Welcome to Ghana! We arrived in Takoradi, Ghana this morning at 7:00am. The pilot boat led us into the port through a maze of other ships and then the immigration officials came on to check our paperwork and all 700 or so passports. WHEW! That took them about 3 hours and then we set out for our twin city tour of Takoradi and Sekondi.
Our guide today was Yaw. People of the Akan ethnic group receive their name based on what day of the week they were born. Our guide was born on Thursday so his name is Yaw. Of course they have additional given names, but he told us to call him Yaw.
To get our attention he would say "agoo" (agoh) which means attention please and we would say "amee" (amay) which means you have my attention. As we drove out of the port and through the city, what we noticed was that everyone we passed would wave at the bus. The people here seem to be very friendly and welcoming. The official language here is English so almost everyone speaks it, making it very easy to communicate with people as we traveled nd exchanged our money, etc.
The poverty in Ghana is REAL! It is all around you, everywhere you look. People are living in very small metal shacks, cooking their food by a fire outside their home and all around are chickens, goats, dogs, turkey vultures, cattle. It is really quite astounding. We did notice a lot of trash; they don't think anything of throwing something out of the window onto the side of the road. We also saw several men and children urinating on the side of the road. There was even a woman who was standing on the side of a back street we were on and she was in her underwear bathing... fully soaped up just standing there washing on the side of the street. Maybe it sounds bad to you, but it is a way of life to them and there is still something beautiful about this place and the people.
So much of the city is run down. When Ghana received its independence and the Europeans left, there were many buildings that could not be maintained and therefore they sit empty. Many buildings are in a state of disrepair.
We also drove through the market today. Anything you need to buy can be found here. All of the women are carrying their items on their head with absolutely no effort. Check out the pictures of some of the things that these women are carrying, along with the baby that is usually attached to their back by a large piece of cloth they tie around their waist.
Tomorrow, we go on an overnight trip to see the Denkyira Kingdom and Kakum National Park where there is a canopy walkway of seven rope bridges that are about 40 meters high and 350 meters long... AAAHH! Then we will go to the slave dungeons and the Elmina Castle.
-Takoradi is the largest city closest to where the equator and the prime meridian intersect. They claim to be the center of the world!
-We started our malaria medication 2 days ago and we have had our yellow fever vaccination which is required in Ghana in order to get off the ship. even so, we have been told that we have to be very careful about the mosquitoes since they carry several other illnesses as well