Tuesday, May 16, 2006

First Impressions

We landed in Accra in the evening, were met by some of the long term OV's at the airport, and then continued on to check into the hotel for the night. We took advantage of our one night in Accra to explore a little - walking along one of the main streets, I was surprised at how many people were out selling food and merchandise (much of which I recognized as North American products). The food ranged from rice, eggs, roasted yams and plantains to fish or meat stews (in red palm oil) and maize. I settled on some rice, fish and a deep fried hard boiled egg - which I most definately recommend!

Next we walked through the tro-tro stop. Tro-tros are the local buses, which are actually more like vans, with more windows and seats. They don't have set schedules, but rather leave whenever they are full. Apparently, the tro-tro station is the number one place to be harrassed (friendly harrassment, that is). From left and right there are people yelling out destinations to ask if you are going there; there are constant exclamations of "Obruni!" (meaning foreigner/white person); and the more courageous approach to ask where you are from, and where you are going. I was very relieved to find that in Accra many people spoke English - especially since my knowledge of Twi is comprised of precisely 2 words: Obruni, and Madasi (thank you). However, when just walking around we were hardly approached by anyone to have any extended conversation beyond a quick greeting - with the exception of a musician we met. He was very interested to know where we were all from because he had travelled around the world (the States, Canada, the UK) with his band: the African Pan Continental Orchestra. He plays wind instruments for them, and was urging us to join him at the Culture Centre - unfortunately we were leaving first the thing the next morning for a 12 hour or so bus ride up to Tamale.

Being the capital city of Ghana, I wasn't sure what to expect of Accra - it was noiser and busier than I would have anticipated, and more light pollution as well. Star gazing would have to wait until I moved to a more rural area. It was also interesting to see the mass amounts of advertising everywhere! Advertisements for Guiness, SUV's, food products (i.e. Fan Milk)...they made very useful temporary landmarks.

The hotel we stayed at was quite small, with 3 floors of 7 rooms each. It had running water and A/C, which was both a blessing and a curse. At first it was refreshing to step out of the heat, but I had never expected that my first night in Ghana I would be unable to sleep because I was too cold! And sleeping 4 people to a bed (a very large bed) left few covers to compensate. Ah well, chalk it up to a first experience and possibly the last, for I don't expect to have A/C again throughout the summer.


At 2:11 AM, Blogger Felicity said...

Hi DEb,
We here in the Stone household are in awe of what you've undertaken and will be login on regularly for updates.

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Christine said...

I work with your mom in Peterborough. She told me about your adventure/learning experience. I have been following your postings. Very interesting....I log on regularly to see what is happening. Wishing you all the best.


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