Day 1- Accra. We were met by our smiling tour guide who introduced himself as Ben. Even with his warm welcome and the beautiful hotel, I was still on “Nigeria mode” and was too scared to go to the beach, preferring instead to triple check our locks, execute evacuation drills with the security guards and get price quotes for emergency flare guns.
Day 2- Volta River cruise. Trying to bring my internal security alarm system down to amber, the Princess Dodi boat cruise was a good start. We made one stop during which I had to make sure the inhabitants weren’t animatronics. Children met us on the dock waving and dancing and grabbing to hold tourists’ hands as they exited the boat. Walking along the perfectly paved path, we saw musical bands trying too hard to seem like an impromptu African bush jam session. If Disneyworld ever does a “This is Africa” ride, this island should be their case study.
Day 3 – Elmina and Cape Coast Slave Fortresses. The history of these sea-side fortresses made me think of a rousing game of Monopoly (the Africa edition) played between Portugal, Britain and France as they bought and sold the coveted Gold Coast square. The fortresses were turned into slave castles when slavery became a lucrative commodity. We saw pitch-black dungeons, and the doors of “no return” that led from the holding pens to the ships. The massive amounts of slaves that were shipped from these fortresses to Brazil and the Americas was astounding.
Day 4- Karkum forest. Of course Murphy’s law dictates that the one day your amoebas decide to have a dance party in your stomach is the day scheduled to walk along one of the highest forest canopies in the world. Needless to say the Cipro was taken generously at breakfast that morning instead of the usual omelet. The canopy walk itself was incredible- only 3 out of 11 people in the group actually had the nerve to walk the entire route. Jordan and I had fun venturing out to the middle of separate bridges, taking pictures of each other looking like Indiana Jones and looking for animal life; elephants, gazelles, monkeys, tyrannosaurus rex’s…anything. Unfortunately the only animals we saw were butterflies.
That afternoon we watched the Ghana vs. Brazil World Cup game. It was great fun watching the game with a large group of Ghanaians who would erupt in angry Twi- we dindt know what they were saying but referee bashing is pretty evident in any language.
Day 5 – 7- Busua Beach Resort. I got flash-backs to Nigeria when we checked into the Busua beach resort and the hot water didn’t work, the jet-skis were broken, the TV was all fuzz and the seafood had gone bad. Despite these quirks we had fun. We followed Lonely Planet and found a funky gazebo restaurant on a bluff owned by an eccentric German woman who had lived in Ghana for 15 years. We played a lot of cards and bottle caps.
Day 8 – Accra: We had an amusing drive back to Accra reading advertisements and business on the side of the road. Obviously a strong missionary presence, we noticed many of the local small businesses incorporated religious references in the titles of their businesses. Overall though, our favorites were:
Watch and Pray Hair Salon
A boat named “Clap for Jesus”
The Future is Unknown Hair Salon
Academy of Peculiar Children
Accra itself is a wonderful city. It has a small beach town feel to it filled with friendly people, colorful fabric and charming stores and restaurants.
Day 9- Boti Falls and Shai Hills. We took a pleasant day trip outside Accra to Shai Hills and Boti Falls. In Shai Hills we were lucky to run into a family of baboons. The falls were beautiful but the most memorable part was watching a group of local Ghanaian girls squeal with laughter watching a pale American walking bravely into the water to swim.
That night I had an unfortunate incident with a do-it-yourself Clariol hair highlighting kit that which leads to the events of…
Day 10- Ghanaian hair salon and departure. (I should have gone back to the Watch and Pray salon just for kicks). It looked like someone walking with a bucket of bleach tripped and fell on my head. I scurried across the street to the nearest hair salon (read: nailed together shack). They stood there and blinked at me then pointed to a case that was filled with….Clairol hair dye boxes. Desperate at this point, I picked out brown and asked them to do their best. The misleading color description should have read, “Coppery Dish-water residue.”
Next adventure after Ghana? – A Nigerian hair salon.