So I’ve only been in Accra, Ghana, for one and half days but feel like I have so much to say. Accra is a city of contrast, you may have a beautiful beach or building but it will always be surrounded by smog or garbarge. While you can find big car dealerships and banks in the background, the majority of the city is markets and small, colorful shops. Instead of supermarkets and department stores, picture locals on the side (and MIDDLE) of the roads, selling everything…nuts, water, plantains, brushes, plungers, lighters, brooms, clothing. Literally, you can be sitting in your car and have someone come up to your window and try to sell you a lotty ticket or a sponge. I am very surpried, I must say, at the lack of fresh fruit available here, and anyone who knows me probably can guess that I am slightly dying without apples.
The driving here is insane! People drive at crazy speeds, unless of course they are sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, which is usually the case. Being from New York, I can honestly say that Accra has traffic about 100 times worse than New York. The city smells of diesel and dirt, which only adds to the anxiety of the congestion. Also, there doesn’t seem to be many lines in the road here to organize the traffic. We took a tro-tro today, which is an extremely packed out minivan with the seats barely attached (it is extrememly inexpensive, however). Well, our tro-tro literally side-swiped another tro-tro, taking off it’s rear-view mirror. While I expected to have sit while a police report was filled out, the drivers just kind of stared at each other and kept driving. No biggie.
W saw some of the major sights (basically all of them, as Accra doesn’t have much to see). We saw the Ghana Stadium, Jamestown Fishhing Village, Fort and Lighthouse (the fishinging village is a small town of bungalows on the water that sits on a hill of garbage, but still pretty interesting to see, and the fort is an old slave fort), Independence Square, Black Star Square, the Sports Forum, and Kanishi Market (basically they only sell whole fish, brown nut paste (peanut butter with no chemicals in it, tasteless and super thick), tomatoes, peppers, and brushes). Many of the children in the streets are really cute, but you can tell they have been trained to come up to tourists and be really nice to us, most likely to try to get money from us. They will run up to you and hug you and shout “How are you?!”
We made some new friends. Demet and Stephanie are from Germany, and we made a local Ghanian friend, Michael (the strongest angel in heaven), who took us to Osekan for dinner and drinks. It was unlike anything I have seen in Ghana yet. While last night Steph and I ended up eating at a smoothy bar because we couldn’t find any other places to eat, tonight we walked down a long flight of stairs to a dark restaurant with dim lighting on the water. We could literally see the waves splashing from our seats, and palm trees and small-lights made up the decor. It felt fancy yet beachy. We ordered a bottle of red wine from Argentina, Vina Mayor, which is an “assemblage”. It smelled dry but tasted so sweet and tangy. Also, I got to sample some tilapia with banku (a fermented corn that feels like dough) and a very spicy chilli paste that I put on my chicken and rice. The tilapia isn’t like the tilapia filets at home. It still has the scales, head, and bone on it, and you peel the skin back and take the meat from under. DELICIOUS.
We also had a fun cab driver named “Chief” who I became “friends” with. Apparently, all the men here want to be our “friends”, which we were told to be careful of. He asked me for our number so he could take us out but I said we didn’t have phones. He showed me his mobile and it was a Nokia with no buttons or face, and he used a bobby pin to make it light up. He was really funny and nice, as are a lot of the people we have met here.
We learned some local customs. “Africa time” means that everyone is always late (although Michael is always early and hates Africa time), honking your car horn is done for everything, not just when someone cuts you off, hissing and making sucking noises are appropriate to get someone’s attention, and to hail a taxi you point down instead of waving your hand (meaning “drop here”). Some language and phrase- Akwaaba means welcome, and Etisen means “hello, how are you?”. You can answer “eye” (sounds like AYE-YA). An English phrase they use is “How far back?”, which means “How are you since I was gone” (for example, if you get up to use the bathroom).
I could right forever, but I will stop now, as Steph and I have to wake up early to go to Krokobite tomorrow!