Friday, November 27, 2009

Candlelit Borders

Our last day at the resort started early, so we could pack and eat (French toast and pineapple juice) and hop in a taxi to Takoradi. It was during my long wait for a washroom that the insect bites on my feet were discussed, though I will sadly never know what they were. Sand fleas were my guess. After than we took a trou-trou to Accra and I managed to both read The Economist and snooze. We took a taxi to the New Haven Hotel, which I highly recommend, especially if all the singles (which actually have double beds, so they sleep two) are full, because the double rooms are swish and still only 37 Ghanaian cedis - I do wonder why the Ghanaian part is always added - are there other cedis out there? Anyway, the beds were gigantic - you could totally sleep four in them comfortably. We had dinner at the New Haven, which wasn't spectacular, so I fed a great deal of it to the hotel cats. An older man called Soloman came over to chat with us and told us all about the mistakes he had made with women, which had led to his having ten children. Ortencia told me a series of hilarious stories about some of her Peace Corps friends, particularly about W., who once shit his own pants during a business meeting, because his French wasn't good enough to figure out where the toilets were, and A. who split his pants while riding his Peace Corps issued mountain bike. Since I could barely keep my eyes open, it wasn't a very late night.

The next day I took my only hot shower of the trip - and used conditioner - pure luxury. After our standard breakfast of instant coffee, toast, and jam, I managed to get a fly stuck up my nose. UP MY NOSE. Not fun and the next thing I noticed was a blood blister on my thumb. I really am the klutziest woman who travels that ever existed. We took a taxi to the Arts Centre, where I bought a dress, some earrings, and a necklace. It was relatively low key, as shopping experiences go. We had Cokes and chocolate chip cookies to tide us over until we taxied back to the Paloma complex to each pizza at the restaurant there for lunch. Then Ortencia challenged my position as world-class klutz by falling into a hole next to a shop and causing a dress to fall down on her - however, since she then bought it, I think my status remains unchallenged.

We took a cab to Tudu Station and then there was a bit of a goof up where our taxi driver told us there were no more trou-trous going and the private cars going were charging 15 cedis each, about five more than was at all reasonable. Then Ortencia managed to find us another trou-trou in a different parking lot, though there was a lot of loud yelling between the apprenti and the passengers and waiting before we got started. I finished off The Economist and did some more Sudoku, slept, and mentally rehearsed my French.

Arriving at an African land border after dark is maybe not the way to go. When several people make runs for the border and get beat up, it makes you a bit skittish, especially when you are in the process of being ripped off when exchanging dollars for CFA (according to the LP, it might have had something to do with the calculators, and a police officer comes and gets involved. In the end, we just crossed the borders before exchanging. Turns out, I only had a single visa for Ghana, in spite of paying for a multiple and being asked on a date by the man who issued it - apparently I should have made that date. But, into Togo we went, where my passport was stamped by candlelight and bargained for a better rate for my dollars (though I would never have guessed that you can get better rates the bigger the bill).

Unfortunately, we could not find a taxi - the only one that went by was asking a completely unreasonable price - and Ortencia doesn't have Peace Corps approval to take a moto. While we were standing around in the dark, and Ortencia was talking with asshole cabbie, I started chatting with a Liberian named Charles, who is a Rastafarian musician in Togo for a festival and he got a friend of his to drive us over to the hostel. It was only 9 PM. When we checked in, not only did we have mosquito netting but for the first time, we had sheets. Ortencia had mocked me (gently) about having packed a sheet for a double bed - but the LP told me to bring one, and so I did. The double sheet is the only one I own. We walked down the sand roads to find credit for Ortencia's phone, water, and spaghetti at a stand for 300 francs - cheaper and just as good as the food in Ghana.

By the time we hit the hostel again, I had the grossest fee in the history of feet: dirty, covered in bug bites, and with a nasty weeping wound on my ankle. A pedicure would not have made it any better.

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