27 August—14 September, 2012
(Note: Except for a few towards the end, all photos are clickable and will give you bigger and better sizes on flickr. I recommend looking at them there because they will look much better. If you just want to look at the photos and not read my rambling–I wouldn’t blame you–, or if you want to see the photos I haven’t included in the post, the flickr album is here.)
Continuing on right from where my East Africa post left off, let me tell you how my trip to Ghana came about. If you’ve read the other post, you know that I was supposed to go from Nairobi to Cape Town, and hop on a plane to Accra there to meet my friend Georg for a week, and then go home. But since I left the trip early, I obviously couldn’t go from Cape Town to Accra.
Before going home from Dar es Salaam, I had briefly considered somehow making it to Lilongwe without collapsing and then going to Accra from there, so I could join my boyfriend, who had booked a three-week Ghana trip. Except my visa wasn’t valid yet and wouldn’t have been for another month. I did briefly consider simply changing the date myself, but I was too scared they’d not let me into the country. But in the end, that was exactly what the lady at the embassy did when Olli and I went there during the week and a half that I spent at home.
That trip to the embassy, however, was pretty much the only thing I did during that time. Well, that, and my washing so I’d have clothes to wear in Ghana. But I was so exhausted still from not being able to sleep for three weeks and from being sick most of the time. I had considered not going to Ghana at all, but since my sleeping problem isn’t actually a question of where I am, but rather whom I am with, I figured going to Ghana would be a better choice than staying at home by myself, again unable to sleep.
Of course, you can’t simply change your flight. I made the mistake of booking with the cheapest company there is, and they are nothing but, and there is no other word for it, assholes. (It’s fluege.de, if anyone wants to know.) My mother already called them when I was still in Africa to ask if I can change my flights from Cape Town-Accra to Lilongwe-Accra instead and get an earlier flight out of Ghana again. They said they’d see what they can do and call her back. They didn’t. So she called again, same thing. They never called back. So when I got home and had booked new flights (over a different website this time), I called them to cancel mine. That was a bit of an ordeal, too. Which reminds me, I should check if they’ve finally given me some of my money back. Because of course I only got some of the money for my second flight back, and none for the first. I was so mad, because you just know they get their money anyway because flights are always overbooked. So. Mad.
But I learned from my experience, so I guess that’s a good thing.
Anyway. I didn’t get on the same flight as Olli did; his would’ve been a million times more expensive. So that was weird. But it worked out.
Why Ghana, though? Well, I have a friend that I went to school with who’s half Ghanaian, half German. He’s now at Olli’s uni, and wanted to do a semester abroad in Ghana. That didn’t really work out the way he wanted to because the uni never emailed him back, but he still wanted to go, so he just went and then got an unpaid job at a water treatment plant where he taught people computer code. And because he’d be more or less alone for a whole semester, Olli and I both thought we’d visit him. Easier said than done, but we managed.
Day 0: Berlin—Lisbon and Lisbon—Accra (27/28 Aug)
Olli’s flight was with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul early on the 27th, so he arrived in Accra in the evening on the same day. I didn’t leave until the afternoon (from SXF, urgh), and not until after a four-hour delay that was never even explained. I had a layover that was supposed to be almost a full day in Lisbon (I went with TAP Portugal), so I had planned to find my hostel, walk around Lisbon a bit, watch the sunset, and then walk around a bit more in the morning before going back to the airport. Thanks to the delay, I only just managed to get the last bus from the airport into the city, and only found my hostel after midnight. At least the showers were empty at that point? And I had booked myself into a six-bed dorm, figuring I’d only be there for a night and would survive that. Guess what, I was the only person in the huge room. Score! That was a nice surprise. And they had free wifi, so I let the family know I’d finally arrived in Lisbon and even got an email from my friend in Ghana that Olli had arrived. He also warned me that I’d also need an address to put on the immigration card once I got to Accra. I already knew this from Tanzania and Kenya, but it was still good to be reminded so I wouldn’t panic. He sent me his ‘address’ again (there really aren’t any addresses in Ghana, not the way we do them here), although I would’ve been fine without one, I just would’ve made something up.
