#2 Ghana, Jan. 22, 2001

Dear Everybody,

After much searching by the taxi drivers, I managed the two trips each to the Togo and Benin embassies for visas. The taxi drivers in Accra know where almost NOTHING is—it’s quite frustrating to search for Embassies, restaurants, etc. although I have managed to locate and eat in several really good restaurants. My hotel is on a street like Lyndale Ave, and they sometimes don’t know where that street is!

The money here is interesting. The largest bill circulating is 5000 cidis which is 75 cents. When I went to an ATM to stock up for going out in the hinterlands, the ATM would only give me 200,000 ($30) per each transaction. I nearly wore out my card doing it over and over again. Then there’s the question of where to put it. My $360 that I’m taking to go out of town is in 480 bills. THAT makes quite a wad. I’ve got some in my backpack, some in my daypack, and a little in my pocket.

Things are really cheap. Breakfast (fried egg sandwich and tea) costs from 75 cents to $1.20 at the backpacker hotels, including this slightly upscale one I’m staying at for $16 a night. Taxis around town cost from 75 cents to $1.50. Upscale restaurants cost from $15 to $30. The upscale hotel where the flight attendants were going to stay costs $200 plus a night.

Clothing is kind of a problem. My black jeans really are too hot but the khaki ones are fine. I had bought three new tee shirts from Lands End and had worn and washed one at home, using the dryer. It is now unwearable as it shrunk several inches! I have washed one out here in warm water and it shrunk a little, but is still wearable. That leaves the black one, which I wear with my skirt and sandals ‘for dress.’ I did buy another tee in the market, but it’s very masculine, and they don’t do that here, but I will. I also bought a longish dress (tie-dyed) to ‘hang out’ in, but I can’t wear it when I travel with my pack. I hope it all holds out!

Thursday I left Accra on a tro-tro (minibus packed with 26 people) for Kokrobite beach. It was about a mile walk from where the tro-tro stopped. I had my backpack on and was carrying my daypack. As I neared some houses a boy about 18 made a grab for my daypack. I held on and screamed “hellllp, hellllp!!” and fought back. After a bit a man in a nearby house yelled at the boy and he ran away without getting anything. How horrid. Oh well, all’s well that ends well, and the black and blue marks on my arm have almost faded!

I stayed in Big Millie’s Backyard on the beach with a very nice room with fan and cold shower for $20. It was very pleasant. The food was very good—I tasted the fufu made of pounded plantains and cassava with a strong fish sauce—-good.

Friday an overland African truck came to Millie’s to camp overnight. It started two months ago in Dover, England, and will take 22 weeks in all to arrive in Nairobi, Kenya. I talked to David, one of the passengers, at length about it. It sounds to me like they mostly drive. The notion is for the company to deliver the truck for use with tourists between Johannesberg, South Africa, and Nairobi, and this way the tourists pay for the long trip down. After having driven through Europe, they drove through Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana; to follow are Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya—hope I didn’t leave any out! David (Welch/English) was familiar with Minneapolis, as he had done computer work here in the ‘80’s and also in Lake Mills, WI.

Then I ate dinner with Johnny, a Peace Corp volunteer who has been teaching ceramics in the north of Ghana at Bawku. However, there were 60 (or more) people killed at election time (2 weeks ago) in his town so they have evacuated the volunteers and he may be reassigned. The trouble is between two tribes and has been going on for 200 years, but they each backed a different local political party’s candidate.

Judith, a volunteer teacher from England, and I got a tro-tro back to Accra on Sunday. I wanted to take a nice bus to Cape Coast which is quite a ways, and to get that bus I had to go to Accra. I will go tomorrow—today, I’m doing email, and going to an art gallery, and maybe a nice lunch if the taxi driver can find the restaurant!

On my Walkman the other night, I heard a program on the BBC sponsored by the BBC and Minnesota Public Radio! Small world.

My next email will probably be from Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city.

Carol

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