Last Diary Entry... Sniff!
4th of August 2010: We pack our bags and start our long journey to Green Turtle Lodge. In total, it takes one taxi and three tro-tro's to get there, even though the distance isn't actually that large. Being the only two yavoo's, we immediately get chaperoned by some of the women on the tro-tro, who must have thought we looked incredibly lost. At all times, there has been a mother with a child walking the opposite direction with us to make sure we were taken to the right tro-tro and that we were given the correct change. That is definitely a Ghanaian trait: ask anyone for directions and no matter where you want to go, they will make sure you get there even if it means that they have to walk a couple of miles along with you in the wrong direction. And if they do not know the way, they will find you someone that does and that is willing to bring you in the right direction.
At last we get at the Green Turtle Lodge and we understand the hype straight away: this is paradise! Traditional mud-huts, with bunk bed and mosquito netting, solar power, beautiful deserted golden beaches, and just the perfect place for a couple of days of relaxing.
We spent what is left of the day on the beach and have dinner through the beautiful sunset. There isn't much to do after it gets dark and since the constant heat exhausts you easily, we already head to bed at 7pm. How fun are we?!
5th of August 2010: Ben wakes up before me and I meet him reading his book on the beach. Did I mention this was paradise? We have breakfast and spend the rest of the day lazying around the beach.
It sounds like heaven, but at times I can't help and feel a little guilty, thinking about how hard people must be working at the Construction Site, while we sit here and do absolutely nothing. And as beautiful as the setting is, it does tend to get quite boring. So Ben attempts to battle the waves on a body-board, which he finds absolutely amazing. And for me it's rather entertaining to see him lose out against the strong waves
I end the day on a lesser note with a sun stroke. I don't really understand how it happened, as I had my head in the shade all day, but then I realise the sun must have hit me as I was swimming in the sea. The result is extreme dizziness every time I try to stand up, so I end up in bed at 5pm. Another early night, though this time it certainly wasn't planned. I do really have a knack for ruining last days!
6th of August 2010: It takes me 1 hour to slowly get out of bed without feeling like I am about to faint and I decide it's better to skip any activities until necessary. We ask a passsing tro-tro to come pick us up to leave Green Turtle Lodge and go to the town, but he seems to have forgotten about us and we are left waiting for over an hour until Ben finally decides to walk to the nearest village and find a tro-tro there. The walk takes him 30 minutes, but at last he arrives in one. Apparently, he told the people that his “wife” was waiting for him at the Green Turtle Lodge, so every time someone tried to get on the mini-bus and there wasn't a space left, they would say: “No, this is for when the obroni's (white person in Twi, the local language of the region) wife comes on!” Ghanaians don't really understand relationships, so if you are together as a man and woman you must either be siblings or married. So for this whole trip we have been “the yavoo and his wife” and vice-versa Another four tro-tro's later we finally arrive in Accra, after what must have been the longest stretch of bumpy road travelling. Exhausted, but feeling a lot better, we stay overnight at the Salvation Army Hostel, where we are happy to see the familiar face of Captain Eku. What an awesome guy!
7th of August 2010: After many outings to Accra in the past four weeks, we have gotten to know the setting of the cheapest roadside breakfast and we are happy to have the delicious scrambled vegetable egg and hot drink. The woman recognised us from last week when we were there with Simon and remembers that Ben wants tea (they love their Lipton brand) and that I want Milo (the local hot chocolate). After our bellies are filled, we take a tro-tro to a place called Ada Foah. It is famous for its gorgeous setting where the river Volta mouths into the Ocean and the rumours were definitely true: it's beautiful! But before we can enjoy the scenery, we find accommodation and find it in someone's house. It's basic, but we are too excited to explore the area that we pay the woman her £4 for the night and we head to the river. There, we realise that it's a long way to the end and that it's best to get there by boat. So, off comes a local man with a canoe and before we know it, we paddle down river Volta until we finally reach our destination 45 minutes later.
The boat trip was probably one of the nicest things about the week of travelling and we thoroughly enjoy it. Ben even helps the guy and together we paddle to the furthest beach. From there we walk to the tip of land and take our time to look at the ocean waves slowly crashing into the calm lake Volta.
It is just as beautiful as people have said and even getting soaked unexpectedly by a sneaky wave doesn't change our lovely time. We then paddle back to where the house is and get ready for a good night's sleep.