Yet again, I spent a sleepless night, but I did see a gorgeous sunrise over the hill out my window. When I eventually left the room, I was too exhausted to go out and see anything, though, which is sad, but after the ordeal of the day before not really a surprise. I did see a lot from the bus back to the airport, though, and definitely want to go to Lisbon (properly) at some point soon.
When I first got to the airport back home, they wanted to check my luggage for the entire trip. I said that I’d need it, though, what with my having a whole day (and night) in Lisbon, so they changed that, and told me when to be back at the airport in Lisbon. I got there earlier than they said, so I could have some food and find my counter and gate and all that. My bording pass even said when check-in would close, and I went there fifteen minutes before the closing. Only to be told they couldn’t accept my luggage anymore, and that I would probably not even make the flight because the time on the boarding pass and the time I was told to be back at check-in wasn’t for check-in but rather for boarding. You can probably imagine how shocked and panicky I was. But the lady at the counter was really nice, and she rushed me to another counter were I gave my backpack to some dude who was also really nice, and then they told me how to get to the gate, and I hate to run most of the way, which was exhausting. And pointless, because there were other people after me who were way later than I was. Not something I appreciate after that four-hour delay from the day before.
The flight to Accra seemed to take forever. The weird thing about TAP, and the reason why I’ll never fly with them again, is that they have absolutely no entertainment system. Nothing. Even on flights as long as that one. And the food is atrocious. I had even tried to order vegetarian food when I booked the flights, but that apparently never got through to anyone, because they didn’t have anything written down for me. So annoying. The crew was the friendliest I have ever seen, though.
When I got off the plane in Accra, I was kind of freaked out by immigration, not because I had to put a ‘contact address’, for lack of a better description, but because I had to declare any and all foreign currency. So weird. I just checked that I didn’t have any money with me (which I obviously did), and I think so did everyone else. The currency something or other behind immigration was closed anyway because it was rather late at night, and the immigration official never even batted an eyelash at that. He did, however, eye that part of my visa that had the changed date rather carefully. For half a second, I thought he’d ask what that was all about, and I wouldn’t even be able to prove that it hadn’t been me who’d changed the date, but then he waved me through and that was that. I also didn’t get stopped to have my backpack checked, and was finally out of the airport, back in Africa, less than two weeks after I’d left.
Olli and our friend Georg picked me up at the airport, and off we were to one of Georg’s relatives, where we’d be staying for one night (one more night in Olli’s case).
Day 1: Accra—Cape Coast (29 Aug)
This was my first time on an African bus. Thankfully, the distance itself wasn’t so bad, but being cooped up in a bus definitely not made for even half the people on it wasn’t fun. Neither was constantly being afraid our luggage would get stolen. And then it started raining, and of course it rained right into the bus, getting all three of us at least slightly wet and dirty. Getting to Hans Cottage near Cape Coast made up for that, though.
Olli and I had a double, Georg a single room. The guys had read about the hotel and really wanted to stay there for a few days because not only is half the hotel built on a lake, but they also have crocodiles as mascots. Live ones. Not just that, though, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of weaver birds, and almost as many lizards everywhere. The rooms were pretty nice, we even had warm water, and the electricity only died once or twice, and only for a few minutes. The restaurant and staff weren’t the best, sadly, but definitely good enough for a few days.
We spent our first half-day there just looking around, counting the crocodiles and weaver birds, and planning the next few days. Here, have some video evidence to prove how damn loud those birds were (best watched on vimeo, the embedded version isn’t in HD):
Day 2: Elmina Castle (30 Aug)
Hans Cottage was our base for the following days, and from there, we took a few trips, the first one being to Elmina, a small town close to Cape Coast, heavily involved in slave trade back in the day.
I’m not gonna go into the history, you can read all about that on wikipedia and in books. Or just go there yourself and take a tour, definitely worth it. Although, since I’m not one for tours, I eventually left the group and just took photos on my own. You know what that means… Photo time!
