Time has moved on since my last blog. I’ve had four days to soak in a bit of Accra and get acquainted with the new client system. (FYI I’m on maximum strength Nexium. Taking in front…) My hotel is fine and I have no complaints except for the abundance of slim, pretty women working here. This is nature’s way of reminding me that there is no way in HELL I’ll have a Bliss costume-ready body by February 20th. But seriously, when did Ghana get all these gorgeous women? I forbid my husband to come here again.
My Ghanaian hosts were gracious, helpful and extremely pleased to have me with them. I had three productive and extremely busy days. It’s very detailed work, and the sort of stuff I love to do. They are trying to inveigle me to help them with a host of organisational issues. I’ve committed to visiting Ghana next month and we‘re discussing additional projects.
Whenever I visit any country where football, cricket or both are popular I inevitably get asked about Trinbago’s most famous sporting icons, and Ghana is no exception. What – we all know each other? The place is so small? Canny observers who pick up on my surname often follow up with “Are you related to…?” And then I have to concede that the country IS indeed that small and half of Buccoo and Patience Hill share my DNA. But there are benefits to living in a pimple on the South American continent – topics to be explored in future blog posts, perhaps.
Things I learned about Ghana:
Fact – Ghana had the world’s fastest growing economy in 2011 according to the International Monetary Fund – a ridiculous 20.15% in the first half of 2011.
Fact – The traffic in Accra makes Bangkok look like a kiddies’ bumper car circuit. Everyone drives like a Crystal Stream maxi-taxi driver. But on Wednesday night the roads were exceptionally clear. The Africa Cup of Nations is on and Ghana played Guinea last night. By 6pm every man, woman and stray dog was gathered around a TV. Huge screens set up in Accra’s commercial district pulled large crowds. Ghana drew 1-1 with Guinea, putting them through to the quarter finals.
Fact – The Ghanaian Cedi is 1.66 to the US dollar. Sheesh – even if you reverse the numbers it’s still worth more than the Trini dollar. And we feel we’re so great.
Fact – Ghana is one of the most religious countries in the world; 90% of the population belong to an organised religion and believe in a higher being. What was it T&T is famous for again? Oh yeah – feting and bobol.
On Wednesday afternoon I got the opportunity to see beyond my hotel and the client’s building. I met up with some Trinis working here (we’re like Bruno Mars and salt – in everything) and they took me on a tour of the city.
Accra is a huge place (population 2.3M). Lonely Planet describes it as “Africa for Beginners” – a mixture of the modern and the traditional, with sufficient comforts to appease a Western palate. The people are friendly and despite what I read on the internet, the incidence of crime against foreigners is relatively low. Busy, dusty streets are packed with traffic, people and commerce. A visual smorgasbord of poverty, prosperity, religion, art and culture; all impatiently jostling for attention. I visited the Independence Square, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (what’s the deal with African leaders and HUGE mausoleums?) and bought a few artefacts at the Art Center. I apologise for the poor quality pics – I was in a moving car, after all. Hopefully I’ll have more time to explore on my next visit.
Similar to Trinidad, hawkers converge on cars at traffic lights offering a variety of goods. Unlike Trinidad, the items for sale are somewhat…unusual. I’m used to people vending fruit, vegetables, even the odd As Seen On TV item. But fake Pringles chips (yes, fake Pringles), toilet paper, Scrabble games? SMH.
I spent my last night in Ghana at the Trini posse’s house (which was spectacular) watching the football and chilling out before trekking to the airport. I don’t know what I enjoyed more – the lime or watching the intense expression on their Ghanaian colleague’s face as he concentrated on the match.
All too soon my Ghanaian adventure was over and I was boarding a United Airlines flight bound for the USA. BTW – anybody reading this remember what Piarco airport was like 25 years ago? THAT is Accra’s airport today. Nuff said.
So now I’m sitting in Washington Dulles airport passing time before my next flight. New blog posts will appear on Sunday evening/Monday morning depending on your time zone. Have an opinion on this post? Sound off in the comments below. Ta ta for now!