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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Black Star All Stars

Some of the people who made this experience possible... Thank you!

Dela (right hand side) who organised our apartment, and is generally the woman who Gets Things Done. The women are wearing kabas and slits for Friday - everyone dons traditional Ghanaian dress for this day.

Mawuli, one of the mentees for the programme we designed. A lovely man

Eric "Digit" McGaw...grand master of the Accra Hash. Here he says 'I would like to point out...' and another 'true' story begins...

From left, Abena, a lady we never met properly (sorry #1), Amanda, Jackie, me and Prissy, all posing in front of the sign CARE had made especially to celebrate 100 years of International Women's Day

Lydia the seamstress and me, again, as she was so brilliant. Made me a replica of my fab purple silk Elie Tahari dress in Ghanian cotton, and all for 10 cedis!

Returning from the door of no return at Elmina. (The door is the star here. This was a harrowing and momentous experience.)

BBStone (Godfrey) at St George Castle. Big man, shyest Ghanaian I met. Drove us all the way to Cape Coast and back, and was very gracious about losing at cards EVERY game we played that weekend.

Gideon, our guide at Elmina, takes us around the courtyard outside the female dungeon. Please note woman to left wearing RIDICULOUS stilletoes for walking around a world heritage castle. She and her male friend were apparently in some passionate love affair as her driver told ours they kept making him pull over / ignore their incessant smooching. Seriously people. Get a room (and not at Elmina).

Birthdays! Cakes I made for Fred (left) and Matty (right)'s birthdays, celebrated at Friday tea. In Ghana, when you have sung 'Happy Birthday', to the same tune you sing "How old are you now?" and the response has to be "I'll tell you la-ter!"

Leaving Ghana open house. (from left) Antoine our friend from CARE and in charge of IT, another CARE friend whose name I can't recall...sorry..., Amanda, Fred, me, Charles our fantastic driver and Brenda, aka Highland Fling!

Last night in Ghana. Amanda and I are SHATTERED after delivering the project but celebrate with a daiquiri and margarita respectively, before an early sushi dinner and crashing out at home. Cheers!

Ghana be days like these

Photos and memories of Ghana...some highlights from 2 months in the Black Star country

School wall outside our apartment. One day someone drove into a section of the wall. Four weeks later the new wall is up and plastered.

Taxi?! Hand gesture (half formed here) and incessant horn beeping as if, only when 1/2 metre away might you finally realise that a taxi is nearby and that you desperately need one.

Sunset in Tamale, second week in Ghana

Shangri-La Hotel Loos. Just in case you didn't understand the signs

Mankoadze beach, 7am. Bounty advert eat your heart out...

Shoe store stock room at Makola. When you want another size it takes 20 minutes 'cause they have to run to the other side of the market to get it. You had better be a serious customer!

Ghana Lizards. Cute, multi-coloured and always entertaining. At La Palm and Labadi Beach hotels they run under your legs whilst you're relaxing and then stop and stare. Small scale entertainment when you're chilling out with a beer. Lovely.

Labadi Beach Hotel - Oasis of calm, tranquility, wi-fi and club sandwiches

Road to Labadi Beach. Sponsored by Vodafone. Many people are paid (once) to have their houses painted with the slogan of one of the mobile phone networks. We saw Vodafone towns.

Ghana! T-shirts for sale...outside Barclay's looking onto Oxford Street. Bargaining is a must, or you'll pay at least a 70% mark up.

Care colleagues...the neighbouring chickens and roosters who are particularly vocal during conference calls

The worst shower / shower pressure in the world. Bucket fills. Drips are incessant. Cue increased insomnia. And that's before the call to prayer starts at the mosque across the road...

Makola Market...just seen but never forgotten

Friday, 1 April 2011

Ghana Miss You

The last day is here. I'm all packed and listening to Frou Frou's "Let Go" which has been the theme song for my project out here, played driving in the dark along the long road to the Cape Coast, in the office when I needed a boost to keep working through the hot afternoons when the air conditioner in our little office decided to spurt out shards of ice rather than any cool air.

We're expecting Charles to come and pick us up in an hour's time to hit the Friday night traffic. Traffic here is superbly congested, and unlike London where one can weave one's way onto side roads to cut traffic lights and get moving, here there are only the main routes, and everyone is in their car off somewhere.

Reflecting back on the last two months I honestly cannot believe how fast the time has gone, but when I think of the massive amount of work Amanda and I have got through it makes sense that Monday would soon turn into Friday, and so on through the weeks. We had our final review call yesterday and said our goodbyes to our friends in the office today. It has been a very warm and friendly experience to spend time with the friends made at CARE, on the hash and at the gym.

Things I'll miss:

  • Pippa's Gym being 1 minute down the road, and opening at 5:30 for insomniacs like me
  • Sunshine Salad Bar. The best wraps and hygienic salads in Ghana. Fact.
  • The sunsets, sunrises and palm trees especially at Makoadze on our hash weekend
  • CARE Friday morning tea time, complete with cornish pasty-like pies to start the end of the week in style
  • The fact that you can get spring rolls pretty much everywhere
  • Kelewele, the wicked and delicious snack that makes a portion of chips feel like a green salad
  • The fact that a new dress costs £12, made to measure
  • The handshake 'snaps'
  • Having my bed made for me every day. Oh wait, I'm a consultant, that happens all the time
  • Working for CARE. What an awesome organisation.
  • Wearing flip flops to work
Things I won't miss quite so much
  • The AC at Pippa's, or lack thereof. I have attractive chafe marks on my upper arms where my t-shirt has rubbed away the skin because you can only sweat *so much* before that happens
  • The open sewers
  • The smell of the open sewers
  • Chickens scratching around in the open sewers
  • Ghana time. "I'm coming" you hear. Just don't expect them to arrive any time soon!
  • Ghana administrative bodies. Much head shaking, bribery and corruption.
  • Taxi drivers beeping their horns at you incessantly, and refusing to believe that you don't require their services
  • Proposals of marriage. The first one's flattering, the tenth one is a bit wearing.
  • Having to brush my teeth with bottled water. Hassle. (I know, I'm so spoiled.)
  • Bars with extensive menus that don't actually have the ingredients to make any of the drinks
More from England. Akwaaba and goodbye! xx