After the tour, we sat down in a little restaurant inside the Castle, thinking about maybe having something to eat, but once we saw the mould on the table cloth, we decided that drinks would be enough. That done, we walked around the Castle some more by ourselves, and then went back to the hotel.
This was also the day, I think, when we discovered Ghanaian Fanta. Not only is the original Orange Fanta delicious in Ghana, but they also have something called Fanta Lemon, my new favourite drink. Of course we don’t have it at home, so we had to drink as much of it as possible over there. Which we did.
Day 3: Kakum National Park (31 Aug)
We had a trip to another castle planned at some point, but we didn’t want to do both on successive days, so we decided to go into the jungle on the second day. The jungle! I’d never seen the jungle, so that was equal parts exciting and terrifying (because of the spiders I expected). We went to Kakum, which isn’t just jungle, but also has this great thing called the ‘canopy walkway’, which is seven hanging bridges far above the ground. You’re not actually really in the canopy, you’re only halfway or so up the gigantic trees, but you can see all the smaller trees and bushes from above. Very cool, if slightly disconcerting, to be up there on what looks like nothing but a piece of wood and some rope. It’s actually pretty safe, though, I’d say. And such a cool view. I forgot to take a video of it, which is really annoying, because not even the panorama really shows just how far up we were.
After the canopy walkway, the boys wanted to do a walking tour through the jungle, and I almost didn’t go because I already felt faint again (by then I was fairly sure it was the doxycycline, and I later found out it really was), but they said we’d just walk really slowly. Thankfully, one of the guides had waited for us—there had been a huge group of children before us on the canopy walkway, so we took a lot of time getting through it so they’d be much further away by the end—and it was only the three of us left, so we got a private tour and took breaks all the time. I still felt near death at the end, but it was worth it. We learned a lot about the trees and plants that grow in the jungle—sadly, I’ve forgotten most of it already; I’m really not a tour person—, and even saw a huge butterfly. The guide was trying to talk us into coming back and staying a night in the tree house they have, so we could see animals. We’d late find out from somebody who’d done that that you can’t actually see anything. Not that I would’ve done it. If spiders live anywhere, then it’s in tree houses.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a weird little place called the ‘Monkey Sanctuary’, where a Dutch woman and her husband take in injured monkeys and other animals and nurse them back to health. Some of the animals can even be released back into the wild after a while. Taking photos wasn’t allowed except for at one point where there weren’t any animals besides one tortoise, and the entrance fee was astronomical, but the little private tour we got was nice, and if we’d had more time, we probably would’ve been invited to dinner, too. We got to see a whole bunch of monkeys, a few pythons (one of which was called Monty Python), two rabbits (Bugs and Bunny), and probably other animals I don’t remember right now.
And after that, we went back to the hotel where we saw more lizards and a nice sunset.
Day 5: Cape Coast (01 Sept)
Georg must have eaten something that didn’t agree with him, and on top of that, he’d been coughing up a lung more or less ever since we got there, and that day was the worst for him. I’d done something to my knee, so I didn’t want to walk much, and we decided I’d stay in the hotel while the boys went to town to get some drinks and snacks for our planned trip two days later and exchanged some money. There was also supposed to be some kind of parade, but they didn’t really see much of that.
Not a very exciting day; I don’t even have photos of it. So here, have a photo of the view from what became our ‘usual spot’ in the hotel restaurant, overlooking one half of the lake the hotel was built on.
Day 6: Cape Coast Castle (02 Sept)
Time for more history! But first, I took a shitload of animal photos. You’re welcome.
