A day to cherish, and a day to forget

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November 6th 2008
Published: November 8th 2009
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Riding Day 1 - 96km (total 104km)

Wednesday was quite a day on a couple of fronts. For starters, it was nice to get out of Accra. Oxford Street in the Osu District of Accra (where we were staying) was starting to wear on us. It had all the creature comforts we could want, but without the Ghanaian friendliness and spirit we had heard so much about. As well, after being in bed for a day (I was feeling better, or I thought I did), I was itching to do something else over than watch the US election on TV.

It was quite a powerful experience being in Africa during Obama's victory. When we woke up at 4:00, they had just announced that Obama had won. Africa was watching this election about as closely as anyone. When we went downstairs, our security guard had his radio on a local station and all they could talk about was Obama, Obama, Obama... The same thing on the African TV stations.

Things started out relatively well. Accra actually astonished us with having a brief bicycle lane to make our journey out of the city a bit more comfortable. Nothing could of prepared Shauna for the scene she was about to see at that point. It was now dawn and we were still in the city, but overhead I could see thousands of fruit bats flying around above the trees. I didn't initially say anything, but Shauna eventually caught on -- her comments weren't very "lady like". To me, it was just part of the African adventure.

After about 20km we finally left the city and started our climb into the hills. I expected that we were going to have to climb 500m, which is no small feet in the tropics -- especially when I have to carry all of Shauna's toiletries at the same time! On the first hill, I knew I was in trouble. There was no juice in my legs -- I hadn't recovered from illness. This was remarkable because I had been taking Cipro, and I had never seen Cipro be this ineffective. I pushed on, but I just got weaker as the morning wore on. I was going as slow as I could go up the hills without falling over. We started to take more and more breaks (I even had a couple of quick catnaps). To make a long story short, we finally made it into Koff Town (short for Koforidua) with an hour left of daylight -- not very good for a 96km ride with a 5:30 start...

There were a number of memorable moments during this ride. One, the people (especially the kids) were so friendly out in the countryside. This kind of experience reminded me of parts of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. They would get friendly and CRAZIER, when we would take pictures of them. It's was like a swarm of bees attacking us. They all wanted to be in the pictures and they all wanted to goof off. There is not going to be any point in listening to my iPod, while riding, because I have to wave and say hello to everyone I meet (remember, we are always ambassadors for our country). Two, just when I think I have seen everything, I saw a large truck coming towards me with a monkey on the hood of the cab! It was just hanging on for the wild ride -- so random... Three, we had heard so much about the traffic here, but so far so good... Once we got out of Accra there was very little to talk about. We were a bit off the beaten track, but it was still a pleasant surprise. Fourth, I saw some pretty big and nasty looking insects. For example, I saw a scorpion cross the highway and a fly that was as large as a small frog! Finally, and the most memorable moment by far was Shauna. She didn't complain once! We were on the rode for 11 hours with a 500m climb in 33c heat and 75% humidity and not one complaint... Perhaps I was too sick to hear anything... ;-)

Since we were both pretty beat up after the day, we decided to spare no expense on accommodations. We were directed slightly out of town to the Royal Plaza Hotel, which we were told was the best in town. It had all the creature comforts we could want from a king size bed, to a good restaurant, to a nice pool! It even had water pressure (we had been struggling in the department with the first two hotels in Accra). After a quick swim, shower, and huge plate of seafood pasta, Barry was a happy boy again. :-) This was the first meal of substance I had had since Monday morning. We slept eight solid hours after that.

On Thursday morning, as I was deciding on whether we cycle or not (we had originally planned to), I read that Koff Town has a bead market every Thursday and it is one of the best in all of West Africa. After walking with Shauna through enough markets both at home and on the road, I knew she would love that side trip. We also thought it might be best to let me rest from the other day and to let our skin rest from the sun. Surprisingly, our legs were in great shape! I guess all those late fall rides really helped this time. We wandered around town and the markets before having a nice lunch in town and calling it a day.

The markets here are truly some of the best in the world -- so many different and unique things. I still can't get over the bat and rat stalls (still no luck in getting a picture of that, as the friendlier people in town don't seem to be selling them)... I did find a little trick that is going to work very well with the people shots. If I can get one shot in and show that person his/her picture on the back of the camera, everyone around wants their picture or their baby's picture taken then.

*Sorry for the delays in getting these journals done. On top of being sick for a couple of days, the internet service is slow an unreliable. Unless things change dramatically, we won't be posting pictures on the road. Uploading a 3mb picture upload would take forever here.


Tot: 2.724s; Tpl: 0.07s; cc: 10; qc: 74; dbt: 0.0514s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb