Monday, June 20, 2011


any guesses?
From tequila shooters to Rastafaris to Ghanaian police officers, the first weekend here was exactly what I hoped it would be.  Left the office early on Friday and roamed around the Artist's Alliance with Lynda and some other volunteers - a three story building with some fantastic Ghanaian art and crafts. What followed was, thus far, the highlight of my trip.  David, a Ghanaian Grameen employee who just moved back here from India, invited us out to a dinner at a seafood restaurant with a few friends.  About 12 of us finished 9 bottles of wine and 9 platters of various (some unidentifiable) seafood dishes, including swordfish and clams and octopus. As a girl who turns her nose up at fish I have to bone myself, I am proud to say I tried every single dish, lobster was the one exception, and I really enjoyed the meal. Afterwards, we sat outside at Venus, a hookah bar in the Osu district, where a South African taught me how to do tequila shooters. From there we moved to Bella Roma, a nightclub populated with locals, and danced the night away. I returned home around 4:30 and went to sleep feeling totally confident that I'd make my 8:30 yoga class.

Big pile of bikes in front of police station.
I did not. But by noon or so, David, Lynda and I made our way to Kokrobite. For an 18 mile distance, the journey was long. Funeral processions, commonly held on Saturdays, only added to the perpetual traffic in Accra. We finally picked up speed, but my tired eyes perked up at the sign pointing to Kokrobite just a little too late, and David had to make a debatably illegal u-turn to go back to the turning. What a mistake. A young police officer standing on the road pulled us over, motioned for me to move my backpack over so he could get in the backseat with me, and nonchalantly demanded we drive to the nearest police station. I was told the night before (by an Australian) that this is simply how it's done here.  Bribes are common, but we were too good hearted for that.  Earnest Lynda asked the officer for forgiveness, but the officer just chuckled.  Apparently you have to buy forgiveness here. We waited for 15 minutes at the police station while David worked his Ghanaian magic, and soon we were back on the road without having to pay a fine. David guessed that the police officer most likely just needed a ride back to the office. Terrible system, but fun to observe.

The nets on the fishing boats at Kokrobite
Our journey's surprises didn't stop there. A recent storm had created crater-size potholes in the long red mud road to the ocean.  It was slow going, but we finally arrived about 3 hours after we had set out.  Our destination was Big Milly's Backyard - a little enclave on the beach with a pervasive Rastafari culture and the perfect set up for relaxation.  Milly's was kind to us.  We ate traditional dishes like Red Red (bean stew and plantains) and groundnut soup while observing fishermen pull in their boats and women with babies tied to their backs sell pineapples and biscuits.  We took a drumming lesson and the three of us each bought drums to continue our vocation independently.  I also bought shaky balls - the Ghanaian version of maracas, but much harder to play. We stayed at the Dream Hotel in a room with a doorless bathroom and a flooding toilet. We drank a white wine called Obama of Africa and we danced to a Reggae band with the locals.  Ghana at its finest.

I am writing this now from my apartment just behind the Grameen office.  I have hot water, various foods in the fridge, a mosquito net, and semi-reliable internet access. I really couldn't ask for more. I am eagerly awaiting the week ahead, when I finally get to start meeting directors at microfinance institutions in person! I'm also hoping to dedicate some time to my drumming, take my first Ghanaian tennis lesson, and persuade some of the people I've met to join me at a pub quiz night this week. Getting settled certainly takes some time, and I imagine there will be ups and downs along the way, but tonight I am content.

Mosquito bites: 7
Lynda, Stephan, and said smoothie
Best "only in Ghana" sight/sound this week: A Ghanaian man named Stephan kindly offered us a ride back to Accra from Kokrobite in his Jeep.  Stephan runs an organization called Foundation of Hope, and talked excitedly about what he does, how much he has learned from his volunteers, and what he would like to see changed in his country.  When he heard I was looking for a bicycle, he offered to drive one down to Accra for me today.  Refusing to let us pay him for the trip, he allowed us only to buy him a smoothie to say thank you.  Only in Ghana can you get in a stranger's car and end up getting a free bicycle delivered to you at the end of the ride, all for the price of one smoothie.


  1. Kim,
    The Ghanian culture is having its way with you! My favorite on your list of culinary delights was the groundnut soup. Glad to hear both your spirit and stomach are adapting well to Ghana.

  2. This is fascinating and so glad that you are taking advantage of absolutely everything! Oh! and let's have some seafood feasts when you get back!

  3. Interesting piece of blog there and interesting to see me in there with Lynda's super beautiful smile.