At Cape Coast Castle, I didn’t even try to pay attention to the tour. Instead, more photos. The weather wasn’t nearly at nice as first as it had been two days before at Elmina Castle, and it even started raining a bit at some point, but by the end of the tour, the sun had come out and everything was all nice and blue again. But I realised something that is such a stark contrast to how things were in Tanzania: The sea stinks. A huge problem in Ghana is the pollution you see everywhere. Sewage water is simply directed into the sea, and kids play in the water right next to the pipes. Plastic bags are used for everything; you even get at least one when you only buy a bottle of soda in the supermarket. And if you tell them you don’t want one because of the environment, they’ll laugh at you, or at the very least stare at you as though you had two heads. And there’s no such thing as recycling in Ghana; there’s garbage lying everywhere on the streets, especially those same plastic bags, and other little plastic things people sell water in on the streets. Whatever personal garbage people might have at home just gets burned right on the street, which obviously makes the cities reek so much I was close to throwing up more than once. It’s such a shame.
And then there are other problems Ghana has, such as with tourism. They want to attract tourists, but make it so very hard to go there. You have to get your visa beforehand, and you can usually only do that in capital cities. There are no clear rules on immigration. You already have to put two (!) references to even get a visa; one hotel is not enough. The infrastructure is awful. Etc etc. Georg had already been there for almost five months when we got there, so he knew a lot about it, and it’s just so sad…
Back to happier things. I didn’t think Cape Coast Castle as much as Elmina because it was clearly more catered towards tourists (and not in a good way), and there were a lot more people there, but it was still nice, if so very depressing. I’ll never understand how slavery and slave trade got to be so big.
Again, not gonna go into the history, just check wiki.
Afterwards, we went to have dinner at a restaurant right on the beach, which was a mistake for several reasons, two of which were a) the sewage pipes right next to it, and b) the deafening music. Georg told us he’s never heard anyone in Ghana listen to music at a regular volume, it’s always so loud you can’t actually hear much of the music anymore. Crazy.
Day 7: Cape Coast (03 Sept)
Nothing on this day. We didn’t really have any particular plans anyway, and Georg was still sick, so we decided to just enjoy Hans Cottage and all the animals. No photos of this, though, for whatever reason. But to be fair, I had already taken more than enough photos of birds, crocodiles and lizards to last me a lifetime. Here, look, have some more!
Day 8: Cape Coast—Kumasi (04 Sept)
We checked out of the hotel and got a taxi to the bus station. Except, it was impossible to get bus tickets? I don’t even know exactly what happened there, but in the end, we asked our favourite taxi driver* what his price would be to Kumasi (and back, for him, of course). It wasn’t as much as we had thought, so we decided we’d just go for it. In the end, it didn’t turn out like we thought at all. Our taxi driver, instead of driving us himself, drove a bit, then got out of the car, and told somebody else (his ‘brother’, though I still doubt they were in any way related) to get in and drive us. When Georg asked that guy if he even had a driver’s license, he just grinned and started the car, not looking quite as though he knew what he was doing. And he drove way too fast, too.
Not a fun trip. Even less so when, at some random police control (that are usually just corrupt people expecting you to pay money for letting you pass), instead of driving through, the driver stopped and got out of the car. He came back after a few minutes, and one of the ‘police men’ asked us if we could take a young school girl with us for a bit because she had to get home and they didn’t want her walking all the way. Georg made the decision for all of us, something we fought over a lot lately, especially since he was in the front seat and obviously didn’t have any problems, but Olli and I were in the back and had to squeeze another person in the middle while already carrying our luggage in our laps. The police man had told us it wasn’t far, only ‘as far as the last police control was’, and since those (fake) control spots are everywhere, we expected maybe fifteen minutes.
After quite a while, though, when she still hadn’t told the driver to stop, we got suspicious and asked her where her home was. She just said ‘Kumasi’. So like, three hours away. Olli and I got pretty mad, and Georg was all ‘we can’t leave her here’ and when I mentioned that the whole thing was probably planned from the start, he said that she was too shy to do that. Shy, my ass. After a while, when the driver turned on the radio, she started singing along to the song. I’m a shy person; we don’t do that when surrounded by strangers. And from the driver’s reaction when we found out she wanted to go the entire way, we could tell he also thought we’d been screwed. Seriously, so mad.
