15 January 2018 – We came back into Ghana from Burkina Faso. If actually crossing the border itself had somehow escaped our notice, we would have immediately known we were in Ghana anyway from the sign over the first shop we passed after the fence:
We were back where our whole trip had begun.
There is a literal multitude of enterprises with names like this. Evidently the key to a successful business here is simply to lift a line from the Bible; or mention Jesus, or God, or a combination of them both on your sign. We spotted more examples than we could count (or photograph) but some favourites of mine included ‘Yes Jesus Can Fashion’, ‘John 3:16 Hardware’, ‘Mercy of God Dry Goods’, and ‘God’s Love is Eternal Cold Foods Supply’. Churches seem to have awe-inspiring names too, like ‘The End of Days Fire Church’ and ‘Jesus the Winner Church’. Both of us needed a haircut at this point but we weren’t sure how we felt about a cut at the ‘Fear God Beauty Salon’ or at ‘Thy Will Be Done Beauty Parlour’ either, for that matter.
Ghanaians seem to have an almost obessessive approach to religion. Ministers take on an almost celebrity-like status. Posters advertise upcoming church services that look more like typical music festivals back home, with groups of well-known pastors holding armfuls of crutches and hosting miracle healing events; others boast 24-hour prayer and worship sessions, workshops, or spiritual camp-like events that can last for days; and seemingly spontaneous evangelists board the busses to deliver sermons and lead short prayers before departure.
Another great thing about Ghana is that finally, we were back in English-speaking territory.
We’d got used to conversations like this one, with a French (and evidently also Spanish) speaking guesthouse owner somewhere in Benin:
Guesthouse Proprietor: Comment est tout?
Guesthouse Proprietor (happily relieved): Ah, tu hablas español!
Sar: Nope, not so much.
Guesthouse Proprietor (suddenly downcast): Merde…
Although we’d always managed to get by just fine, and my school-French vocabulary had expanded by the day, it was still nice to be able to easily get our point across without misunderstandings, and properly communicate with the people we were meeting and interacting with.
So, we decided to make a beeline straight down through the country to the coast. We wanted some beach time. And luck was on our side: every time our bus rolled into a marketplace and it became apparent that we needed to change to another to keep on going, we miraculously found the next bus going our way, just about full (but with two seats to spare) and ready to go. Even still, it was eighteen hours before we made it to Busua and collapsed into bed in this little beachside hut (once the cat moved over and made room for us, of course):
Busua is a tiny, likable, backpacker-type place with the sort of characters you’d expect to find at one, like Daniel the Pancake Man and Jimmy the Juice Man. But we weren’t finished travelling yet.
We took a share-taxi as far as it would go (…not very) and when it put us off at a junction, we caught another car going to Ezile Bay village, a nearly deserted beach we wanted to stay at.
We checked into the little bungalow operation running there, the only other inhabitants being one other couple and an army of dogs and cats.
With a couple of friendly staff to serve up pineapple juice (sometimes with a big splash of rum) and fresh grilled fish, we were all set for a castaway experience.
I’d reached the point in this trip (who am I kidding, I usually reach this point in about a week) where I feel like the only thing I want in life is a crunchy, cold, crispy salad or any vegetable aside from starchy mushy yams or soggy greens, so eating a salad nicoise on the beach was pretty much perfect.
And so we stayed, whiling the days away. The only interruptions came at mealtimes from the animal army who wanted a share in our food, and at night from the dogs who’d adopted us howling angrily from our verandah at any villager who dared pass by on the beach.
One day we met these kids on their way home from school, brandishing their machetes on the way out to chop down pineapples:
But our flight back home was drawing closer and we needed to head back to Accra to get on it.
We decided to treat ourselves to a night in a posh boutique hotel. We ate in a good restaurant with all the well-heeled locals, wearing a mix of western and traditional dress, dancing in and out the door to the live music which had us all in an amazingly happy mood.
We went down to Jamestown, the old colonial part of Accra, now a mostly ramshackle trace of its former self and one of the poorest parts of the city. We wanted to see the iconic lighthouse, orginally built by the British at James Fort in 1871, and replaced with this one in the 1930s:
And of course, we had one last argument with a tout or two, to wrap things up.
We chilled by the pool at our hotel in advance of the long flight home:
But in our big room where the hum from the air-conditioner made us feel like we were onboard the Starship Enterprise, we already felt disconnected from Ghana, or even from Africa. Travelling is exciting and every day is different – even a bad day often turns out to have silver lining. Going home after a trip like this always feels abrupt and strange. We knew from experience that settling back in at home would probably be a bit dull at first, too.
But – there’s always next time.