Friday, November 06, 2009

Lots of Time Spent, Little Accomplished

On our first morning in Accra, Ortencia and I woke up and had a nutritious breakfast: a Snickers bar. We made our way out of the hostel to the main road and found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. I picked our hostel off of Facebook - perhaps this isn't exactly the way to go, however I needed a name as a reference for my application for a tourist visa.

Look how far I've come to see Ontario!

The tourist visa for Ghana is a royal pain in the ass. I was required to provide proof of $5000 American, proof of Yellow Fever vaccination, a lot of bits of information, and two (two!) references who live in Ghana. Why in Maude's name would a tourist to a country necessarily know two people living there? The visa application for North Korea wasn't that bloody difficult. One reference is allowed to be your hotel, so I figured I'd just pick something in a hurry. Turns out the place I picked as the result of having a lot of enthusiastic Facebookers say that the owners were really friendly was not particularly the case, and it was way out of the center of the city.

Thus our first order of business was to figure out how to get into the Osu area, as I still needed to apply for my visa to Togo. There isn't a Togolese embassy in Seoul, so the easiest way to get the visa was to wait and get it in Ghana. People on the street were very friendly and helpful and we were quickly on a trou-trou out of Darkuman and into central Accra. A trou-trou is a bus of sorts, sometimes referred to as a bush taxi, that follows certain routes but will stop anywhere along those routes. Once there, I changed some money and we hopped on another trou-trou to Osu, buying some juice in bags through the bus window.

I remember years ago how fascinated my ex was with the silly little differences in Canada - the milk in bags, bread closed with plastic tags. I remember being fascinated on my first trip to Tesco in England when I noticed that curry in cans were a common food item. And I recall that the first thing I drank here in Korea was a bottle of Pocari Sweat purchased just before Catherine showed up to take me into work. It's funny how some of the littlest things seem so interesting in their difference and drinking juice and water out of 500 ml bags that you bite the corner off of was the first of those little things that struck me.

When we finally hit Osu, and it took us some time, we first stopped to have Chinese food and then gelato. Though I had no idea, Ortencia told me that Togo has no chocolate or cheese or ice cream, so it quickly became part of the plan to find her as much of those things along the way as we could. After the stop for ice cream, we were quite overcharged for our short taxi ride to the Togolese embassy and then when we arrived, we couldn't go in anyway because there was a fete for the visiting president, though the guards assured us that I could get a same day visa if we returned the next day.

So, we found a trou-trou to take us to the Accra Mall. Wandering through the bookstore was fun, and we ate pizza, drank coffee, and watched children getting their faces painted, playing in a little jeep and on a vespa, and a couple of acrobats. Since we had left the hostel without the Lonely Planet, which had the hostel directions in it, we also went on the Internet to look up directions to get us back. Then we went and watched the latest Harry Potter movie, bumping into some other Peace Corps volunteers from Togo in the movie theater.

Considering how late it was, we took a taxi back to the hostel, a rather long trip, though for all I thought we might have been lost, we made it back, obviously, though the cab driver had to stop at a Goil Petrol Station to figure out where exactly to drop us off.

1 comment:

Cairo Typ0 said...

Great post, Amanda. I've never been to Ghana and this definitely made me want to add it back to the list. :)

You're right about the small differences making the biggest impact.