The trip felt at least twice as long after that, and because I was carrying my big camera bag in my lap the entire time, I eventually had to tell the driver to stop so I could get out and pee, which was not something I had planned on there. I’d had more than enough of those pee stops in the wild in Tanzania, to be honest. I was definitely not in a good mood after that whole incident, and we did shout at each other for a while after we finally (finally) got to Georg’s family home.
We were so exhausted and annoyed that we just got out of the car with our luggage and collapsed, but forgot some of our stuff in the taxi. We only realised that when he driver was already halfway back to Cape Coast. I got really upset because I’d left my favourite (and only) rain jacket in the car, and Olli had left his hat. Really not a good day.
* Taxi drivers work a little differently in Ghana (and I imagine other places without proper infrastructure, too). Instead of having a central place that you call and that then gets you a cab, you have to find yourself a taxi driver you trust, and save his phone number. And whenever you need a taxi, you just call him and he’ll pick you up. (That whole process would, however, help us later to get back the things we forgot in the cab.) Of course, it’s not easy finding a good, reliable taxi driver who also has a car that doesn’t fall apart. Let alone a car that has safety belts. One day, we spent at least an hour trying to find a cab that had four belts, but in the end failed. And when you ask a driver if he has seat belts, he’ll just laugh at you as though you’re stupid for wanting a belt. It’s so sad how uneducated people are when it comes to this. And it’s not like they knew what speed limits are either. I was sure we’d die several times on the trip…
Day 9: Barakese (05 Sept)
Our first trip from Kumasi was to Barakese, the water treatment plant and reservoir that Georg worked at. He showed us around a bit, first through some of the technical stuff, and then the boys went through some scary-looking ducts while I decided to stay above ground and just took the stairs up to the reservoir instead. From up there on the dam, we had an amazing view over the lake. Except, it was then that it started raining a bit, and the sky was that special kind of grey that tells you it’ll start pouring down any second. We were spared, though, and only just made it back to the car (that we’d left open, too, thank god we got back in time to close the windows). I was all faint and ill again by that point (stupid doxycycline), so I waited in the car for a few minutes while the boys went to look at something else, and then we went back ‘home’.
And here’s the view from the dam as a video:
Day 10: Lake Bosumtwi (06 Sept)
Lake Bosumtwi is a holy crater lake in the Ashanti region. Because it’s holy (and some goddess at some point made the lake her home), you’re not allowed to put any metal into it, which means all fishing has to be done with wooden instruments.
We spent quite a while at the shores of the lake, but we didn’t walk very far because as soon as we had sat down for a drink, two local guys sat down with us and started talking. I’m not the best at small talk, but it worked out okay. I wandered off at some point to take a few photos, and that was that.
Day 11: Butterfly Sanctuary (07 Sept)
Our last proper day-trip. We’d had some heavy downpour during the night (the only tropical downpour we had the entire trip, which was rather disappointing to Olli, who’d been looking forward to seeing tropical rain ever since Georg had told him it rained every single day…), so when we got to the Butterfly Sanctuary, the administrator lady told us none of the guides had managed to come in because of the rain. That meant we had to just walk around by ourselves, but there was literally nobody else there, and the rain had made everything look even prettier.
I couldn’t really enjoy it, though, because while there weren’t any nasty eight-legged creatures in Kakum National Park, there were more than enough here. So I had myself a little panic attack and ran back to the car while the guys walked around some more.
There were some very weird noises in the jungle, by the way. You can hear them here (again, best viewed on vimeo; the embed is not in HD):
Day 12: Kumasi (08 Sept)
With those three day-trips, we’d run out of plans, and I wasn’t feeling well anyway, so we stayed at home for most of the day. At some point, Olli and Georg went out to take a walk to a small military whatever-it-was nearby, but that was pretty much it for the day.
