For 91 days, Jürgen and I lived in Ghana... it was our first time in Africa, and this country provided a perfect introduction. We started in Accra, the coastal capital city, but made an effort to see as much of Ghana as possible.
With some reason, Jürgen and I consider ourselves to be fairly "worldly". We've been traveling the world almost non-stop for ten years. We've got this down. We know this wonderful planet better than most, and even if we aren't experts in everything, we're intermediate-level at worst... right? Well, not so fast. Our three months in Ghana proved how far we have to go. As it turns out, even "worldly" gents like us can still be harboring some…
We always try and familiarize ourself with the music of our new homes, whether that's the delirious K-Pop of Korea or the doleful shoe-gaze rock of Iceland. We've encountered a lot of amazing tunes during our travels, but I don't think we've ever encountered a more joyful music scene than Ghana's. This is a nation of upbeat, melodic, catchy highlife, pop and rap, and by the end of our 91 days, we were shocking the locals with our ability to sing along to the major hits. Here are some of the songs we best enjoyed during our stay.
Ghana is a frustrating country for photographers. Here, you'll find some of the most spectacular photo opportunities in your entire life ... but you'll also find a people who are extremely reticent to have themselves, their families or their homes photographed. We got yelled at so many times, that we eventually adopted a policy of not bringing out the camera, unless it was absolutely clear that taking pictures was going to be cool.
You are such a conscientious citizen of the world! You wouldn't dump that old computer in the bin. Heaven forbid! There's the ecological future of our glorious planet to think of, let alone your privacy! You're happy to drive ten miles to the nearest "e-waste" point! You'll go home, confident that you've done the right thing. It's nice to stop thinking about things once they're out of your hands... but although we hate to bust your bubble, we think you should know. Right now, your computer is in Agbogbloshie, Ghana. It's definitely not being deconstructed in an ecologically-sound manner. And it's probably being hacked into.
But during our final week in Accra, our love/hate feelings for Osu shifted definitively toward "hate". Nothing we loved about our stay in Adabraka was present here: the buoyant nightlife, the nonchalant attitude of the locals, the easy acceptance into a new culture. Nope, in Osu, you're a foreigner. You'll go to restaurants marketed to foreigners. You'll be approached by street hustlers because you're a foreigner. And locals, who are understandably sick of foreigners, will treat you with a disdain you won't find anywhere else in Ghana.
Our visit to Akosombo Dam was eye-opening. It's amazing what humans can do when really determined. But it's equally amazing how careless humans can be about their actions. Creating a massive lake is certainly a formidable achievement! And creating that massive lake without really weighing the potential consequences... well, that's just human.
One of the first projects carried out by the fledgling nation of Ghana was the construction of Akosombo Dam, along the Volta River, near the town of Atimpoku. A massive undertaking, the dam required four years to construct and cost dozens of human lives in the process. As a result of this audacious enterprise, Ghana now has the largest man-made reservoir in the world: Lake Volta.
We pulled up to the gates of Cedi Glass Beads directly after arriving at the Volta Region from Accra. It had been an easy, quick journey, leaving us with plenty of energy... and we immediately realized that we'd need it, after being welcomed by the shop's enthusiastic owner. He wasted no time, jumping straight into a lengthy exposition on the craft of bead-making, then marched us straight over to the ovens.
With the unstoppable rise of Airbnb, finding affordable accommodation has become more difficult, regardless of where you're traveling in the world. And Ghana is no exception. This country is full of enterprising people eager to maximize their cashflow. If you thought that your extended stay in a financially struggling nation was going to be a bargain, think again. In this post, we'll detail our own experience, both with Airbnb and accommodation in general.
Our final trip in Ghana would be to Lake Volta, to the east of Accra. Formerly British Togoland, the Volta Region is now Ghana's easternmost state, populated mostly by the Ewe people, who also form a majority in neighboring Togo. We wouldn't have a chance to visit the region's capital of Ho, or even see much of the region, as our time had grown short. But we did make it to the lake, and visited the dam which makes Volta largest natural reservoir in the world.
Psssst... Hey Ghana, come over here, I've got a little secret to tell you. You know me and Jürgen, the guys you welcomed so warmly into your country for three months? To whom all of your people were so polite and friendly? The guys who had such a wonderful time visiting your villages, exploring your nature, and meeting your citizens? Yeah, us. Well, we didn't want to say anything until now... but we're gay. According to your laws, we're not allowed.