Monday, 1 April 2013


Travel broadens the mind; it gives you new perspectives, it challenges prejudices and misconceptions. And in Tamale I learnt that, contrary to popular wisdom, you can make an omelette without breaking eggs.
A Tamale omelette

Hannah and I were tired and hungry when we arrived at Asempe Lodge after an early flight from Accra to Ghana’s hot, dry north. Before even checking into the room, we ordered omelette and toast – the standard (i.e. only) breakfast option in most Ghanaian hotels. I emphasised to the chef that I wanted ‘no meat, no fish’; experience has taught me how easily these sneak into the simplest of dishes here.

Fifteen minutes later, she brought our breakfasts … two plates of steamed cabbage and carrots. I looked at it suspiciously. “This is how we do omelettes here, if you don’t eat eggs”, came the reply to my inquiring look. It’s rare to find a Ghanaian who is sensitive to vegetarianism – most don’t consider even chickens to be animals – and it was pretty tasty for steamed cabbage and carrots. Besides, anywhere that serves fresh coffee can be forgiven.

Tro tro and truck
Asempa Lodge also challenges the perception that first impressions count. As you turn into its dusty driveway, off the Tamale–Kumasi road, the hotel looks a bit run down and half-finished. Storms have twice blown off the outside restaurant's roof, but a new local-style grass roof is forthcoming.

Home time
The lodge has many attractions in the meantime. The rooms are clean and cool – a vital factor in baking north Ghana. And while the grounds need a few more trees or shrubs – the resident donkey ate the last lot planted – new saplings have been planted. And the grounds are blissfully peaceful compared to the busy nearby city, and full of colourful starlings, kingfishers and rollers.

The lodge’s main asset, though, is its staff. Friendly, helpful and competent, which isn’t always the case in Ghana, the four young people who run Asempa Lodge catered to our every need. They organised our bus onwards to Bolgatanga, and car hire for later in the week. Rather than explore Tamale’s meagre attractions, we decided to spend the afternoon sipping drinks outside. Joseph, the lodge manager, taught us the local version of mancala, taking great delight in repeatedly thrashing us.

The Tamale Gandalf
As we sat, an assortment of local characters headed along the road outside – farmers carrying their goods on small trucks, school children cycling home, local women returning from the mosque. I ordered a beer, sat back in the shade, and watched Tamale life trundle by.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Tim,

    we are very happy you enjoyed the stay at our lodge, it was a pleasure having you!

    Kind greetings from Tamale