So let me talk for a second about the condition of the roads, when we’ve got nothing else to say. They are awful. You can’t even really call them roads, they’re just paths of sand and dirt, with potholes the size of a small car. Here are two typical Ghanaian ‘roads’; the first photo shows you that green shrubbery/red sand contrast, and the second one shows you burning garbage in the middle of the road. As a driver in Ghana, you have to navigate around those, in addition to everything else that is wrong with the roads…
If you get car-sick easily, do not go to Ghana any time soon, trust me. I took a video of the road we took occasionally. If I manage to trim it down a bit and get it uploaded, you’ll see. And no, this is not me shaking the camera for the fun of it; this is me trying to hold it as steady as possible.
Day 13: Kumasi (09 Sept)
Nothing on this day either, we were mostly just conserving energy for the next leg of our trip. A day or two before, we had decided we didn’t want to stay in Kumasi the entire time until our departure, and Olli was looking up hotels near the coast. He found a hotel run by Italians (who turned out to be only half Italian, half Spanish) with a proper restaurant and actual, real pizza. That was enough to even convince Georg. So we booked ourselves into that place for a few days, and got really excited. I’m pretty sure the words ‘pizza’ and ‘Italians’ were thrown back and forth at least twenty times per day, in various intensity.
Pizza obviously isn’t typical Ghanaian food. The typical dishes we had were ‘fufu’ (a gigantic dumpling made from plantain and yam, served with a thick tomato soup and chicken bits), ‘jollof rice’ (rice and spaghetti mixed with tomato paste and all kinds of spices, incl. a fair amount of chilli), cooked yam and stew (very think tomato paste, spices, and meat all ground up and mixed together), and variations thereof. All not really my cup of tea, except for the jollof rice, which is my new favourite. Gotta try that some time. Most of the time, though, my stomach was acting up, so maybe that’s why I couldn’t really enjoy any of the food. I did enjoy the fried rice we had in Cape Coast a lot, though, because while it was pretty greasy, there were some vegetables in it.
In all honesty, I was surprised by the lack of vegetables everywhere. All that people ever seem to eat is yam (in various shapes and forms) and tomato paste, with the occasional bit of rice. Weird. And the one time we cooked for ourselves—usually, Georg’s family did the cooking—and made some pretty spicy pasta (one of Olli’s and my favourite dishes) with bacon, it wasn’t easy to find tomatoes bigger than grapes, and the bacon was imported and thus incredibly expensive. Georg was understandably excited to go home again to good ole German food.
Side note: I’m more than a little annoyed at myself for not once taking a photo of food. I gotta do better next time I go places. (I had the same problem in Italy last month. And London this month.)
Day 14: Kumasi—Accra (10 Sept)
Another gruesome travel day. We took a taxi to the ‘VIP Bus Station’ where we wanted to take a fancy bus comparable to European coaches to Accra. Except, it seemed impossible again to get tickets anywhere, at least until a bus driver approached us directly. We ended up buying tickets without checking the bus first, which was a huge mistake because the bus was nowhere near European levels. Basically, we’d been scammed. And all the other actual VIP buses around us were filling up at lightning speed and leaving, and since nobody wanted our bus (and they don’t leave until every single seat is taken), we waited for a very, very long time. Finally, after what felt like (and probably were) hours, the bus was full, and we were on our way. It’s more than six hours to Accra, and the entire time we were blasted with awful Nigerian soap operas at volume levels detrimental to our hearing. Those eventually changed to religious chants that kind of made the whole thing be more of a cliché than anything else I’d seen in Africa so far.
Before we arrived at Accra, Georg called his Accra taxi driver, who then picked us up after a minor odyssey (to get from the arrivals part of the ‘station’ to the departures, where the driver was supposed to wait). The hotel is in the outskirts of Accra, and yet it took us another hour or two to get there. We were so stoked for pizza that Georg made a joke about calling them from the road to order so the pizza would be ready the second we got there. We brushed it off at first, but then agreed to do that, which was an excellent choice because the owner lady told us the restaurant would be closed by the time we got there (Ghana has a weird time system; everyone gets up at sunrise and goes to bed at sunset, which means everything is closed by 7pm). So she said she’d make us up pizzas and put them in front of our little hut that we had rented.
