We begin in Accra, the country's capital. It's on the Atlantic coast, but definitely not a beach town--we barely saw the water in the four days we were there. Well, unless you count open sewers, which we saw plenty of. Oh, and one day, three men bathing in one. I mean, Accra is darn hot and humid, but I will never be able to fathom what would possess an adult to voluntarily jump down into a river of sewage.
Anyway, as usual, it seems that most of our Accra pictures are of street food, which is copious, cheap, and delicious, but makes for a boring nonfood post. Here are the few nonfood pics I have from our four days in the city (which were mostly spent sweating and procuring visas for onward travel to Benin and Nigeria).
Here's the gateway at Independence/Black Star square. The square itself was built for 30,000 people, but has never had such big crowds. It also houses the "Eternal Light of African Liberation," which has sadly been allowed to go out, we assume due to rising fuel costs. (What does this say about African liberation??)
Down the street from the square is this huge poster that looks like Obama has been photoshopped in as the President of Ghana's running mate. Turns out the partnership is not just BS, though--Obama did visit Ghana last year, the first African country he visited in his presidency, and Ghanaians are damn proud of this fact.
Here's another fun sign, improbably found in the posh Osu district of Accra. Basically, Auntie Aggie will provide any service you need done with sharp objects.
Here is my favorite sign from all of Ghana. This one was right near our hotel. Words fail me.
Aha, the much-vaunted Accra Mall! As the only mall in West Africa*, people who live here (Africans and volunteers alike) are pretty impressed with this place, but...dare I say we were not? You could probably fit the whole thing into one super Walmart in the US. It has the only multiplex in West Africa*, which charges the crazy price of $12 US for a movie. The biggest draw for me and Andy was the AC, the two supermarkets, and the 10 minutes of free Internet the Vodafone shop inside gives you each day (yes, we did go back multiple times, because it was kind of near the embassies that made us wait all day for visas).
Here is Accra's Mormon Temple. So much nicer than most of the surrounding buildings that it got us thinking about converting to Mormonism.
Another of our favorite signs, this one from the town of Cape Coast, about two hours west of Accra. A good example of how Ghanaians will Jesusify anything. Ghanaians are very religious, and Jesusy signs are found everywhere. A corner shop would be called "In Jesus' Name Corner Store" or something.
Cape Coast's main attraction is its castle, actually a fortress in which countless slaves were held for months before they were shipped to the Americas. Here are me and Andy by a cannon, probably looking happier than we should to be at such a sad place.
We took a very informative tour of the dungeons where unbelieveable numbers of slaves were packed in for three months with hardly any light, knee-deep in their own vomit and waste. It was really eye-opening--you learn a lot about the middle passage and slaves' lives in America, but their conditions in Africa before shipment were never really on my radar. Here is one of the cellar rooms.
Our final destination in Ghana was the Green Turtle Lodge another hour west in the tiny village of Akwidaa. Andy and I aren't really beach people, but this place was awesomely relaxing and really cheap considering it's basically paradise. If you ever go there, book ahead, expect to meet loads of Peace Corps Volunteers on break from their villages, and spring for one of the self-contained cabins with bathroom--much nicer than the non-electrified, pee-off-your-porch-in-the-middle-of-the-night-because-the-shared-toilets-are-too-far-away one we got stuck with our second night because, of course, we had no reservations.
*OK, I have since learned that Accra does not have the only mall and multiplex in West Africa--Lagos, Nigeria, has them, too. (We are currently staying walking distance from a mall in Lagos that has cheaper movies and stronger AC than the one in Accra, but no free Internet...)