A couple of good friends were working in Ghana, and when they wrote that they would be leaving the next year, I decided to take advantage of the chance and visit them. Getting a visa proved not to be easy, since I had to have two unrelated people in Ghana vouch for me. A yellow fever vaccination was required, and it was reported that it was very difficult to get money from ATMs.

Customs lived up to its reputation, since the official checking my bags demanded a bribe unless I wanted to stay there a couple of hours while he examined my backpack. Still, I was able to bargain him down to five euros.

My friend Candance was unexpectedly summoned to a conference in Paris for the weekend, and Bob had to work the first day I was there, so I took a taxi to Makola Market, with food vendors and people selling second-hand clothes and everything imaginable of less than optimum quality sold inside.

I decided to walk part of the way back, although the heat was almost unbearable. When I passed a parked car, the man inside yelled out to me in German to my great surprise. He then offered to give me a ride in his air-conditioned car, which I gladly accepted. He related that he had a girlfriend in Germany and had been there several times. He also said he was a tennis coach and musician and that he composed music for a church, which he played for me on a tape. He then invited me to lunch at a good local restaurant that would have been difficult for foreigners to find and refused to let me pay.

The next day, Bob and I drove to a beach resort near Ampenyi run by a Dutch couple. The World Cup was just getting underway, and the resort employees were of course rooting for the Dutch team.

We took a day trip to Cape Coast, a fishing village, but also known for its castle were slaves were imprisoned before being shipped abroad. Michelle Obama believes that her ancestors came from there, and she visited once with her family.

Most of those sold as slaves were captured in the country’s interior by those on the coast and then sold to Europeans, who took them to the Western Hemisphere.

The cell where an inordinate number of persons were kept

Local kids

Lots going on

The fish market here in the middle

Bob had to return to work after a couple of days, and I took local transport to Busua, another beach resort town. There was a naughty monkey in the guest house who stole one of my mangos, although afterward I was very careful not to let him get a second one.

The ocean was still quite wild, so there was not much swimming, but it was a great place for walks. Taking heed of my guidebook that he was not advisable to go without a guide for fear of robberies, I hired a friendly local to walk to Butre, a few kilometers to the west. There is also a castle there where slaves were imprisoned before being sold and shipped to the New World.

Fishing was also the main industry there

Friendly local kids again

There is also a former prison for slaves there.

While I was there, the US American team played against Ghana, and of course the Ghanaians were certain they would win. The mood in the bar where I watched the game was great until the American team scored the first goal. Then Ghana tied and again there were shouts of joy, which quickly ended when the US team scored a second goal and won shortly before the end of the game.

Friends had recommended that I eat dinner at a place run by Florence, and it was a great tip: delicious food every evening, which had to be ordered in the morning.

Met a couple from Belgium in the guest house, and together we hired the same guide I had before to walk in the other direction to Dixcove. The village is not as impressive as Butre, but it was a great walk along the beach and through some overgrowth. When we arrived there, the guide suddenly became very belligerent and demanded a lot more money than we had agreed on. A bunch of villagers quickly gathered around us, more curious than anything else. The Belgian woman had previously spent a year in Ghana in a development project and was able to speak one of the more common languages, which came in quite handy when she explained our situation to the villagers. She thus immediately established rapport with them, and they were soon all on our side against the guide. However, we took a long, roundabout way back using public transport, since we feared walking the trail with the guide around.

The next day, representatives of village tourism came and asked us what had happened. They assured us that they would take action against our “guide”.

On the bus back to Accra, various “preachers” came on board selling who knows what, but they did good business. After each few phases, everyone else on the bus said “amen” in chorus. There were billboards all along the road advertising one Christian sect after another: lots of competition!

Back in Accra, Candance and Bob invited me to a typical Ghanaian meal.

The next day we rode out to Krobo Hill, only 617 meters altitude, but an exhausting climb in the heat. The Krobos have a ceremony here every fall, and they or someone else dragged up a huge cross to the top. There is a great view of the surrounding plains from the top. It is a favorite spot for rock climbers.

Last evening in town was also when Ghana played Germany in the World Cup. We watched the game in a local restaurant, and most everyone was overjoyed when Ghana played them to a draw.

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