So the kassava and plantain banana plantation is to add to my collection of camping in plantations, with olives, lemons and oranges. I get out of my bush early morning, pick a porridge portion in the next village and am ready for another long day on small roads.
I see another roadside shop selling mamacharis. They still have their original stickers. When I ask the owner how he gets them and for how much, he replies that someone delivers them from abroad and he buys them 100 GHC. It is 50 USD and doesn’t sound right, as it is as high as the second-hand price in Japan. But they are for sure robust and can have many new lifes in the Ghanaian countryside.
I pick then the road to Kade, a small one appearing only on OSM and not even Google Maps. To my surprise it is paved! But only halfway, as it then crosses a forest, exiting into palm plantations.
The “stop child labour” sign reminds me of something that happened when I stopped in a village for a snack. There was this stand selling quick bites, including fried kassava pieces, managed by three ladies. A little girl was sitting there too, probably the daughter of one of the ladies, drinking her water sachet quietly and watching me with big eyes. When the ladies saw I was watching her too, they said “She is hungry and she wants money from you“, while cooking and eating food themselves. The little girl was too small to say anything, and the ladies were shamelessly using her. And I don’t like when people doing fine shamelessly ask for money to White people just because they are used to receive from them. Their behavior is almost telling me that because White people are so rich and don’t need to work, they come to Africa just to distribute their extra money around. And for this, the touristic places of Africa are the worst.
The road continues onto a bad surfacing, but with a toll gate. They say the government sets the toll first to collect money to rebuild the road later, towards Adeiso and Nsawam.
As usual, the villages are full of churches and no guesthouse. It is not a problem and I stop for the night at an empty big school in Asuotwene. The school holidays ended last week. The principal is not around but a neighbor, Elisabeth, offers me a room in her new house extension for the night. When the principal arrives later on during my stretching, he welcomes me with a “I’m a Presbyterian and she’s a Pentecost, so so one will harm you here“. I have no clue what are the differences among the so many church branches.
In Ghana, one does not ask questions. One axe questions. “Can I axe you something?” is the right way to speak. It is Thursday and I will arrive to Accra earlier than expected. The country is not so wide for the region (as long as we forget about Togo) and the roads are fast. I am getting close to the Accra region and the traffic will rise soon. I enjoy my last moments of relative peace until Nsawam.
From Nsawam onwards, I am on the main road into Accra. The traffic is not as crazy as expected but I still must keep one eye on the rear mirror at all times.
As I get closer to the center, I find the ideal way to get into town, until Osamu who is hosting me near the airport, by going through the Atomic road and the botanical gardens. It is where all atomic energy related institutions and colleges are located.
A huge sweet pineapple makes my entrance into the capital very smooth. I get to Accra without having to fight with cars and minivans.
Accra first reminds me of Johannesburg. Big cars jammed in the streets and European standard (and prices) in the shops. I pay 15 GHC for a small panini in a Délifrance bakery, which is no more than half the quantity of food I get on road sides for 3 GHC. But you can’t compare banku with European style food …
With the wifi there, Aurélien happens to chat about a pizza savoyarde … it’s not so nice, is it? As a revenge, in the very fancy supermarket making you forget you are in Africa, I find frozen röstis and very good ham. With 750g + 200g of delicious fat dinner, my stomach is eventually soothed.
STAY IN ACCRA
The main reason of my stop in Accra is the application for visas of the next countries. The Bénin one goes easily, received the same day for 80 GHC (although the embassy is at none of the 2 addresses available online). The Togolese visa is cheaper and easier to get at the border. So I head to the Nigerian High Commission. Nigeria might be one of the hardest African visas to obtain, sharing the annoying podium with DR Congo and Angola. The visa application in Ghana is reserved for residents of Ghana and the secretary there makes it clear that without a residence card and no invitation from a Nigerian, I am very unlikely to get it. He says I could still try to apply if I didn’t mind seeing my application fee (76 USD) not refunded, but with a very pessimistic voice.
On the moment, I abandon the idea of applying here, as it seems less impossible to get the visa from Cotonou.
For the evening, Osamu brought kimchi and tofu made by the Korean community of Accra. It tastes delicious with shoyu and katsuobushi and reminds me of Japan. Also, he took me to the Japanese community school where he is teaching, and I made a presentation of my trip during the break. I hadn’t spoken Japanese in a very long time and I hope the children enjoyed the photos.
I also spend an afternoon on my bike, for a much needed complete cleaning, chain oiling and tensionning, and readjustment of my brakes. I did with almost no pressure on the rear one since Monrovia, always postponing that maintenance afternoon that doesn’t really motivate me. But as it always happens, I feel good once I finish and my bike looks like new and and working perfectly. I know that procrastinating on small problems on the bike can only result in a bigger damage in an inappropriate location. There is still the rear wheel that needs truing, but I will leave that to a workshop.
SUNDAY WALK THROUGH ACCRA
Oh, while writing, I just found out that the Independence Square is the second largest City Square in the world after the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.
On Monday morning, initially planning to leave Accra after a visit to the bamboo bikes workshop, I change my mind and stop by the Nigerian High Commission. What if I fail to get the visa in Cotonou? Then I would have no other choice to go around Nigeria by boat (if any), plane, or (not very advised) cycle around via Niger. Or maybe ask for another visa for Ghana for the sole purpose of applying for the Nigerian visa. So even with small chances to get it here, I thought I should at least try.
I have printed all the supportive document I could: introduction letter, insurance, proof of purchase and registration for the bicycle, homepage of my blog, itinerary, photocopies of my other visas, vaccine list, and a paid hotel reservation (the cheapest of Nigeria came at 110 USD on hotels.com).
My application folder seems OK to the secretary and he allows me to go to the bank to make the payment (56 USD + 20 USD for “bank processing fee”) before submitting it. Americans, British and Bulgarians must pay the double of the Europeans. “Come back in 2 days“. It now sounds positive, and I have 3 more rest days to catch up on my blog.
I visit Ibrahim in New Achimota, who is developing a workshop building bamboo bikes. It is a very good idea and it seems successful with many exports to Switzerland and Germany. For cheaper than a good steel frame (350 EUR + shipping), his team builds custom bamboo frames. Apparently, the bamboo is a fantastic material, that can even be bent for the chain stay tubes and never break. Plus, it looks very cool.
I also get to try the cargo bike, a unique construction.
The workshop is on a hill, offering a nice views of all Accra. The northern suburbs have a quiet village feel.
The day I should pick up my passport at the Nigerian High Commission, I am asked to “come back tomorrow” without any reason. I make up for the wasted time and transport by jumping into the Accra Mall, just a normal mall, which makes Accra look very modern. There is AC everywhere and it’s a cool place to hang out. Likewise, the overpriced KFCs, selling the same chicken as in the streets but for much more money, was described as THE place to take a girl for a date.
The sad ending of my Nigerian visa application comes when I am finally requested to produce an additional document, a “letter of introduction” from my Embassy, to replace the resident permit in Ghana that I don’t have. I paid a visit to the French Embassy, but they just warned me against going to Nigeria and in no way they will make such a letter, as they are advising all citizens against going there. The Nigerians don’t want me without it, so I just lost the application fee and 5 days in Accra. Next try, Cotonou. (spoiler: the Nigerian visa is impossible in Accra but relatively easy in Cotonou)