoe looked for a hotel
 We waited for a couple of hours while Zoe went to hunt out a hotel willing to let us pitch tents on their lawn. Some people waited in the truck sweating in the afternoon sun, others retired to the dodgy bar next door. The first hotel was willing, but they only had two nasty loos and were in the process of hosting a wedding party….. so Zoe kept walking and talking….

Derelict building

While we waited, the truck banter meandered, as per usual. Today’s topic – one of the younger men on the truck is considering becoming a gigolo (which he pronounces like giggle-o with his accent). He received significant amounts of advice from the women on the truck about the physical changes and personality shifts that would be required for him to be successful. ‘It’s not about the thrust count’ was helpful advice. We considered running a silent auction on the truck to see what type of fees he could earn, but none of us were necessarily keen on executing on the contract.

Reggae central

Eventually Zoe negotiated us rooms and camping at a hotel that appeared mostly derelict from the street side but slightly better beach side, with more than it’s fair share of rubbish. Given the pitch site was tiny and 19 of us would share two bathrooms, Becky and I invested $20 each per night to ‘upgrade’ to a room that was vaguely clean but did have working arctic aircon and a burny hot shower

Maison des artistes

Grand Bassam is a sleepy beach town, the former capital and is described as having a ‘faded grandeur’…., ‘faded’ is perhaps an understatement. The buildings were definitely grand at some point but now appear abandoned and mostly derelict, albeit lovely in the morning light.

I like big butts and I just can’t lie

Maison des artistes

However, almost every building had people living and working in the ruins, including the wonderful Maison des artistes. The art here is vibrantly African. It looks great en situ, but would look terrible at home in the grey london light. We had a relaxing wander around town, chatted to some groovy Rastafarians and even had some young students ask for a photo.  

Wall mural
Wall mural

We wandered up the beach to see the fishing boats and the very cool kids body boarding, literally on boards of wood. Sadly the fishing village rely on the sea for their ‘bathroom plumbing’ so there were abundant and smelly piles of human excrement awaiting the morning tides for disposal. 

Fishing boats near the human sewer

Hot and sticky in the midday heat I retired to the shade next to the pool to read and profit from the sea breeze. I opportunistically took my laundry with me as it dried better than in the room. It was nice to have a lazy afternoon followed by a long walk along the beach.

Colonial building with washing drying

Grand Bassam, December 8&9, 2016