It's then that we realise that the room we paid for is not as highly rated as the guidebook suggested: the foam mattress is completely worn out, the mosquito netting in front of the window has holes and of course we decided that day not to bring along our mosquito nets along. With no fan to keep the little buggers away, we end up soaked in mosquito repellent under the thick warm covers. And to make matters worse, there is a festival going on in the village with music blaring down load speakers until 5am. We are happy that we can maybe get a couple of hours' rest before going back to Accra, but alas, at 5am the church music starts equally as loud. So what was a lovely day ended with a horrifying night.
8th of August: Happy Birthday Nanna Dotty! We set off (read: literally ran out of the house) at 7am and take a direct tro-tro to Accra. Since it's Sunday and most people spend the mornings in church, it takes a long time for the mini-bus to fill up and we don't actually leave until a few hours later. It rains heavily all morning, which is a first since we set foot in Ghana. Despite it being the rainy season, it has only ever rained once a week and always at night. But it's quite fun to see the locals dancing in the street, happy to get some refreshment from the sky.
We get to Accra a little before midday and realise that there isn't a single thing to do and everything is closed. What is usually a bustling capital city seems dead today and we end up spending the day lazing around the Salvation Army Hostel until it's time to find a place for dinner. Ben has been craving pizza all day, so we go to an Italian restaurant which end up costing us almost 10 times as much as what we would usually pay for a roadside dinner. But the place is very cosy and the owner's have definitely learned from the best as it is packed with mostly Italian yavoos. Back at the hostel, our dormitory room-mates (German Hans and Nigerian Olujemi) ask us if we want to join them in a game of Monopoly. It turns out to be a lovely night and surprise surprise, Ben wins and leads us all to bankruptcy. Luckily it's only monopoly money!
9th August 2010: Last day in Ghana... and last ever roadside breakfast. We say goodbye to our room-mates and ask them for recommendations to waste time during the day until it's time to head to the airport in the evening. They mention a place called James town and Accra Mall, so because it's closest we take a tro-tro to the latter. The shopping centre is a surreal experience: instead of the dusty road stalls where you can buy everything possible from food to underwear, to car parts to TVs etc. we see expensive shops on clinically white paved floors. Needless to say it's full of yavoos and Ben and I run out as soon as we can and head back to the real Ghana. We spend the rest of the day walking around the streets of Accra and buy some souvenirs for back home: some dodgy DVDs and two wooden sculptures for in the flat. Ben even impresses me by using the bargaining-rules that Simon taught us: take the asking price and take 2/3rds off. So if it is Ghc30, you tell them you will pay them Ghc10. Then they will go back up to Ghc25, so you say Ghc15 and if they refuse it you walk away and tell them you will go to their competitors. Then they run back and you end up paying the price you finally asked for. And that's exactly how Ben handled it, without once giving in. So we got some real bargains on our last day! Thank you Bennie!
We head to the airport around 6pm and meet one of the German volunteers, Dennis at the waiting lounge. He had been working with Ben at the Construction Site during our first week in Denu, before he went travelling around the whole of Ghana for two weeks. And when he came back for his last week of work, we were obviously gone on our travels. So, it was nice to catch up with him and compare some travel stories before he embarks to Germany. We get many calls from our host-family wishing us a safe journey and we realise that maybe it would have been nicer to stay with them instead of going to travel. We saw many nice places, but in the end we were happier when we were with them and experiencing their life-style. We have since then never met anyone as nice as the Ewe-speaking people of the Volta Region and it's with a tear in the eye that we say goodbye to Ghana. And hopefully it will be a “miadogo” (we shall meet again).
10th of August: Our flight was delayed by almost two hours, so exhausted we spent the next flights asleep until we reached London. Even the wait in Libya could not bother us this time. In London we had to wait for four hours before we took the last plane to Glasgow. That is three planes across four countries (Ghana, Libya, England and Scotland) in one day! We were exhausted and happy to dive straight into bed!
11th of August: Today. Back in miserable wet Glasgow missing Ghana... We are still adjusting to the long hours of day-light and I think it will take a few days until we have finally replenished our batteries. Looking back at all of the pictures, we especially miss Celestine, Bless, Portia and the other members of our African family. We really truly hope to be back to see the project blossom and to once again experience life the Ghanaian way. It all makes more sense there.
And well... that is the end of my Ghanaian diary. As you may have noticed, Ben has given up on giving his own version of the story, but he will definitely be posting all of his magnificent black-and-white film pictures soon with the corresponding stories. I have had a sneak peak at the first set he developed and scanned and they are truly beautiful So make sure to keep checking the blog in the near future! And I will continue to post my pictures as well as some small anecdotes that I may have forgotten to mention.
Thanks for your support and comments, and keep checking for more amazing-ness!