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November 4th 2008
Published: November 7th 2009
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Tour 2008 - West Africa

We arrived on Saturday night after a loooong flight. The flight over the Sahara was so cool, though. I never really realized how large of a desert it really is. We flew for hours with nothing but sand beneath. It didn't look very hospitable down there.

Upon arrival, getting through immigration and customs was easy enough, but after that... well, that is another story. We quickly learned that people here (at least at the airport) expect a tip for almost everything. The baggage handlers wanted a tip for just giving me our bicycles! Then we had the ubiquitous touts swarming around me after leaving the terminal (I left Shauna within the safety of the terminal until I figured our transportation into town). Fortunately, there was a man from our hotel (I actually made reservation this time, or I thought I did) waiting for us, but he didn't have any transportation of his own. We then began the search to get the three of us, our bicycles, and our two duffle bags into town. We first tried a small stationwagen, but that didn't work. One of the cab drivers suggested that we split up in to two taxis with each of us with our own luggage or Shauna and I in one and the luggage in the other. Neither of those options made any sense to me -- this is Africa and it is night... Eventually, the gentleman for our hotel found a van, which worked out better. However, that came with a couple of more requests for tips... The ride to the hotel was fairly quick and uneventful.

When we got to our hotel and unpacked we realized that our water pressure was low to none existent. I was forced to take a sponge bath -- all of this for $100/night. Shauna just passed out on the bed in her clothes. I spent an hour or two wandering around town. We certainly nailed the location, as there was some good looking restaurants and other services within close proximity. I did have one bad experience though. Someone, who didn't look in such bad shape, wanted me to buy him some food. When I refused, he got verbally aggressive with me. Nothing more happened, but it shook me up. Fortunately, Shauna wasn't with me.

The next morning with still no water pressure we decided that we would need to find another hotel. Shauna and I walked around looking at eight different hotels. We finally settled on the Nova Hotel, which was a much better value than the Niagara Hotel Plus we stayed at last night. With the pastel coloured walls and bamboo furniture, the room reminded me of my apartment in Bermuda. After moving our belongings to the other hotel, we took it fairly easy -- Shauna slept and I wandered around town for a couple of hours. I must say this country is out there. There are a lot new sights, sounds, and smells that I haven't experienced anywhere else. There is also some weird stuff in the markets.

On Sunday night, we ended up going to a nice Chinese restaurant for dinner. Everything went pretty well until we got our bill. It was $50, and I didn't have enough money. They charged us $9 just for plain steamed rice! After some haggling with the waiter and manager they cut the price of the rice. I don't think I have spent that much money on an order of plain rice in my entire life.

We left Monday for sighteseeing. The most memorable part of the day was the trip in the Makala Market (central market), which was over the top. There were lots of weird and different things for sale -- blackened bats and rats for one... Shauna was getting a bit claustrophobic, so we cut our visit short. We also tried our first Ghanaian dishes for lunch. I had a very tender piece of chicken covered in ground pumpkin seed and spinach with a side order plantains. It was actually quite tasty. This was going to be me last meal for awhile, though... By this time, Shauna's feet were getting quite beat up, so we headed back home.

After a little nap, I started to feel the pings of stomach problems coming on... Yep, it was going to be one of those experiences. I was down for pretty well a full day. I'm not sure why I seem to get myself into these predicaments... Barry "the seagull" Kaiser has to change his ways. This the third trip in a row that I have gotten sick like this.


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