By the time we finally got there, the pizza was already cold, but it was still so good. And by the time we finally got there, there was a power cut and we barely had time to look at the hut before the generator gave out. Now, candle light is just fine, but I was super nervous about spiders and not being able to see them, especially once the first thing we did see upon entering the hut was, in fact, a rather large spider. More panic attacks, yay! Not that I hadn’t had enough of those already, including one after a gigantic—so big that even Olli was freaked out (but still got rid of it for me)—spider had dropped from the ceiling to the floor in the room we had at Georg’s family home.
The night wasn’t the best for me, suffice to say.
Day 15: Kokrobite Gardens (11 Sept)
When we woke up and left our hut, we finally saw the entire complex. The place really lived up to its name; there were flowers and plants and trees everywhere. We had the ‘family’ hut (for four people), the others were all just for couples and much smaller (and I believe we were the only ones with our own bathroom). In front of our hut, there was a little table and a place to put up clothes to dry. And when we came out of the hut that morning, the tree (or whatever is was) right above the table had shed hundreds of bright purple blossoms that were now covering the ground. It looked as though somebody had purposely done that just for us, so beautiful.
There wasn’t really anything to do the next few days, but we’d been expecting that. It was too long a trip to get back into the city, and we wouldn’t know what to do there anyway, and the beach was again far too dirty for Olli’s or my liking. Georg still went swimming, but other than that, we really didn’t do anything.
That evening, when we were sitting in the restaurant after some excellent pizza and trying to figure out where all the other tourists where from, we ended up talking to two German girls, Nikki and Paula, who had only just arrived, too.
We were, however, informed that the restaurant would be closed the next day (no pizza! no breakfast!), so we had to make our own plans for food. And at some point, a teeny tiny kitten showed up and was super adorable. A good day.
Day 9: Kokrobite Gardens (12 Sept)
Breakfast was very spartan; we bought some of the infamous white bread that is mostly just air and sugar, and put some honey on that. Which is actually what we had for breakfast the entire time we stayed in Cape Coast and Kumasi… We spent most of the day just sitting around. Our original plan had been to leave for Accra city that day, but we liked it so much there and the prices were so cheap that we decided to stay another night (and have some more pizza the next day). That means more random photos!
At some point around midday, the two girls from the day before said that they had asked around about food a bit, and that we would have to book our meals pretty much immediately. Very strange practice. So we rushed out and tried to find something we liked, and ended up at this really bad place that did burgers. We ordered ours, and returned to the hotel.
We met up again with the girls at dinnertime and made our way to the burger place. For some reason, Olli had to wait far longer than the rest of us for his burger, but we all had to wait a very long time. It was ridiculous, because why would you need to order in advance if it’ll still take them longer than usual to make the burgers? It’s not that complicated. Anyway, we didn’t really have much of a choice anyway, so I guess that was fine.
Afterwards, the guys and Nikki went to the beach again for a minute to see Milky Way. I wanted to go, too, but there were some shady people on the beach and I had my expensive camera with me. Not gonna happen. So Paula and I just talked for a bit and waited for the others to get back, and then went back to the hotel. We asked the owner lady if we could have a few drinks; I got a Fanta and everyone else got wine, and we spent the rest of the evening talking and playing with the little kitten. It was so cute that we almost considered trying to take it with us, but that would’ve been far too complicated.
Day 9: Kokrobite Gardens—Accra (13 Sept)
The last time I had the most amazing breakfast (pancakes, though not the kind we know, with fresh fruit—pineapple and banana—and warm chocolate sauce), the last time we all had pizza. This is our hut from the front:
We said goodbye to the two girls. Their next destination was Cape Coast, and from there, they wanted to go to Kumasi, so Georg gave them the phone number of our Cape Coast taxi driver, the one in whose car we’d left my rain jacket and Olli’s hat, so they could bring our stuff with them to Kumasi (and then Georg would bring it with him when he came back home). Score!
Anyway, we left shortly after dinner to get back to the house where we’d spent the first night, at one of Georg’s relative’s.
