© 2008 jim Stadium in Accra

Accra, Ghana

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Since my trip to Vietnam in November I was in Lukasa, Zambia (in January) and Hanoi, Vietnam again (February-March). I have some pictures posted of a side-excursion I made in Vietnam to Ha Long Bay. Check it out.

Now I’m in Accra, Ghana. For those of you who are geographically challenged (which, if you are American, means most of you, alas) it will make things much clearer if I tell you that Ghana is right next door to Togo. Now, didn’t that make everything clearer?

Togo, some of you may recall, was the topic of the second post of this little blog adventure, back in 2006. A dreary little backwater country where everything has been going downhill since Independence, if not before. Ghana, on the other hand….

So, what to say about Ghana? It has some of the same elements of dynamism and good management as I saw in Zambia…and many of the same elements of poor management and decay too. The culture is such that people don’t generally give you a straight answer, especially if they think the answer isn’t what you want to hear. Personally, I would rather get an answer I didn’t prefer rather than a lie, or a mumble, or some sort of oblique response. But here, it’s not like that.

As is usual in African countries, there is a lot of poverty, and an upper crust that lives very well indeed. And the combination of the two leads to outright scamming of the foreigners. The prime example was when I arrived at the airport. I had asked the hotel to send someone to pick me up at the airport, since in many of these countries taxis are definitely to be trusted. When I arrived, there was therefore a young guy waiting for me holding up my name on a sign. He took my bags and off we went to the car from the hotel. When we got there, I started to give him a tip, and he demanded $10 for himself, plus another $10 “for the boys”, who were basically a group of guys just hanging around the car. I didn’t pay him nearly that much, of course, and I certainly didn’t pay the boys, yet the attitude he demonstrated spoke volumes about his expectations from “rich” white guys.

My adventures here have been many and mostly painful, but I will go on later. In my next post I will do something that I think might be of actual value (as opposed to these ramblings): I will review the two hotels I stayed in here in Accra, the Labadi Beach Hotel and the Golden Tulip.