Blazing out of Accra, red earth, two story termite mounds, and green everything else. On the bus to Takoradi, I was pleasantly hypnotized by the scene outside my window when the driver decided to let a pastor on board. The pastor yelled into our ears for two hours. This is typical in Ghana. The pastor gets a free ride, the bus presumably gets some level of divine protection on an unnecessarily perilous journey. Instead of trusting Jesus with our safety, the driver could do a few things like:
1.Stop speeding excessively
2.Avoid passing a car if that car is also passing a car
3.Realize that he is driving a bus and not a go-cart
This was not a tro-tro. In other words, I was in an actual seat and the chances of a blown tire were reasonable (instead of high). And despite the driver’s antics, I felt relatively secure in this vehicle if only because of its size.
After two hours the pastor was deposited at a crowded junction somewhere west of Cape Coast. Within ten minutes, the driver was pulling over to let another ticketless passenger on board. This was upsetting. It was even more upsetting when I realized that this man was not peddling Jesus – he was trying to sell us some type of all purpose herbal elixir, a cure-all that would eliminate your fatigue and your impotence for just 7 Ghana Cedis. My “noise-cancelling” headphones rendered useless, my window-gazing interrupted, I spent the remainder of the journey imagining ways I could upstage this obnoxious salesman. Speaking in tongues. Singing Nana Boroo’s Ahayede. Vomiting. I couldn’t work up the nerve to do any of these things, so I just sat there like an idiot until we arrived in Takoradi.
Five years ago I passed through Takoradi on my way to Green Turtle. I was going to do the same this time around. My plans changed when I was contacted out of the blue by Safura, a Takoradi resident and member of Couchsurfing. One of the nifty, and occasionally annoying features of Couchsurfing, is that you can see which members are nearby. As soon as I signed into Couchsurfing in Accra, I was immediately contacted by a few dozen Ghanaians. Many invited me to stay with them, some simply welcomed me to Ghana, others wrote rambling paragraphs that made absolutely no sense to me. Safura wrote two simple sentences welcoming me and inviting me to stay with her. Sold.
Once in Takoradi, I decided to grab a bite to eat before calling Safura. I found a chophouse close to the bus station that was packed with people. Crowds indicate the food is delicious or exceptionally cheap. Either was ok with me. I ordered two balls of fufu (pounded cassava and plantain) with light soup and goat meat. In Accra, this would be a reasonable meal. In Takoradi, a ball of fufu is the size of my head. A relaxing post-bus lunch was now an episode of Man Vs. Food with a live Ghanaian audience. Encouraged (forced) by the crowd around me, I finished the meal. My nose was running, I was pouring sweat, I was close to throwing up, but I had twenty new friends in Takoradi.
This is one normal Accra-sized ball of fufu with light soup and goat. Unfortunately, my camera battery was dead at this point, so I was unable to capture the titanic Takoradi fufu.
Safura’s place was on the outskirts of town. It was palatial compared to the other houses I’ve couchsurfed in Ghana. We dropped my bags at the house and then took a walk through the neighborhood. Safura worked for a Dutch shipping firm. Shipping, and now oil, are big business in Takoradi. It is the reason you see more expats here than in anywhere else in the country. When we went bar hopping later in the evening, expats made up at least half the crowd wherever we went. Prostitutes seemingly made up the other half. One bar felt like a true saloon, an outpost on the frontier where you could indulge without abandon. Pool tables, cigarette smoke, a casino behind a curtain, everyone looking at you like they wanted to fuck you or kill you. It was energizing and sickening at once. Safura deftly steered me away from the roulette table and we left for an outdoor bar where we listened to a live highlife band until late.
Safura, my Couchsurfing host.
Outside of the expat scene, Takoradi was charming. It is less chaotic than Accra and you don’t have to fight for everything. Taxi drivers, for instance, offered the proper price without any bargaining. Everyone was exceedingly warm and friendly and the town generally felt optimistic. Safura was an incredible host and I’m grateful I had her as my guide. On my return trip to Ghana, Takoradi will definitely be on the itinerary.
Next post: The magical Green Turtle Lodge
Where am I now?
I’m still in Ghana. A sudden, insane intestinal issue is the reason why. I will explain more next time. For now, here are some leftover pictures from Accra.
I spent many days hanging out with this crew in Accra.
The guy on the left was living at my guesthouse. Both of these guys played for a division two football team in Accra. They are trying to get upgraded to the Ghana premier league this season.
Doe. The watchman at the Yas Guesthouse. He’s typically wearing a t-shirt from a cell phone company, but for the photo he decided to go with tank top and blazer. Absolutely love this man.
These two again? Yes. My favorite photo subjects in Ghana: Anne Marie and Blessing.
I have a feeling Blessing (the one on the right) is a handful in the classroom.
These pictures are from a night with no power in the neighborhood and a broken generator. We all gathered in the courtyard and got silly.
Bbend down low, bbbeend down low
Dancing to this song playing from a cell phone.
Having fun with slow shutter speeds. I was trying to write Blessing, but you need a mirror to read it.
Till next time..