Day 9: Accra—Berlin (14/15 Sept)
My flight was before Olli’s, very early in the morning of the 14th. So early, in fact, that we had to get up at 2am and take a cab at 3am. No fun. But I was definitely ready to go home by this point, and the prospect of spending the night in my own flat made getting up easy. (Not that that worked out the way I’d planned; when I got into my flat, there were three (!) big—and I mean big—spiders in my kitchen. So I packed some things and went to my mum’s for the night. But more on that later.)
At the airport, I realised I didn’t have any Ghanaian money left (you’re not allowed to take any currency out of the country—another stupid rule that doesn’t make any sense), so I tried to buy a drink with the pounds and dollars I had left. To no avail, and I spent the two hours I had to wait before my flight thirsty and irritated. And then I was off to Lisbon, again with absolutely no entertainment or anything. I only had an hour and a half layover in Lisbon, so I more or less ran from one gate to the next, through security checks and with a short break to get my last boarding pass printed. We ended up being delayed for a bit, which made me slightly anxious because I had another layover in Frankfurt, and only 45 minutes between landing and takeoff anyway. But we landed only slightly delayed. Still had to run, though. Again. And because there was so little time between the two flights, the wankers from Lufthansa just left my bag (and others’ bags) there so they wouldn’t have to pay any additional fees… Which meant that, after almost 24 hours of being out and about, I was stuck at the airport, filling out forms for lost luggage. I could’ve waited another hour and a half for the next flight from Frankfurt to come in, which would then have my backpack, but I was beat and I would be back the next day anyway to pick up Olli, so my dad (who had picked me up) and I left.
The next day, I really did get my backpack, except one of the straps was broken! Cue me running back into the luggage office and filling out even more forms in a rush so I’d still be on time to pick up Olli. I was told by the lady at the counter that they would pay to have my backpack fixed, but only if I used the repair shop they have a contract with. In the following days, I got all the paperwork ready, but decided to ask at the shop where I bought the backpack first, see how long it would take and how much it would cost. It turned out to be way too long (six weeks), when I’d already booked another trip just a few weeks later. The luggage lady had told me it would take about a week to fix in their repair shop, so I called them and did exactly what they told me, incl. putting everything they needed into the backpack and dropping it off at the post office. Except DHL then lost my fucking backpack. That’s right. This huge, bright turquoise backpack that had done exactly two trips and that I had only bought about two months before they lost it. That was two and a half months ago, and according to the online tracking service, it’s still sitting somewhere near Frankfurt. Absolutely ridiculous. So now I have to fill out even more paperwork, already spent a whole lot of money on phone calls to DHL, and am not sure I’ll ever get my 200€ back. Fingers crossed, though.
Definitely not the ending to the trip I had hoped for…
All in all, the trip was worth all the hassle, but I don’t think I’d do it again. Maybe I’m spoiled now, or maybe starting my Africa experience with a country as clearly catering to tourism as Tanzania wasn’t the best idea, but for me personally, Ghana is just too difficult. At least for now. And they don’t offer (me) enough to make up for those difficulties. I think in some ways, Olli was disappointed, too. He had hoped to see elephants and other animals, but we didn’t even get to see monkeys in the wild, only those in the Monkey Sanctuary, and those were all in cages or chained to trees. Tanzania, on the other hand, has this abundance of animals seemingly everywhere, and I really loved that. So I guess I’ll just have to take Olli to Tanzania at some point.
And then there’s the matter of the doxycycline. Even when we were back home, I still couldn’t really eat anything or keep anything down for long, and I was supposed to take the doxy for four weeks after our return. Four weeks of not eating! Not a very pleasant prospect, if you ask me. I also couldn’t walk more than a few steps without almost collapsing, or do anything that was even slightly exhausting. It got so bad that I had to stop taking the doxy three weeks before I was supposed to, and even then it took another two or three weeks to get my body back under control. I still get nauseous easily, though, and can only eat very small portions, and it’s now been more than two months since I got back. Thanks for nothing, doxycycline. I’m not sure malaria can be worse than this.
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