Ghana have a great time!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Now that I've gotten that cheesy joke out of the way...

After nearly 24 hours of travel, our group finally touched down in Accra, Ghana to 93 degree heat with lots of humidity. I haven't stopped sweating since I got off the plane. Our bus and our hotel has air conditioning, but not at the frigid temperatures I prefer when it's smotheringly hot and humid outside. I don't know how the Ghanians do it - almost everyone wears long pants and many of the men had long-sleeved shirts on. After dropping our bags off at our hotel and enjoying complimentary glasses of guava juice we headed to the national soccer stadium to catch the second half of a premier league game between two Ghanaian teams - the Tema Youth and Hearts of Oak (weird). When I told my dad I was going to a soccer game he warned me to be safe because of how crazy people get over soccer games. I brushed off his warning but sure enough, outside the entrance to the stadium was a large billboard for soccer stadium health insurance. I did a quick wiki lookup and in 2001 120 soccer fans were trampled to death in the same stadium. Even though the stadium was mostly empty we waiting for it to clear out before leaving. At the game young boys and adult women were walking around the stadium selling bags of water, frozen yogurt (I tried the strawberry flavor - delicious!), peanuts, candy, beer, etc. You literally have to tear the bag open with your teeth to eat/drink whatever is inside. And as one would expect in Africa, all of the vendors carried their goods in big baskets perched atop their heads. Obviously, as the only white people (obronis) around...we garnered a lot of attention. People were taking pictures of us and even filming videos of us. I guess that's kind of creepy...but I was taking pictures of the bibinis (black people) too. It's definitely a strange feeling to be the minority here!! On our way out of the game we were surprised to see a group of Kelley School of Business MBA students who are also in Ghana for spring break. For some reason it didn't even phase me when I noticed the IU hat one of the guys was's hard to believe I am in Africa.

In Atlanta before heading to Ghana

Kelleys with our tour manager Issah
Before leaving for Ghana I wrote a report on the construction industry here and how local construction firms lack the necessary skills and resources. This is very evident when you are driving around Accra because there are tons of half-built buildings that look like they have been abandoned for quite sometime. I also learned that recently the US partnered with Ghana to build a new freeway. In honor of this partnership, there were several American and Ghanaian flags flying near the freeway. Traffic here is crazy and people literally jump onto public buses (called trotros - basically a really crappy old bus with as many seats as possible and no air conditioning) as they are moving and then hang out the doors, dangling over the streets. When you are stopped in traffic people come up to your car windows and try to sell you drinks and candy. Especially since we are white (and it's assumed we are rich) our bus gets swarmed with Ghanians trying to sell us food and bracelets.

Our hotel is pretty swanky so we spent the evening sitting in the garden patio eating dinner (I had a traditional dish of jollof red rice and chicken with vegetables) and looking at fabrics we can have tailored into traditional Ghanaian clothing. I feel kind of dirty staying at such a nice hotel when I know just around the corner people are living in pretty abject looking housing complexes without air conditioning and running water. The juxtaposition of rich and poor is very odd. Gated housing bordered by abandoned buildings and luxury cars driving alongside people on foot who obviously can't afford a car.

Don't eat the salad!

Tomorrow we will be going to the University of Ghana and shopping at some local markets to test our bargaining skills and use a bit of the Twi language we learned in class! I am exhausted and feeling kind of under the weather from the 11 hour flight of recycled air. I have wifi at the hotel so I should be able to keep blogging - though I don't have my laptop so I have no way to get pictures from my camera onto my iPad unless I use pictures I've snapped on my iPhone.


Anonymous said...

Prayers for your travels Liz! What a great idea to blog. Have an awesome time! God bless, Sue Campbell

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