Sunday, January 19, 2020

Goodbye from Ghana ♡

Postscript From The Pillion*

Luckily, Simon added a question mark to the title of his 'last post'...

Where we ended up
By the time we arrived here we considered ourselves quite immersed in and familiar with West African culture. But our final country had new things on offer. Two things strike you immediately; Ghana is English-speaking (one of five in West Africa, our first) and is very religious.

Approximately 70% of Ghanaians are Christian, from the traditional to the more charismatic denominations.

This manifests itself in many ways, one of them is in the names of businesses. You'll see shopfronts such as:

• Annointed Hands Manicures
• Trust in God Driving School
• Temptation Burgers
• Endless Praise Beauty Parlour

Finding a taxi or 'three-tyre' driver who actually knows the place his customers want to go remains a challenge and Googlemaps usually saves the day - eventually. This is not for lack of trying on the driver's part, though. He'll stop several times, jump out and ask directions, often receiving conflicting advice.

One of the more outspoken cabbies sucked his teeth several times whilst expounding his views on what's wrong with politics in Ghana; 'We have gold, diamonds, rubber, cocoa - we should be rich, but look at it!' (sweeping hand gesture) 'Where the money gone?'
Tread carefully
If you've ever been to Venice on days when the sea-breeze was unfavourable, you'll remember the waft of sewage. Well, Ghana is pungent too. The open sewers in Accra and Kumasi run parallel to the road. Most of the time they are covered by metal grilles, but occasionally a big hole appears. Sometimes they are fully exposed. You don't want to miss your step or be walking about at night in the dark!

One abiding memory of Ghana and of West Africa is the abundance of colour in their fabrics. It's a feast for the eyes.

Food, glorious food
Some of my favourite dishes are Red-Red, a spicy bean stew often served with caramelized plantain, groundnut soup with whatever vegetables are hanging around the fridge and Jollof rice.

All of the above can be enhanced by pepper sauce if you want to sweat some more.

There seems to be an unannounced competition within West Africa as to which country produces the best Jollof rice - a bit like the pepper sauce competition within the Rampat family.

Top marks for the rice go to Marie-Jocelyn, chef at the Elephant's Nest, Côte d'Ivoire. Dix points!

The carb staples in Ghana are Fufu and Banku. Fufu is a dumpling made from ground and pounded root vegetables (usually cassava) and it sits in your stomach like a stone. Banku, another specimen of the dumpling family, is made from fermented corn or cassava dough. Also an acquired taste!

Unfortunately there is no French influence in Ghana and the bread resembles that of a 1970s Gregg's bakery.

The taste and abundance of fruit is still astonishing and we have discovered plantain crisps. Simon has developed a penchant for them as an accompaniment to his lunchtime beer.

Trip Competition

Trip scorebook
As we approach the end of the trip, we are also finishing our Backgammon tournament. Simon introduced a 4-point handicap for me in an 11-point match to make the games more interesting and to discourage me from reckless acceptance of the cube.

Despite my excellent bar-sitting and intense wishing for timely doubles, I have to report that Simon's won 57% of the matches. (There, I've said it!)

Our last night - at +233 Jazz Club, Accra
What else will stay in my memory?

Music; people breaking into a dirty laugh when you crack a joke; friendly welcomes; banter in the market; haggling with people who think you're a walking ATM; a chaotic, fun-filled Ghanaian-style hostel quiz and a haunting feeling during our visit to Cape Coast castle.

I am reading 'Homegoing' by Ghanaian author Yaa Gyasi, a story that starts in the late 1700s. It is a tale about the impact and fallout of slavery and juxtaposes the lives of two sisters and their descendants. One sister is sold to marry a British slave trader at Cape Coast whilst the other awaits her fate in the dungeons underneath the very same castle.

And so we've come to the end of our trip that took a considerable amount of time, emotional energy and stress - and I'm only talking about the planning stage!

Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

Do I wish we'd had more patience with and tolerance for each other? Yes.

But then, we decided to go on an adventure and that's what we've done.

The Pilot
I will always be appreciative of how seriously Simon took his responsibility for our safety whilst we travelled on the bike. As I've said before, I wouldn't just sit on the back of a bike with any old bloke...

We are not breaking up, but will spend the next few months doing our own thing, possibly in different countries.

The adventure isn't over yet! 😉

*And finally, from the Pilot
A last thank you to everyone who followed and encouraged us on our adventure. Your voices and support echoed in our ears along the fjords in the Arctic circle, around the Baltic, across the European plain, between the Atlas mountain ranges, through the desert into sub-Sahel West Africa and almost to the equator.

One thing we discovered is that friends, family, those you care for, those you love, always travel with you. Thanks for coming along.

We met some great people; local folk, guides, fellow travellers, hosts. We'll remember them. We experienced the generosity, unconstrained by poverty, to be found everywhere when you travel in expectation of it. And we saw that ours is not the only way to live.

And you've heard about the stresses and strains on a relationship that a trip like this creates. But you should understand that we both were always looking out for each other.

By the way, see what you can do for the planet. She needs all the help she can get.

Last of all, thanks to Angelika for being my trip-partner and the best riding companion possible.

This has been a privilege.



  1. I'm a bit worried by the concept of the "Trust in God" Driving School!

    And thank you - for your insight, thoughtfulness, honesty, and humour; it's been a great journey for us at home too. We are all looking forward to seeing you both. XX

  2. China is an issue in Africa, yes it's given money to finance hospitals and schools, but they'll be taking much more such as the minerals and metals, plus fishing rights and let's not forget the animals for their medical beliefs all in danger of extinction. I recently saw an article stating China wants to send 300 million Chinese to live in Africa, so l think the Africans will see certain changes not all good.


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