Semester Break and Beyond: From Togo to Takoradi and Back to Legon


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January 17th 2010
Published: February 9th 2010
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Well well well if it isn't time for classes to begin already! School here at University of Ghana officially started January 17th, but as you may have come to understand (as I have) by now, that we're not actually starting until this week. Some of you may be wondering how the travels and Christmas break was for me?

Hmmm... about the time off for school...well, at best we can say it was an interesting time. I say this because as I only got to travel to Togo and a little bit within Ghana. You see, it may sound a bit pompous to say I ONLY traveled to Togo and throughout Ghana during the break, but the truth of the matter is my friends and I were planning a "West African tour" of various countries surrounding Ghana. But then plans were broken, things fell through, and I ended only going to a few places. It's a little bit ironic, but spending all that time in Ghana before the break kind of prepared me for the let-down that came when our plans crumbled...you kind of get used to things not happening quite as you had expected, I suppose.

Nevertheless, my travels in Togo (mostly Lome) did shine some light on Ghana's "role" in the whole of West Africa. Being a tiny little country, Togo is a lot different than Ghana. The roads are less developed, the police are part of the dictatorship (and therefore far more terrifying), and there is less tourism infrastructure. That is not to say Ghana is a "better" country than Togo (although the French influence seemed to make the food much much better than in Ghana😊. But seeing the state of things in Togo made me understand that, in the African context, Ghana is a bit further along than it could be. This is quite an encouraging fact when one is faced with yet another 5 months in a place that seems a bit behind the curve! Basically, I realized, "ohhhhh, it could be wayyyyyy worse!" And when I finally got back to the campus, and back to my little "cell" in ISH (international student hostel), my old view of the place (as odd, old fashioned, and...concrete) gave way to new perceptions (almost an oasis in the midst of Accra's chaos!) Overall, Togo showed me a good time; It has a small but fun nightlife circuit, good food, comparable prices, and really really pretty and clean beaches compared to Accra's.

After Togo (of which I have no pictures...sorry, left my camera at home), I made my way to the Western part of Ghana, to spend some quality time on the beach. I was mostly at this amazing little place called...(hmmm...should I really reveal it's name to the masses? I guess since probably only 10 people or so in the world will be reading this...lol...I can divulge) "Green Turtle Lodge." It's an awesome eco-lodge, ran by this really sweet British couple. Getting there is anything but sweet, though, and which consists of a 4-hour bus ride from Accra to Takoradi, in which I was completely wedged up against several sweaty Ghanaians; a tro tro from Takoradi to Agona junction; and the most dusty and bumpy cab ride I have ever been on in my life, to the actual site of the lodge.

At this point in the game, I was traveling by myself, (Ghana's really safe) which landed me in the predicament of sharing a cab ride with these pretty cool Belgian guys I met on the way...."oh darn!" Not only was it nice to have someone to almost choke to death on the dust with (yeah, breathing wasn't much of an option!), but it turns out they were "over-landing" from Belgium! That means they had driven around 11,000 kilometers to get to Ghana, in the sweetest 1970's Toyota land-cruiser rig (complete with cow horns on the radiator). They showed me around the lodge and listened to my 50 million questions about how to drive from Europe to Africa...so far they had driven like 30,000 miles I think, and were headed back up after their stay in Ghana. I had never heard of such a thing! So, to all my family and friends who think I am crazy for moving over here...I say to you, at least I'm not driving around West Africa with a bunch of Europeans lol!

Anyway, since Green Turtle it is pretty isolated, there is literally nothing to do but lay on the beach and boogie-board. Since these are basically my two most favorite things to do in the world, I was in heaven! Forget "dreamland," in Ada, hello Green Turtle! The waves were pretty nice, and the Belgian guys were like, "how do you ride that thing?" which made me think of just one year ago, when Ty was teaching me how to ride in Hawaii... So I had to share the joy of "boogie" with them, after which I had to practically beg for the board back! Thanks Ty Kearns for teaching me 😊

I ended up spending my New Years there, having cocktails called, "Why Not"s and attending the biggest beach bonfire you could imagine. It was pretty funny because the owner was going to light the bonfire off right at midnight...but true to Ghanaian fashion, it wasn't able to be lit until about 15 minutes later... A fact that was not lost on all the Dutch, German, French, Belgian, English, and American folks attending the bonfire, including myself. No matter what language we spoke, I'm pretty sure we all thought it was quite hilarious that even New Years starts late in Ghana!!

After Green Turtle, I made my way to a cool little berg called Busua. Long known as a backpackers heaven, this beach-front village was an exciting place to be during the new years celebrations. You see, the entire town and a lot of in-landers all congregate on the beach for about three days and just get wiiiiiiiiiild. I mean people were rolling around in the sand, swimming, laughing, bbq-ing, drinking, DANCING, etc, etc. I was a little bit zen'd out from being at green turtle, so I mostly sat on the sidelines and watched the ruckus. However, I WAS a lone oburoni woman traveler, which only can mean I didn't remain alone for long. Instead, I made quite a few Ghanaian friends who were just too curious to not stop as they were passing by my post on the sidelines. Everyone was so....jubilant...and kind, and welcoming. Good times!

After Busua, I headed back to campus in Accra where I have been just hanging out with my friends, waiting both for school to start and for the influx of "new" oburonis, fresh from the states. So far, they all seem really young and it's funny because they're so fresh and don't have a clue about Africa...it's all kind of cute to watch. I am rapidly realizing how much I have learned about this place, by watching them get acquainted! More on that later....

Time to go finish registering and getting ready for class tomorrow.... real quickly...classes this semester are:
Intro to International Politics
Strategies of Development in Africa
Methods of Political Research
Animal and Plant Ecology
Resource Analysis
Twi
and the Ghanaian Cultural Class (we all have to take for my program).

Will chat more later about school....love you, miss you,

Robin Ray


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