Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Shopping In September

My penultimate morning of waking up to a rooster - and the call to prayer. The only downside to staying at the New Haven seems to be their really, really insistent serving of breakfast. On the door it states that you get a free breakfast until 10 a.m., but I got two knocks on the door asking if I wanted breakfast brought to my room before 9. The second time I gave in and got up to read and eat. It was nice to once again have a shower in my room, cold though it was. I wandered around, bank hopping. I exchanged my actual cash at the Paloma Forex, but I needed more cash for my day of shopping at the Arts Centre. Finding a working ATM seemed difficult, but when I finally got one to work, I had this odd sensation that perhaps I had been sticking it in the machine the wrong way. Either way, I was back in the money.

On my own in Accra, I got considerably better cab quotes but much worse quotes on souvenirs. The bowl guy was quoting me 12 cedis instead of the 6 he mentioned to Ortencia when we had been there a week before. One guy even quoted me 8 cedis for a wooden bracelet that everyone else in the market was starting at 2 for. I am not much of a fan of bargaining - it always ends up feeling a bit too much like being badgered into buying. I decided to stop by the restaurant for Coke and cookies - the waitress remembered and asked where my friend was, as did one of the guys we had met sitting in that restaurant the previous time. The whole point of that last day in Accra was to shop, and shop I did. By the time I hit my fourth continent in a month, I intended to have done most, if not all, of my Christmas shopping. I love not having to spend a fortune on postage.

I taxied back to the New Haven to drop off my stuff, finish off Travels in West Africa while eating a couple more cookies and returned to use the Internet again. I wasn't sure how confident I felt about walking around Accra alone in the dark, even if it was just three blocks, so I tried to time my Internet use so I'd be headed home as it got dark - I didn't succeed. However, I managed not to fall in any holes and there was only one slightly dodgy incident where a guy asked me if I wanted to fuck him, as he had a big dick! The whole slutty Western woman stereotype certainly proves interesting when you travel. Naturally, I declined and instead just returned to the Paloma for a pizza and yet another Coke.

I had budgeted incredibly carefully - I had just enough the next day for my hotel bill, a cab to the airport (I had asked the receptionist for an idea of what that was going to be) and some money to have breakfast once I got to the airport. I was pretty sure there wasn't an exit fee in the airport (I've been burned by that one before and had to stick it on my credit card in two separate countries in Asia). When I hit the airport, there was a slight problem - change. Getting change in Accra had been a problem before, but I wasn't offering that large a bill at all and I'd never had a problem in a taxi before. Naturally, I'd end up stuck in a cab who was cruising around for change just as I was trying to get somewhere quickly - but, dammit, that change was my breakfast!

I don't much love airports. I've come to be quite good at amusing myself in them - granted, when you live in a non-English speaking country and have my addiction to books, there is always the pleasant browsing in the bookstore. And I do have an unhealthy love of magazines. Accra airport was a pain in the ass in terms of slow moving lines, but I suppose that's a good thing, as it also wasn't very big. I bought some booze and a t-shirt and then it was time to board.

The moment I stepped off the plane and onto the ramp leading into the terminal in New York, I knew I was in some trouble - it was bloody freezing and my backpack contained one sweater and one pair of jeans, along with a lot of t-shirts and skirts. I only had the one pair of socks even and at that point I was still in flip flops. However, I got to wander around bookstores and get coffee at Starbucks and buy chocolate bars that I hadn't had in just over a year - I like La Guardia quite a lot. And then, one short flight, later, I was home, picking my mom out of the crowd, finally back in Toronto.

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