You are currently browsing the daily archive for August 5, 2010.

Finally we get the Landcruiser back. Three days of dealing with the clearing agents and customs. Hearts were pumping fast when we opened the container after the man next to us opened his and found the back windscreen smashed. All ok, no damage and got out of the port this afternoon (Thursday) Time to move on!

We are loving Accra. Hot, sticky, lots of colour and music everywhere. Hip-life music is the main music you hear everywhere, which has its roots in High-life (originating in the 1920’s –  a mix of big band jazz, christian hymns and sailor sonnets). In the early 1990’s Hip-life came about and was a mix of rhythmic african lyrics played over American break beats. Hip-life varies slightly depending on whether it was made in the north or south of Ghana.

We have tried to slow ourselves down to the pace of life here. We thought the rest of Africa was easy-going but Ghana is a new level of being laid-back. We have thought about ordering our meals in advance, then leaving it an hour before we sit down to eat!

We have been waiting for the vehicle since we landed on Saturday. News from the shipping company is that it will arrive, as expected, on the 6th. No work is done on the weekend so we will have to wait until Monday to start sorting out customs clearance. We should be back with the Landcruiser by next Wednesday.

Ghana is proving to be a good place to wait for the vehicle. It’s such a massive change from southern Africa – it hardly feels like the same continent. Fun & games when it comes to clearing the vehicle next week.

In the meantime we’ve been enjoying the city. The area of Osu is a good hangout. We’ve been using local taxis to get about, if you can call them that. They rattle along the roads as if they are about to fall apart. When we stop at traffic lights, we get approached by people selling phone cards, plantain chips, small bags of water and whatever else. They walk perfectly upright with buckets on their heads and  they only take them off to serve you. They carry a few samples ready to sell in both hands.

We  only have a few things to get done at the start of the week. We got our Benin visas within a day on Tuesday. We tried to get a few others, but the price seemed too high for  1 month visas. The Visa Touristique Entente, which was mentioned, is no longer available in Ghana or at any of the West African French-speaking countries, so we’ll have to get the individual visas for each country. Shame, as it would have covered us for 5 countries on the same visas. To enter Togo, we can get a 7 day transit visa at the border, which should be enough time there. The Bukina Faso visa can be got in Benin at the French consulate.

We thought of moving hotel for the weekend, but it looks like the Afia hotel is the best we will find for this price in the city. Internet is so much cheaper here than in Namibia. We pay £4 for 12 hours compared to £3 for 1 hour in Namibia. West Africa will also benefit soon from the much-anticipated Glo-1 submarine fibre optic cable single-handedly built by Globacom.

Other sights we’ve seen here – Morkola market (where you can buy everything under the sun, as long as it’s Chinese and The National Theatre (built by the Chinese, so wont last long!). We passed by to see if there were any events on this week.

We are heading into Jamestown this afternoon, an area that was formed around Fort James during the 17th century, when the British were here. It is now one of the poorer parts of Accra but also the most interesting. A few of the Ghanaian football players, including Michael Essien, come from this small area. The area is divided into districts which was hard to get our heads around as each area had a king. Jamestown has a real community feel about it. We wandered around with a guide who lives in the area. The small houses where people lived were down small alleyways. Open sewers ran down the side of the street where there were small workshops and women frying food. There were small kids playing everywhere.

Accra was originally the capital of the ancient Ga kingdom. Accra served as a centre for trade with the Portuguese, who built a fort in the town, followed by the Swedish, Dutch, French, British and Danish by the end of the seventeenth century. Jamestown seems to be a place where different countries have laid their claim to and used as a harbour to export raw materials and then humans, during the slave trade.

So the food has been great to try to get into. West African staple foods are everywhere.

Some of the Ghanaian food we’ve been trying:

Banku – Cooked fermented corn dough and cassava dough

Fufu – Pounded cassava and plantain or pounded yam and plantain, or pounded cocoyam

Omo Tuo – Pounded rice staple of northern origins

Jollof rice – The most common basic ingredients are rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and red pepper. Very nice and good with some hot chilli sauce poured over it.

Grilled Tilapia –  Common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish.

Red Red – Beans & fried plantain

Banga soup (also called palm nut soup) – A soup made from the sauce squeezed from palm fruit

Tante Marie Degue – Natural yoghurt and millet with minimal sugar (as described on the label) – It’s meant to be very good for you. Found on the street, sold by women with cool boxes.

Were watching: New Nollywood Collection Vol 10 (bought on the side of the road in Osu. Looks dodgy!

I was scanning the internet and came across this. Now that we have left Southern Africa we are safely away from anything like this happening. Amusing viewing. Scroll down to see pictures.

We hear of a lot of projects on our travels through Africa. This one in particular has grabbed our attention and, if completed, will potentially wipe out one of the last areas of its kind on the whole continent. More information on this link. Sign the petition as well.

We are listening to:

Seu Jorge and Almaz

Martyn – Great Lengths (took a while to pick up on this one)

August 2010