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Travel Diary - 2003
5 January | Senegal
22 January |Gambia
18 January |Guinea
9 February | Mali
22 February | Burkina Faso
3 March | Ghana
19 March | Togo
20 March | Benin
25 March | Niger
12 April | Chad
15 April | Cameroon
16 April | Nigeria
30 April | Congo
24 May | RDC
31 May | Angola
5 June | Namibia
27 June | South Africa
30 August | Lesotho
10 September | Swaziland
9 October | Botswana
17 October | Namibia
19 October |
Zambia
29 October | Malawi
4 November |Mozambique
16 November | Tanzania
12 December | Rwanda
16 December | RDC
18 December | Uganda
24 December | Kenya

Travel Diary - 2004
9 January | Ethiopia
6 February | Sudan
21 February | Saudi Arabia
23 February | Jordan
3 March | Syria
5 March | Turkey
12 March | Greece
21 March | ...And Home

 

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17 months, 43 countries, and 2 vehicles

Ghana

Ghana, Continued

The jewel in Ghana's crown is without a doubt the marvellous beaches - long deserted stretches of immaculately fine sand with, probably, a viciously deceptive surf and treacherous currents.

At Busua Richard and I swim out (separately) to an island which lies about 5km off the beach where we are camping (or at least that's how it felt). Richard went first so I knew to take sandals when I tried, and as I result I could walk afterwards, whereas he could only hobble on the remains of the many sea urchins that he had cruelly trampled to death.

A short walk away are two of the slave forts that lend the coast a historical relevance - to the East are the ruins of a Dutch fort which you can visit if you first pay the local chief a courtesy visit; to the West is fort Metal Cross which is owned by one Mr. Robert from Surrey. It seems he visited it a few years ago and thought that it would make a perfect hideaway - and has since done a great job of restoring the fort. He is also very generous with pizza.

As you approach the old capital, Cape Coast, Elmina Castle is well worth a visit, as is the town itself; Cape Coast has it's own impressive castle, but far more fun are the two forts in town - one a simple lookout tower - the other is a Martello-type tower complete with its own lively community of squatters.

On the way to Accra we experience a bit of a drama when the rear left wheel fell off. This sounds dramatic, but actually caused hardly any damage except to the wheel which is a write-off. This is irritating as it cannot easily be replaced here, but things could have been worse if Roxana hadn't kept cool when it happened, and hit the brakes. This was the wheel that I had changed in Busua, and I must have failed to tighten the nuts, although I remember trying to judge the torque as I was putting the nuts on - maybe after my marathon swim I was feeling particularly weak...

Eventually we reach Accra, where we spend a couple of nights in town while we leave the Camel in the inevitable Land Rover garage for a new brake disc, and repairs to a broken brake pipe. The pipe wasn't in stock, but in the local car part market a man made on up for me in ten minutes for the princely sum of about 80p. Just before they are finished the realise that the front Left bearing needs replacement, which delays us another day.

Meanwhile we work on our tans at the Coco Beach Resort Hotel where for about 2 a night we get to use a brilliant pool and camp in the children's playground. How appropriate.

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Accra - 13/03/03 - 29,843km

If Burkina was hot then Ghana is humid. Although the temperature is only in the thirties humidity is over 80%, and at night we wait in vain for the cool of the evening to arrive - the atmosphere  seems hardly to vary with the diurnal cycle.

Last night I awoke in my roof-tent at about 0130 - I was sleeping in the compound of the Date Hotel - and realised that the combination of temperature and humidity was such that I was sure to suffocate within the hour. I lay struggling to breath - sleeping was out of the question. Then with no warning  a fierce downpour unleashed a deluge of biblical ferocity. I rushed to close my tent flaps which I have taken to leaving open so as to make the most of any passing breeze, and all around me, unheard above the tattoo of raindrops, the Africans who had been lying around the yard seeking the coolest spots to sleep fled for shelter with their mats. But it was all for the good for finally it was cool enough not just to breathe but to sleep.

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Kumasi 07/03/03

After a few days in the North of Ghana experiencing excellent wildlife, and appalling food (it is an ex-British colony after all) we arrived in Kumasi, our first Ghanaian city, located some hundred kilometres or so North of the coast. Kumasi is a charming town with museums and culture, which comes as a bit of a shock after travelling in the poorer North.

The country is so different from the Francophone countries is so many ways. It's not that the people are any more friendly that the Malians or Burkinabes (though the further South we go, the more this seems to be the case). It's as if a whole different set of cultural references have been adopted to form the ersatz post-colonial behaviour here. Which of course is exactly what has happened.

True, it's great to be able to talk English, but beyond that there's a humour in everyday life, and a certain sense of self respect that seems to have been lacking ion the other countries. Ghanaians rarely beg, and if they do that are so bad at it that you know that they get little practice. They can actually interact with white people without there being an underlying, or roundaboutly-eventual motive that involves the white man giving them something. This is nice, and it's new.

There are also a host of idiosyncrasies that smack of Britain in the fifties and sixties; we enter at a border post where every stick of furniture has a long serial number painted on it. Thus I sat on chair HAM/2737/W/45 while I waited for my carnet to be processed in triplicate on foolscap paper forms called form CPU/4788/33/WD/4.

Later, when I first saw elephants through my binoculars at Mole game reserve I wonder for a moment if they too are to bear an eleven digit identifying code, before I realise that that would be stupid. I still looked though.