Ok. So I got the money situation cleared up, and headed out of Accra. I hesitate to make any rash generalizations of Ghana like I did in India and then have to take them all back later. In truth, India was not a bad place at all, but sometimes you just get sick of all the hassle. Anyway, here's what I've seen from Ghana so far.
I'd heard stories of how the people in Ghana were so friendly and welcoming, but then again, I'd heard those same stories about the Philippines, Thailand, and India. They were all true to an extent, but Ghana and the Philippines have really stood out way ahead of Thailand and India. In Thailand, the people were kind, but not necessarily friendly, whereas in India, most of the people just wanted to get some of your money. In Ghana, the friendliness is simply out of curiosity and general kindness than anything else. I'll get to talking with someone on a bus, and when I get to my destination, they'll walk me around town to show me banks and places to stay and restaurants and all that stuff. At the end of it all, the only thing they might ask for is my address so they can write a letter and the hope that maybe we can meet up again sometime. The Philippines were like this, but I don't think I fully appreciated it until experiencing other places like Thailand and India.
I wasn't so sure about Accra when I was wandering around for the first few days, but I definitely had some experiences that you'd never get back in the states (or most places for that matter). If you get off the main streets and manage to wander around the more residential areas, you'll pass a small group of people sitting near the road who will call out to you "Hey Obruni (white man). Where are you going? You come sit here." When I tell them that I don't know where I'm going, they get big smiles and start asking all kinds of questions about where I'm from and what I'm doing here, and then perhaps we'll talk about soccer or some other random topic for a few minutes. After exchanging addresses and phone numbers, they all tell me that next time when I come back to Accra, I must call them and stay with them and their families. I don't imagine that it has too much to do with me specifically, and it's pretty amazing to think that the same invitation would be extended to anyone who happens to be passing by on the street.
To sum up: the people are nice. On to the next topic.
I haven't fully decided about the food yet. Up until yesterday, I'd pretty much been surviving on peanut butter and crackers due to my lack of funds. The few meals I've tried have been pretty darn good, but perhaps that's largely due to the fact that I was starving when I ate them. Like India, many of the traditional Ghanian meals are messy and eaten with the hands. I just had banku for dinner, which is a ball of doughy stuff, about the consistency of cookie dough, which you roll into balls and dip in a spicy soup. Pretty good, but then again, all I'd had to eat today was some crackers and peanut butter for breakfast.
Another thing that is very apparent is that everyone here is very goddy. No, not gaudy, but goddy, meaning that they're absolutely obsessed with God. Almost every shop is named something like "God is Good Cleaners" or "The Lord is my Shepard and I Shall Not Want Bookstore" and even "Fear God Lumber" The restaurant where I ate today had a sign on the wall saying "This business is covered with the blood of Jesus." Doesn't sound like a very sanitary thing for a restaurant of all businesses to be claiming, but I suppose if it was Jesus' blood it might be ok. Most of the people I talk to for any amount of time bring up God in some way or another. You can hear the churches from a few blocks away as they're always full of people singing. As much as I'm somewhat ambivalent about the whole religion and church thing, at least it sounds like everyone is having a whole lot of fun in there.
Allright, on to the kids. As some of you may know, I'm not much of a kid person. In fact, you might even say I'm anti-kid, but the kids here are pretty cute. Fairly often while walking down the street, a group of five or so will run out from a nearby house and grab onto my hands and arms. My light skin seems to be a source of endless fascination, and they generally seem satisfied once we learn each others' names and they've all pinched my hands and arms. I recently came across a small troop while I was taking a picture, and they were all very interested in my camera. I offered to take their picture, and seeing themselves played back on the camera was apparently pretty exciting for them.
In other kid-related news, I do have to comment on many of the other kids I've encountered throughout my travels. Parents from countries other than the United States seem to keep a much looser leash on their kids. When children misbehave in the states, there are usually parents nearby to tell them to be quiet, or stop bothering someone, or clean up their mess, etc. However, parents from other countries don't seem to be too concerned about these things. I've seen quite a few German families with two or three younger kids who are absolute terrors. They run around screaming, pounding on walls, making disgusting sounds in restaurants, and the parents don't seem to care at all. On the plane from Mumbai to Dubai I sat next to an Indian kid who pounded on the seat in front of him almost the whole four hour flight, only taking breaks to throw his entire dinner tray into the aisle when he didn't like the food, and to randomly push buttons on my screen while I was trying to watch movies. He didn't speak a word of English, and his parents looked over occasionally from the next row of seats, but didn't seem to want to take responsibility for him. I guess I can't blame them, I wouldn't either, but man people. Get these kids under control. America certainly doesn't do everything right, but I rarely encounter kids this poorly behaved. I'm sorry for you if you're still reading my little rant. Let's move on.
I'm currently in the town of Hohoe, pronounced something like Ho-Hoy. Go ahead, say it out loud right now. It's fun. Hohoe is nice little mountain town that makes for easy day trips to nearby waterfalls and mountains and monkey sanctuaries and all that stuff. I visited Wli (pronounced vlee) falls today, which are supposedly the highest waterfalls in West Africa. Estimates range from 20 meters to 1600 feet, but I'd imagine that the longest drop is around 50 meters. Each set of falls has a decent pool underneath that felt pretty good to take a dip in. I hired a guide, Victor, who took me to the upper falls, which turned out to be a much more strenuous hike than I'd planned on. It was worth it however, as I got some great views of the surrounding valleys and towns.
This is getting a bit long, so I'll cut it off here. Pictures may be a bit tough to deal with, but I'll see what I can do. Until next time, take care out there.