We are still in Accra but due to leave for Lawra tomorrow – sometime. How quickly one slips into the Ghanaian attitude to time. At present we are in the middle of a most refreshing rain storm. For the past hour and a half the heavens have opened and rain lashed down, settling the dust and clearing the air. It is blessedly cool and refreshing after our first week of high temperatures and even higher humidity and gives us a little time to reflect on our past week’s activities and experiences –and boy have they been varied!!
Our first week with VSO in Ghana has concentrated around meeting the VSO staff, local volunteers and gaining first- hand experience of shopping in the local area and markets, trying to find many of the things that we will need for our house in Lawra.
A visit to Makola market by ‘tro-tro’ is an experience that you never forget. It is a huge labyrinth of passages between open and covered stalls selling just about everything you could think of - beans and pulses, dried fish, pigs trotters , garden eggs!, plantain bananas, pot and pans, electrical goods, materials and second-hand clothes But to name a few. Sometimes it is best not to look down to the floor at what you are walking on or stepping over! Hygiene and sanitation are not at their best in the marketplaces. At the opposite end of the scale is Koala supermarket, just round the corner from our hotel on ‘Oxford Street’. There you can get just about anything European – We have succumbed and bought a box of Scots Porage Oats, and stocked up on spices to take with us to Lawra hopefully to enhance our cooking.
Cooking Ghanaian style
We had a very interesting cookery session with Comfort in the VSO office on Saturday morning. She introduced us to preparing and cooking yams, plantain bananas, bean stew and egg stew – all staples of the Ghanaian diet. Fried plantain banana is a particular favourite. The locals call it ‘red-red’ and it is delicious eaten with a black-eyed bean stew. Most of their cooking is done in loads of red palm oil. We will not go hungry. Needless to say regaining a waistline might be more difficult than we anticipated.
Travel by tro-tro is something that we will have to get used to. These are minibuses that travel around the cities and between villages and you get on and off wherever you can! The fares are set and once you know the cost they are a cheap and ‘interesting’ way of getting about. We have made one foray into the town this way. The driver’s assistant continually shouts out something vaguely resembling the destination you want and makes an appropriate gesture with his hand, like ‘circle’ and circles his hand in the air.
The FA Cup-Final with atmosphere!
On Saturday afternoon after our cookery session, we went off to Frankies, a local restaurant/bar on the busy high street, and watched the second half of the Man U -v- Chelsea match on their big screen. Ghanaians are mad about football, the place was packed and with a 50/50 mix of supporters there was a great atmosphere.
Our last bit of luxury
Yesterday, Sunday, along with Marieke, a Dutch volunteer, we decided to go in for a bit of luxury and took a taxi to the Labadi Beach Hotel, just east of Accra – to see how the other half live. It was really good to go for a cooling swim. The local beaches are quite polluted, especially those near to Accra and there is a very strong undertow which makes swimming locally pretty dangerous. We will have to explore further down the coast, near to Cape Coast when we next have some leave.
Sundays are special!
It was bliss to find that on Sundays the traffic is 75% less and travelling much easier. Taxis are still available and toot their horns all the time to attract customers or to tell other drivers to beware. They also drive fast when they manage to find a bit of open road – bit like Romans!! The majority of people go to church and all the ladies get dressed up in their finery - beautiful elegant Ghanaian clothes with headdresses and jewellery. It has made me determined to buy some local materials and have them made up for me, especially when we get to Lawra.
That’s all for now, we now await our 6.30 am start on Tuesday to commence our 14 hour drive north to Lawra, hopefully with an overnight stop, possibly at Wa.