Dec 23, 2011

A FULL DAY....


On Wednesday we left Kisemmah around 9am and did not get back until about 7pm. We visited the new school construction site, we went to the Somanya Market in a township of the same name. Then we visited the Shai Hills Nature reserve and then we went to Jerry's a local hang out that is frequented by students and professors of the Univ. of Ghana in Legon.
I wish I could have shot a video of the entire day, the sights, sounds, vistas were all things Ghana. The entire experience is almost over stimulating as there is so much to see and take in. At the Somanya market the gamut ran from Maggi brand tomato paste and other condiments ...to machetes. Everything you can imagine they sell at the market. I have pictures I will include in my Ghana iMovie when I get home.
The drive from Kissemah to the school site is probably 40 to 50 miles, you go through neighborhoods or areas of greater Accra as you leave the city, then the drive is like being out in the country, where you pass through different less populated townships as they call them here. On the roadside, there are always vendors and small store fronts ( road side) stands that again sell everything.
I saw bicycles and scooters for sale, goats and even several places where you could buy beautiful elaborate caskets. In Ghana almost every purchase you make is cash. The only place I have seen a credit card used is at some gas stations. I am sure that major hotels use credit cards, most places you have to use Cedis. And I have not been able to use dollars as the merchants I have dealt with don't want to have to make the exchange to Cedis.

I am writing this post at 5am.....we are getting ready to go on a day trip to Cape Coast with Johnny and Lawrence, who are brothers. They are friends of Renee and Kwame that live in Kissemah.
The beads at the Somanaya market are beautiful. Most are sold in bulk so you can use them anyway you want. I think I saw about 20 or 25 bead vendors.
The overall market is outdoors, the size of probably two football fields. It has a main street that divides it and then there are sections like the beads, fabrics, the butcher shop, etc. It is like a movie set, fast paced, lots of colors, sounds, I loved it. One of my favorite vendors, a man selling belts. I am not sure how he did this, he had belts all over his body, some on his head that looked like a swarm of snakes. It was like a Cirque du Soleil type costume, it was wild. Somanya is close to a river we also saw vendors walking around with huge trays balanced on their heads with smoked fish. And of course I ran into a plantain chip lady and had to have a bag for sure. They sell for 50 peswas, which is roughly 30 or 40 cents and they are the size of a chip bag at home.

Because of the heat we drink water throughout the day. Pure water as they call it here is sold in paper type baggies, I think they hold 2 cups of water. These are sold everywhere including at most large intersections by street vendors. Each bag is 10 peswas. You basically byte a tiny hole in one of the corners and drink up. When it is really hot and "your face is like a river" with sweat, a cold Pure water is delicious and oh so satisfying.
If you buy a bottle of water like you drink at home with the twist off top, those are 80 peswas. A big bottle of beer, that holds I think 2.5 beers is 1 cedi, 50 peswas, so right around $1 dollar. Most afternoons when we can we frequent the Rasta Spot across the street from where we are staying to have a cold beer. And for the record, Traci is drinking sodas.
At the Shai Hills Reserve we saw baboons and went on a hike in the foothills of a beautiful savannah. Any minute I was expecting to see big animals, but our guide said they mainly come out in the morning hours when the day is cooler. Although we were close to a main highway, we drove into the savannah quite a ways to go on the hike and for about 30 or 40 minutes I felt as though I was on top of the world; the scenery was vast, a landscape of muted watercolors, a soft cool breeze and a majestic silence. It was a wonderful experience.
On the way home we went to Jerry's....a local watering hole. Basically an outdoor bar close to the university. Parked in front of Jerry's a Jaguar coupe, several BMW's, Mercedes, etc. There are very affluent people in Ghana. What is most surprising is the proximity of the two very very different worlds. Extreme wealth and extreme poverty are close cousins here in Accra.Examples: while we were sitting outdoors at Jerry's a young boy came to our table to beg, the white Jaguar was parked in front of a street vendor selling mangoes. In Kissemah there are people who live in one room shanty wooden houses (no water, no electricity) and around the block is a 5000 square foot house behind a thick cement wall and usually iron gate where the cars enter and exit their driveways. And yes the cement walls around the perimeter of these huge homes always topped off with barb wire and or spikes that stick straight up. The affluence always walled, protected; usually the cement wall is painted to match the house. I will take a picture of a few. MOnday I am going to visit the homes of the KissemAh students, I will photograph these also.


------ Short and sweet from my iPad ---------