This weekend, thus far, has been punctuated by two successes.
First, we spent last night and this morning at the beach, about 25km outside of Accra, though it takes about an hour and a half to reach with traffic. We arrived, via an excessively pot-hole laden rode around 4 pm, just in time to place an order for dinner. Big Milly’s, which was voted one of the best hostels in the world, is something of a small compound dotted with enclosed circle-bungalows that serve as rooms. And, one of the more impressive systems I’ve seen in the developing world in dealing with theft. They formed a “credit system” charging everything to the room so you never have to carry anything with you, apparently, young boys occasionally hold up tourists at night on the beach. We spent the evening sipping beers, watching the sunset over the peninsula, and commenting on how young everyone was (except for a lone couple in their 50’s). We also had fresh fruit smoothies, which alone nearly made my night (the rum they added didn’t hurt either). Around 9pm a local music group gave a live drumming concert, complete with local dances. At the early hour of 10 to head home where Alex had the opportunity to have his first-ever bucket shower.
The morning was spent eating one of the best meals I’ve had to date: muesli, yogurt, honey, banana and french press (REAL coffee!), as well as wandering the beach and shopping for ceramic mugs (that we bought for $3.5/piece-heath would have likely charged $25). We finished off the morning sitting on a deck that winds up a spiral staircase from the bar, overlooking the ocean. Reading, and watching the fishing boats bob in time with the waves was a much needed relaxation from the absurdity that is traffic and dust-laden Accra. Before going home we headed to an Italian expat run restaurant, down the road from the hostel. They served us house-made pizza (which we could see being made) and Italian coffee. Though no Mozza, it was quite good, and an invited change. The couple has two sons, about eight and three, and Alex and I both wondered what it might be like to grow up on a beach resort in Ghana as “foreigners.”
Our second success is the at least semi-mastering of the tro-tro system. Yesterday, on my way from the University I walked to the bus stop to meet Alex in the southern part of Accra before heading out. Unlike the usual tro stations this one had a mass of people milling around while the tros pulled up, yelled where they were going and waited for the rush of passengers attempting to get on. I was admittedly a bit overwhelmed, and briefly considered chartering a taxi, but that would have been admitting defeat (and cost about 12x more). To further frustration, the drivers don’t always tell you where they’re going, but use vague hand symbols that change depending on location. I did figure out that if the driver points his hand down and traces a small circle, then the destination is the main circle in Kaneshi-where I wanted to go. After about 40 minutes of observing (I was determined), I hear a driver yell “Kanesh” while making the circle sign. I run over, beating out a crowd and score the last seat. Triumph. Granted, it was so run down when it hit a pothole (there are many) dust flew up from every crevice, coating my previously clean skin in a thin layer of grime. Now, both of us have been able to learn how to negotiate how to get around, and more importantly, where to pick up tros. And it is well worth it. This weekend’s transportation will cost us each around $5, private transport would have been near $100 . Not to mention, being able to get around is such a relief and makes us feel like we know the city, at least on a basic level.