Thanks guys, much appreciated. I've taken around fifty photos so far, and although I've done nothing spectacular, just thumbing through them now, they don't look too bad. I'll upload them as soon as I learn how. The internet's not too slow here, but still not brilliant.
Needless to say, I've been drinking bottled water over here. I'm encountering a problem with it though - when I drink it, I feel somewhat re-hydrated, but I just get this feeling that trace elements are filtered out of it, so it's kind of an 'empty' feeling. Consequently, I've been drinking a sh*tload of coke and juice. Does anybody know if this is the reason? I don't mind drinking filtered water, but there's plenty of good stuff in the tap variety back home that I might be missing here.
Early start again this morning. I decided to walk to the National Museum. It's only about a half hour or forty minute walk, although everything good I said about Bradt guides was about the information, not the maps. Just terrible. I took a few cabs yesterday, but thought that for a few reasons, I'd try walking as much as I could. Firstly, to save money. They might only cost a few dollars at a time, but it adds up. Secondly, to feel less cocooned as I get about town. And thirdly, I wouldn't mind losing a few kilos on this trip. Well the second and third reasons, I'll accomplish, but the first one, not so much. The problem is that there are a few beggars around. I'm not talking about kids who should be in school (or at least working - I know that sounds bad, but tourists shouldn't be encouraging begging as a 'profession'). I'm talking about amputees/multiple amputees, etc who are obviously struggling. I only had Cedi notes in denominations of 5 (about $3.50), so after giving away a number of these, I'm a long way behind on where I would have been taking taxis. Mental note - always have plenty of one or two Cedi notes on hand.
The museum. It was largely an ethnographic collection, although there was an interesting exhibition on the slave trade, which was very good. It explored issues of how guilty today's descendants of yesterday's protagonists should feel - both African and European. And rather than just telling the obvious elements of the final 'transaction' at the coast, with Europeans purchasing the slaves, it discussed the story of the raiding, conflict, etc, that occurred in the interior, for the purpose of inland empires accumulating bodies for the purpose of onward trading. As far as the ethnography goes, my favourite thing (forgive the juvenile nature of this), is the significance of stools in the Ashanti Kingdoms. When the Ashantehene (King of the Ashanti) becomes King, the process is said to be a 'stooling'. All I could think of was the colloquial similarities with us, and 'ascending the throne'. Maybe people everywhere think of their monarchs as being full of sh*t. The truth is, of course, the Ashantehene is adored, and the poms are getting a public holiday for their royal wedding next year. So my initial reaction's probably somewhat off the mark.
Leaving the National Museum, I then walked the epic journey to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. Fortunately, this trip was broken up by a haircut. I love getting my haircut overseas. Barbers are often focal points for socialising, where anyone who can afford to hang out and chat, does so. So Thomas (about the third Thomas I've met) spent the next forty mins shaving my head. Considering I had this done about five or six weeks ago, taking the time he did was something of an effort on his part. The reason for this, is because he was so obsessive about having every hair cut perfectly. The cost was only two Cedis ($1.40), but I doubled that, so impressed was I.
Off to the Mauseleom. I finally made it, but it really was a long and hot walk. Before I go on, Kwame Nkrumah was a pan-Africanist, and first president of Ghana. In many ways, he is both the father of the African anti-colonial movement, and the inheritor of the pan-African movement from W.E.B. Du Bois. His presidency was not an unbridled success, but I can't think of anyone who had made that transition from leader of fight for independence, to successful leader of the new nation. His legacy is still debated, but his accomplishments are undeniable. Among them, he led Ghana to being the first African nation to throw off the yolk of imperialism. Anyway, the Mauselom is situated in a lovely park, right near the Atlantic, and not only is it quite serene, but I was very, very grateful for the sea breeze. After a couple of photos and a look around the adjoining museum, I went looking for a place to grab some lunch. I finally found an establishment called Magic Power Phoenix, or some other such name that could pass for a Hong Kong racehorse, and I ordered 'Red Red' - a spicy bean and plaintain dish. The woman from whom I ordered, said that it would take an hour, because she had to go and buy the beans. I think she meant 'grow' the beans, because it was closer to two hours. But, as I was overlooking the ocean, undercover with that breeze coming in, I couldn't have cared less. And I would have waited twice that time for this dish. It was fantastic. Served with sweet potato, it is a staple among southern Ghanaians, and a tribute to the poor and scrubby folk not letting the fact that they have bugger all, get in the way of a good tasting feed. Very simple, but delicious. I think I have found my 'go to' dish, should I ever be in doubt later on.
One of the things I decided before I began this trip, was that I would spend a lot of money on little stuff, supporting a variety of vendors. I don't have a lot of money myself, but if there's one good way to spend it, surely that way is supporting these guys - some of the poorest people, in the very poorest region of the world, and injecting money into the economy, rather than just giving it away (although I'll make an exception for those who are clearly beyond working). I've overdone things a little, though. Two days in, and I've spent forty Cedis on four pairs of sunnies (none of which suit me - I need to accept that none ever will), and I've also spent twenty Cedis on five ties, all of which are surprisngly good quality. I really hate sh*t ties, but I also detest being asked to pay the kind of money demanded in Aus for a good one. So I'm stocking up. Mental note - no more sunnies, but as many ties as you want.
With the spirit of 'buying stuff' in mind, I thought that I'd head to 'Oxford Street' - kind of a market street, based around the fact that a lot of expats frequent the place, and there are a lot of restaurants and bars close by. This place doesn't really have a lot for someone like me - I'm more into the working class side of things, but just because it's more modern, doesn't make it any less authentic - it's still Ghana, and every bit as much a part of the country as the more 'traditional' elements. N.B. I'm not sure if I like the words authentic or traditional, but you know what I mean. So off I went, and I bought a Ghana Black Stars football jersey, and my fourth pair of sunnies. I was all set to finish and go, when I was accosted by a few young guys. This was the worst kind of being accosted - they were 'friendly', didn't want anything, and knew Aussie slang. I'm quite naive, and don't have a lot of common sense or initiative, but this combination means one thing - dodgy and potential danger. They were pretty relentless, and I have to admit, this was the first time I've felt in danger on the road since being chased by wild dogs outside of Wadi Musa, near Petra. I ended up jumping in the nearest cab, which would have been fine, but traffic was at a standstill. All I could do was wind up my window while they kept knocking on it. The cabbie, seeing that I wasn't comfortable, yet realising how innocuos the situation really was, thought it was hilarious. He was right to laugh, and we had a good laugh about it on the way back to the hotel. He'll be picking me up tomorrow morning to take me to the station for my onward jouney to the Cape Coast, for some more slave history, more spectacular ocean views, some beaches, and where I'll be watching my favourite Ghanaian football team - the Cape Coast Essienimpong Mysterious Dwarves, although they're better known as the 'Ebesua Dwarves'.
All the best from Accra.