Day 4

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Accra to JFK. JFK to LaGuardia. LaGuardia to Indy. Indy to Btown. Exactly 24 hours and no sleep later...I made it home on March 18th! I got sick as soon as I returned and spent most of the week sleeping, hence I never finished uploading the posts I had written from the remainder of my trip to Ghana. My dear mother (who is also a nurse) was convinced I was coming down with malaria...which was kind of amusing...but I still WebMD'ed the symptoms just to be sure. Alas, it was just the germ-y airplane and Ghanaian food that did me in. Without further ado...day 4 in Ghana!

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Wednesday, March 14th

Wednesday was our longest day yet, we left the hotel around 6:30am and didn't return until 6pm. We had to leave Accra early to avoid traffic on the way to a smaller town called Akosombo. I still haven't seen any Catholic churches yet, though I've seen Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Muslim, Orthodox, Maronite, and Baptist/Evangelical churches. Outside of Accra I saw the compound where the Missionaries of Charity live and later in the country we passed a Catholic primary school having classes outdoors. All the students were wearing white (different colors denote public or private school and then which religious affiliation) and sitting on benches in a shady area facing one teacher. There had to be at least 100 kids. The countryside is beautiful and I liked it much more than Accra. There's tons of vegetation including lots of palm trees and flowering trees and mountains off in the distance - we are definitely in the tropics. As we drove further from Accra the scenery looked more like stereotypical Africa. We saw huts with thatched roofs and buildings made of red clay bricks. We saw lots of emaciated cows and goats grazing and even saw a bunch of BABOONS alongside the highway, including some baby baboons nursing from their mamas. Like any good obrunis (white people) we pulled over for pictures and gawking. We stopped at a resort tucked down a dirt road on Lake Volta to order lunch. It was paradise!

Rural Ghana
Outdoor primary school

All of the G256 ladies :)
Lake Volta
From there we continued on to see the worlds largest man-made dam. It was at least 110 degrees on top of the dam. As far as I am concerned a dam is a dam is a dam no matter where you are. And frankly my dear, I don't give a damn about seeing the innards of a dam when it's 110 degrees, I can't hear a word of explanation over the roar of hydroelectric equipment, and I'm sweating through my business clothes. (Yeah sorry...I couldn't resist throwing in a Gone with the Wind reference!)

Lake Volta from atop Akosombo Dam
Fisherman

We waited on our bus for about an hour while one of our chaperones was in the dam office. Even though our tour of the inside of the plant was already approved and tickets purchased, there was some problem (as there seemed to be with all our of business visits...commitments and appointments aren't honored as they seem to be in the US). I wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of bribe involved to finally get us into the dam. Anyway, while we were waiting on the bus we fulfilled my dream of buying FanIce out of the window of the bus from a street vendor when we realized our windows did indeed open! While we could have gotten off the bus and bought our ice cream since we were parked, it was much more fun doing business through the window like a local :D We spent about 20 minutes passing money through the window and making change as we bought each bag of ice cream individually. Haha. I would have felt sorry for the vendor, except we bought 15 bags of FanIce, FanChoco, and FanYogo. Each bag is 60 pesewas, or about $0.37. I think the guy was hoping we'd go for seconds because he lingered by the window for a good while until he finally lost interest.

Andrew doing business
Yum! Btw that's a bag of water behind the Fan products
From Akosombo we drove back to Accra and went to Coca Cola Ghana. Coca Cola was by far the most "legit" company we visited with a definite corporate culture similar to what we were expecting of the other businesses we visited. Coca Cola was also the only business we visited that had air conditioning and a free supply of beverages. More Fanta for Liz ;) All of the Coke representatives we spoke with were educated in the UK and absolutely brilliant businesspeople. The marketing VP was female and she blew us all away by how dynamic she was and how well she knew her target market and their needs. We also got to see their bottling and distribution plant. In Ghana and I think many countries, beverages come almost exclusively in glass bottles (which Americans see as very retro/nostalgic and quaint) because it is much cheaper and environmentally friendly. Glass bottles also means you have to drink it wherever you buy it, so you can return the glass bottle to the vendor, who in turn gives it back to Coke. Gas stations & street vendors have plastic bottles but that's about it. Ghana barely has trash collection, forget recycling! Fun facts...there are 43,000 Coke sellers in Ghana (or Accra...I can't remember) and uses manual distribution because of the poor infrastructure, so several layers of middlemen are involved before the product reaches the final consumer, which would make it harder for Coke to track consumer preferences and such. Basically big trucks take Coke products to lots of smaller distributors, who use small ATV-like vehicles to navigate the narrow, crowded dirt roads to take the drinks to another distributor. Then the Coke sellers go to those distributor to get crates of product to sell at their shops or on the streets. Additionally, Coca Cola launched a new beverage that's currently only in Ghana called Schweppes Malt. It's so elusive I can't even find a picture online! You're probably bored, but I found this all fascinating because I'm double majoring in marketing and operations management, so this is all practical applications of what I learn at school!

Suited up for the bottling plant tour - can you find me?
Inside Coca Cola
Andrew with Coke employees in the distribution warehouse
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