Tuesday, 21 August 2012

One down...

One year into our Ghana adventure. And despite the power cuts, water shortages, traffic, open sewers, angry landlady, idiots at Vodaphone (etc.), it has been fantastic fun. Ghana is not Africa’s most spectacular country, but it is green, hilly, friendly, safe, developing fast and will prove a happy home for another year.

So on to next year. An election coming up, thrown into uncertainty with the recent death of Prof. Atta Mills. A move for us to East Legon, Accra’s up-and-coming trendy district (or so we are told). A planned trip to Ivory Coast, and hopefully a Burkina Faso–Benin–Togo road trip, logistics permitting. More walks with the Mountaineers and more nights out with our friends. And hopefully no more fufu.

Here are some highlights of our first year.

Elmina harbour
This small town is not as famous as its neighbour, Cape Coast, but the fort was more interesting, and wandering around was more enjoyable. Small and colourfully formed.

In true expat style, many nights ended with a bottle of one of Ghana’s fine beers. Gulder is my favourite, followed by Star, and Club is drinkable too. All best served cold and three (large) bottles is the minimum.

Green, hilly and lots of walks. Need I say more?

Ghana’s premier attraction, at least in the south, and fully deserving of the accolade. We stayed overnight in the treehouse and were rewarded with the sight of watching monkeys feed from the canopy walkway.

+233 jazz club
This is our favourite live music venue in Accra. It markets itself as ‘the place to hear Ghanaian jazz’, so it was a surprise to hear ‘Careless Whisper’ as the opening song on our first visit. But it’s a lively place, with musicians of all types from across West Africa. If you want to see a Burkinabe beat out a rhythm using a pair of spoons and some empty tins, this is the place.

Red red at Labadi beach

Not Ghanaian food, obviously; nothing there for vegetarians to enjoy. But Accra has many good places to eat, a bright spot in a city without bundles of cultural highlights. Our favourites include the Tandoor for Indian, Bella Roma for Italian, and La Bouquet or Commodore for Lebanese. (I would write about Accra’s eateries, but this blog does it better.)

This minigolf club was around the corner from our flat in Dzorwulu, and was our ‘local’ for the past year. I spent many hours watching football, using their wireless when mine had (once again) failed, and enjoying the waffles with ice cream. Mentioning that I’m a golf club member is also handy in certain expat circles.

A starry night, a full moon, potatoes in the fire, and bird watching in the morning. To be repeated.

The coast
A weekend at the coast is one of the best things about living in Accra. From Bojo Beach on the edge of Accra, to Fete, Butre, Akwidaa and Beyin, every place we have visited has had its unique charms. And there are many more places to explore next year. Hannah’s favourite: Fanta’s Folly for the food. My favourite: Green Turtle Lodge. Because it’s named after a turtle.
Sunset at Mole

A breath of fresh air in Ghana, literally and metaphorically. A lively, friendly bunch who love walking up a hill and sinking a beer afterwards. Not sure about the obsession with 5am starts, though.

It took a while to get there, but it was worth it. Seeing wild elephants from a few metres away was my highlight of our first year in Ghana.

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