Saturday, September 26, 2009
Ghana, who knew?!
After leaving Morocco a week prior and sailing down the coast of Africa the MV Explorer approached Ghana Tuesday morning. As per usual Ana, Eddie and I met in the faculty lounge to welcome the sunrise as we approached our new city. Similar to Morocco the weather was not on our side. When we stepped outside at 5:40am we were met with a wall of fog, we could not even see the water in front on the ship. We went back inside and waited for the morning coffee and tea service as a few other staff members joined us.Slowly the fog burned off and we could see the sun already making its way overhead although we could not yet see the city.
As the ship made progress and land came into view the number of students, faculty and staff increased. Our inter-port student Nii was with us and as we approached, he was looking at his home country from the sea for the first time and he had tears in his eyes. Captain Jeremy worked his way through a mess of cargo ships and fishing boats when suddenly we took a sharp turn and went back out to sea. We actually circled three times and I said that Captain Jeremy was just doing donuts in the parking lot. Over breakfast many jokes were heard about what a great time we had in Ghana, how time seemed to go by so quickly and that we had forgotten to let our student and faculty guests from Ghana get off the ship. Finally almost two hours late we finally made it to the port. It was another industrial port, similar to Morocco and it was less than welcoming.
That afternoon I took a SAS city tour and enjoyed myself quite a bit. We saw a lot of the big landmarks in Accra including the memorial for Ghana’s first president and the one time home and now museum for W.E.B. Dubois, the founder of the NAACP.
President Obama visited Accra not too long ago and a handful of welcome billboards were still up around town. We saw the outdoor venue where Obama spoke at which is not far from the football (soccer) stadium. The memorial for the first president Nkrumah is pretty impressive. His grave is in a structure that represents a tree trunk symbolizing the life of Nkrymah that was cut short. The W.E.B. Dubois home featured a number of his artifacts and mementos of his wide array of accomplishments.
Traffic in Accra while not quite as challenging as I found Casablanca’s was still a sight to see. Unlike the scooters, bikes, and occasional horse carriages of Casablanca, Accra was much more vehicle heavy. Cabs seemed to rule the city. Marked with yellow corner panels, they didn’t seem concerned with traffic lanes or leaving a safe space between cars. It was do what ever you needed to do to get where you were going. I would never survive driving there. Before returning to the ship we made a short visit to a market area to allow for some shopping. Upon my return to the ship I joined some of my colleagues for a very amusing dinner where we processed our first day in Ghana and then it was off to bed early preparing for a long two days ahead.
at 7:15 AM