#1 Ghana, January 15, 2001

Dear Everybody,

I guess I’ve gotten over the trip and the jetlag. My backpack was a challenge for me to hoist up to the bins so I had a sore shoulder for a couple of days, but that’s ok now. But customs was a breeze and I found a taxi right away, who took me to the Date Hotel. It was full. I had seen a couple of others nearby, so walked about three blocks (in the dark) to those two—both full. The Ghasom was about 6-8 blocks down the street—full! Back up to the Date where a young man said he’d find me one nearby—which he did. I’m staying at the Avenida, a big ramshackle place with only a couple of other guests. During all this walking I was, of course, carrying my backpack, which would have been OK, but I still had my jacket on and I was sweating buckets! This area seems quite safe, even after dark, but the mosquitoes are very bad, and malaria is rampant here. I am taking Lariam to prevent malaria, but several people on the Lonely Planet Internet site reported having gotten malaria even though they took Lariam as a preventative.

My cold is much better, but I’ve been taking it quite easy.  I visited the National Museum, the Artesanias place, and the market. Had lunch at a lovely restaurant that the taxi driver couldn’t find—much searching and asking directions, and finally! Had mutton in a sauce with beans and rice and cold beer! Breakfast seems to be fried egg sandwiches and tea (coffee is Nescafe).

About 6:30 last night I walked over to a little bar that was advertising Bubra beer. The guidebook had said that this was special so I tried some. It was fine, but I find that the enjoyability of the beer is directly proportional to the temperature, the humidity, and how long I’ve been walking!

Yesterday the Vikings played, and I heard late last night on BBC on radio that they lost BAD! Oh well! I have a little Walkman with me which I have really enjoyed in the evenings—the music is extraordinary as is the BBC Worldwatch. Accra has about four excellent music stations as well as BBC and French radio—in English. The lobby has CNN but it’s open air and in the evening is swarming with mosquitoes so not pleasant.

Sunday I woke up (quite late) to wonderful gospel music coming from the church across the street. I dressed hurriedly and attended. It was the Assemblies of God, and the people really rocked that place! It was fun to see them in various modes of dress—western, and several kinds of African.

Then I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant and later looked for two possible musical events, but no dice. So a quiet day, just hiking around.

I’m surprised about the smoking here—or lack of it. I do see a few young men smoking, but nothing like many other 3rd world countries.

Today I visited Independence Square (like Red Square, etc.) the Nkrumah National Park, and his mausoleum. The museum had very interesting photos from the ‘60’s. Nkrumah with JFK, with Castro, with Kruschev, with Chow En Lai, and Mao, with Patrice LaMumba, etc. He started out well in the ‘60’s but apparently didn’t do so well later. He was ousted in ’66. The president that just stepped down (Jerry Rawlings) was in power from ’83 to now, and did a lot of things right, but was constitutionally unable to run again. He came to power in a coup but later switched to a democracy. He endorsed his VP but the opposition party won (sound familiar?) and the new president took office one week ago with very few people killed!

It is very hot and humid here and people move slowly, something I should learn so my face wouldn’t always be bright red! The people seem poor but not bitterly poor; there are a few beggars at the traffic lights, and also vendors. On the other hand, many of the cars outside of the church on Sunday were very new looking and nice and the people were well dressed.

I will probably be leaving Accra in about 2 days, as soon as I get my Benin visa and will be going to Krokobite and Big Millie’s Backyard. All along the coast, I’ll be surprised if there are any Internets. Just small towns, but you never know. Anyway, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks.


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