I like everyplace in Ghana better than Accra.

This is something I learned from vacation.

A quick rundown and itinerary, as I feel somewhat out of blogging mode and not quite prepared to be thorough:

First stop was Cape Coast, capital city of the Central Region.  I spent three nights at the Mighty Victory Hotel, mostly visiting the slave castles (which were not as moving as I wanted them to be), walking on the beach and eating at restaurants.  Beautiful, if somewhat everly touristed.  It housed the highest concentration of obrunis I have seen in some time.

 

From there I departed for Green Turtle Lodge, a beautiful, isolated eco-lodge on the coast in the Western Region, a few miles outside of Takoradi.  It’s a popular Ghanaian backpacker destination, meaning vaycay spot of choice for circulators on the Volunteer Circuit.  , meaning that I endured a certain number of drunken American nineteen-year-olds proud that they’d held babies for a week.  (If you saw how unpleasantly drunk these people were on the most beautiful, quiet beach I have ever seen, you’d allow for my contempt.)  But there were also some perfectly lovely people, and more than that, there was time to just sit by the ocean and relax, and fall aslep to teh sound of waves and wake up to the same sound in the middle of the night.

At one point, however, I accidentally killed a small lizard, stepping on its head as I stepped backwards out of the door to my room.  It was terribly disturbing.  For the next three days at Green Turtle, I kept expecting that all the other lizards would storm my bedroom at night, chanting “You killed our little brother” a la the story of “The Little Apple Men” in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, and their combined weight would crush my head and knock out one of my eyeballs.

 

This didn’t happen, for the record.

 

From Cape Coast I proceeded to Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti Region and the second-largest city in Ghana.  I wasn’t thrilled.  Part of this was because my hotel was crappy (fleas crappy), and part of it was because I am sick and tired of big cities.  I took my mother’s advice, admitted to taking my mother’s advice, and proceeded up to the Northern Region less than two days later.  The Northern Region contains its capital city, Tamale, along with Mole National Park, the biggest wildlife-viewing destination in Ghana.

 

I love the North.  That was something I learned on this strip.  I was more able to be alone while travelling simply because I wasn’t trying to do anything much, but nevertheless the grabbiness and obruni-harassment remained.  It was almost absent in the North.  People went about their own business before going about yours; by the time they addressed you, they were (for the most part) genuinely friendly, not hustling.  There were fewer resources for a Westerner, but when the resources are genuinely absent, rather than around but difficult to access, I actually don’t mind.  Could I have chosen at the time, before I came to Ghana, I would surely have chosen the Nrothern Region.

 

I spent one night in Tamale, then met my guide, the co-owner  (with his twin brother) of a guesthouse in Larabanga, the twon that abuts Mole National Park.  With him I travelled on the crowded  bus on the horrible, rutted road from Tamale to Larabanga, and also met up with two women I had met briefly and liked at Green Turtle.  We ended up sharing a room for two nights at Mole National Park.  I have not shared a room since I arrived in Ghana, and have been pretty stringent about staying out of the backpacker dorms–perhaps I’m not too old, but I’m certainly too crotchety and intolerant–but I really enjoyed the company of these two ladies, both around my age and equally critically engaged with the Volunteer Industry.

 

I have never been so close to elephants in their natural habitat before.  Perhaps once I was, in Kruger National Park in South Africa, but then I was confined to a kombi.  In this case I was on my feet, probably fewer than thirty meters from a herd of the animals that have been my favorite since I was three.  Additionally, we several times on my two nature walks found ourselves in the middle of a field, surrounded on all sides by distant herds of antelope (kob or bushbuck) that blinked several times and disappeared when we moved our feet.  Evenings at the restaurant were spent surrounded by monkeys and baby warthogs; the latter kneel on their front legs when eating their food.  My guide said this connoted great rspect for their food.

 

I spent last Sunday travelling the entire length (almost) of Ghana.  I left Larabanga at 4:30 am on a bus to Tamale.  Two cedis fifty pesawas.  From Tamale I took a tremendously uncomfrotable tro-tro for six hours to Kumasi.  Seven cedis.  From Kumasi I foudna  bus to Accra, which took about four and a half hours and seven cedis.  And within Accra I took a taxi home.  This also cost seven cedis.

 

It’s not every day you travel the entire length of a nation for under thirty bucks.

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