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Friday 2 Oct
Accra, Ghana

Accra

On the bus on the way to Accra there was some sort of fight connected with a transaction through the window of the bus. A lot of water was thrown through the windows and a lot of people stood up and had something to say about it. It seems that drawn out and incomprehensible shouting matches are common and unremarkable here. Unfortunately the argument wasn't in English, unlike the fruit mouthwash salesman whose sales pitch went on for about an hour, droning on enthusiastically about the importance of draining heat from the head, or something like that.

On arrival in Accra I made friends with a guy who served me chicken and rice. His shop was called No More Delay Fast Food. Then I engaged in a great struggle with the Internet because I had to let Jo know what hotel I was in before she got on her plane in Johannesburg. Contrary to expectations, she managed to get a Ghanaian visa and arrived according to plan the next night.

Accra is large, bustling, and rather grotty. The streets are crowded, many places smell not just of sewage but of excrement, and the fences to keep pedestrians out of the street are covered with razor wire. Among all the completely random stuff being sold, we managed to find the small fetish market and peered awkwardly at dried lizards, small animal skulls, wooden voodoo dolls*, mysterious spices, and other strange and smelly items. We didn't dare to ask to take photos. Taking photos here can be excruciatingly awkward. People get angry if they see a camera pointing in their direction, and if we ask for permission they tend to refuse mumblingly because they think we will take the photos back to our country and make money out of them, or laugh at them, or something like that.

Later, after climbing the very dirty lighthouse (where there was no-one to stop us taking photos), we stumbled in a very improbable way into an interesting slavery museum run by an articulate man who was researching something to do with the Gold Coast slave trade. We can tick off history lesson number one.

Eating chicken and rice all the time is not very exciting, but the mysteries of street food remain to be investigated. So, one day at breakfast we marched boldly into a roadside stall and asked for some of whatever they were eating. It was banku with okra: roughly, a ball of fermented slime in a fish and slime sauce, which is eaten with the hands. It's one of the weirdest things I have eaten (I did eat most of it). Fortunately to wash it down there are oranges for sale everywhere along the road. West African oranges are yellow or green, peeled down to the pith with a knife, and squeezed into the mouth through a hole cut in the top. They cost about 10 pesowes (AU$0.08).


*I'm not really sure what the dolls were, as we couldn't get a clear answer from anyone. They told us things like "we just sell it, the medicine man will come and he knows what it is for". In any case, I think they are connected with medicine and not for poking people with needles.

 

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Accra
02 Oct | Accra, Ghana

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